Thursday, February 21, 2013

Finding Pennsylvania Donation District Land Maps

In my searches for probate records and land records in Mercer County, Pennsylvania for Martin Carringer and Cornelius Feather, I wanted to know where the Donation District lands were located.

From earlier research, I knew that Martin Carringer was awarded Lot 941 in Perry Township in 1787, and Cornelius Feather had bought land that was part of Lot 963 in Salem township.

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PAHM), part of the Bureau of Archives and History of the Pennsylvania State Archives, has Warrantee Township Maps available online at

The site says:

"The Pennsylvania State Archives holds the following warrantee township maps, which show all original land purchases from the Proprietors or the Commonwealth made inside the boundaries of present-day townships. In essence, these maps serve as a summary and geographical index for the warrants, surveys and patents held by the State Archives. Information usually shown for each tract of land includes: name of warrantee, name of patentee, number of acres, name of tract, and dates of warrant, survey and patent. Survey and patent numbers also may be given."

There are links to three sets of counties:

*  Allegheny to Fayette Counties
*  Fulton to Perry Counties
*  Pike to York Counties

Since I wanted to find land in Mercer County, I clicked on the Fulton to Perry Counties link and saw:

I clicked on the Perry link in the Mercer County list, and a PDF of the map (4.518 mb) of Perry Township's Donation Lots came up:

After manipulating the zoom feature a bit to 125%, I moved the map around until I found Lot 941 awarded to Martin Carringer in 1787:

As you can see, there is a lot information included on the map besides the name of the person awarded the land.  There are compass information (e.g., Martin's is North 87.5, East 261; South 2.5, East 130; South 87.5 West 261; North 2.5 West 130, with tree named at the corners);  Lot number; Name; Rank; Acres; Survey date; Patent date.

Isn't that a great map?  By overlaying the map on a current map of Perry township, I can probably find the exact location.

I did a similar task looking for Cornelius Feather's Lot 963 in the Salem Township map.  Then I looked again at the map above, and noticed that his Lot 963 is on Otter Creek Township map bordering Perry township on the map above, three lots to the left and one up.  I also downloaded the PDF for Otter Creek township.

The PAHM website has MANY more records for these Donation Land patents, including warrant, survey and patent data.  I've been exploring them this afternoon!  This is a fantastic resource!

If you go to the PAHM website and look for maps, note the hints that they provide for manipulating the images, and note also that you can obtain larger maps of each of the townships for a fee.

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Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

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