If you ancestor served in the Revolutionary War, he may have applied for and received a bounty land award. You can check the “Revolutionary War Pensions” and Bounty Land Application Files at Footnote for your ancestor.
If your ancestor did not serve in the Revolutionary War but did serve in subsequent wars, chances are he may have been eligible for a bounty land award.
Luther Ainsworth served from Massachusetts in the War of 1812. His pension and bounty land application file is available for viewing at Footnote.com. It reveals he entered the service on 13 September 1814 at West Springfield, Massachusetts, and served until he was discharged at South Boston on 2 November 1814. Under the “Act of 1850” he applied for a bounty land award and was awarded 40 acres, warrant 63757-40-50.
[Note: The warrant number is a code. The “40” is the number of acres awarded, the “50” is the act under which the veteran applied, in this case, 1850.]
Then in 1855 he applied under the new rules and received an additional 120 acres, warrant 37432-120-55, making his total 160 acres. His 1871 application for a pension, S.O. 19107, was rejected because of insufficient service. The applications reveal his residences in 1852 at Chicopee, Hampden County, Massachusetts, in 1855 at Rockford, Illinois, and in 1871 at Jefferson, Green County, Wisconsin. This file is a great tool for tracing Ainsworth’s migration!
If your ancestor received a bounty land warrant, the next question is, what did he do with it?
To answer that, you may need a little background. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 opened up certain Ohio lands for federal distribution and allowed speculators of large purchases to partially pay for their purchases with bounty land warrants.
When speculators could not meet the minimum, the federal government changed the requirements. The Congressional Military Tract of Ohio was established in 1796 with a minimum purchase of 4,000 acres.
Since veterans were entitled to receive only 160 acres of federal bounty lands, they had to form a pool with other veterans to pay for the required extra 3,840 acres. In his work, Land and Property Research in the United States, E. Wade Hone summarizes, “This led to an immense amount of land speculation, based upon purchases of bounty-land warrants.“ [p. 117] Thus, the 4,000 acre stipulation had deprived veterans of any value from their warrants.
In his work, Sixty Million Acres: American Veterans and the Public Lands Before the Civil War, James Warren Oberly argues that most veterans eligible for federal bounty lands sold their warrants.
The surrendered warrants are filed as Land Entry papers at the General Land Office. You may order a copy from that office. Some military warrants are available for searching and viewing online at the Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records. You will need to search by state and name. If you find your man, you may be able to view the actual document.
What did your ancestor do with his award?
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