52 Ancestors,
in 52 Weeks
Week 7:
Landed
Family Finds Charter Oak

Land Maps for Genealogy

While researching my ancestors, I often find it helpful to place them on a map. Land records can be particularly helpful for locating where my ancestors lived. Colonial America used a system called “metes and bounds” which relied heavily on landmarks, like trees and creeks, and accepted boundaries for neighboring land. However, beginning in 1785, the United States government’s surveyors adopted the rectangular method of laying out property. [1] As a result, most lands west of the original 13 colonies are platted in a method using Ranges, Townships and Sections to identify property boundaries. For this week’s prompt, I will describe using land records to locate where my 3rd great-grandfather lived in Ohio more than 180 years ago.

Samuel Gilbert, 1812-1895

I previously wrote about Samuel Gilbert, one of my maternal 3rd great-grandfathers, for last year’s Week 12 prompt “Loss.” [2, 3] He is also one of my brick walls. Samuel was born in Pennsylvania, but lived his adult life in Ohio. The earliest record I have for him is a land record from 1835. [4] I used this record to find the location of Samuel’s farm land and to discover who his neighbors were. By identifying Samuel’s neighbors I am hoping to discover information that will help break his brick wall.

Nineteenth Century Land Records

Here is the land record provided by Ancestry.com for Samuel Gilbert. The information provided does let me find the location on a map, if you know how to translate the data. In this case, Ancestry provides a link to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) record. However, even if you do not have a record like this one, you should be able to find your ancestors’ land record on the BLM site with just basic information.

Ancestry Land Record

Bureau of Land Management

Access the main page for land records of the BLM at: https://glorecords.blm.gov/ and select the link called “Land Patents.” [5] This takes you to a page where you can search for your ancestor using their name. However, the more information you have about their land ownership, such as state and county, will help narrow your search results. Additionally, if you have any portion of their land description (range, township, doc. number, etc.) your search results will be much improved.

BLM Home Page
BLM Search Page

BLM Land Map Example

For my ancestor, I performed a search using the name of his property co-owner (Immel) since his surname is more unusual. And I selected the state of Ohio as the location. The search results are just five records and the first one is for my ancestor and his partner. Click on the “Accession” number and you will go to a page with more details about the land patent. Make note of the information provided just above the map of the United States. The heading “Twp-Rng” stands for Township and Range, these numbers, along with Aliquots and Section, will be helpful to finding your ancestors’ property on a map.

Finding Range and Township

The patent details page on the BLM website has a map. Use the checkbox next to the land description and the map should zero in on the property. However, from my experience, this map feature often does not work. If that is the case for you, there is another option. Open the BLM home page in a new tab, then scroll down the home page and use the link “Land Catalog.” [6] https://glorecords.blm.gov/LandCatalog/Catalog This opens a page with a map of the United States with areas shaded in blue. These blue shaded areas cover the land included in the BLM records. At the top right on the screen fill in your information for state, township, range, and section from the land record results. For my example it’s Ohio, 18N 21W, and 25. This causes the map to zoom in to the entered location. But, you still need to use the “Aliquots” from the record to further locate your ancestors’ property. For my example, my ancestor co-owned the 160 acres of land in the “SE 1/4” of section 25.

BLM Search Results
BLM Patent Record
Land Catalog Search
Land Catalog Search Result 18N 21W
Land Catalog Search Result Sec25

Modern Map Location

Looking at the BLM land map for my example, you can see the SE ¼ is the northwest corner of the intersection of Johnston and Dickson Roads. Using Google Maps, or some other mapping program, I can enter this intersection information and find a modern address and/or geo-location for my ancestors’ property. [7] Using the satellite layer of the map, I can see there is still a farm at this location. Nice. I’ve dropped a pin and recorded the latitude and longitude for future reference.

I have included a broader area map at right. My ancestors’ land was northeast of Bucyrus, in Crawford County, OH.

Satellite View of Sec25
Area around 18N 21W

Conclusion

I have found the Bureau of Land Management site useful for mapping the land owned by my 19th century ancestors. Although this example is for a regular land purchase, the BLM database can be used to look up military service bounty land, too. And, the Land Catalog can be used to look for any land for which you have township, range and section. Lastly, I encourage you to investigate what other information can be found on the BLM website. For example, not only is Samuel Gilbert a brick wall for me, so is his wife, my 3rd great grandmother, Sarah Smith. Using the BLM records, I discovered five men named Smith living within the same township as the Gilbert’s. I am considering them as leads for finding Sarah’s family. See my bonus tip below.

Resources Used

  1. Bureau of Land Management land records at the US Department of the Interior date back to 1785.
  2. Land Catalog maintained by the BLM allows searching or browsing by Township, Range and Section.
  3. Ohio Land and Property Resources at Family Search.
Smith Land Patents 18N 21W

EPILOGUE

Beyond the Map

The BLM record provides more than just location if you look further. From the Patent Details page there are clickable tabs for the Patent Image and Related Documents. The Patent Image is a digitized version of your ancestors land patent. The Related Documents tab includes the accession numbers and names of other property owners in the same section. If you want to find a larger number of immediate neighbors, return to the Search page and enter the township and range under Land Description for a broader search. Alternatively, you could enter specific nearby sections to narrow your search results. Using the links on the left side of the Related Documents tab will also let you access the original survey, if it exists. The other links on the left will not typically yield results for your ancestors unless they were involved in mining or public lands.

