by Melissa Shimkus
Searching for land patents issued by the United States government is easy thanks to the General Land Office of the Bureau of Land Management website:
An additional valuable source is the series of books produced by Arphax Publishing
and Gregory Alan Boyd titled "Family Maps of…" Each volume in this ongoing series focuses on an individual county. Although not yet complete, the series already features 363 titles for the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin. All are available in the
Each book begins with a useful introduction and general maps showing the county's location within the state and in the context of neighboring counties, as well as maps depicting townships, cities and towns, and cemeteries. A general surname index leads you to a "map group" for the township of interest, where you will find details on each land patent in that township as well a map outlining the location of each patent. Once you locate your ancestor on the patent map, it is easy to see which individuals obtained patents on neighboring parcels of land. The map group for each township also includes a road map and an historical map showing waterways, cemeteries, and railroads.
The surname/township index in "Family Maps of Holmes County, Florida" (call number 975.901 H73BO), for example, references two parcels of land for the Moore family in Township 4-N Range 14-W or map group 22. The index to land patents in the section for map group 22 provides details. Elizabeth and John E. Moore had a patent issued on February 21, 1893 for the southwest quarter of section 10, with a portion located in Washington County. The patent map shows that the property of Elizabeth and John is bounded to the north by that of George W. Moore, who received his land patent on the same date. Based on the information gleaned from this book, we now have a specific location for the family's land, another individual to research, and a legal description to extend our property records search.
The "Family Maps" series by Gregory Alan Boyd is an excellent source for land patents in the United States. It provides easy to use indexes and visuals that make researching land patents simple. Genealogists will garner valuable family property information as well as leads for additional research.
Arphax Publishing website: http://www.arphax.com/
This electronic newsletter is published by the Allen County Public Library's Genealogy Center, and is intended to enlighten readers about genealogical research methods as well as inform them about the vast resources of the Allen County Public Library. We welcome the wide distribution of this newsletter and encourage readers to forward it to their friends and societies. All precautions have been made to avoid errors. However, the publisher does not assume any liability to any party for any loss or damage caused by errors or omissions, no matter the cause.
To subscribe to "Genealogy Gems," simply use your browser to go to the website: www.GenealogyCenter.Info. Scroll down toward the bottom of the first screen where it says, "Enter Your Email Address to Subscribe to "Genealogy Gems." Enter your email address in the yellow box and click on "Subscribe." You will be notified with a confirmation email.
Steve Myers & Curt Witcher, co-editors