With the Homestead Act of 1862, land in what would become Syracuse became available for settlement. The first person to take advantage of this and work the land was David Cook, who sowed the first furrow in Syracuse in 1876. He was only 14 years old at the time and lived alone, befriending a local bird that summer. He continued to live alone until his family moved to Syracuse in 1879-1880. The efforts of this hardworking teenager paved the way for more settlers to farm the area, eventually allowing them to form the town of Syracuse.