Hey there. I had to take a break from the fascinating hunt into family history when I saw this online. It's an actual game called Stake a Homestead! Before the game of Life, where blue and pink plastic pegs drove a plastic car around a fantasy land of uranium mine bonanzas and stock certificates paying huge dividends and you either ended up a Millionaire Tycoon or Bankrupt, there was this game based on the Homestead Act of 1862. Here's the description from the box:
"In 1862 congress passed the Homestead Act. A United States citizen twenty-one years old could file a claim on 160 acres of public land which he wished to own as a home for himself and his family. If he lived there for five years, had built a house and was raising crop, he was given title to the land.
"The country was wild, the problems faced by the "sod-busters" were great. Many homesteaders gave up before five years had passed. Everyone who succeeded did so through sheer determination and by using every skill or handicraft he could master.
"Players take turns drawing cards and playing them onto their Land Tracts. The cards come in 5 colors, one for each year. At the end of the game, players who have a house, crop, and 4 of the 6 other types of cards, without having the claim jumper card, win."
Oops, I just read on Wikipedia that Milton Bradley's Game of Life was created by the man himself in 1860, but the modern version was published in 1960 -- both before Stake a Homestead. Well, it's possible some of you Baby Boomers out there played this game. I don't remember it being one of the games in Great-Grandma's basement (though I do remember Chutes and Ladders and Head of the Class), but maybe it rings a bell or simply brings a laugh at the thought that the process of digging a hole out of the dirt or clay in the side of a hill for your family to live in could ever be replicated by a paper board game. Fun for the whole family!