Land Patents of Monroe County  


Land Patents of Monroe County

Extracts from Land Patent Records for Monroe County -text file, press back to return here.

What's a land patent?

Much of the United States was once "public domain" land owned by the federal government and transferred to individuals under laws enacted by Congress. Missouri was among the 30 states that were formed from the "public domain."

The homestead and other land ownership records of the pioneers who settled the American West include many valuable documents that show ownership of land acquired under various federal laws designed to promote settlement of the western frontier.

Homestead and other land ownership records are rich in genealogical information, and provide two types of important evidence for genealogists. First, they locate individuals and families in a specific time and place with connections to other people in the neighborhood, and second, they clearly show family relationships.

Laws that opened up the American West

The Pre-emption Act of 1841 accomodated settlers who had established themselves illegally on land ahead of government surveyors. When the surrounding land was eventually surveyed and made ready for public sale, the "squatter" had the right to appear at the local land office and purchase up to 160 acres of their illegal holdings for $1.25 per acre to pre-empt or prevent any subsequent claims, as long as the settler could show proof of a dwelling and improvements to the land. The Pre-emption Act, repealed in 1891, legalized early pioneer settlement on unsurveyed lands, and recognized squatting as a legitimate means of establishing a homestead. Many homestead files contain documents of proof related to the Pre-emption Act.

Land patents document the transfer of land ownership from the federal government to individuals.

Frequently asked questions about land patents, click here.

Explanation of Land Records from the Learning Center: Section I, #2

Graphics courtesy of Rhiossampler