2019 Virtual Genealogy Fair Session 6: The Homestead Act: Land Records of Your Ancestors

>> Welcome back to the 2019 Virtual Genealogy Fair! If you are following along from home, this is session number 6 – our final presentation for this year’s fair. The lecture is accessible for all skill levels and is entitled, The Homestead Act: Land Records of Your Ancestors and our speaker is James Muhn. During this session, he explains the basic provisions of the Homestead Act and demonstrates how to research and interpret homestead documents found in Record Group 49, Records of the Bureau of Land Management BLM for family history research. Mr. Muhn is a Researcher, Writer, and Lecturer on Federal Land Policy I am turning the broadcast over to Mr. James Muhn >>> First, let me thank the National Archives for inviting me to give this presentation Starting on slide four for most people the Homestead Act is law by which the American frontier was settled. Not enacted until 1862 it was but one of many authorities by which the public lands of the United States were disposed of. It was, however, one of the most important since under its provisions it stimulated the settlement and development of the Great Plains, far west and Alaska. Go to slide five. Homestead entries could only be made on public lands. As a result no entries could be made in the original 13 states, Maine, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas or Hawaii. Exclusive of Alaska 1.5 billion acres of public lands were acquired It is on these lands that homesteads could be made. Next slide, number six. As noted, the Homestead Act was but one of a dozen laws providing for the disposal and management of public lands. When passed in 1862 there were already many laws enacted by Congress Please go to slide number seven. Early land policy sought to generate revenue, reward military service and promote settlement and development. Lands were sold at auction. Military bounties were given to soldiers who had served in wars like the Revolution, war of 1812 and the Mexican war. Lands were granted to states. Private land grants were recognized it had been given for titles that had been given by previous sovereigns. Road, canal and railroad grants were issued. There were donation and preemption laws that allowed individual settlers to take up lands. Please go to slide number eight. After passage of the Homestead Act in 1862 many of the previous land laws continued to operate. Congress also enacted additional disposal laws.The consequence was, as historian Paul Wallace Gates called it, an incongruent land system with policies often in conflict with each other. For some of the later laws after the Homestead Act, we had laws disposing of gold, silver, coal, as well as oil and gas. There was the timber culture act, which gave 160 acres for people to plant a certain number of trees. Desert land act gave land to people that irrigated them. The timber and stone act disposed of those lands that were chiefly valuable for those resources. Then conservation policies that later came in like the national forest, which took lands out of the settlement policies. Please go to slide number nine. Administering the Homestead Act and other land laws was the responsibility of the land department as it was referred to in the late 1800’s. The Land department consisted of the Department of Interior created by Congress in 1849 and the general land office. The general land office handled the day-to-day business of disposing of and otherwise managing the public domain. Under it were district land offices with registers and receivers whose duties included taking applications and reviewing land entries Surveyors general directed the survey of public lands and special agents investigated suspected fraud cases. Please go to slide number 10 Of the many public land disposal laws, The Homestead Act and its amendments are considered by many the most important. Of the more than 1.1 billion acres of public lands disposed of, over 285

million were patented as homesteads and 25% of the total. More important about 1.3 million individuals successfully completed homesteads. Please go to slide number 11. The Original homestead law of May 20th, 1862 provided that a settler could enter up to 160 acres. It specified the character of the land that could be entered, stated who could make entry and requirements to be fulfilled to obtain title. Please go to slide number 12. After passage of the Homestead Act in 1862 Congress did many amendments to the law. Here are a few of them. For example, 1872 Union veterans could apply up to four years of service toward their five years of proving up on the homestead. 1875 and ’84 Native Americans were allowed to make homesteads In 1898 the homestead law was extended to Alaska. Please go to slide number 13. In the early 1900’s there were a number of new homestead acts. In 1906 the Forest Homestead Act allowed entries within the national forests. 1909 the enlarged Homestead Act gave up to 320 acres to a settler In 1912 the three year Homestead Act reduced the five year period of time to prove up on a homestead to three years. In 1916 the Stock Raising Homestead Act gave 640 acres or a full section of land to a settler. In 1976 the Federal Land Policy and management act repealed the homestead laws. Please go to slide number 14. So what were the motivations for homesteading? Well, perhaps most important was for people was getting a farm of their own. They saw this as better economic opportunity and also saw it as a means of economic security. Some took out homesteads to help a family. Children would take out entries so that their father could add to his original homestead. There were people who speculated who took out a homestead in hope for selling more money after they got patent. There were people who did it for fraudulent reasons. They wanted to help ranchers, coal mining companies