Bounty Land Warrant Files

A bounty land warrant contains the paperwork associated with the exchange of the bounty land warrant for a land patent.  A land patent conveys the title for a tract of land from the government to an individual or business.  After the patent, successive transfers (sales, wills, gift, etc) is usually recorded in the deed books at the county courthouse.

Bounty land warrants were exchanged for the patent in a local land office, run by staff of the General Land Office (GLO).  The GLO personnel represented the government’s interest in a land transaction.  They worked directly with the public, ensuring all legal requirements established by Congress were satisfied.  The work of the land office staff included:

  • Track unoccupied (available) land
  • Survey the land and setting boundaries
  • Track all buyers, “their” parcels, and the applicable laws for each puchaser
  • Keep a complete transaction history, including collected payments and documentation
  • Deliver final patent to the happy new landowner

A common genealogical discovery, frequently found on the back of the bounty land warrant, is the date and name of the person(s) who purchased the rights to the bounty land from the veteran or his widow (heirs).  The majority of the bounty land warrants awarded by the United States government were awarded based on laws passed by Congress in 1850, 1852, and 1855.  In many cases the veteran or his widow were elderly at the time of their new eligiblity, and had no desire to relocate to the frontier.  They would sell their rights to the bounty lands for cash.  These warrants were traded by investors, real estate agents, lawyers, and of course, land speculators.  The government was selling land at a rate of $1.25 an acre, giving a warrant value that was less than $1.25 an acre, but more than $0.00, similar to trading options or purchase (with military service) a groupon.

General Land Office (GLO) Records hosted at the Bureau of Land Management website will provide the information required to pull the bounty land warrant file from Record Group 49.

The information required to retrieve your ancestors’ bounty land warrant is located on the GLO Records Patent Details screen (see screen snipet below). To order a bounty land warrant file, please fill out this form, and email it to, along with a digital copy of the bounty land finding aid for your ancestor, and RumbleSoft will schedule your retrieval. Details on how our record retrieval process works are outlined here.