Thursday, April 23, 2009

An Abundance of Land in Nebraska

While people could purchase land directly from the federal government, many did not.  The land available from the federal government depended upon various land acts throughout the mid to late 1800s and into the 20th century.   (The photo on the right depicts people waiting in line at the Broken Bow, Nebraska Land Office.)

Your research should always begin at the courthouse level, checking deed indexes and then the actual deeds.  Patents are also registered in the courthouses, but you will not find the complete files in those jurisdictions. 

If you suspect that your ancestor purchased land from the federal government, search the web site of the Bureau of Land Management General Land Office Records.  Be sure to read the information on their web page before performing a search.  

The U.S. General Land Office Tract Books for Nebraska are located in the Nebraska State Historical Society, 1500 R Street, Lincoln, Nebraska.  The society is undergoing a two-year renovation program, so at this time the research materials are unavailable.  When you are able to use these books, keep in mind that they are only for land obtained from the federal government.  The information contained is:  name of person(s) who filed for land, date, legal description, type of land entry and final certificate number.  

Nebraska Land Offices and Date Opened
Omaha City - 1854
Brownsville - 1857 
Nebraska City - 1857 
Dakota City - 1857 
Beatrice - 1868 
Lincoln - 1868 
Grand Island - 1868 
West Point - 1869 
Lowell - 1872 
North Platte - 1872 
Norfolk - 1873 
Bloomington - 1874 
Niobrara - 1875 
Neligh - 1881
Valentine - 1882 
McCook - 1882 
Sidney - 1886 
Chadron - 1886 
O'Neill - 1888
Alliance - 1890 
Broken Bow - 1890

Distribution of Federal Land in Nebraska
Homesteads - 19,224,310 acres 
Gifts to Railroads - 8,172,859 acres
Kinkaid Homesteaders - 7,834,240 acres
Pre-Emption - 4,996,480 acres 
Sale - 3,991,658 acres 
State Lands - 3,025,780 acres 
Homesteads commuted for cash - 2,634,240 acres 

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