The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), General Land Office (GLO) records website is back online after being shutdown for about nine months.
This is great news to the genealogical community. This Web site, http://www.glorecords.blm.gov/, provides access to Federal Land records for Public Land States. The BLM Web site includes an index of land patents, digital images of patents for some states, and an informative Visitor’s Center explaining how to use the website.
A land patent is the initial transfer of title from the Federal Government to a private individual. Public Land States are the 30 states the United States government formed from the public domain. These terms and more are explained on the website.
When you visit the BLM site for the first time, go to the Visitor’s Center and become familiar with the records and how they can assist you.
There are two ways to search the database: basic and standard. The basic search has two required fields, state and last name. Wildcard searches are permitted.
I did a basic search on Peter Miller in Minnesota. I was taken to a results list, which had 11 Peter Miller entries in 10 counties. I clicked on one of the entries which brought me to Land Patent Details. The Land Patent Details page provided a full description of the patent and the legal land description. I was then able to made a copy of the patent since Minnesota is one of the states that includes the patents images that can be viewed, downloaded and copied directly from the site. When the digital image of the patent is not available on the Web site, information on how to obtain a copy is provided. You can also send for the Land Entry Case File from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Washington, DC.
With the standard search, there are no required fields. This allows you to search using name, land description, and document numbers in a variety of ways. I use the standard search quite often to search for neighbors of patentees. Land description details can be entered while leaving the name section blank. For example, Peter Miller’s patent was for the southwest quarter of section 24, township 115 north, range 35 west, Renville County, Minnesota. I did a search using this information which listed three neighbors of Peter. One of the neighbors was his brother- in-law, Charles Waldo. This type of search can be expanded by searching the nearby section numbers.
The BLM search engine is very quick with results generated in only a few seconds. The information gathered on the BLM site could lead to military, census, naturalization, and other land records that will enhance and enrich your family research.