This has not even been on my radar before. I’m glad to learn about this online library resource…
Originally posted on Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter:
The Digital Public Library of America is one of the most useful online libraries available today. It is new, having been formed less than two years ago. It is not a genealogy library. Rather, it is a general-purpose library that just happens to have a lot of genealogy material in addition to other topics. The Digital Public Library of America’s mission is to make cultural and scientific works more accessible to the public.
At the time these words are being written, the Digital Public Library of America lists 8,416,553 items from libraries, archives, and museums. A search on the word “genealogy” returns a list of 65,707 items available via the library’s online portal.
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John Gooch received a 4th Class Headright Certificate #166 from the Republic of Texas and was granted 640 acres of land – that’s one square mile – by virtue of the early Texas Land Grant provisions. “Headrights”, or land entitlements, were granted according to the date of arrival in Texas and other requirements such as marital status and minimum years of residency.
Here are a few documents from John Gooch’s file, obtained from the Texas General Land Office. Note the first one is from the Republic of Texas, 7 Mar 1842, in Red River County:
Here is his land grant certificate #128, and notice “Republic” of Texas has been crossed out, with “State” written in above. The date is 19 Sep 1846, and The United States had annexed the Republic of Texas on 16 Jun of 1845, causing a little problem with Mexico. Texas had declared itself a Republic in 1836 – Remember the Texas Revolution? – but Mexico did not recognize Texas independence, and the U.S. annexation of “their” territory was not appreciated. The U.S. declared war with Mexico in May of 1846. After 1845 the Texas Land Office saved on printing costs, crossing out “Republic” to write in “State”. Besides, depending on the outcome of the war they could be back to “Territory” before long.
Notice on the back of this certificate John has transferred his rights to his son, Benjamin, with “Robertson” [County] also noted. I don’t know why it says 3rd class on it.
The Texas General Land office has an online index and images of early land grants issued by one of the governments of Texas: Spain, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, and the State of Texas. That’s four flags, if you were counting. The other two flags over what is now Texas were France and the Confederate States of America, but they did not grant land.
To receive a 4th Class Headright Certificate a man had to have arrived in Texas between 1 Jan 1840 and 1 Jan 1842. A married man was entitled to 640 acres, and a single man to 320 acres. Ten acres had to be cultivated.
John Gooch’s headright certificate gives us valuable genealogical clues:
- He arrived in Nov 1841
- He was married
- He had a son named Benjamin
- Other records may exist in Red River and Robertson Counties
This is another excellent example of the value of land records in your family history research, and the importance of putting your research in the context of historical events.
RootsTech is here! Well, not HERE, actually, because I live in Samoa. But they are live-streaming some classes, so it’s kind of here! Here is a link to the RootsTech classes being streamed live from Salt Lake City, February 12-14. (For me in Samoa that would be 13-15, but don’t let that confuse you. One of us is enough!)
The early U.S. Territorial Period was 1821-1845, but the eventual Territorial Period lasted until 1912, when Arizona and New Mexico were admitted as states.
Where can you find territorial records?
I would suggest searching the online catalogs for these types of repositories, using the search term “territorial papers.”
- State archives and libraries
- National Archives Regional Branches
- The Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Do a “keyword” search for “territorial papers” in the FamilySearch online catalog.
- State level genealogical and historical societies
- University Special Collections in the state you are researching
- Territorial records can also be found on the county level sometimes
Here is a quick guide and links to the territorial papers available at the Family History Library:
- State Department territorial papers, Arizona, 1864-1872, FHL film 1580035
- State Department territorial papers: Colorado series, FHL film 1464017
- Territorial papers, Idaho, 1863-1872 FHL film 1580038
- Territorial papers of Montana, 1864-1872, FHL films 1602228 -9
- State department territorial papers, Nevada, 1861-1864 FHL film 1491200
- State department territorial papers: New Mexico, 1851-1972, FHL films 1580030-33
- State Department territorial papers, Utah series, FHL film 491567
- Interior Department territorial papers, Utah, 1850-1902, FHL films 1602234 -9
- Territorial papers of Wyoming, 1868-1873, FHL film 1602230
Here are some published finding aids for territorial records:
Kvasnicka, Robert M. The Trans-Mississippi West, 1804-1912: A Guide to Federal Records for the Territorial Period, pts. I-IV (Washington, District of Columbia : National Archives and Records Administration, c1993-1996).
Chiorazzi, Michael. Pre-Statehood Legal Materials: A Fifty-State Research Guide, including New York City and the District of Columbia, 2 volumes (New York : The Haworth Information Press, 2005).
Some other good resources are:
United States, The public statutes at large of the United States of America / by authority of Congress (Boston : Little, Brown, n.d.)
United States. Congress. House and Senate Documents and Reports, United States Congressional Serial Set (Washington : U.S. G.P.O., n.d.).
United States. Congress, American State Papers, 38 vol (Buffalo, N. Y. : W.S. Hein, 1998)
Free yourself from the shackles of your file cabinet! Be gone, piles of paper!
Originally posted on On Granny's Trail:
Last week I reached a milestone. For the past year I have been scanning 27 years worth of research, which amounted to 4 gigantic/stuffed drawers in a file cabinet. Last week I scanned my last file folder. *happy dance* In this post I’d like to share my reasons, method and tools. I also have a class handout posted you are welcome to print out.
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