Land Entry Case Files

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.  These patents, transfering public domain lands to an individual (business) are found in the records of the General Land Office (GLO).  Today these records are found in Record Group 49, the Records of the Bureau of Land Management, the successor to the 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

In addition to Bounty Land Warrants, there are several ways our ancestors may have acquired land from the federal government.  The most popular government programs include (there are more programs than listed):

  • Cash sale: a cash purchase of land at initially $2.00 per acre, and in 1820 was changed to $1.25 an acre (3 U.S. Stat. 566).
  • Credit sale: a purchase on credit with up to 5 years to pay complete payment of the land.  Credit sales were discontinued in 1820, with extension programs to finish paying for credit sales begun before the discontinuation.
  • Preemption sale: granted early settlers on land (prior to official sale by the government) to purchase land they had already begun improvements upon
  • Homestead Act transfers: land transferred to qualified homesteaders, US citizens, who lived on and improved the land over a 5-year time period. 

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 RG 49.  The information required to retrieve your ancestors’ land entry case file is located on the GLO Records Patent Details screen (see screen snippet below). To order a land entry case file, regardless of whether it is a cash or credit sale or homesteading file, please fill out this form, and email it to, along with a digital copy of the BLM General Land Office patent details (see below) for your ancestor’s land acquisition, and RumbleSoft will schedule your retrieval. Details on how our record retrieval process works are outlined here.