Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A Great GLO Records Research Tip

Once in awhile, an absolutely excellent tip is provided on a mailing list by a genealogy researcher. This tip was on the Advanced-Research mailing list several days ago, contributed by Linda Schreiber. I contacted Linda to see if I could post her tip, and she graciously agreed, and added more information to the list post. Here is Linda's tip on using the US Government BLM General Land Office (GLO) records:

by Linda Schreiber is one of my favorite research sites. Most genealogy research here is a search for names and locations. But there's another *very* useful capability at the GLO records site. It has led me to a number of breakthroughs.

Sounds trickier than it is. Actually quick and easy. You just need to understand how things were numbered, and the 'visitor center' at the site has nice clear help with this under 'rectangular survey system'. Be sure to print out the "diagram of a theoretical township"..... it really helps to have this at hand. The sections are numbered in an odd way, but this diagram gives you not only the numbering pattern within the township but also the section numbers at the edges for adjoining townships. Very helpful!

Once you find a person of interest in the basic name search, be sure to also hit the 'legal land description' tab. Jot down at least the section, township, range, and meridian. Then go back to the beginning search page where you put in the surname. Hit the "standard" search tab.

Scroll down to the 'land description' section. Put in the section #, township # and direction, ditto range. Select the meridian from the list. Hit search. This will provide a list of names of others with land in that section.

Then treat your person's section as a centerpoint, and get the lists of the folks in the surrounding sections. If your center section is on a township border, get the adjoining sections in the township next door. For instance, if your person is in section 19 of the township 13N 17W, this section is on the western border of his township. His neighboring sections would be 18, 17, 20, 29 and 30 in that township. And also 13, 24 and 25 in township 13N *18* W.

And the website works smoothly. When you get your list and hit the back button, your info is not wiped. All you have to do is change 19 to 18 and hit search, etc.

I have found more in-laws, step-brothers, maternal cousins, will witnesses, old neighbors from earlier locations, that I did not even know were in the area....... If you wanted to take the time, and work with the aliquot parts as well, you could literally recreate the plat map with names on specific lands. I haven't gone that far yet.

Even though only the original purchaser of the government land shows up in the database, and even though it does not cover the earliest eastern states or Texas, this website is an amazing help for genealogists.


My thanks to Linda for sharing her research tip with the list members, and her willingness to let me publish it on my blog.

The mailing lists occasionally receive wonderful nuggets like this that can help researchers find useful information. I subscribe to a number of them - do you?

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