or timber companies get lands that otherwise would not be able to obtain. For many adventure was an important factor. Please go to slide 15. Interpreting the Homestead Act. There were two basic concepts that the land department used when interpreting the Homestead Act. One was the liberal spirit concept. The Homestead Act had a generous and benevolent intent in offering 160 acres to settlers. Therefore the land department took the position the law was entitled to a liberal construction in aid of the ends to be attained. At the same time, however, the land department had a legal obligation to assure the law’s proper construction to as to bestow the public lands for homesteads according to the law and not according to individual or corporate desires. The other concept was good faith. For the land department good faith on the part of the homesteader was the essential element upon which it determined their compliance with the law As Secretary of the interior Henry Teller remarked in 1884 the homestead law is a practical law and it is so devised that it may have practical enforcement. The law itself provides its own evidence of good faith in improvement, cultivation and residence. If these exist as facts, the law is satisfied. Therefore, the land department measured the good faith of settlers by determining if their acts and intention showed that they intended to make their homestead entries actual homes to the exclusion of others elsewhere. Please go to slide number 16. Like any good bureaucracy the land department had a flow that people had to follow. Homesteaders first dealt with the register and receiver in the district land offices. Most people only had to deal with these individuals. Here entries were made, final proofs were made and accepted. Once these officials passed on a homestead it went

to the general land office where it was again reviewed and in most cases simply went to patent. If a case was contested for either fraud, for one reason or another, it could then be appealed up to the secretary of the interior who would make a decision on whether the homestead should go to patent or not. In very, very few cases the entry might go to the Federal Court. Please go to slide number 17. To make a homestead entry lands had to be surveyed. This was done by surveying the land into townships and subdivided into sections so the land could be identified by legal land description. In doing this the first thing somebody needs to know when looking for a legal land description is the principle Meridian, as the color map shows there are numerous principle Meridians Lands were then surveyed into townships, A Township was identified by township, north or south, or — and then range which is east-west axis. Therefore if somebody says to you my ancestor was in township one north, one west, the big question is which principle Meridian are you located? Please go to slide number 18. So as mentioned the basis of legal land description is the township for the rectangular survey system. A Survey township plat shows what the surveyor found when running his lines within a township at the time of survey, not the date the plat is approved. In this example the plat shows a lake, stream, roads, houses, fenced land and other features. Accompanying a survey plat are field notes giving survey and details and at the end a general description that describes the character of the land and oftentimes the settlement activity in the township. If your settlers settled on public lands prior to survey they should show up on the plat. However, since survey lines are a mile apart from each other and if somebody is in ravine they might be missing. Please go to slide number 19. In addition to township surveys, there were surveys made under the Forest Homestead Act of 1906 That law allowed people to make homestead entry on lands chiefly valuable for agricultural purposes within national forests. The available areas were usually located in unsurveyed mountainous regions and agricultural tracks of irregular shape. The law provided for the survey entries by metes and bounds description. Known as a homestead entry survey or HES, each survey received a specific number for the state or territory located. The HES plat will show physical features like slope and natural water courses and will show the location of improvements like houses, barns and irrigation ditches. The accompanied field notes provide more information about improvements, quality of soil and the agricultural activity on the entry Please go to slide number 20, the process Complying with the Homestead Act and the regulations for it was at times a harder endeavor than living on the land and cultivating it. Please go to slide number 21. The Homestead Act as with all public land policies is complex Congress was constantly modifying the provisions of the Homestead Act for a variety of reasons At times a new law sought to liberalize a provision In other instances Congress sought to close a loophole to prevent frauds from subverting the Homestead Act’s intent. Land department administration of the law was also constantly evolving. Its eforts to interpret the law in Liberal spirit but not in a manner that permitted the fraudulent acquisition of land resulted in it having to continually change rules and regulations used to determine the good faith of settlers in complying with the provisions of the law. What was policy in 1868 might not be policies in 1869. Furthermore when the land department had a general administrative rule to govern compliance with the Homestead Act it at

