There might be one of your ancestors that appears in the U.S. General Land Office Records, 1796–1907 database on Ancestry.com. One this fee-based site, there are about 2.2 million land patents (applications for land – homesteading). Most do cover the 19th century (1800s) when the majority of land paid with cash or homesteaded property was acquired from the Federal government.
These records can provide details on naturalization, amount of land, location, origins, family relationships, issue date and more. The states on the database are: Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Wisconsin and Ohio.
Search using a surname and try any possible states from the list, one at a time. Scan what names come up. Keep in mind, there might be a relative’s given name you are not familiar with or a surname spelling that is different. Try varied spellings and locations in your search.
Once you find a possible individual, click on the ‘View Image’ icon to the far right. Here will be the actual scanned document. The document can be saved for your records.
Another item to be careful in the search are locations. Many counties were much larger originally and over the decades, especially in the early 20th century, became smaller as more people lived in the area. A good example are large land areas along the SE coast of Florida in the late 1800s. Dade County went from the Florida Keys north to the present area of Martin County – some 200 miles in length. So if you see a relative having property in an unfamiliar county, check its history, there could have been county boundary changes.
Check any female ancestors, using both a maiden name and a married name. Ladies could also acquire property.
Photo: Land for Mattie Pomeroy, Oct. 20, 1897 in Dade Co., FL.
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