Where to Obtain Land Patents

(c) Linda Haas Davenport

Updated May 2006

A new updated and expanded listing is found in my book:
Taking the Mystery Out of Land Records

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If you are unfamiliar with Land Records please take a few minutes and read about how to use Land Records in your research. This essay will explain what Patents are, how you can find out if your ancestor was granted a patent and make this list much more valuable to you.

There are two types of states (as far as land records are concerned) - State Land States and Public Domain States. In State Land States land was either granted by a Proprietor or by the State Government. In Public Domain States the land was granted by the Federal Government. Both State Land States and Public Domain States may contain areas where land was granted by a Foreign Government. The first granting of land to an individual resulted in a Land Entry File (Patent File) and these files can be one of the most valuable sources of information for family historians. These files contain all kinds of information depending on the reason the patent was issued. Files can be as slim as a receipt for a cash purchase or may contain many pages of information to prove Just Cause. Locating Land Entry Files can be a challenge.

Things to Keep In Mind As You Use The List:

For State Land States the Patent Files are usually found in the State's Archives. For Private Land Claims (land granted by a foreign government) files are found in different places. In Public Domain States the Land Entry Case Files are found at the National Archives. To order a Pubic Domain Land Entry Case File from the National Archives requires the information found on the patent (Land Act, State, Land District (county), Date of the Act and Patent or Warrant Number). To order a copy of a Land Entry Case File you will need form NATF 84. As of May 2006 this is the link to order the form from The National Archives web site.

The Bureau of Land Management is the governmental agency that has jurisdiction over the public domain land in Public Domain States. The BLM is divided between Eastern and Western States. The Eastern States office has jurisdiction over; Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Minnesota, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin. The western states have individual offices. It is the Eastern Bureau of Land Management that has a web-site and is in charge of putting on-line the millions of patents issued for Public Domain Land. For Patents issued between 1785-1906 only those states under the jurisdiction of the Eastern Bureau of Land Management are on-line. For the Western States only the patents after 1908 are either on-line or are being added.

The address for the Eastern Bureau of Land Management is: Bureau of Land Management, Eastern States, 7450 Boston Boulevard, Springfield, VA 22153-3121, Phone: (703) 440-1600, (703) 440-1609 (fax), e-mail: records@es.blm.gov .

If the state name below has a hyperlink it is to the Bureau of Land Management's site for that state.

Even for Public Domain States you should search the individual State's Archive holdings for additional information on land records and the history of your state or county of interest.

The list of states below will tell you where you may order a copy of a patent for a Public Domain State or what place or agency you should contact for a patent and/or patent file for State Land States. For Private Claim Land records I have listed the agency to contract for further information on obtaining copies of the files. And, let me say again -- You Can Not order a Land Entry Case file from the National Archives without having all of the information found on the individual's patent.

(As of May 2004)

Alabama: Public Domain State: Patents on-line. Bureau of Land Management, Eastern States, 7450 Boston Boulevard, Springfield, VA 22153-3121 Phone: (703) 440-1600, Fax: (703) 440-1609, e-mail: records@es.blm.gov . BLM Office has original Plats and survey field notes. Be sure to read FQA - What is the Mississippi/Alabama and Florida/Alabama "Crossover"?

Alaska: Public Domain State: Patents after 1908 are in the process of being placed on-line check the site for current status and if not yet on-line or for patents prior to 1908 order from: BLM Alaska State Office, 222 W 7th Avenue #13, Achorage Alaska 99513, Phone: (907) 271-5960, Fax: (907) 271-3684 Eastern Division of the BLM Office has duplicate Plats and survey field notes.

Arizona: Public Domain State: Patents after 1908 are in the process of being placed on-line check the site for current status and if not yet on-line or for patents prior to 1908 order from: BLM Arizona State Office, 222 North Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85004-2203, Phone (602) 417-9200, Fax (602) 417-9556 Eastern Division of the BLM Office has duplicate Plats and survey field notes.

