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Homesteads and Land Records

Land records are among the basic records that genealogists pour over for clues about their ancestors. Land records can indicate where a person, or family was during a certain period of time, when a person died, and who his heirs were. The desire for land was a part of the motivation for the desire to move west. This web page is about land, its records, and homesteading in America.

For a bunch of wonderful stories, many having to do with homesteading, check out The WPA Life Histories Collection. This is a collection of stories and diaries collected during the 1930's by the WPA, a government project. The material was gathered from senior citizens of the 1930's, who either remembered homesteading in the late 1800's, or were first generation children of pioneers.

See my page: "What is a Quarter Section?" for an explanation of sections, how they are numbered, townships and other topics and links related to this topic.

The Home Page for the Homestead National Monument , and also here, of the US Parks Service in Beatrice, Nebraska.

For a good web page that will help to explain about the use of land records in genealogy, visit Land Record Reference and the Land Notes. The author of the latter site has a primary focus of Wisconsin, but has good general knowledge here. Also, at see this webmaster's links to world wide web sites about land. Don't be misled by the title about Wisconsin, many of the links mentioned are significant to all parts of the country.

Get actual copies of Homestead Documents over the Internet! Finally, the true power of the web is being used. Actual copies of the actual original land patents of our ancestors are on-line by the Bureau of Land Management. Visit the The Official Land Patents Records Site on the web with all the original government land records for the following:

            Alabama Land Patents
            Arkansas Land Patents
            Florida Land Patents
            Indiana Land Patents
            Louisiana Land Patents
            Michigan Land Patents
            Minnesota Land Patents
            Mississippi Land Patents
            Missouri Land Patents
            Ohio Land Patents
            Wisconsin Land Patents

They have actually scanned in the original documents that can be viewed with a paint program, or an image viewer, like ACDC. They also have a program at the site for downloading for viewing the documents. I found the original land patent of my 3xg granddaddy in Ohio in just under one minute, including the sign-in. (I had previously gotten a photo-copy the "old" way a year ago - by mail.)

To determine how to actually find land on the ground, visit "Where Two Oak Trees Grow".

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Copyright, Norris Taylor, 1998