Timberland claims were similar to homestead claims in that the claimant was only required to pay filing fees and earned the patent by improving the claim. In this case, though, the claimant did not need to live on the land and the improvements required to receive a patent were more stringent than homesteading in that a full 160 acres claim must produce 6,750 "living thrifty" trees by the end of eight years. For most this was an impossible task and so only about twenty-five percent received a patent. However, just a claim would be sufficient to provide valuable information for a researcher. As in other claims, the claimant must prove to be a citizen of the United States or that he is in the process of becoming one as well as provide other personal and historical information.
The Timber Culture Act was enacted in 1873 with an amendment in 1878. If an ancestor is believed to have filed a timber claim, the records are found in the National Archives and will most likely be found in the land-entry case files. To learn more about how to obtain information for ordering these case files, see the wiki article entitled: "Obtaining the Case Files" (United States - Land and Property - The Land Acquisition Process - Federal Land)