Arkansas: Public Domain State: Patents on-line. Bureau of Land Management, Eastern States, 7450 Boston Boulevard, Springfield, VA 22153-3121 Phone: (703) 440-1600, (703) 440-1609 (fax), e-mail: records@es.blm.gov. Eastern Division of the BLM Office has original Plats and survey field notes.

California: Public Domain State: Patents after 1908 are in the process of being placed on-line check the site for current status and if not yet on-line or for patents prior to 1908 order from: BLM California State Office, 2800 Cottage Way, Suite W-1834, Sacramento, CA 95825-1886. Phone: (916) 978-4400, Phone: (916) 978-4416, TDD (916) 978-4419. Eastern Division of the BLM Office has duplicate Plats and survey field notes. The USGenWeb Project has some CA land records on-line.

Colorado: Public Domain State. Patents after 1908 are in the process of being placed on-line check the site for current status and if not yet on-line or for patents prior to 1908 order from: BLM Colorado State Office, 2850 Youngfield Street, Lakewood, Colorado 80215-7076, Phone 303-239-3700, FAX: 303-239-3933 - Information Center phone 303-239-3600 Eastern Division of the BLM Office has duplicate Plats and survey field notes.

Connecticut: State Land State. New England town surveys. Issued own land warrants/patents. Records are located at the Connecticut State Library, 231 Capitol Street, Hartford, CT 06115. See BLM site and read FQA - What about the Connecticut Western Reserve Lands? Contact - Western Reserve Historical Society, 10825 East Boulevard, University Circle Cleveland, OH 44106, (216) 721-5722. Some deeds from Middlesex Co are on-line. More information from the Archives

Delaware: State Land State. Land changed hands several times. No colonial jurisdiction for granting first land title. Contact the Delaware Public Archives, 121 Duke of York Street, Dover, DE 19901, for printed sources, microfilm and indexes.

District of Columbia (See Washington DC)

Florida: Public Domain State and Private Land Claims State: Patents on-line Bureau of Land Management, Eastern States, 7450 Boston Boulevard, Springfield, VA 22153-3121 Phone: 703-440-1600, Fax: 703-440-1609, e-mail: records@es.blm.gov. Eastern Division of the BLM has original Plats and survey field notes. Also a private land claims state. The Florida State Archives R.A. Gray Building, 500 South Bronough Street Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0250 is scanning and putting on-line the Spanish land grants.

Georgia: State Land State. Also issued land through Land Lotteries. Georgia State Archives, 5800 Jonesboro Road, Morrow, GA 30260, Phone: 678-364-3700 holds the grants, surveys and related papers for GA from the colony's founding.

Hawaii: No private ownership, instead there was a hierarchy of use rights descending from the king through the chiefs and sub-chiefs to commoners until 1848. Original titles are in the state archives. Grants by purchase are at the Land Management Section of the Dept of Land and Natural Resources, 1151 Punchbowl Street, Honolulu, HI 96813.

Idaho: Public domain State. Patents after 1908 are in the process of being placed on-line check the site for current status and if not yet on-line or for patents prior to 1908 order from: BLM Idaho State Office, 1387 South Vinnell Way, Boise, Idaho 83709, Information: (208) 373-4000 Fax: (208) 373-3899. Eastern Division of the BLM Office has duplicate Plats and survey field notes.

Illinois: Public Domain State. Patents on-line Bureau of Land Management, Eastern States, 7450 Boston Boulevard, Springfield, VA 22153-3121 Phone: (703) 440-1600, (703) 440-1609 (fax), e-mail: records@es.blm.gov Original plats and surveys at the National Archives. Some helpful Information

Indiana: Public Domain State. Patents on-line Bureau of Land Management, Eastern States, 7450 Boston Boulevard, Springfield, VA 22153-3121 Phone: (703) 440-1600, Fax: (703) 440-1609, e-mail: records@es.blm.gov. Read FAQ - Why do some Indiana land records say the land is in Ohio? Original plats and surveys at the National Archives. Other helpful information

Iowa: Although a state under the jurisdiction of the Eastern BLM office not all patents are yet on line. Patents after 1908 are in the process of being placed on-line, Check the site for current status and if not yet on-line order from: Milwaukee Field Office 310 West Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 450 Milwaukee, WI 53203 414-297-4400. Other information can be found at: The Iowa BLM Information Page. Original plats and surveys at the National Archives.

