Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Family Maps Of Various Counties Of Alabama

The Family Maps series of Land Patent Books have been published on a county by county, and state by state basis, and the books listed below list original settlers of Alabama whose purchases are indexed in the U.S. Bureau of Land Management database.

You can locate your ancestor's Alabama land purchase by locating their name in the surname index, then an all-name index, which directs you to the map of first-land-owners. The Family Maps books are a helpful visual reference tool that make your Alabama and federal lands research that much easier. Each book has a cover similar to the picture on the right, with each edition of the series for the various counties of Alabama.

All of the counties of Alabama listed below have a corresponding reference book (available at Amazon), entitled similarly to the Pike County edition. If you are interested in Pike County, Alabama for example, you can review the book before you make the purchase.

Each book is laid out in a similar manner, with 3 detailed maps for each of the townships that make up each county. Each Township has a Patent Map, a Patent Index, a Road Map, and a Historical Map, which includes Waterways, Watercourses and Railroads.

The Road and Historical Maps also include the City-centers and cemeteries that can be found at There is also a Surname/Patent Index and a Surname/Township Index to help you locate the right area of the County for your Alabama ancestors. Appendices identify multi-Patentee buying groups and also list the numerous Aliquot (section) parts you might find. This book is constructed to last with a plastic spiral binding, acid-free paper, and a tough, laminated cover.

What Information Can I Expect To Find? And What Are Land Patents?

Land patents are documents that show the transfer of land ownership from the federal government to individuals. In the very early years of the United States, Congress declared it would sell or grant the unclaimed lands in "the West" (given up by the States to the United States) for the common benefit of the United States. The individual States gave up any claims to what is now Alabama, Michigan, part of Minnesota, Mississippi, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin. The United States could then sell this unclaimed land to settlers to raise money for the Treasury. And in turn, the United States gave up its claims to any land within the boundaries of the original 13 States and other eastern states.

The land was distributed to settlers through various acts of Congress: by sale, granting homesteads, military warrants for military service, etc. One of the major purposes of these public land laws was to encourage people from the East to move West.

In the early 1800's people were allowed to purchase public land for $1.25 an acre. For a time, they could buy up to 640 acres under this law.

Public land was also granted to soldiers instead of pay under various Military Warrant Acts granted public.

One major enticement that brought many settlers farther and farther west was The Homestead Act of 1862, which allowed people to settle on as much as 160 acres of public land. They would be required to live there for five years, make improvements (chop down trees, build homes etc.), and grow crops. This land would become the settler's provided they met the criteria and the only payment they had to make would be a filing fee. Obviously many people took what appeared to be an easy choice - basically free land, and more and more land filled up over time, and then others moved farther west as new areas opened up for settlement.