Nevada Land and Property
Land Office Records
When the United States acquired Nevada, the federal government distributed unclaimed land through the US General Land Office (GLO). The land was first surveyed, then sold through local offices. The first local office was established in Carson City in 1864. Others were in Elko, Eureka, and Reno. The local offices kept tract books (records for each section of land) and township plats (maps of land entries for each township).
Land was generally obtained through cash payment, called cash entry, or by meeting certain conditions of settlement, such as homesteading. The original tract books, plats, homestead entries, and cash entry records are available at the National Archives. The National Archives also has an index to cash entry files and homestead records prior to July 1908.
Other land office records, such as patents, land tracts, and township plats, from about 1861 to 1964, are available at the National Archives—Pacific Sierra Region (San Bruno). Patents and copies of tract books are also at Bureau of Land Management. There are 7 districts in Nevada. This website will take you to the primary site where you can choose the district you are interested and and get their contact information.
General Land Office Records are searchable online and most have free images of patents to download. The minimum information needed for a search is the state where the land is located and the name of the person receiving the patent. Surveys and Land Status Records can also be searched here.
After land has been transferred from government to private ownership, subsequent transactions, including deeds and mortgages, are recorded by the county. Sometimes patents were also recorded as deeds.
To start your deed search, first determine the county covering the land at the time the deed was made. Then contact that county recorders office. You might be able to obtain a copy of a county land record by writing to the county recorder, but most likely you will have the visit the recorders office. Some counties have land records online, check the county website for the recorders office.
The Family History Library has copies of these records for only a few counties. See a map of the 16 counties in Nevada.
- Nevada Research Outline. Salt Lake City, Utah: Intellectual Reserve, Inc., Family History Department, 1998, 2001. (NOTE: All of the information from the original research article has been imported into this Wiki site and is being updated as time permits.)