Kansas: Public Domain State. Scattered documents on-line at BLM site. Order from: Bureau of Land Management, New Mexico State Office, 1474 Rodeo Road, Santa Fe, NM 87505; Mailing Address: P.O. Box 27115, Santa Fe, NM 87502-0115, Phone: (505) 438-7400, Fax (505) 438-7435. Original plats and surveys at the National Archives.

Kentucky: State land state. All records are in the Kentucky Land Office, Capitol Building, Frankfort, KY 40602. All are microfilmed and indexed.

Louisiana: Public Domain State and Private Land Claims State. Patents on-line. Bureau of Land Management, Eastern States, 7450 Boston Boulevard, Springfield, VA 22153-3121 Phone: (703) 440-1600, Fax: (703) 440-1609, e-mail: records@es.blm.gov. Private Land Claim Files: Everything I've seen says that the Spanish & French land records are in Spanish and French, not transcribed into English and you should contact the State Archives Louisiana State Archives, 3851 Essen Lane, Baton Rouge, LA 70809-2137 about these records, but in a search of the archive site I could find no mention of these records, however a search of The Louisiana Historical Society site states the following: "For a number of decades during the 19th century, the society was the official custodian of the colonial records of Louisiana, including the French Superior Council records and the Spanish Judicial Records of the Illustrious Cabildo (local governing body). In 1906 the Society promoted a legislative act to create a Louisiana State Museum to be housed in the old Cabildo on Jackson Square. When the Museum opened in 1911, the Society deposited there the colonial archives in its care, as well as thousands of other documents, paintings, prints, and other museum objects from its own collection."

Maine: State Land state. New England town survey. Order Land Records from Maine Land Office, 84 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0084, Phone: 207-287-5795; Fax: 207-287-5739

Maryland: State Land state. Order Land Records from the Maryland Archives, 350 Rowe Boulevard, Annapolis, MD 21401, Phone: (800) 235-4045 or (410) 260-6400, fax: (410) 974-3895, email: archives@mdarchives.state.md.us

Massachusetts: State Land State - the first to use the New England Town survey. Land records are found in the Massachusetts Archives, Secretary of the Commonwealth Massachusetts Archives, 220 Morrissey Blvd. Boston, MA 02125, Phone: (617) 727-2816, Fax: (617) 288-8429, e-mail: archives@sec.state.ma.us

Michigan: Public Domain State. Patents on-line. Bureau of Land Management, Eastern States, 7450 Boston Boulevard, Springfield, VA 22153-3121 Phone: (703) 440-1600, Fax: (703) 440-1609 e-mail: records@es.blm.gov BLM Office has original Plats and survey field notes.

Minnesota: Public Domain State. Patents on-line Bureau of Land Management, Eastern States, 7450 Boston Boulevard, Springfield, VA 22153-3121 Phone: (703) 440-1600, Fax: (703) 440-1609. e-mail: records@es.blm.gov BLM Office has original Plats and survey field notes.

Mississippi: Public Domain State and also Private Land Claims state. Patents on-line Bureau of Land Management, Eastern States, 7450 Boston Boulevard, Springfield, VA 22153-3121, Phone: (703) 440-1600, Fax (703) 440-1609, e-mail: records@es.blm.gov. BLM Office has original Plats and survey field notes.. For information about Private Land Claims see the many printed sources in the MS Archives 200 North Street. Jackson, MS 39201, Mailing Address: P. O. Box 571, Jackson, MS 39205-0571, Phone: (601) 576-6850, Administration fax (601) 576-6975, Archives and Library Division fax (601) 576-6964, and also records in the West Florida Archives R.A. Gray Building, 500 South Bronough Street Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0250. Some records are still in Seville, Spain.