times allowed exceptions to such a rule when it was apparent a settler showed good faith in complying with the law. Please go to slide number 22 In making an entry the first thing an individual had to do was make application. In it an entry meant — swore he or she was eligible to make entry and that the land being entered were of the character contemplated by law. Please go to slide number 23. So who could make entry? First, you had to be a citizen or have declared your intent to become one. Ex confederates were initially denied but later allowed. Married men of any age could make entry. Single men had to be over 21 years of age. Women, in certain cases, could make entry. Usually they had to be single and over 21 years of age African-Americans were allowed, as were Hispanic Certain Native Americans were permitted to make homestead. Foreign born Asians, however, were excluded because they could never become citizens of the United States. Slide number 24. Making an entry. What lands could be settled? You were allowed up to 160 acres of public land.You didn’t have to take 160 acres. You could take as little as 40. Unappropriated, unoccupied and unreserved lands were open to homesteading. They had to be non-mineral in character,they had to be agricultural or suitable for grazing. Please go to slide number 25. What lands weren’t available? Those reserved for government purposes such as military posts. Often Native American lands were not available for homesteading, particularly those within Indian reservations. Those had to be opened by Congress after treaty or agreement with tribes. State and Territorial lands granted by the United States were not subject to entry Valuable mineral land weren’t allowed. Lands chiefly valuable for their timber could not entered as homestead. Land covered by private land grants were excluded. Lands granted to railroads also could not be entered as homestead. In complying with the homestead law — slide number 27, please. Complying with the homestead law Two essential requirements of the law — two essential requirements by law required to fulfill the the Homestead Act in attain patent. The first was residence. The Homestead law contemplated continuous maintenance by a homesteader and his family of an actual home on the land to the exclusion of a home elsewhere. Except as required by law, the general land office did not stipulate any specific improvements other than the need of a habitable dwelling but the improvements had to demonstrate a homesteaders good faith to make his or her entry their exclusive home. There was never a regulation specifying the minimum dimensions for dwellings as some sources state. I point that out because many histories will state that House had to be eight by 10, 10 by 12, 12 by 14 and one documentary says 12 by 40. Please go to slide number 27. The second essential requirement was cultivation. The Homestead Act did not specify how much land needed to be cultivated. Again, good faith was looked for. The general land offiice usually wanted to see evidence land had been broken by plow and a crop raised. In 1880 it was ruled grazing could be substituted for cultivation in regions where only livestock could be raised. The Three year Homestead Act of 1912 did require entrymen under the original homestead law to have at least one-eighth of their entry under cultivation at the time of final proof. Congress had previously adopted such a policy under the enlarged Homestead Act of 1909. Please go to slide number 28. If one did not want to live and cultivate their entry for the full five years, they were allowed to commute it. The commutation clause was provided in section 8 of the Homestead Act of 1862

It allowed persons to complete their entries to commute them by paying the minimum price per acre, $1.25 or $2.50. To do so they had to make proof of settlement and cultivation as provided by existing law granting preemption rights. The law as many historians state did not stipulate that the homesteader had to wait six months before commuting. That was an administrative rule made in 1869 to ensure good faith of commuters. In 1891 Congress increased the time period to 14 months and later made additional changes. Homestead laws like the Forest Homestead Act of 1906, the Enlarged Homestead Act of 1909 and the Stock-Raising Homestead Act of 1916 did not allow for commutation of entries. please go to slide number 29. Finally, filing proof. The Homestead Act required that after complying with the requirements of residence and cultivation for five years but no more than seven after entry, claimants could prove up. The General land office did this by having homesteaders along with two credible witnesses attest to having fulfilled the laws requirements as to residence and cultivation. Initially claimants were asked to answer only a few specific questions but over time questions became more numerous and detailed so that the final proof forms were at times several pages in length. If the register and receiver at the district land office determined the proof sufficient homesteaders received a final certificate. That document signified that claimants were entitled to a patent provided the general land office found no irregularities upon further adjudication. Please go to slide number 30. Patents. Upon final adjudication homesteaders were issued a patent for the lands they had entered. Patents recite the name of the claimant, the legal land description of the land to which title being passed and reservations and most easements that the track was subject. Since 1830’s patents were not personally signed by the President but made by a secretary in the general land office appointed for that purpose. In the 1880’s the patents for many Homestead Act entries were not issued for up to six to seven years because they were awaiting adjudication by the general land office. Under the act of March 3rd, 1891, Congress directed patents for entries that were not contested or protested to be issued within two years of the issuance of final certificate. The patent form use for homestead entries proved up under section — section two providing for five years of residence and cultivation recite the Homestead Act of May 20th, 1862 as the