Thursday, December 29, 2005

Early St. Vincent Area Settlers & Land

This is a land patent, or grant, for a quarter section of land my great grandfather William A. Fitzgerald bought in 1890 near St. Vincent.

Some interesting additional information from the source website, about land records (or "patents") in general from this time period:

Before the homesteaders, soldiers, and other entrymen received their patents, some government paperwork had to be done. Those purchasing land from the United States had to be given receipts for payments, while those obtaining land through military bounty land warrants, preemption entries, or the Homestead Act of 1862, had to file applications, give proof about military service, residence on and improvements to the land, or proof of citizenship. The paperwork generated by those bureaucratic activities, compiled into land entry case files, is held by the National Archives and Records Administration.

The earliest land entry files, those dating from 1788 to the mid-1850's, generally contain little substantive genealogical information. They simply document a financial transaction or provide evidence of military service. Still, for some researchers just knowing that someone purchased land or received a bounty land warrant, that they were at a certain place at a certain time is often more information than they had before viewing the copies of the records.

No two land entry files are alike, nor is the evidence described above guaranteed to be in each case file. Each is an adventure because one never knows in advance what information and documentation it will contain.