Missouri: Public Domain State and also Private Land Claims state. Patents on-line Bureau of Land Management, Eastern States, 7450 Boston Boulevard, Springfield, VA 22153-3121 Phone: (703) 440-1600, Fax: (703) 440-1609, e-mail: records@es.blm.gov. Original plats and surveys at the National Archives. For Private Land claims and other land records contact Missouri Archives 600 West Main Street, P.O. Box 1747, Jefferson City, MO 65102, Phone: (573) 751-3280, Fax (573) 526-7333, e-mail; archref@sos.mo.gov microfilm copies are also found at the Missouri Historical Society P.O. Box 11940, St. Louis, MO 63112-0040

Montana: Public Domain State. Patents after 1908 are in the process of being placed on-line check the site for current status and if not yet on-line or for patents prior to 1908 order from: BLM Montana State Office, 5001 Southgate Drive, PO BOX 36800, Billings, MT 59107, Phone: 406 896-5012, Fax: 406 896-5299. Eastern Division of the BLM Office has duplicate Plats and survey field notes. The USGenWeb Project has a lot of land records, but they are scattered throughout the county pages. If you know the county - start at the state page and go from there. http://www.rootsweb.com/~mtgenweb/ 

Nebraska: Public Domain State. Patents not yet on-line. Order from: BLM Wyoming State Office, 5353 Yellowstone, PO Box 1828, Cheyenne, WY 82003, Public Desk: 307-775-6256, Fax: 307-775-6082 Eastern Division of the BLM Office has duplicate Plats and survey field notes. See also Nebraska Land Laws

Nevada: Public Domain State. Patents after 1908 are in the process of being placed on-line check the site for current status and if not yet on-line or for patents prior to 1908 order from: BLM Nevada State Office, 1340 Financial Blvd., Reno, NV 89502, (P.O. Box 12000, Reno, NV 89520) Phone: 775-861-6400, Fax: (775) 861-6606, Eastern Division of the BLM Office has duplicate Plats and survey field notes.

New Hampshire: State Land State. New England Town surveys. Land Records 1641-1679 found with Massachusetts land records. The State Archives, 71 South Fruit Street, Concord, NH 03301, (603) 271-2236, has early land records 1679-1769. First counties were formed in 1769 and land records are found in the counties after that date. Check the State Archives for printed indexes.

New Jersey: State Land State although the state never owned any land. New Jersey is unique among the 13 colonies in that its proprietors retained their rights after the Revolution to grant lands and receive back escheated land. They still retain these rights. Proprietary shares pass down the generations by inheritance and purchase like other property. Consequently, proprietary land records (warrants, surveys and patents) remain at the proprietary offices in Burlington & Perth Amboy. Most have been microfilmed and are now in the State Archives. Deeds after 1785 are found in the counties. 32 boxes of Alexander papers are found in the New York Historical Society. Similar papers are located at the PA archives in Philadelphia. Make the state archives your first stop for this state. One land patent Gloucester County on-line

New Mexico: Public Domain State also Private Land Claims State. Patents after 1908 are in the process of being placed on-line, Check the site for current status and if not yet on-line order from: BLM New Mexico State Office, 1474 Rodeo Road, Santa Fe, NM 87505; Mailing Address: P.O. Box 27115, Santa Fe, NM 87502-0115, Phone: (505) 438-7400, FAX (505) 438-7435. Eastern Division of the BLM Office has duplicate Plats and survey field notes. For Private Land claims - New Mexico State Records Center and Archives, 1205 Camino Carlos Rey, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87507, (505) 476-7908, Fax: (505) 476 -7909.

New York: State Land State and Private Land Claim State, uses Metes & Bounds, New England Town and some Sections & townships Surveys. Very large private land grants. There are many different collections of land papers. Begin with the State Archives, Cultural Education Center, Albany, NY 12230 also see New York Historical Society, 2 West 77th Street, New York, NY 10024, For general information, call: (212) 873-3400.

