Ancestor Searching Newsletter, Volume 2, # 1

Georgia Land Lotteries: In the early 1800's, Georgia created a unique series of lotteries which would eventually attract a multitude of pioneers from Virginia and the Carolinas. The state passed legislation to hold its first land lottery in 1805.

The 1805 Georgia Land Lottery was the first experiment of its kind in the United States. Due in part to the Yazoo and Pine Barrens Land Frauds in the state during the 1790s, the people of Georgia decided to distribute newly acquired lands utilizing a lottery system, hopefully bypassing any opportunity for corruption. Public funds were used to survey the land into uniform lots, which were then distributed by chance to eligible citizens. The system targeted those who were by nature considered to be disadvantaged under the headright land grant system, such as widows and orphans. Land lotteries had been used previously on a limited basis, but the distribution of public lands on such a large scale by a lottery system was unique for the state. Over the next 27 years, the Georgia legislature enacted five more drawings which served to parcel out the former Cherokee Indian lands to white settlers.

(Map courtesy of Georgia Secretary of State Office)

As the first of eight Georgia land lotteries, the 1805 Land Lottery served as a premiere model for land lotteries which followed in the state and established districts and land lots as the basic units of Georgia's survey system (over the township, range, and section). The largest lots distributed were 490 acres in the 1805 and the 1820 land lottery. The smallest lots were the 40-acre gold lots distributed during the Gold Lottery of 1832. Exact wording in the legislation stipulated that every bachelor with three years residence in Georgia was allowed one draw and every married man two draws.

The Georgia Gold Lottery of 1832, awarded land that had been owned by the Cherokee to the winners of the lottery in 40 acre tracts. However, the state made no guarantees that any gold would be found on the lots.

As far as Georgia Land Lottery Grants to Revolutionary Veterans, there were incentives that were granted. By way of a legislative act of December 15, 1818, Revolutionary War veterans were given preference and allowed two additional draws beginning in the Third Land Lottery of 1820. Additional preference was granted with passage of the legislative Act of June 9, 1825, which established the Fifth Land Lottery of 1827. It gave each veteran with three years residence in Georgia three draws if unmarried or four draws if married, regardless of which state he served from or in what regiment he had enlisted.

Once again, the same preference was given to all Revolutionary veterans by the Act of December 21, 1830, setting up the Sixth (Cherokee) Land Lottery of 1832. Service in the United States armies was the only criterion and, as in 1827, the state from which service was rendered as well as the place of service was not an issue. In each case (1827 and 1832), the veteran was required to take an oath as to the validity of his Revolutionary War service.

Each person claiming Revolutionary War service was required to swear to his claim before ‘fit and proper’ persons who were appointed just such purposes by the Inferior Court of the county of his residence. Their neighbors, who would know the validity of each claimant, left little room for doubt that the veterans who were identified on the Land Lottery lists and military records were actually veterans of the American Revolution.

As a final interesting side note of interest, there were 2069 veterans who were "fortunate drawers" in the Third (1820), Fifth (1827) and Sixth (1832) Land Lotteries. The Georgia Archives does not have any record of other Revolutionary veterans who may have entered their names for draws but were not "fortunate drawers."

Genealogy Workshop

Fact: It is estimated that Georgia produced between 1 and 1.5 million ounces (28,000-42,000 kg) of gold between 1828 and the mid-20th Century, when commercial gold production ceased.

Tip: More detailed information can be found at The New Georgia Encyclopedia site and the Gold Rush Gallery.

Also, an excellent source of suggested reading can be found on the Digital Library of Georgia website.

Genealogy News

The next ‘Sitting Up with the Dead’ program in the Heritage Room is now set. Mark your calendars for Friday, April 27th. It will begin at 6 PM and go till midnight. For further information or to sign-up, give us a call at 532-5969. Still only $20 per person. Bring a friend with you!

Here's an interesting project being offered by the Latter-Day Saints (LDS) Church.

DearMYRTLE offers news of a partnership between the Allen County Public Library and the Foundation for

On-Line Genealogy, Inc. ~ WeRelate.org