Monday, October 29, 2012 has General Land Office Record Collection

I was perusing the long list of new record collections on this morning (at and noticed that the U.S. General Land Office Records, 1796-1907 was added on 8 October 2012, with over 2.4 million records.

I had worked in the government website ( for these records previously, but it become difficult to use (I'm still waiting after 5 minutes for the capability to search - maybe a hurricane problem?) and wondered if I had missed any of my ancestral families when I searched one person at a time.  The indexing makes this task a lot easier.

The Ancestry collection description is:

This database contains approximately 2.2 million land patents, primarily cash and homestead, from 1820-1908 for the following states:
  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Ohio
  • Wisconsin
A land patent is a document recording the passing of a land title from the government, or other proprietor, to the patentee/grantee. This is the first-title deed and the true beginning of private ownership of the land. The patent describes in legal terms the land to which the title is given. 
I wanted to capture the documents for Ranslow Smith, the adoptive father of my second great-grandfather, Devier J. Smith.  I knew that he was in these records.
1)  The U.S. General Land Office Records, 1796-1907  record search page has the typical search fields:

2)  There were two matches for Ranslow Smith:

3)  I clicked on the earliest one and the record summary appeared:

4)  I clicked on the "View Original image" link and the document appeared:

I can download and save this record for my computer files, and attach it to Ranslow Smith in my Ancestry Member Tree.
The source citation that Ancestry provides for this record is: U.S. General Land Office Records, 1796-1907 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2008.
Original data: United States. Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records. Automated Records Project; Federal Land Patents, State Volumes. Springfield, Virginia: Bureau of Land Management, Eastern States, 2007.

I'll work on an Evidence! Explained quality source citation for this record sometime soon and add it here.

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copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver


Norm Prince said...

I was thinking that the land office records have been available on the free BLM web site -
for some years now. This has worked for me many times without the need to be an Ancestry subscriber.


Geolover said...

These records have been indexed and available through since 2008. There was a recent "update" but you can never find out what was amended or added.

Connie Sheets said...

As best as I can determine, Ancestry's database is not identical to the one at the BLM site. I know I have recently found bounty land records at the BLM site that do not appear in the Ancesty database. They were ones that were somewhat recently added to the BLM site, so it may be that Ancestry has not updated yet.