authority for issuance The Patent shown here is a certificate patent, the kind issued prior to July 1st, 1908. For certificate patents it is important you know the state and territory where the homestead was made, the district land office it was issued under, the final certificate number, the law under which it was issued, Homestead Act, and the certificate number. Please go to slide number 31. General land office continued its certificate patent series on July 1st, 1908, and introduced a new system called the serial patent system. In this example of a serial patent note that this homesteader took land subject to any vested and accrued water rights as well as associated ditches. The right for later construction of ditches and canals by the United States and the reservation to the government of all coal under the act of June 22nd, 1910. To identify a serial patent you just need the patent number, which is given on the lower left of this document. go to slide number 32. If an individual commuted their Homestead Act entry under section eight, they received their patent on a cash patent form which recites the act of April 24th, 1820 The general sales authority for public land Like certificates homestead patents you need to know the state, territory, land office,

the fact that it is a cash patent and where the entry was located. In addition to paying for commuted homesteads by cash One could use military land warrants or various types of what was called scrip. If that is used for proving up an a commuted homestead you need to find — you need to go to those series to find your homestead patent file. Slide number 34. Not everybody was successful under the Homestead Act. There were two ways in which homesteads were canceled. First relinquishment. That was a voluntary surrender of an entry. Before 1800 lands covered by relinquished homestead entry could not be re-entered by another person until the land was reopened by the commissioner of the general land office. Under the act of May 14th, 1880, when a relinquishment was filed in the local land office, the land immediately became subject to entry by others. Under the law relinquishments could not be sold. But it was a common practice. Slide number 35, please. Then there were cancellations. There were many reasons the general land office could cancel a homestead entry. Abandonment of entry by a settler was a common reason. Contests filed by third parties alleging failure on the part of a homesteader to fulfill some requirement could also result in cancellation. The general land office could cancel an entry if it felt it was fraudulent or the final proof found defective In all cases homesteaders had the right to a hearing where all parties could present testimony and evidence. A Party could then appeal an adverse ruling. Rulings made by registers and receivers were reviewed by the commissioner of the general land office, that official’s decisions could be appealed to the secretary of the interior and in rare instances the secretary’s decision could be taken to the Federal Court. Please go to slide number 36. Recordkeeping. It was of great importance to the general land office Various types of finding aids were maintained were at both the district land office and general land office headquarters in Washington D.C. This allowed land officials not only to identify and locate geographically individual entries and filings on public lands to ensure the protection of the rights and interests of individuals, corporations, states and territories, but to detect errors in recordkeeping. Please go to slide number 37.The most important records that that the general land office kept were the tract books Congress directed that tract books be maintained in 1800. And to this day the Bureau of Land Management uses a variant of this record. Tract books were intended to provide users with way to determine the status of public lands within a township. At a glance readers could determine what lands had been entered, the laws under which entries had been filed, the names of associated persons and entities, the dates of final actions and what those final actions were. Such as final certificate, patent, relinquished or canceled. Each district land office maintains a set of tract books as did the general land office headquarters. For researchers, this record used to be the most important way to find all homesteads. As it will be shown later, there’s now an easier method for finding patented homesteads. But for relinquished and canceled homesteads, this is still a very important record. Please go to slide number 38 Prior to July 1st, 1908, the general land office also kept records called abstract register books. A set of these books was kept by the kind of entry. Homestead, desert land, timber culture and the action original entry or final certificates at both district land offices and the general land office headquarters Entries and proofs were entered in the order received and numbered consecutively. For original entries the number assigned became the application number. For proofs the number assigned was the

