Saturday, October 24, 2009

Diggin* in Land Records


Land records may at first appear to be uninteresting documents of land transactions, but they can hold numerous clues to your ancestry. Not only do they allow you to sketch out migrations of your ancestors, but piecing together the information will show family relationships. They point the way to probate research, both testate and intestate. The sale of land reveals the marital status of the grantor (seller), along with the given name of the spouse, if married. In some cases, the former residence (at the time of the transaction) of the grantee will be shown.

If you think your ancestor purchased land in the public land states from the federal government, you need to visit the web site of the Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office. Be sure to read before you research. The FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) area is particularly helpful. To better understand the Public Land Survey System (PLSS), be sure to read about it here.

There is a good selection of states that have land records online. One of these is the Kentucky Land Office. There is a variety of records that can be searched, so read and study your search options.

The Illinois Public Domain Land Tract Sales database contains information from land sales of the public domain that were transferred to the Illinois State Archives in 1957. The database contains information on about 550,000 land sales in Illinois.

Numerous online records, including land records, are indexed on the South Carolina Department of Archives and History web site. These include the plats for state land grants, 1784-1868, which include 51,809 items.

If you have ancestry in Pennsylvania, be sure to check the Land Records available at the Pennsylvania State Archives. You will be ahead of the game if you read the explanations of their records.

Be sure to explore the Texas General Land Office databases. There are several ways to search, so check all of your options. It is also helpful to browse the Texas General Land Office web page for information.

There are many more land related web pages on Internet. Try using Google or your favorite search engine to find them. There's nothing more fun than diggin' in the dirt ... I mean land records!