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AfriGeneas Genealogy and History Forum

Indian Bounty Land Applications

[worth reading again]

Fall 1993, Vol. 25, No. 3
Indian Bounty Land Applications
By Mary Frances Morrow

Finding records that will extend genealogical research back into the early nineteenth century for Indian ancestors can be quite challenging. Most tribal enrollment records and censuses taken by the Bureau of Indian Affairs do not begin until around 1880. The earliest federal censuses that mention Indians are the 1860, 1870, and 1880, and even these are sporadic. The 1900 federal census is the first one available that has a more systematic listing of residents of Indian reservations. Other records such as various applications taken for enrollment purposes after the Land Allotment Act of 1887 are a primary source of family history, and they often list parents and grandparents on earlier rolls. But tracing back into the early 1800s is very difficult because there are so few records containing kinship information and birth or death dates. What could you do, for example, if you know that your great-great-grandmother's name was Mary, she was probably Creek, you have no idea what her parents' names were, and you think she must have been a young girl in the 1850s? One possibility would be to search the bounty land warrant application files.
An act of March 3, 1855 (10 Stat. L. 701) extended military bounty land laws to Indians, entitling veterans from the Revolutionary War and the Indian Wars of 1818 and 1836 to warrants that could be exchanged for public lands. A few earlier acts had specified bounty lands for Indians, but this act marked the first time land was made available on a large scale.


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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