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Land from Federal Govenment to Individual Quick Start

         Click here for expert help  |  Click here for additional research at Wiki

A Quick Start is a simple set of instructions to assist you to begin to use a particular category of records to solve a genealogical problem.

Start with what you know:

Federal Land States: (If your ancestor did not live in one of these states he will not have a record in this system.)

Alabama             Colorado            Iowa                   Mississippi          New Mexico      South Dakota

Alaska                Florida                Kansas                Missouri             North Dakota     Utah

Arizona              Idaho                  Louisiana              Montana            Ohio                   Washington 

Arkansas            Illinois                Michigan               Nebraska           Oklahoma          Wisconsin

California           Indiana               Minnesota             Nevada              Oregon               Wyoming


1.       Refer to E. Wade Hone, Land and Property Research in the United States. 973 R27h (Reference Wall)

2.       Refer to Research Outline United States, “Land and Property”

3.       Refer to Patricia Law Hatcher, Locating Your Roots: Discover Your Ancestors Using Land Records 929.3 D27
      (Reference Wall)

4.      Refer to Visitors Center and to FAQ at

Locate the Land Patent and Case File for Your Ancestor

  1. Search the General Land Office – Bureau of Land Management
  2. From the green bar click “Search Land Patents”
  3. Type the state and surname (and given name if available)
  4. Click the blue hyperlink for your ancestor
  5. Click Document Image (third tab from the left)
  6. Click “PDF”
  7. Print the image of the land patent for your ancestor’s land
  8. Click the back button two times (upper left)
  9. When the “Patent Description” appears click “Printer Friendly” (upper right)
  10. Print the page of “Accession/Serial #” (this shows the description of the land, etc. You need this information to order the case file.

What do you know now:

How to Order a Case File:

1.        Search the National Archives
Scroll the bottom right and click on “Order Online.”
Click “Proceed to Request & Order Reproductions
Click “Order Reproductions.”
Click “Land Files” near lower left.
Click “Land Entry File (NATF 84) – for homestead or cash entry files
Select a delivery format
Click add to cart
Register as a new user or fill in your User ID and Password
Complete the blanks, using information from the page at #10 above (under BLM)
Click “Continue to Pay and Ship” (upper right)
Your credit card will not be billed until the file has been located. 

Read the entire case file and/or land patent

You should track the land both when purchased and sold

Record a proper citation of your source

List positive or negative searches in your research log

Important information you should record:

Date of the patent___________________________________________________________________
Names on the patent_________________________________________________________________
Stated relationships__________________________________________________________________
Consideration (price)_________________________________________________________________
Legal description____________________________________________________________________

Solving the Puzzle

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