North Carolina: State Land State. Grainville District records and grants from the early proprietary, the royal colony and the state government were moved in 1992 from the state land office to the State Archives, 4610 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-4610, Phone: (919) 807-7280, Fax: (919) 733-8807

North Dakota: Public Domain State. Patents after 1908 are in the process of being placed on-line check the site for current status and if not yet on-line or for patents prior to 1908 order from: BLM Montana State Office, 5001 Southgate Drive, PO BOX 36800, Billings, MT 59107, Phone: 406 896-5012, Fax: 406 896-5299 Eastern Division of the BLM Office has duplicate Plats and survey field notes. The ND USGenWeb Project has a lot of land records, but they are scattered throughout the county pages. If you know the county - start at the state page and go from there.

Ohio: 1st Public Domain State Land Opening. Patents on-line Bureau of Land Management, Eastern States, 7450 Boston Boulevard, Springfield, VA 22153-3121 Phone: (703) 440-1600, (703) 440-1609 (fax), e-mail: records@es.blm.gov. Read FAQ - Why do some Indiana land records say the land is in Ohio? And Why do some Ohio warrants have no legal land descriptions? And What about the Connecticut Western Reserve Lands? Western Reserve Historical Society, 10825 East Boulevard, University Circle, Cleveland, OH 44106, (216) 721-5722 Original plats and surveys at the National Archives.

Oklahoma: Public Domain State. Scattered documents only on-line so far. Prior to 1907 the state of Oklahoma was called the Twin Territories (Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory). Oklahoma Territory was a public domain territory and the earliest land records are from the famous Land Runs. Land in the panhandle was a no-man's land for years as it was bounced between Texas and Oklahoma. Land in Indian Territory was granted by the Federal government to the different Indian tribes. The Tribal Nations in-turn divided the land granted to the Nation among the Nation's citizens. Most tribal offices have plats and information on the first granting of land to its citizens. The granting of land by the Federal Government to the individual nations occurred in late 1890s. Prior to 1907 Indian Territory land records were recorded in the Federal Divisions courthouses. In 1890 three Judicial Districts were established in Indian Territory: First District, covering the area of Cherokee and Creek Nations with Muskogee as the court seat; Second District covering the area of the Choctaw Nation with South McAlester as the court seat; Third District covering the area of Seminole and Chickasaw Nations with Ardmore as the court seat. Visit the Oklahoma USGenWeb Site for information and locations for the Twin Territories land records. . Eastern Division of the BLM Office has original Plats and survey field notes. Patents for Oklahoma Territory prior to 1907 and all of Oklahoma after statehood in 1907 can be ordered from: BLM, New Mexico State Office, 1474 Rodeo Road, Santa Fe, NM 87505; Mailing Address: P.O. Box 27115, Santa Fe, NM 87502-0115, Phone: (505) 438-7400, FAX (505) 438-7435. Field Office: Tulsa, OK 7906 E. 33rd Street, Suite 101, Tulsa, OK 74145-1352, Phone: (918) 621-4100, Fax: (918) 621-4130. 

Oregon: Public Domain State. Patents after 1908 are in the process of being placed on-line check the site for current status and if not yet on-line or for patents prior to 1908 order from: BLM Oregon State Office, 333 SW 1st Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97204 Mailing Address: P.O. Box 2965, Portland, Oregon 97208, Phone: 503-808-6002, Fax: 503-808-6308 Eastern Division of the BLM Office has duplicate Plats and survey field notes.

Pennsylvania: State Land State. Land office established in 1682 - Records are available on microfilm contact the Division of Land Records, Bureau of Archives and History, 300 North Street, Harrisburg, PA 17120, phone: (717) 787-3362, fax: (717) 783-9924. Good History of PA Land Records. Also see Land Transfers PA

Rhode Island and Providence Plantations: State Land State. New England Town Surveys. Records are at the State's Archives, 337 Westminster St., Providence, RI 02903, Phone (401)222-2353, Fax: (401) 222-3199.

