Monday, July 12, 2010

Locating Your Slaveowner's Lands

I love YouTube. Months ago, I came across this wonderful gem entitled "Find Your Ancestors Land Records Using Google Earth" by Kimberly Selma. By using the Bureau of Land Management Land Records and a couple of other websites, Kimberly demonstrated how she located her ancestor's land.

For me, I also used it to locate the land of my ancestors/slaveowners: Andrew Boyd and his father-in-law, John McDowell. Before you get started, ask yourself: is your state of research a State-Land state or a Public-Land state? State-Land states have legal descriptions in terms of Metes and Bounds. Public-Land states, aka Public-Domain states, have legal descriptions in terms of Townships and Ranges.

The State-land states are those original 13 colonies + a couple more (i.e., CT, DE, GA, KY, MA, MD, ME, NC, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, SC, VA, VT, WV, & parts of TX). Public-Land states, aka Public-Domain states, are those 30 states (plus parts of TX) obtained through the Louisiana Purchase, Indian Removal, and other acquisitions.

Don't assume that all land record information is listed there. For example, the Bureau of Land Management shows Andrew Boyd, of Oktibbeha County, MS with three land patents in 1841. If I didn't know better, I'd think that was when he arrived there from Perry County, AL. Here's the rub: according to his headstone, he died in 1839. A couple of years ago, after requesting Andrew Boyd's land records file, from the National Archives (in Washington, DC.), I discovered that he was actually there in 1834!

Linda Haas Davenport has a great book entitled Taking the Mystery Out of Land Records (2nd ed.). Unfortunately, this book is now sold out but you can still gain valuable tips at Linda's website. How the States Got Their Shape, by Mark Stein, and the more recent companion DVD (100 minutes) will also greatly aid you in your land research.

Question?  Comment?  Email me!

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