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Colonial and State Records
From 1732 to 1755 the area that is now Georgia was a trusteeship in which land was allotted to males and their heirs. After 1755 lands were granted without restrictions. Land transfers before 1777 were generally recorded in Savannah, and many early land grants have been transcribed and published. One source for these records is Pat Bryant, Entry of Claims for Georgia Landholders, 1733-1755 (Atlanta, Georgia: State Printing Office, 1975; Family History Library book 975.8 R2br).
Georgia was a state-land state in which land was distributed first by the governor and then through land courts established from 1783 to 1909. From 1756 land was distributed in the eastern quarter by headright and bounty grants. The grants usually do not give residences, family names, or military information. Not all bounties were for military service. These records are listed in Index to the Headright and Bounty Grants of Georgia 1756-1909 (Vidalia, Georgia: Georgia Genealogical Reprints, 1970; Family History Library book 975.8 R2i).
The Family History Library and the Georgia Surveyor General Department at the Georgia Department of Archives and History have original land grants on microfilm. The records at the Family History Library include books of conveyances (1750-1802), mortgages (1755-1822), fiats for grants (1755-76), and bonds, sales, and gift records (1755-1829).
The parts of Georgia that are now Alabama and Mississippi were ceded in 1802. The remaining northern and western areas of present-day Georgia were surveyed and given away by lotteries in 1805, 1807, 1820, 1821, 1827, and 1832. The lottery lists have been published in several sources, such as:
- Virginia S. and Ralph V. Wood, The 1805 Georgia Land Lottery (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Greenwood Press, 1964; Family History Library book 975.8 R21w). This lists the names of all registrants, while the other lotteries list only those who received land.
- Also see Robert Scott Davis, Jr., and Rev. Silas E. Lucas, The Georgia Land Lottery Papers, 1805-1914: Genealogical Data. (Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1979; Family History Library book 975.8 R2d). This includes a map showing which counties were formed in each of the lotteries.
An alphabetical index to Georgia land grant records, 1767-1908, in the Surveyor General Department is on Family History Library microfilms 465173-84. The Family History Library also has the following records for Georgia:
- Headrights and land grants, 1756 to 1860s (61 films)
- Land lottery records, 1806 to 1870 (37 films)
- Land lottery surveys (24 films)
- Headright surveys (19 films)
- Reverted lottery records, 1815 to 1872 (9 films). These are records of lots which reverted to the state because the lottery receiver did not claim them.
For further details on state land records, see Marion R. Hemperley, The Georgia Surveyor General Department: A History and Inventory of Georgia's Land Office (Atlanta, Georgia: State Printing Office, 1982; Family History Library book 975.8 R2hg).
After original title to the land was granted, subsequent transactions, including deeds and mortgages, were recorded by the county, usually by the clerk of the superior court. You can obtain copies by writing to the clerk.
The Family History Library has copies of the county deeds and mortgages, dating from the creation of each county to 1900 or 1920, on microfilm for most counties. The Family History Library also has homestead records from the 1860s to the 1920s. For example, the library has 150 microfilms for Chatham County of deeds, deed indexes, homestead records, mortgages, lottery lists, oyster leases, and pony homestead records.
Georgia Research Outline. Salt Lake City, Utah: Intellectual Reserve, Inc., Family History Department, 1998, 2001.