Researching Bounty Land Warrants
Do you have an ancestor who served in an early American war? Your ancestor or their heirs may have been given free land, also known as bounty land, as a compensation for their services. Similar to pension records, bounty land warrants can offer genealogists valuable information to add to their family trees. Let’s take a look at what you might find.
What are bounty land warrants?
Issued by the federal government from 1776 to 1858, bounty land warrants granted free land to veterans and their heirs of the American Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War. To obtain the warrant, your ancestor would have needed to fill out an application at a local courthouse. They could then redeem their warrant for land the government set aside. In most cases, families would sell their warrants to speculators, therefore, not many actually settled on the land. However, you may still find great genealogical information in their paperwork.
What can bounty land warrants tell me?
- Evidence of service
- Place of residence
- Possibly a petition if filed by an heir
Where can I find them?
The National Archives has a substantial collection of bounty land warrants archived. Keep in mind that in many cases, the bounty land warrant may have been combined with your ancestor’s pension file, so don’t forget to search for those too! You can order copies from the National Archives online. Make sure to also check out state archives as well.
And don’t forget to add any documentation you find to your ancestor’s Geni profile to share with others!