United States, Bureau of Land Management Tract Books (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: United States, Bureau of Land Management Tract Books, 1820-1908 .
This collection consists of tract books containing official records of the land status and transactions involving surveyed public lands arranged by state and then by township and range. These books indicate who obtained the land, and include a physical description of the tract and where the land is located. The type of transaction is also recorded such as cash entry, credit entry, homesteads, patents (deeds) granted by the Federal Government, and other conveyances of title such as Indian allotments, internal improvement grants (to states), military bounty land warrants, private land claims, railroad grants, school grants, and swamp grants. Additional items of information included in the tract books are as follows: number of acres, date of sale, purchase price, land office, entry number, final Certificate of Purchase number, and notes on relinquishments and conversions. Original documents are located at the Bureau of Land management in Springfield, Virginia. The collection covers the years 1820 to 1908.
For a list of the localities and land offices included in this collection, see United States, Bureau of Land Management Tract Books Coverage Table (FamilySearch Historical Records).
For a detailed list of the contents of this collection by film number see the Family History Library Catalog entry for this collection.
For a list of records by localities, and volume numbers currently published in this collection, select the Browse link from the collection landing page.
Information found in this collection may include:
- Name of purchaser
- Description of the land
- Date of transaction
- By whom patented
- Date of patent
How to Use the Record
To begin your search it is helpful to know the following:
- Land Office Location
Search the Collection
To search the collection
⇒Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒Select the "State"
⇒Select the "Volume (Land Office Location)" which takes you to the images.
If you need help deciding which volume to search, the United_States,_Bureau_of_Land_Management_Tract_Books_Coverage_Table may be of help to you. This table lists each volume along with the town where the land office was located and the townships and ranges in that volume.
Next look at the images in the volume one by one. Compare the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to make this determination. Keep in mind:
- There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
- You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
- Your ancestor may have used different names or variations of their name throughout their life.
Using the Information
When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. Make a photocopy of the deed, or extract the genealogical information needed. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family. For example:
- Use the residence and names to locate other records such as church and census records.
- Search for the land transactions of a couple and their children. The parents may have sold or given property to a son or daughter. Such transactions confirm relationships that might not be found in other records.
- Search for records of people in the county who shared a surname. These may have been the couple’s parents, uncles, or other relatives. Your ancestor may have been an heir who sold inherited land that had belonged to parents or grandparents.
- To find later generations, search the land records a few years before and after a person’s death. Your ancestor may have sold or given land to his or her heirs before death, or the heirs may have sold the land after the individual died. For daughters, the names of their husbands are often provided. For sons, the given names of their wives may be included. Heirs may have sold their interest in the land to another heir even though the record may not indicate this. Continue this process for identifying each succeeding generation.
- When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
Tips to Keep in Mind
- Some counties were subdivided or the boundaries may have changed. Consider searching neighboring counties as well since that courthouse may have been more convenient for the person.
- One deed does not usually give sufficient information about a couple and their children. A careful study of all deeds for the person or the family will yield a richer return of information.
- For each parcel of land owned, you should obtain two documents: 1) the deed that documents when ownership transferred to the individual or the family and 2) the deed that documents when ownership was transferred to someone else.
- Witnesses and neighbors, even those with a different surname, may have been relatives, in-laws, or even a widowed mother who has remarried. You may want to check the records of these witnesses and neighbors, especially if they are frequently found in your ancestor’s land records.
- The information in the records is usually reliable, but depends upon the reliability of the informant.
- Earlier records may not contain as much information as the records created after the late 1900.
- There is also some variation in the information given from one record to another record. Make a list of all residences mentioned in the records within a year or two of when your ancestors came to the county—regardless of surname. Then search the records of places that seem likely or that occur frequently.
- Create a database for other people with the same surname who lived in the county. Doing this may help you identify which individuals were related. If your ancestor’s records do not contain the information you need, a county database might give you a more complete picture.
Unable to Find Your Ancestor?
- Check for variant spellings of the surnames.
- Check for an index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume.
- Check the land records of other known family members.
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Contributions to This Article
| We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records. |
Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.
Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
Citations for individual image records are available for this collection. Browse through images in this collection and click on the "Show Citation" box: United States Bureau of Land Management Tract Books, 1820-1908
When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.
A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the wiki article Help:How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.
Citation for This Collection
The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org Historical Record collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher and archive for the original records.
- "United States, Bureau of Land Management Tract Books, 1820-1908." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013. Citing Bureau of Land Improvement. Records Improvement, Bureau of Land Management, Washington D.C.