2013 – Advanced Land Research: Locating, Analyzing, Mapping

Coordinators: Richard “Rick” G. Sayre, CG, CGL, and Pamela Boyer Sayre, CG, CGL

Instructor: Angela Packer McGhie

Rick and Pam Sayre, coordinators of the Advanced Land Course

Land course ladies with their sticks

Land course ladies with their sticks

2013 July 24 - Land class 2013 July 24 - Barbara Ball - Susan Michael in land class 2013 July 24 - Shemele Jordon - Debbie Abbott in land classLand genealogy is as important as people genealogy for overcoming family history research barriers. This course explores land distribution in the current United States by colonial powers, private land claims, federal land records at both the National Archives and the General Land Office, and local-level county or town deeds. Students will learn about the Public Land Survey System and the metes and bound system. Course content illustrates the use of land records to prove kinship. Use of software and Internet resources for finding land records, mapping, and deed platting is demonstrated and practiced in hands-on computer labs. 


8:30-9:45  Overview of Land Division in the United States (Rick Sayre)

An explanation of the overall history, survey, and process of acquisition and distribution of land in the United States, first by foreign governments (British, French, Spanish), and then by individual states and the U.S. government.

10:15-11:30  State Land States (Pam Sayre)

Identifying “state land” states (the original thirteen colonies, their “children,” and a few other unique states) and understanding the property descriptions for these metes and bounds surveys. A look at resources for finding records of the first purchases or grants of land from a previous government, state, or commonwealth in these areas, and a brief look at how property in state land states is described in deeds.

1:00-2:15  Federal Land Division (Rick Sayre)

A description of the United States government’s method of surveying and describing lands it acquired after formation of the country and from other later sources such as the Louisiana Purchase. A brief look at how federal land (rectangular grid survey) is described in deeds.

2:45-4:00  Land Division in Ohio & Other Unique Areas (Rick Sayre)

Some areas within the United States have unique systems of land division, such as Ohio with its several methods of survey, Georgia with it’s Land Lottery properties, New England with its town lots, and Texas, which brought its own system. This class describes some of the areas that don’t follow the norm of other state land or federal land states.


8:30-9:45  All About Deeds (Pam Sayre)

Students will understand how land was transferred in a private sale from individual to individual and recorded at the local seat of government. They will learn to read, interpret, and abstract a metes and bounds deed and a Public Land Survey System (federal land) deed and see how their plats can be placed on a map.

10:15-11:30  Private Land Claims (Pam Sayre)

When the United States acquired land that had been under the governance of foreign nations (Great Britain, France, Spain, and Mexico), the U.S. government agreed to grant title to land owners who could prove prior legal land rights from those foreign governments. This class shows how to access and use records resulting from the adjudication of these “private land claims,” which may provide significant family information.

1:00-2:15  Using the BLM General Land Office Website (Rick Sayre)

Learn to use the Bureau of Land Management General Land Office website to locate patents for first purchasers of federal land, find bounty land awarded to veterans for service in wars up through the Mexican War, locate the neighbors, and discover the jewels available in this valuable online source.

2:45-4:00  Land Entry Files (Angela McGhie)

From 1789 to 1898, the United States acquired public land, surveyed it, and disposed of it, creating federal land records in the process. Today the National Archives holds land entry papers for the thirty public land states whose lands were once part of the U.S. public domain. These records are valuable for locating families and individuals at a point in time and documenting family land holdings. They may also provide valuable family information.


8:30-9:45  Homestead Records (Rick Sayre)

Because the Homestead Act touched so many lives in the United States, creating huge numbers of records, and because homestead files within the General Land Office are such rich sources of information about the claimants, this session describes the Homestead Act, the process of claiming the land, and provides illustrative case files.

10:15-11:30 Tract Books (Angela McGhie)

Tract books were maintained by the General Land Office, and then the Bureau of Land Management, to record land entries and actions affecting the disposition of public land. They can be used as an index to locate patented as well as cancelled land transactions.

1:00-2:15 U.S. Military Bounty Lands (Rick Sayre)

An understanding of the process of applying for and receiving bounty land from the U.S. government for military service is the intent of this class. Case studies will illustrate this process, and resources for finding these important records will be shown.

2:45-4:00  Finding and Using Land Ownership Maps (Rick Sayre)

A description of the many maps that contribute to knowledge of land ownership, from a detailed map of property owners along the upper Ohio River, to 1800s-era cadastral survey maps, to county maps by Arphax detailing original purchasers of federal lands. Online resources such as Historic Map Works, Library Edition will be available in the Family History Library and demonstrated in the Computer Lab. Students will learn how to find maps for their area of research.


8:30-9:45  Land Records in the Serial Set, ASP, and Territorial Papers (Rick Sayre)

These three government publications contain unique and significant information concerning land transactions in the public domain. These documents cover most of the nation’s history and contain amongst many things, information on land titles, bounty land applications and claims, and private land disputes. Students will discover the nature of these records and how to effectively search them.

10:15-11:30  Land Records in the Family History Library (Pam Sayre)

A demonstration of the rich resources for land research available in the Family History Library: deeds, maps, property tax records, and more. Learn to use the library catalog to locate resources; then analyze and correlate the records to form valid conclusions.

1:00-4:00  (2.5 hours) Hands-on Computer Lab (Sayre and Sayre)

In this hands-on computer lab, students will learn to enter calls and relevant information from metes and bounds and rectangular grid survey deeds into Direct Line Software’s DeedMapper program to create plat maps of the land. Students will also use Google Earth and other websites or programs that provide tools for visualizing land plats and maps as genealogical problem-solving resources.


8:30-9:45  Records of the General Land Office: A Guide (Rick Sayre)

This guide is the first comprehensive guide to federal land records created 1804–1912 relating to the contiguous states west of the Mississippi River. Published by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) as the fourth part of its Trans-Mississippi West series (following guides to State, Justice, and Agriculture Department records), it continues the inventory of Department of the Interior records, and is a continuation of The Territorial Papers of the United States

10:15-11:30  Reports on Class Projects (Sayre and Sayre)

At the beginning of the week, students will be assigned teams and a project to complete together. In this final session, teams will present their findings to the class in a brief report.

11:30-12:00  Wrap-up and certificates followed by lunch