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Thank you for visiting our latest innovative genealogy tool that will keep you up-to-date on all the happenings in the genealogy world both locally and elsewhere. As your guide and 'Head Bones Collector' for this blog, the primary goal is to provide information that can be referred to over and over again. We're very glad you stopped by! Visit us in person on 3rd floor of the Main Library in the Heritage Room!
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is responsible for managing over 264 million acres of land -- about one-eighth of the land in the United States -- as well as 300 million additional acres of subsurface mineral resources. Most of these lands are located in the western United States, including Alaska, and are easily recognized by their vast range lands, forests, high mountains, arctic tundra, and deserts. Under the BLM umbrella are a wide variety of commercial, cultural, recreational, and wilderness resources in these federal public lands.
"Creativity is the key to maximizing the potential of land records. Land records were not designed to give specific answers to genealogical researchers. The answers need to be extracted." E. Wade Hone, Land and Property Research.
Of course, the early years and records of land management in the United States are the more important and most sought after for genealogical research. From 1776 when Congress promised land to Hessian deserters and for the next 25 years, it experimented to find a workable public land policy.
BLM's roots go back to the Land Ordinance of 1785 and the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. These laws provided for the survey and settlement of the lands that the original 13 colonies ceded to the Federal government after the Revolutionary War. As additional lands were acquired by the United States from Spain, France, and other countries, Congress passed legislation that allowed these lands be explored, surveyed and made available for settlement. By 1803, the major characteristics of the federal land system had been set. Georgia in 1802 was the last of the original states to surrender its western claims to the federal government. Before the federal grants could be made, Indian title had to be removed and the land surveyed into townships.
Congress established the General Land Office in 1812 and placed it under the jurisdiction of the Department of Treasury to oversee the disposition of these federal lands. As the country entered the 19th century, the available "land base" expanded further west with Congress continuing to encourage settlement in the public land by enacting a wide variety of laws, including:
- military bounties
- grants for the construction of wagon roads, canals, and railroads
- the Homesteading Laws
- the Mining Law of 1872
- the Desert Land Act of 1877
- the Timber and Stone Act of 1878
All these statutes served one of the major policy goals of the young country -- settlement of the Western territories. With the exception of the Mining Law of 1872 and the Desert Land Act (which was amended), all have since been repealed or superseded by other statutes.
The late 19th century marked a shift in Federal land management priorities with the creation of the first national parks, forests, and wildlife refuges. By withdrawing these lands from settlement, Congress signaled a shift in the policy goals served by the public lands. Instead of using them to promote settlement, Congress recognized that they should be held in public ownership because they had other resource values.
The BLM provides a wide variety of duties in managing public lands. As researchers, the main area of focus is those records that were created and have been maintained during the earlier years of our nation’s history. Records which recorded original property and cadastral survey records of the United States. This is definitely a source that should not be overlooked in that not only does it give information on applicants who received lands but also those whose applications were rejected.
Fact: To perform computer searches for land patent and survey records, visit the BLM's General Land Records Office (http://www.glorecords.blm.gov/) website.
Tip: Two excellent websites for more information can be found on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bureau_of_Land_Management) and, of course, the Bureau of Land Management Facts site (http://www.blm.gov/nhp/facts/index.htm#history).
The Huntsville Genealogical Computing Society's June meeting will be held Jun 18, 2007. The program is 'What DNA can tell you' and will be presented by John McKinley of the society.
Mark your calenders for October 27th! The Cherokee/Native American Research Seminar is coming! You don't want to miss it!
Ancestry has just added The Natchez Court Records, 1767-1805 and Mississippi Court Records, 1799-1835 to their online collection of databases. The Natchez Records are from the book compiled by May Wilson McBee in 1953 and reprinted by the Genealogical Publishing Company in 1979. The Mississippi Court records are from J. Estelle Stewart King's work published in 1936 and also reprinted by the Genealogical Publishing Company in 1992.