South Carolina: State Land State. Records are in the State Archives South Carolina Archives & History Center, 8301 Parklane Road, Columbia, SC 29223, Phone: (803) 896-6100, Fax: (803) 896-6198

South Dakota: Public Domain State. Patents after 1908 are in the process of being placed on-line check the site for current status and if not yet on-line or for patents prior to 1908 order from: BLM Montana State Office, 5001 Southgate Drive, PO BOX 36800, Billings, MT 59107, Phone: 406 896-5012, Fax: 406 896-5299 Eastern Division of the BLM Office has duplicate Plats and survey field notes. The SD USGenWeb Project has a lot of these records on-line

Tennessee: State land State. Complicated land records, some townships west of the TN River. Washington county bounced between being a part of Tennessee, North Carolina and declaring itself an independent state. First Stop should be the Tennessee State Library and Archives, 403 Seventh Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37243-0312, Phone (615) 741-2764. Article that includes information on Tennessee Land divisions and history. The USGenWeb TN site provides information on the formation of TN. Excellent article by Billie McNamara on TN Land

Texas / Texas: State Land State, Public Domain State and Private Land Claims State. Combination of metes & bounds and Public domain survey. Texas is considered a State Land State since it reserved the right to distribute land within its boundaries, but it also has areas that are Public Domain Lands. Patents for Jefferson Davis county are on-line at the BLM site. And it is a Private Land Claims state - from 1716 until 1836 26 million acres was granted by the Spanish & Mexican governments. All claims were validated in 1836. Texas' Patent files appear to be found in the New Mexico Archives, the Texas General Land Office and the BLM. Your first stop should be The Texas General Land Office to check its searchable data base of 446,000+ land grant records that are on-line (Stephen F. Austin State Office Building, Room 811, 1700 N. congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701). The office also has transcribed 8 volumes of Spanish Private land claims. You should also contact the New Mexico State Archives, 1205 Camino Carlos Rey, Santa Fe, NM 87507, phone: 505-476-7900, fax: 505-476-5901 for Private Land Claims.

Utah: Public Domain State. Patents after 1908 are in the process of being placed on-line check the site for current status and if not yet on-line or for patents prior to 1908 order from: BLM Utah State Office, Utah State Office, PO Box 45155, Salt Lake City, Utah 84145-0155, Phone: (801) 539-4001, Fax: (801) 539-4013 Eastern Division of the BLM Office has duplicate Plats and survey field notes.

Vermont: State Land State. New England towns survey. Contact the Vermont State Archives, Office of the Secretary of State, 109 State Street, Montpelier, VT 05602. Phone: 802-828-2308. Land records to 1850 have been microfilmed. Check here for a list.

Virginia: State Land State. Land Records are found in the Virginia State Library, 800 East Broad Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219-8000, phone: 804-692-3500. Patent files are microfilmed and indexed. Searchable index is available.

Washington: Patents after 1908 are in the process of being placed on-line check the site for current status and if not yet on-line or for patents prior to 1908 order from: BLM Oregon State Office, 333 SW 1st Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97204 Mailing Address: P.O. Box 2965, Portland, Oregon 97208, Phone: 503-808-6002, Fax: 503-808-6308 Eastern Division of the BLM Office has duplicate Plats and survey field notes.

Washington, D.C. [District of Columbia]: Federal District. Neither a public domain state or state land state. Land records microfilmed on 694 rolls located at the National Archives. (and if anyone can find the Microfilm Group Number I would appreciate the information since I've searched the microfilm catalogs several times without find the number - Thanks Linda)

West Virginia: State Land State. Land records prior to the Civil War are found in Virginia Records. After the Civil War - West Virginia State Archives, The Cultural Center; 1900 Kanawha Boulevard E., Charleston, WV 25305-0300.

Wisconsin: Public Domain State. Patents on-line Bureau of Land Management, Eastern States, 7450 Boston Boulevard, Springfield, VA 22153-3121 Phone: (703) 440-1600, (703) 440-1609 (fax), e-mail: records@es.blm.gov BML Office has duplicate Plats and survey field notes.

Wyoming: Public Domain State. Patents after 1908 are in the process of being placed on-line check the site for current status and if not yet on-line or for patents prior to 1908 order from: BLM Wyoming State Office, 5353 Yellowstone, PO Box 1828, Cheyenne, WY 82003 Public Desk: 307-775-6256, Fax: 307-775-6082 Eastern Division of the BLM Office has duplicate Plats and survey field notes.

A new updated and expanded listing is found in my book:
Taking the Mystery Out of Land Records.

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