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Land Records at the Archives & Library of the Ohio History Connection

What records do we have?

The Archives & Library holds the original land entry books kept by the Ohio Auditor of State which list the first purchasers of land in Ohio from the United States Government, including records of the United States Military District and The Virginia Military District, land reserved by Congress and Virginia respectively, as payment in lieu of cash for veterans of the Revolutionary War.

Congress Lands and the United States Military District:

  • Tract & Entry Books; Information includes names of first purchasers, numbers of acres purchased, tract description (range, township and section numbers, and portion of section) and dates of purchase.

  • Surveyor's Plat Maps and Field Notes

  • Payment records from the Canton, Chillicothe, Cincinnati, Marietta, Steubenville, and Zanesville Land Offices; Information includes names of purchasers, dates of purchases or payments, receipt or certificate numbers, tract descriptions, and numbers of acres.

Virginia Military District:

  • Entry Books; Information includes entry number, names of person(s) for whom the survey was done, VMD warrant number used, number of acres claimed, and description of survey boundaries. (In most cases entry number is the same as the survey number)

  • Survey Books; Information includes names of person(s) for whom the survey was done, VMD warrant number used, number of acres claimed, description of the trees and waters used to mark the survey boundaries, dates of entry or survey, names of surveyors and chainmen, and a simple drawing of the survey.


What records do we not have?

We do not hold original entry or survey records, including plat maps, for any of the northeastern Ohio counties that are located in the Connecticut Western Reserve and the Firelands, as these lands were a part of Connecticut's western land claims. For research assistance we suggest contacting the following sources:

Western Reserve Historical Society Library, 10825 East Boulevard, Cleveland, OH 44106 (telephone: 216-721-5722)

Connecticut State Library, 231 Capital Avenue, Hartford, CT 06106, (telephone: 860-757-6500)

We do not have a record of the U.S. Patent issued to first purchasers from the Federal Government. After land was fully paid for, a U.S. Patent was issued. The Patent was sent to the local Land Office to be delivered to the owner. Next, the patent was recorded with the County Recorders Office and a deed was issued. Digitized U.S. Patents can be searched on the Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records webpage. Please note that not all of the patents are digitized, but patents can be requested from their office directly.

We do not have a record of subsequent real estate transactions. These documents should be filed in the County Recorders Office of the county where the land is located or a predecessor county. A list of Ohio's County Recorders Offices can be found via the link. Be aware that real estate documents from 1800 to 1850 may not have been filed promptly. Often the patent was not recorded until the first sale by the original owner.


Getting Started

To find records of land ownership it is helpful to know the following information:

  • Name of Landowner

  • County and Township where the land is located

  • General time period of Ohio Residence

It is also helpful to understand the Range, Township, Section survey method. With a few exceptions, land surveys in Ohio follow this method. Numbered Ranges (or rows) run east and west across the survey. Numbered Townships run north and south within each Range. Townships are subdivided into 36 one mile square numbered Sections. Taken together, the range, township, section numbers form a Tract Description.    

PLEASE NOTE:

  • If you think that your ancestor was a first purchaser of land or received land for military service, the Archives & Library holds a number of indexes that can be checked. These indexes vary by time period, region, and records indexed, so it may be necessary to check many sources. Please see our list of indexes below.

  • You may want to start your search with the Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records webpage. From that page, you can search for digitized copies of land patents issued to first purchasers from the Federal Government. The database allows a search by state, county, tract description, patentee or warrantee name, with the patents for Ohio being most complete beginning in 1820.

  • Even if your ancestor was not a first purchaser of land, you can use tax records to prove earliest date of residence in Ohio. The Archives & Library holds tax records for many Ohio counties during the early 19th century. The best way to find out which records are available in the Archives & Library is to search the Online Collections Catalog. For example, search: Belmont County Tax Duplicates. Please note that Ohio exempted land sold by the Federal Government from taxation for 5 years from the date of sale. An individual purchasing land in 1803 would not appear on the Tax Duplicate until 1808. Please see our list of indexes below.

Congress Lands and United States Military District Tract & Entry Book Index, ca. 1800-1849,
State Archives Series 4488, GR 8000-8020

  • Arranged alphabetically by name of purchaser

  • Provides a Tract Description (range, township, and section number)

  • Cites the Tract & Entry book title, volume, and page number

Early Ohioans’ Residences from the Land Grant Records, by Mayburt Riegel [R 929.1771 R443e]

Ohio Lands: Steubenville Land Office, 1800-1820, by Carol W. Bell [R 929.3771 B413oh 1984]

Ohio Lands Chillicothe Land Office, 1800-1829; entries encompassing Congress Lands, Refugee Tract, United States Military District, and French Grants, by Marie Taylor Clark [R 929.3771 C5485o 1984]

Early Ohio Settlers; Purchasers of Land in Southeastern Ohio, 1800-1840, by David and Ellen Berry [R 929.37719 B459e]

Early Ohio Settlers; Purchasers of Land in Southwestern Ohio, 1800-1840, by David and Ellen Berry [R 929.37717 B459e 1986]

Early Ohio Settlers; Purchasers of Land in East and East Central Ohio, 1800-1840, by David and Ellen Berry [R 929.37716 B459e 1989]

Federal Land Series, Volumes 1 and 3, by Clifford Neale Smith [R 336.1473 Sm53f]

Federal Land Series, Volume 2, Federal Bounty Land Warrants of the American Revolution, 1799-1835, by Clifford Neale Smith [R 336.1473 Sm53f]

Virginia Military District Entry Book Index, 1787-1852,
State Archives Series 4494, GR 8046-8049

  • Arranged alphabetically by name of warrant holder

  • Provides the entry number, warrant number, and number of acres (In most cases entry number is the same as the survey number)

  • Cites the Entry Book volume letter and page number

Virginia Military District Survey Book Index

  • Arranged numerically by Survey number

  • White three-ring binder (located on the Land Research reference shelf)

  • Cites the Survey Book volume letters and page number

  • Entries may also include Ohio county and township names

Catalogue of Virginia Military Warrants, by Samuel M. Wilson [R 973.349 W697v]

Revolutionary War Records - Virginia, by Gaius Brumbaugh [973.3 B834r]

Federal Land Series, Volume 4, Parts 1 and 2, by Clifford Neale Smith [R 336.1473 Sm53f v. 4 pt. 1 & 2]

Tax Records

Early Ohio Tax Records, by Esther Weygandt Powell [R 352.1771 P871e 1985]

Index to Ohio tax lists, 1800-1810, by Ronald Vern Jackson [R 352.1771 J137i]

Ohio 1810 Tax Duplicate, by Gerald M. Petty [R 352.1771 P456o]

Index of the Ohio 1825 tax duplicate, by Gerald M. Petty [R 352.1771 P456o 1825]

Index of the Ohio 1835 tax duplicate, by Gerald M. Petty [R 352.1771 P456o 1835]

Online Collection Catalog for Print, State Archives, Manuscripts and Audio-Visual Material

Want to learn more about our new library catalog? Watch a brief video here!

To access the full state archives, manuscripts and audio-visual collections, please click here

The online catalog for our archaeology, history and natural history museum objects is currently is under construction. We will be launching a new site to search these collections soon.