Gilbert Patent OH0580
BLM Original Survey N18W21

SOURCES:

  1. Online document, Bureau of Land Management, “A History of the Rectangular Survey System,” https://www.blm.gov/sites/blm.gov/files/histrect.pdf; accessed 19 February 2022
  2. Profile of Samuel Gilbert, ‘Osborn‘ tree, Ancestry.com; https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/13493206/person/12164041102/facts
  3. Blog post, Family Finds: Loss; https://barblafara.com/loss/
  4. Land patent entry for Samuel Gilbert, Certificate# 3062; Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records; Washington D.C., USA; Federal Land Patents, State Volumes; Ohio, Crawford County, image 468 of 2077; accessed online at Ancestry.com: https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/1615576:1246?ssrc=pt&tid=13493206&pid=12164041102
  5. Website, BLM GLO Records;
    https://glorecords.blm.gov/default.aspx : accessed 19 February 2022
  6. Website, BLM Land Catalog;
    https://glorecords.blm.gov/LandCatalog/Catalog : accessed 19 February 2022
  7. Website, Google Maps, Johnston Rd & Dickson Rd, OH 44887; https://www.google.com/maps/place/Johnston+Rd+Dickson+Rd,+OH+44887/@40.9170563,-82.8008068,17z: accessed 20 February 2022

1 Comment

  1. Janet Hartje

    Thank you for the detailed information on using the Bureau of Land Management site.

    Reply

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thirteen − four =

Remember Me and I Will Live

Frank Takeo Flucawa

Born Takeo Furukawa on 15 March 1883 in Tottori-Ken, Tokyo, Japan, little is documented of his early childhood. Family oral history stories say that the young Takeo experienced hunger, poverty and the loss of his family. Additionally, the stories tell of friendship, spiritual learning and scholarship.

David L. Osborne: His Indianapolis Homes

My great grandfather, David Louis Osborne, lived at over 20 addresses around Indianapolis between 1876 and 1942. I thought it would be interesting to see all the old buildings and homes where he lived in my hometown of Indianapolis.

The Marriage of David and Jennie Osborne

My great grandfather, David Louis Osborne (1848-1942), was a widower with two young sons in 1886 when he married Jennie Warbington (1857-1918) in Minneapolis on the 27th of May. I decided it was time to put sources to the story.

Do You See A Resemblance?

While working on a family photo project I decided it would be fun to compare side-by-side my father and his parents, at similar ages, to try and discover a family resemblance.

Probate of Jesse King 1868

Jesse King was born in Ohio (probably in the vicinity of Chillicothe) in 1805, he was a son of Philip King and Mary Leah Wright, both of Pennsylvania. Philip King was a farmer, he married Leah Wright in 1801 in Somerset, PA, they had six children, of whom Jesse was the third.

Letter from Sarah Tucker Lafary

A handwritten letter from Sarah Tucker Lafary to the then president of the United States, Grover Cleveland. It was her last appeal for a War of 1812 pension, sadly the pension was denied. The letter gives a glimpse of a woman who had no formal education, a poor farmers wife, then widow, mother of nine, she probably just wanted some independence through an income of her own.

Sarah Smith: Challenge

52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 2: Challenge
So much about genealogy research is a challenge, perhaps the most common challenge is the ‘brick wall,’ meet Sarah Smith. 18?? – 1846

Laferre to LaFara: Unusual Name

52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 3: Unusual Name
The surnames in my tree are typical of common western European names. However, the name that is unusual among these names is MY surname: LaFara.

Luella Pressell: Surprise!

52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 6: Surprise!
Just when you think you know everything about an ancestor, surprise! I thought I knew most everything about my paternal great grandfather David L. Osborne, 1848-1942.

Rumple Family Photo 1895

For all of us who are procrastinating about labeling photos I have one thing to say, “Be considerate of the genealogist of the future!” My maternal grandmother was very good about labeling old family photos, and there is one, in particular, I found very informative.

Conrad Rumple: Bachelor Uncle

52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 10: Bachelor Uncle
My uncles are the marrying kind, sometimes more than once!
I had to go back four generations for a bachelor uncle, my great-great-great uncle Conrad Rumple, 1833-1911.
Conrad was an older brother to my great-great grandfather on my matrilineal line, William Rumple, 1839-1912.

George Lafary and Catherine Landon: Large Family

52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 11: Large Family
My great-great grandparents, George Lafary and Catherine Landon, had a relatively small family, three of their six children survived to adulthood. However, they both came from large families of nine siblings and nearly all survived to marry and have children.

In The Paper

52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 13: In The Paper
It’s fun to find articles in the paper mentioning one of my relatives. Mostly they are birth, marriage, divorce and death events. But, it’s the oddball articles in the papers I like the most.

Genealogy Brick Walls

52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 14: Brick Wall
We all have a brick wall, that one ancestor who defies all research. I decided I would work at my brick walls by generation, I broke through the last of my 3rd great grandparent brick walls, now I am working on 4th great grandparents.

Catherine Landon: Out of Place

52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 16: Out of Place
I realized I did not have a date of death for my great, great grandmother, Catherine Landon Lafary. A fresh search uncovered the date and much more. Out of place, but once discovered, everything fell into place.

Immigrant Ancestors, Fresh Start

52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week1: Fresh Start.
The varied reasons my European ancestors immigrated to North America for a fresh start.

William and Uva Lafara: Favorite Photo

I have many favorite photos among my collection of family artifacts. Currently, my favorite photo is of two little children from 1916 who were a complete mystery to me until last spring.

Close to Home

My grandparents. Earl and Pearl, met at church, close to home, in 1914,

So Far Away

My great-uncle Frank immigrated to the United States from Japan in 1905 to further his education, so far away

Same Name

I get excited when I discover an ancestor with the same name as a friend, or co-worker, or neighbor. Maybe we are related!