Genealogical Abbreviations: As we know, there are many abbreviations that are used widely in genealogical records. It is not unusual to find, within the pages of one record, different variations used, and care should be taken to ensure that in these instances, it is a variation and not meant to indicate something else. Many researchers, especially novices, are easily confused by the early practice of abbreviating in the various legal documents that were being recorded throughout years past.
Abbreviation of terms stems from the early English use of Latin as the official formal record language. Even though an act was passed by the English Parliament in 1733 which forbid the Latin usage, some Latin and abbreviations continued to be practiced in documents and recordkeeping. Since the quill pen wasn't considered a writing instrument of great pleasure, it's easy to see why many writers and clerks chose to abbreviate which in turn wound up shortening the overall amount of both time and writing involved.
Still, most of the abbreviations encountered in researching are recognizable when keeping in mind the type of record being perused. Very few words had a "standard" abbreviation as most words will be found to have been abbreviated several different ways.
Not only do we find abbreviations in records, but they're being used in the genealogical publications and online mailing lists. Here is a sample listing of some of the more common abbreviations for genealogical queries which follow formats used by the National Genealogical Society.
- aka=also known as
- ca=circa (around)
- d/o=daughter of
- s/o=son of
Most of the early writers and clerks merely shortened the word and placed the last two or three letters of the word above the written line. This particular form is what would be called ‘superior letter’ abbreviation. ‘Termination’ form of abbreviation involved shortening the spelling of a word followed by a simple period, colon or by drawing a line through the shortened word. In some cases, only the first letter of a word would be used. Yet still, a third form used was the contraction. This form utilized the apostrophe, tilde (~) or a line drawn over a single consonant to denote a letter that should be doubled. For example, the word ‘common’ would be written ‘comon’ with a straight line drawn over the letter ‘m’ to denote the actual word had two ‘m’s in the middle.
Many words were abbreviated in several different ways depending on the writer. In some instances, two different words might have had the same abbreviation but can still be recognized within the context of the writing.
One final word of encouragement. As more experience is gained in viewing old documents, the easier it becomes to decipher most of the abbreviations encountered in the early records.
Fact: To quote George C. Morgan of Aha! Seminars, Inc., “Many documents contain their own special code, a combination of jargon, abbreviations, acronyms, and symbolic notations. As researchers, part of our investigative process involves learning about the time period, the law, the specific profession or circumstances which caused the written material we are examining to be created, and the language or idiom used at the time. That means studying history and delving into archives to expand our understanding. By doing so, we gain an even deeper understanding of our ancestors' lives and times.”
Also, an excellent source of suggested reading can be found in Kip Sperry’s Abbreviations & Acronyms: A Guide for Family Historians. Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2003, for those who want to pursue the topic in even more detail.
EDITOR NOTE: No personal or professional endorsement or connection with any of these websites or publications exists. They are offered here simply as other available resources to the readers of this newsletter.
Many readers are unaware of the FREE computer genealogy classes being offered in our Computer Training Center located on Third floor of the Main Library. Here’s our listing of upcoming genealogy classes for Summer 2007.
- Genealogy Research Online ~ These classes are from 2 to 4 PM in the afternoon. May 23rd, June 20th, July 18th, Aug. 22nd
- Ancestry.com -July 24th, 5:30 to 6:30 PM.
- HeritageQuest Online - May 29th, Aug. 28th, 5:30 to 6:30 PM.
- New England Historic Genealogical Society - June 26th, 5:30 to 6:30 PM.
Basic Genealogy and Computer Skills Required.
All classes are in the Computer Lab located on Third Floor of the Main Library.
If you or someone you know is interested in attending one of our classes, you can sign up in person or by calling the Training Center at 532-2356.
Coming this Fall! Our Cherokee/Native American research seminar. Watch for more details appearing soon in this section.
