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Bounty Land Warrants
The federal government provided bounty land for those who served in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and Indian wars between 1775 and 1855. It was first offered as an incentive to serve in the military and later as a reward for service.
Bounty land could have been claimed by veterans or their heirs. The federal government reserved tracts of land in the public domain for this purpose. The states of New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia also set aside tracts of bounty land for their Revolutionary War veterans.
A veteran requested bounty land by filing an application at a local courthouse. The application papers and other supporting documents were placed in bounty land files kept by a federal or state agency. These documents contain information similar to the pension files and include the veteran’s age and place of residence at the time of the application. If the application was approved, the individual was given either a warrant to receive land or scrip which could be exchanged for a warrant. Later laws allowed for the sale or exchange of warrants. Only a few soldiers actually received title to the bounty land or settled on it; most veterans sold or exchanged their warrants.
National Archives, Bounty Land Warrant Application Files
Bounty land warrant application files relate to claims based on wartime service between 1775 and March 3, 1855. If your ancestor served in the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, early Indian Wars, or the Mexican War, a search of these records may be worthwhile. Bounty land records often contain documents similar to those in pension files, with lots of genealogical information. Many of the bounty land application files relating to Revolutionary War and War of 1812 service have been combined with the pension files.
Copies of Bounty Land Warrant Applications for Federal military service before 1856 can now be ordered online, as well as through NATF Form 85. Select "Order Reproductions" and then select "Military Service and Pension Records".
Categories of pension/bounty land files available using NATF Form 85:
- A complete Civil War and later pension application file (up to 100 pages), based on Federal (not State or Confederate) military service during the Civil War or later (includes the Pension Documents Packet.)
- A complete Federal pre-Civil War military pension application based on Federal military service before 1861 (includes the Pension Documents Packet.)
- A pension document packet that contains reproductions of eight documents containing genealogical information about the pension applicant, to the extent these documents are present in the file.
- A complete military bounty land application file based on service 1775-1855 (includes only rejected Revolutionary War applications).
Bounty land applications and warrants for the Revolutionary War and some warrants for the War of 1812 have been microfilmed. They are available at the Family History Library and are described in this set of Wiki pages for those wars. For more information about bounty land records, the following sources will be helpful:
- Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Archives. Rev. ed. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Record Administration, 1985. (FHL 973 A3usn 1985.) See chapter 8.
- Hone, E. Wade. Land and Property Research in the United States. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1997. (FHL book 973 R27h.) See chapter 9, pages 115–26.
Bounty Land Warrants by Conflict
- Revolutionary War, 1775 to 1783
- War of 1812, 1812 to 1815
- Mexican War, 1846 to 1848
- Indian Wars, 1780's-1890's
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