Land Patents/Homesteading

I've recently found a image of a land patent on the BLM/GLO website for land that my great-great-grandfather homesteaded. How do I find out more about the succession of the land and where can I find more information about the process he would have had to go through to get the land?

Thank you,


  • Good afternoon,


    Thank you for posting your question on History Hub!


    In regards to researching the succession of the land you will need to research the land records of the county that the land is located in as such records are made and kept by the local government (County/Township/Municipality) rather than the National Archives.  Considering the age of the land records that you are trying to find, they could more than likely be in possession by the State Archives that this land is located in.  We would suggest that you first contact the county land office that this property is located in to determine how far their land records go back.  If they have passed those records on to their State Archives, please visit this link to find the appropriate institution:



    Also, you can request a Homestead Entry Case file via the National Archives order online system at  To request the file you will need to know the name of the person claiming the homestead, where the homestead was (state), and the legal land description of the claim (township, range, and section). 


    The type of information contained in the land entry case files can vary depending on the type of claim, the way the claim was processed (such as homesteaded, military, or purchased), and even when and where the claim was filed.  No two land files are ever the same.  Typically a case file will contain information regarding the passage of ownership of the land from the Federal Government to the Entryman (or land owner).  The file reflects the paperwork accumulated by the local land office in administering the application.  Types of documents that can be present in the file include applications, correspondence, final patent, claimant’s testimony, legal land description, and survey maps or drawings, just to name a few.   Additionally the file might contain marriage certificates, naturalization records, age and place of birth of claimant, military service, literacy, and economic status.


    Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RDT1 and RW-SE. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.


    In regards to the determining the process to get the land, we suggest that you first view this helpful presentation on land records that includes a section on the process:



    We also suggest that you review the NARA Land Records website and the finding aid titled Research in the Land Entry Files of the General Land Office (Record Group 49) for more information. 


    We hope this information is helpful and best of luck with your research!



  • Thank you for the information and guidance. It is very helpful.

  • If you're from Illinois, the Illinois Secretary of State has an online way of checking land patents. I found it very helpful but not perfect in some cases.