Etiquette for Courthouse Research, by James Pylant: On the subject of courthouse research, genealogist and humorist Laverne Galeener-Moore advises, "One fact you must be prepared to accept is that the majority of staff members employed in County Clerks' or Recorders' offices hate the very innards of all genealogists. . ." It is true that some clerks just do not want to be "bothered" with researchers, but others have had too many unpleasant experiences with genealogists. This, in turn, colors their opinion of all genealogists who enter their office. To make a personal visit more effective, we suggest the following:
(1) Dress Appropriately. Like it or not, people do judge others by appearance. Make your visit appear professional. "Carry a briefcase," suggests Diane Dieterle. "The clerk will think you are a lawyer, and lawyers get better treatment."
(2) Be Informed. Before you walk through the courthouse doors, know what years the county began keeping births, marriages, deaths, deeds, wills, etc. Consult the most recent edition of The Handy Book For Genealogists (Logan, Utah: Everton Publishers, Inc., 1998).
(3) Be Organized. Have your list ready of names, dates, and the records needed. Do not ask the clerks for "how-to" advice; they are not genealogy specialists.
(4) Be Courteous. Be prepared to pay for high photocopying costs, and do not wait until closing time before asking clerks to make copies. (Some offices will not make any copies 30 to 45 minutes before closing time.) Respect the staff's time, and do not hold them hostage with tales about your ancestors. Several years ago, a clerk told us that what she found most annoying about genealogists are those who must share their rambling family stories. "Oh, I am always hearing about someone's 'Uncle Mac' and his three wives!," she said.
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."
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.
Also, an excellent source of suggested reading can be found on the Digital Library of Georgia website.
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
VA Adds Maps to Online Gravesite Locator: "WASHINGTON – The grave locations of more than three million veterans and dependents buried in national cemeteries can be found more easily now because the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has added maps of burial sections online that can be printed from home computers and at national cemetery kiosks.
The latest improvement builds upon a service begun two years ago, in which a VA online feature permits family members to find the cemetery in which their loved one is buried.
“This new map feature makes it easier for families, friends and researchers to find the exact location of a veteran’s grave in all national cemeteries and some state veterans cemeteries,” said the Honorable R. James Nicholson, Secretary of Veterans Affairs. “It enhances VA’s service at national cemeteries, already highly regarded, and our commitment to them as national shrines and historical treasures.”
The gravesite locator (http://gravelocator.cem.va.gov), online since April 2004, helps veterans' families, former comrades-in-arms and others find the cemeteries where veterans are buried. With the new online feature, people enter a veteran’s name to search, click on the “Buried At” (burial location) link and a map of the national cemetery is displayed, showing the section where the grave is located.
In a related development, VA recently added to its database the cemeteries in which 1.9 million veterans were buried with VA grave markers. These are mostly private cemeteries. This addition brings the number of graves recorded in the locator to approximately five million. Those with maps are in VA national cemeteries and in state veterans cemeteries and Arlington National Cemetery if burials were since 1999.
Beyond the five million records now available, VA continues to add approximately 1,000 new records to the database each day. VA also plans to add to its online database the exact locations of veterans’ gravesites in the remaining state veterans cemeteries.
In the midst of the largest cemetery expansion since the Civil War, VA operates 123 national cemeteries in 39 states and Puerto Rico and 33 soldiers' lots and monument sites. More than three million Americans, including veterans of every war and conflict — from the Revolutionary War to the Global War on Terror — are buried in VA’s national cemeteries on more than 16,000 acres of land.
Veterans with a discharge other than dishonorable, their spouses, and eligible dependent children may be buried in a national cemetery. Other burial benefits include a burial flag, Presidential Memorial Certificate, and a government headstone or marker – even if they are not buried in a national cemetery. Information on VA burial benefits can be obtained from national cemetery offices, from the Internet at http://www.cem.va.gov or by calling VA regional offices toll-free at 1 800-827-1000."