Saturday, January 7, 2012

New on the Shelf : Military Bounty Land by Christine Rose

Noted genealogical authority, Christine Rose, has released another new book entitled Military Bounty Land 1776-1855.  This latest release by Ms. Rose is arguably her best yet as she sheds some much needed light on the intricacies of researching our ancestors' bounty land records.


U.S. family history research that includes any male who was of age to have served in the military during the American Revolution through the Mexican War should include a search for not only military & pension files, but for bounty land records.  The bounty land process includes three steps, all of which generated records:
  1. Application for bounty land
  2. Surrendered Warrant (if application was approved)
  3. Patent (the actual award)
Chapters within the book are:
  1. The Revolution : Federal Bounty
  2. Revolutionary War : Virginia
  3. Revolutionary State Bounty (Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts/Maine, New York, North Carolina/Tennessee, Pennsylvania, South Carolina)
  4. War of 1812 Bounty Land
  5. Unindexed Bounty Land Records
  6. Federal Land Patents
  7. Finding Aids
Because the laws pertaining to bounty land & pensions changed about every ten minutes, it's important to be familiar with those that pertain to your family during the appropriate time period.  Eligibility changed, usually broadening in nature, with every new law.  Ms. Rose has included an Appendix to her book, a chronology of all the laws (acts) ranging from 1776 through 1864 summarizing the changes made to prior laws.

In Chapter Four (War of 1812 Bounty Land) it is noted that Michigan was one of three regions originally set aside for the redemption of Warrants.  However, this changed in 1815 when it was stated "it is with the utmost difficulty that a place can be found over which horses can be conveyed...it is so bad there would not be more than one acre out of one hundred, if there would be more than one out of one thousand, that would in any case admit of cultivation."  Hmmm, a little bit of a rush to judgement.  In any event, the designation was then handed over to the Missouri Territory and Illinois.

In Chapter Five we learn that the National Archives is as we speak preparing an alphabetical index to the unindexed bounty land application files, a large collection of records.  The index will include name of soldier, rank, war, unit, state, act/warrant number, whether or not it was rejected, and whether or not Indian.  Although not yet online, portions of the index may be viewed at the Archives in Washington, DC.

Chapter Six regarding Federal Land Patents may strike a chord with those who have done a patent search on the Bureau of Land Management website, but this must read chapter digs deeper into the capabilities of the site, explaining search strategies such as locating an address, plotting the land, and even a Michigan Survey Search. 

Plan to add Military Bounty Land 1776-1855 to your list of winter reads.  This and other books (listed below) may be checked out from the Van Buren District Library.

Other titles by Christine Rose:
Nameless Picture of the Day
unidentified residence, Otsego
taken by C. W. Davis
M1845

Can you identify the location of the house in this real photo postcard taken in Otsego?  Please contact us if you any information and we will publish it in a future blog.  Please include the photo's catalog number with your e-mail.