Welcome, fellow genealogists! My blog will teach you about U.S. land records and United Kingdom research. My family has roots in Niagara County, New York; Norfolk, England; and northeast Germany.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wisdom Wednesday: Military Bounty Land Records

A few posts ago, I mentioned land given as compensation for military service while describing the Homestead Act that was passed after the U.S. Civil War. Prior to the Civil War, there were bounty lands available for military service. This post will give some resources for colonial America, the Revolution, War of 1812 and the Mexican War.

Bounty land given to encourage and reward military service began as a British practice and was continued by the founding fathers who as early as 1776 had a plan for revolutionary era soldiers and sailors.

Noted genealogist, Lloyd Bockstruck, notes several other reasons for the bounty programs: to gain support for a war, to protect borders, and to encourage settlement. See his full article at www.genealogy.com/24_land.html  Bockstruck may be the leading expert on bounty land programs because he authored two books on the subject of this country's earliest veterans:

     Bounty and Donation Land Grants in Colonial America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. 2007.
     Revolutionary War Bounty Land Grants: Awarded by State Governments. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. 1996.     

Genealogists need to know what records exist so looking first at a general site makes sense. You will find where bounty land applications are filed, and that both the approved and rejected ones were kept. Veterans received a warrant saying they were entitled to the land, but the warrant could be sold or assigned to another person. Many people wanted to stay in their hometown and not go to the frontier.

For a general discussion and good  links to other sites, try one of my favorite fellow bloggers, Kim Powell, at about.com. www.genealogy.about.com/od/records/p/bounty_lands.htm

Ancestry.com has some records online:

-Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application FIles
-U.S.Revolutionary War, Bounty Land Warrants Used by the U.S. Military District of Ohio and Related Papers
-U.S. War Bounty Land Warrants, 1789-1858
-War of 1812 Pension Application Files Index, 1812-1815

Here are the specifics on each early war and eligibility for bounty land:

Revolutionary War

As mentioned above, the Continental Congress in 1776 began passing a series of bills to compensate soldiers with land. They were refined until 1855. All ranks of service men were eligible, and the amount of land changed with their rank. The land was in Ohio.

General info with links is available at the family serach wiki. www.learn/wiki/en/revolutionary_war_pension_records_and_bounty_land_warrants

War of 1812 (1812-1815)

Enabling legislation was passed many times between 1811 and 1855. In summary, only enlistees were eligible for 160 or 320 acres in specified areas of Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas. Warrants could not be assigned. See the Winter issue of "American Ancestors" for more info on the War of 1812:

Deeben, John P. Pension and Bounty-Land Records Relating to Military Service in the War of 1812, "American Ancestors"Winter 2012, Vol.13, no. 1, Boston: NEHGS.

Mexican War (1846-1848)

Congress enacted a law in 1847 to give enlisted men only 40 or 160 acres of land or scrip to locate on any public land. Records for this war are harder to come by but can be found at NARA Record Group 15 (RG15) T317, Index to Mexican War Pension Files.

©2012, Susan Lewis Well

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