final certificate number which would eventually become the patent number. Homesteads commuted to cash entries will be in cash register books in appropriate military bounty or scrip register books for those actions. Please go to slide number 39 >> Record system, this was devised and started on July 1st, 1908. The new record system was intended to provide for better efficiency and accountability Commonly referred to as the serialized record system all applications were arranged by district land office as before but rather than assigning applications according to the type of entry, homestead, desert land, timber culture, et cetera, all were filed together. The application numbers were then assigned in consecutive numerical order starting with zero-one by each district land office slide 40, please. Another record devised by the serialized record system were alphabetical index cards. Each district land office maintained the set as did the general land office headquarters Each card has the name of the land office, name of the applicant, the post office of record, the serial number assigned for each entry and for each entry and finally made by that individual or entity. The alphabetical index makes finding person’s homesteads after 1908 simple. Please go to slide number 41. In addition they also created serial register pages. This is essentially an abstract every entry that is made. So in case you’re missing a case file, you can at least get a sense of the process that individual had to go through. Please go to slide number 42. As said before, prior to 1908, files are always filed according to territory state, land office and type of entry. This is important to keep in mind because if you go to the National Archives and you say you want homestead patent number one, the first question is, which homestead patent number one do you want? Do you want homestead patent through Denver, Colorado’s land office or one for Lincoln, Nebraska land office? This slide will describe some ways in which you can identify and order up case files. Please go to slide number 43. It has continued on to this new page. You guys can read it. There is also a link which will send you to the National Archives. They will have more information on how to order files Please go to slide number 44. Okay, let’s research a homestead. I have chosen the entry of a Fritz Ritschard to give you an idea of the trials and tribulations you might encounter when researching for a homestead. Please go to slide number 45. It is important to remember when researching for a Homestead Act entry, keep in mind that words homestead and homesteading are often generic, as the land department observed in 1887 the expression in homestead law had, more than once, been interpreted by this department in a generic sense. So as to include other settlement laws besides the homestead law proper. Settlers and others were often more loose in using the words. The railroad company broadside advertisement to the right offered its grant lands for sale as homesteads. Settlers and their descendents often referred to their entry under other public land laws or purchase from third parties like railroad companies as homesteads. So don’t be surprise the when your homestead research results in learning that someone did not take up land under the Homestead Act Please go to slide number 46. Finding a patented homestead.The Bureau of Land Management has made this much easier with its new records GLO website. Here you can research by the name and location to get a person’s land patent. When researching for names be aware that the last name spelling

can verify. Ritschard’s name is spelled three different ways in the various records we looked at. Richard, Ricard and Richarrd. In one record his first name is given as Frederick. Many reasons can explain such occurrences. In this case part of the explanation is careless recordkeeping. But also the use of the name Ritschard in his citizenship certificate You cannot find unpatented homestead entries using GLO records website. Slide number 47 Wait. Go back to slide number 46. We pulled up the GLO Records site trying to find Fritz Ritschard. I do find him here listed twice. He got a patent in 1901, He got a patent in 1915. I looked up the patents and they are not homesteads. The family tells me that he certainly homesteaded in the late 1800’s, so what’s going on. I looked on this page and see that there’s an entry for a man named Fritz Richard? Could than him? Could the BLM have accidentally put his name in incorrectly? I look at the patent. Slide 47. I look at the patent. The patent says its Fritz Ritschard Okay, it is not the guy I’m trying to find It is no the Mr. Ritschard. As we will find out later this is his patent.He could have asked for a curative patent to correct the error but he did not. As we look at this patent several things of importance to look at. One, look at the homestead certificate patent number in the upper left-hand corner. It is number 398 under the central city land office. Also note that his entry or application is number 640. Please go to slide number 48. Okay, we haven’t found Mr Ritschard for certain at this point.So we need to go to some other record. Lets go to the tract books We know from the 1901 and 1915 patents he had land in township three north range 81 west. We go to that tract book and start going through it and we find hey, there’s an entry for Fritz Ritschard which I’ve underlined in red. And look, it says it is application 640 and it also notes that it is patent number 398. Both of the numbers we saw on the patent to Fritz Ritschard. What the heck is going on? If we hadn’t found him in the tract book we could have gone to the next record. Slide 49. This is abstract register book, if we had gone through that we would have run across him again. And again we see application number 640 and in red it is written that he got a final certificate of 398. Looks like we may have found him. Let’s go to slide number 50. Let’s pull up his case file from the National Archives in Washington D.C Here we find even though the patent said it is Fritz Ritschard on the front of his case file it says fFrits RitChard, I think we found our person. Go to slide 51. Here in his application — in his case file we find his application for entry. Here you will see — says that this form tells us he made entry in 1887 However, he states he made settlement in October 1884. The township plat was approved in September 1883 and filed at the district land office soon after. Why did Mr. Richard wait three years after making settlement before making entry. Notations in the tract book and other records reveal Mr. Ritschard made a preemption act of 1841 filing in October 1884 for the land but did not prove up under the law. Why is not known. To keep track of this — to keep the tract he had settled he was then forced to make an entry under the Homestead Act of 1862. Slide 52. Among the papers in his file is his citizenship paper and in this we will note that while his name is spelled correctly throughout most of the document, at one point his name is changed to Richard. Now,

