Land and property records can be likened to a giant iceberg floating on the sea; what you see above the water is only a small portion of the whole iceberg. When I first started out in genealogy, I thought of land as being bought and sold between two individuals (so some sort of deed was created) and I thought of homesteads (but I had no idea what records were created). Later I realized this was only the tip of the iceberg. So, what are some other types of land records that make up the rest of the iceberg?
For starters, the federal government made the initial transfer of ownership of public lands in several ways besides via homestead claims. Here are some examples:
- Credit sales.
- Cash Entry – You can take a quick look at a Cash Entry file in Part 2 of “A Look at a Cash Entry Land File” at my blog The Turning of Generations.
- Pre-emption claims – To view a Pre-emption file disguised as a Cash Entry file, see my series at The Turning of Generations titled “A Look at a Cash Entry Land File.”
- Mineral, timber culture and desert land sales.
- Bounty Land Warrants – There is an example of a Military Land Warrant File issued under the Scrip Warrant Act of 1847, for the recipient’s service in the Mexican American War, in my series called “Using Land Records to Solve Genealogical Problems.”
In addition, land can be transferred between two parties in a variety of other ways. Here are a few examples:
- Sherriff’s Sale
- Grants by colonial powers
As you can see, land and property records are like a giant genealogical iceberg. We will attempt to chip away at the iceberg and go more in depth with this subject in the coming weeks and months.
What other methods of transferring land can you think of?
© 2012 Michelle Goodrum