American Military Bounty Lands–Beginning Your Study on an Essential Genealogy Subject

If your ancestors fought in America’s wars before 1860, they and/or their heirs were entitled to apply for bounty land.  Some of this land was in lieu of pay, some of the land was an inducement to enlist and serve.  The lands were awarded throughout the country where settlement had not begun or where gaps in settlement left tax holes and security problems.  They were awarded along boundary lines that had not yet been finalized by survey and law.

These lands were granted by the newly formed United States of America, by state and even local governments, by commanding officers.  And their are rumors and suppositions that bounty lands were available within the original colonies granted by foreign powers–England, Spain, France. and the Netherlands.

You will find it beneficial to begin your study of bounty lands with these references:

Bockstruck, Lloyd DeWitt . Revolutionary War Bounty Land Grants Awarded by State Governments.  Baltimore:  Genealogical Publishing Company, 1996.  A ground-breaking book that opened documentation for many new lineages.  Extensive and well-rounded bibliography of state and local studies and sources.

Brown, Margie G. Genealogical Abstracts, Revolutionary War Veterans Script Act, 1852.  1990.  Available from author, 3005 Phyllmar Place, Oakton VA 22124.  Mostly Virginia families involved in these 1,689 files, from Record Group 49, BLM.

Carlson, Theodore L.  The Illinois Military Tract.  Urbana IL:  University of Illinois Press, 1951.  Includes maps showing the location of tract and the counties involved.  Detailed source notes in the footnotes.

Dunaway, Maxine.  Missouri Military Land Warrants, War of 1812.  1985.  Available from the author, 4545 S. Harvard Ave, Springfield MO 65804 and found in many research libraries.

Jansen, Daniel.  “A Case of Fraud and Deception:  The Revolutionary War Military Land Policy in Tennessee,” Journal of East Tennessee History #64 (1992):  41-67.

Kaplan, Sidney, “Pay, Pension, and Power:  Economic Grievances of the Massachusetts Officers of the Revolution,” Boston Library Quarterly 3 (Jan-Mar 1951): 129-34.

McCall, Ettie Tidwell.  Revolutionary Soldiers’ Receipts for Georgia Bounty Lands.  1928, 1946.  Microfilm, FHL#0006998, item 3.

New York Secretary of State.  The Balloting Book and other Documents Relating to the Military Bounty Lands in the State of New York.  Albany NY:  Packard and Benthuysen, 1825.  Available on microfilm, FHL #0812864, item 4.  Indexed on cards by Betty Auten, New YorkMilitary Index, 2 microfilm rolls, #1276113-114.  Additional index by M. Frances Ferris, 1972, microfilm FHL #896803, item 6.  Compare both indexes for some differences.  Map showing the original division of the second military tract into townships and lots available.

“Northern California Bounty Land Grantees under the Acts of 1847-55,” National Genealogical Society Quarterly (1983-84).  Alphabetical list of grantees, rank, service unit, district, and county in California where land was awarded.  Ran serially in each issue, 1983-84.

Oberly, James W. “Military Bounty Land Warrants of the Mexican War,” Prologue (Spring 1982).

__________.  Sixty Million Acres:  American Veterans and the Public Lands Before the Civil War.  Kent OH:  Kent State University Press, 1983.  Essential reading, especially valuable for families with Iowa ties.

Vivian, Jean H. “Military Land Bounties During the Revolutionary and Confederation Periods,” Maryland Historical Magazine 61 (1966): 231-56.

Stay tuned for “Who Fought in the American Revolution?”  My list of participants might surprise you.  And lead you to an unknown origin for your American lineage.  Your favorite genealogist, Arlene Eakle

PS  We Americans are an amazing amalgam of descent–many ancestors are lost because their origins are hidden in the American experience.  Break your losing streak! Begin your study of bounty lands today.

PPS  You will note that I reference the holdings of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City UT for many of the materials that I discuss or recommend.  A growing number of items are now digitized and available in full on the desktops at the main Library and many of them are also available through local centers.  The Catalog of the FHL is a master finding tool for lots of genealogy.  If you know it is here, you can expect also to find it it in libraries and archives near you.  Having a title, author, and other details are all you need to plug the sources into WorldCat for the library nearest you and how to obtain the works.  You can also borrow from the FHL or plan a visit to Salt Lake City to use a wide variety of resources all at once.

PPS  More than 30 avid genealogists will gather22 to 26 October at the Family History Library for a Genealogy Research Retreat hosted by Family History Expos.  And if you come too, you get my consultation services as part of the package!  Can’t beat that.  Got to to register.


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