State Specific Research · Websites

Homestead Act Digitized

The Homestead National Monument of America has recently collaborated with a number of organizations such as Fold3.com, Ancestry, FamilySearch, & the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to digitize the Homestead Land Entry Case Files. With an estimated 93 million Americans descend from homesteaders, these records are bursting with information that would be invaluable to any genealogist. Records at the minimum contain the entryman’s nam, the land’s location, acreage, and price; and the date and place of the land entry. Past the 1840s, records begin to include much more information such as the entryman’s age, place of birth, citizenship, military service, literacy, economic status, and familial information. One good record can potentially tell you an individual’s entire life story up to that point.

Note: The original 13 states, Vermont, Kentucky, Tennessee, Maine, West Virginia, Texas, and Hawaii do not have case records.

The current status of the project and all the states that have had their records digitized can be found at:

https://www.nps.gov/home/learn/historyculture/requesting-homestead-records.htm

Sylvester Rawding family sod house, north of Sargent, Custer County, Nebraska.
Sylvester Rawding family sod house, north of Sargent, Custer County, Nebraska.

To access these records, you will need an account with Fold3.com, Ancestry.com, or Family Search, all of which are offered to you through your library card. Through all three resources you have access to a staggering amount of information. Here is a list of relevant collections:

Fold3 (Nebraska only)

https://www.fold3.com/browse/253/hDe05rrWTdbrYn98k

Ancestry Records

U.S. General Land Office Records, 1776-2015

https://search.ancestrylibrary.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=1246

U.S., Homestead Records, 1863-1908

https://search.ancestrylibrary.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=60593

U.S., Indexed County Land Ownership Maps, 1860-1918

https://search.ancestrylibrary.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=1127

U.S., Indexed Early Land Ownership and Township Plats, 1785-1898

https://search.ancestrylibrary.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=2179

Family Search

United States, Homestead Final Certificates, 1863-1909

https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/2317871

Nebraska, Broken Bow Homestead Records, 1890-1908

https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/1840496

Family Search also offers a list of cancelled, relinquished, or rejected land entry case files. https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/United_States,_Cancelled,_Relinquished,_or_Rejected_Land_Entry_Case_Files_(FamilySearch_Historical_Records)

If you need help navigating through each collection, reference staff on the 3rd floor are more than happy to help you find what you need.

Additional Information

BLM-EASTERN STATES GEOSPATIAL DIVISION HEADS TO #ROOTSTECH2019

Homestead National Monument of America

Information from the National Park Service

Research in the Land Entry Files of the General Land Office

Videos

Westward Expansion: Crash Course US History #24

Homestead Act (History Channel)

Sound Smart: The Homestead Act (History Channel)

 

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