why this happened is not known but it is clear that he did not intend to change his name Because remember, in 1901 and 1915 he received patents under the name Ritschard. Slide 53. Perhaps the most important document in the case file is final proof which was made in 1892. In it he claimed to have made substantial improvement. When compared to his application affidavit you can see that he constructed a number of new buildings in the five years since he had made entry in 1887. To verify the statements made and attested — to attest to the good faith, the law required Ritschard to have two witness of his choosing. answer questions about his residence and improvements. In the end There’s no question that Mr. Ritschard made his Homestead Actentry in good faith for the purposes of establishing an actual home to the exclusion of a home elsewhere Perhaps the most telling proof is a 2015 atlas for Colorado that shows that his lineage still owns the Ritschard ranch. So as this example shows finding a homestead entry can prove to be a difficult task but it can be done. However, for finding most homesteads, especially those that went to patent the research will be straightforward Go to slide 54. I provided you with few public land terms which goes to slide 55. Please turn to slide 55. Then please go to slide number 56. This is listing of the public land states. So this gives you idea where homesteads could be entered. Please go to slide number 57. I have provided you with some suggested reading. Most of them admittedly are somewhat on the academic side. Most of them are pretty good. With that I think I’m going to go to — let’s go to slide number 58. This is where I got my illustrations Slide 59, please. And I guess now it is time to be grilled >> Thank you so much for your presentation That was very informative. We have several questions that have come from online audience. If you are ready, we will start right in >> Let’s do it >> Let’s do it. So first question is are all the documents associated with homesteads available online? For example, an application, patents and proofs? Are those available online and if yes, is there a web page that you could refer us to? >> You can find only a few documents online Going to BLM GLO records website. There you can find the patent that somebody was issued They are in the process of trying to put up tract books but if you want to look at case file you need to go to the look at National Archives one in Washington D.C. and order it. They have an order form that’s listed in one of my pages and where you need to go and they will then provide the documents. For the most part, no, you will not find most of the public land documents You could find surveys on the GLO records site but those are incomplete and sometimes you have to go to the Bureau of Land Management to get copies of the surveys >> Thank you for that answer. Then specifically where can we locate the tract books for research? >> Tract books are located in a variety of locations. First master set, GLO headquarter set is at archives one in Washington D.C The Regional archives have many of the tract books but they won’t always. For example, before National Archives was created and the land office was closed, the district land office tract books and other records were sometimes destroyed or ended up at state historical societies. So if you’re — let’s take Minnesota

and North Dakota. They both have GLO land district office records in their historical societies You may have to look around a bit to find where a tract book is. The GLO website is trying to get tract books up on their site. Right now I think they only have three states >> Thank you for that informative answer >> At this time I would like to also introduce Marine Baker to help answer our questions Ms. Baker is an archivist with the National Archives at Denver and Subject Matter Expert for Land Records. She is in the same room with Mr. Muhn. So Thank you for joining us Marine If we have any questions for you feel free to jump right in, so going on to to our next question Several years ago the National Archives, Homestead National Monument, University of Nebraska and others started an effort to digitize Homestead files, What is the status of this effort? >> My understanding — Jim, you might know more since you work with homestead a little bit. >>My understanding is that we got Nebraska taken care of but other than that I think it is still a work in process. I think part of the issue is funding for the project. but I am not a hundred percent certain on that And I can certainly look that up and put a more thorough answer up on our history hub, under the lands records and I can even do a blog about it >> Appreciate you very much, Marene. We have at least three more questions. You mentioned the amount of acreage a person could homestead increased. Could you tell us what the amount is and explain why the governmment allowed for larger homesteads? >> Fairly complicated answer. 