When searching the Bureau of Land Management website, make certain you remember the general difference between a federal land warrant and a federal land patent.  A federal land warrant is good for a specific acreage of property in the federal domain–without stating precisely where the property is at. A federal land patent is a document that transfers title in a specific piece of property from the federal government to an individual.




3 Responses

  1. Did you get the warrant first and then the patent? Once you got the coupon, how did you know which land to get?

    • The Land Warrant was legal authorization for a surveyor to set boundaries for a parcel of land.

      The possible location of the land was set by the legislation that authorized issuing a patent for land. Some of the legislation had authorized giving Bounty Land in exchange for military service; for some War of 1812 service, already-surveyed parcels were available in Arkansas, Illinois and other places, and the lots assigned to veterans or their heirs were determined by drawings. Other land was available by outright sale, including as a means to fund certain schools, or was put up for sale in the famous land rushes where persons went on land in the available areas to claim lots of the size authorized by their warrants.

      In other words. there was a variety of ways that people and lands were matched up, always determined by the underlying legislation. Persons entitled to military-service Bounty Land often did not go to live on their entitlements, but sold them to speculators, who often sold them to folks who eventually settled. And it is very important not to think that a relative’s land warrant was due to military service.

      Figuring out how specific persons obtained the public lands can be a steep or rewarding learning curve. Many of the later public land sales had conditions attached to them, such as settlement and certain kinds of improvements that had to be accomplished within 3 or 5 years. When you locate subsequent sale deeds, they often tell the ownership history beginning with the date and reason for an original grant. So it is not all a mysterious process, just takes looking for records in the right places, whether in the Government Land Office records of original patents or later County land records.

      • Thanks for expanding on this, Jade. I try and keep the tips brief and sometimes that means nuances get left out. This was one of those times.

        Those searching the BLM site should look a the detailed information and the patent itself as that will provide details about the act under which the patent was issued. That would get at some of the issues Jade addressed.


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