160. In 19 — well, first in Kansas with Kincaid act of 1904 Congress began to increase acreage but most important ones were the Enlarged Homestead act of 1909. It increased it to 320 acres. They were going on the assumption at that time that the Great Plains was a hard place to farm and that a person needed more acreage to be successful They would come out with this new agricultural practice called dry land farming and the idea was that you cultivate half your land one year, you would leave it fallow the next — half the land fallow and you could switch it around and that way keep regenerating the land. So they went ahead and increased it to 320 acres. Let me note too that If you already taken out homestead of 160 acres, you could take out another 160 under the Enlarged Homestead Act to fulfill the 320-acre under that law. For stock raising mainly for grazing and cattle needed a lot of land particularly in the semi-arid west, they would go to 640 acres. Of course, 640 acres was not enough land. This law in many respects was a failure. A lot of agricultural experts at the time thought you needed 100 head of cattle to support a family and 640 acres a lot of people said couldn’t support more than 10 to 25 head. I guess that’s my — trying to make my answer short >> Thank you. Sounds like much more. Is there an easy way to tell the date of your family’s patent >> Well, you look at the patent. It will be dated on there. Gives you the date that patent was issued. The thing to remember is and like I pointed out, sometimes patent lag final proof by six to seven years. So don’t look at a patent. If somebody says I patented it 1892 and therefore grandpa must have settled in 1887. That may not be the case.That patent lag for six years or something, he could have made the homestead 10 or more years previously and so but the patent itself will have the date that the patent was issued >> If researcher had just the number, just like Mr. Richard where it is 398. We know

it is going to be pre1908 because it doesn’t start with zero >> Applications only start with zero. Serial patents are numbered, so we have to look at when the patent was issued. Again, gets kind of complicated. There are ways to find if you have certificate patent or serial patent Mostly serial patents. Hopefully that answers the question >> Hopefully it does. I’m sure it did. Three more questions. How would you start your research for families homestead if they did not patent the land and it was not listed on the GLO website >> Well, I mean that’s a difficult one. First thing is you have to have a vague idea where they would have settled. If you don’t, only other thing to suggest is, for example, if it is after July 1st, 1908, go to alphabetical index card. Like I said, archives one in Washington D.C. has the master set. Give them the name of the person and see if it shows up. Provided the last name is spelled correctly. That’s probably the fastest way after July 1st 1908 Before that you really have to have a sense of where they might have settled. Then you can either go to the tract book if you have a township and range you think they might have been in, go through that page by page hoping to find them and looking at all the townships around or going to the register book for homestead for a particular land office and go page-by-page looking for your name. It will not be an easy process. Also the question comes down to like I said before. Just because somebody says Grandpa Joe made Homestead Act entry, it might not be Homestead Act entry. Might have been preemption, might have been desert land. Who knows. It is not going to be easy. That’s the end of that answer >> Next one is an easy one. It is about military Did military rank impact the amount of acreage that veteran got for military — from military service? >> Well, now we are going into military land bounties. Those were only given like I said before the Homestead Act of 1862. And yes, rank did account for that. But under the Homestead Act soldiers were given certain privileges, certain concessions like Congress. They could apply up to four years of service time in the Civil War toward the five years. They could prove up in one year. In other cases there were some situations where a homesteader could only enter 80 acres. Later Congress said well, if you’re a veteran of the Union Army you could make it 160. They were then allow even for additional entries elsewhere to make up that 160 acres Hopefully that answered that question >> that’s interesting, thank you. Next question is about the GLO web page. On the website some of the entries are in red ink. Do you know what the red ink means? >> Sometimes they double — if you look, usually if you look up above you see the same entry before. I don’t know. You will have to talk to the Bureau of Land Management. I did work for them. I left in 2000. I actually worked for a company that started to help them put together that GLO records website but you really will need to deal with the Bureau of Land Management to find out what that’s all about >> Fair enough. Last question for the day My ancestor patented land in Texas late 1850’s, early 1860’s. If this was not a homestead, what kind of patent was it and can this be researched through the GLO as well? >> No, you cannot research through the GLO website. Texas is not a public land state Texas came into the Union after being an independent Republic. And Congress provided that they

would retain title to the lands within what is now Texas. So all of that is under — would have been under Texas State law. So you will have to call the — like the Texas historical society and Texas state land department website to see, you know, how you can find a homestead in Texas >> Thank you very much. You have had lots of compliments for your answers and great presentation. Thank you Jim and Marene. If our presenter did not get to your question, please send an e-mail to inquire@nara.gov Please reference this particular session For that I’m turning the microphone over to Vernon Smith >> This concludes our sessions for the 2019 Virtual Genealogy Fair. Thank you for joining us. If you missed a lecture, the videos and handouts will remain available on the Fair website and from this YouTube page. Thank you for participating! If you have lingering questions check our website, visit us in person, or send an e-mail to inquire@nara.gov