Step 1 Warraties
Warrants are the first step in the land patenting process. They identify how much land may be surveyed, the reason for the warrant’s issuance, the date of issuance, and the name of the warrant purchaser or recipient. Warrants do not identify land location.
Warrants may be sold, traded, or reassigned in whole or in part. They may be divided to authorize more than one survey of unappropriated land.
There are several different types of warrants. Some of them include preemption, treasury, certificates of settlement, warrants for finding salt or for making a road through the wilderness. Only a small percentage of Kentucky land patents were authorized by military warrants.
In his Proclamation of 1763, King George III of England introduced the bounty land warrant system (land patenting process) as a method of paying soldiers of the French & Indian War. Several hundred patents authorized by the French & Indian War Warrants are filed with the Kentucky Land Office.
To research warrant recipients & assignees, see A Calendar Of The Warrants For Land In Kentucky, Granted For Service In The French & Indian War, by Philip Fall Taylor, ISBN 0-8063-0327-1.
Military Warrant issued to William Peachy for 3,000 acres for “his services as a captain the regiment of regulars commanded by Col. Washington in the late war between Great Britain andFrance according to the terms of the King of Great Britain’s Proclamation of 1763.” Dated March 16, 1780. Assignments would be written on the back of the document.
After the Revolutionary War, the United States adopted the same method of awarding bounty land to soldiers as payment for military service. The Virginia Land Law of 1779 set aside a portion of southwest Kentucky as a military district for soldiers who had served out of Virginia. After 1792, Virginia veterans had to use their military warrants in the Ohio Military District along Little Miami River.
County Commissioners issued warrants/certificates to applicants who met age and residency requirements under the South of Green River Series.
On December 21, 1820, the Kentucky General Assembly approved legislation for the benefit of “poor widows…with numerous helpless children, destitute of homes.” Widows were allowed up to 100 acres of land. Fees and taxes were not assessed on the life estate.
Many Kentucky patents were authorized by Acts of the General Assembly. An example is the Act for the Relief of Certain Poor Personsand other acts awarding land to certain individuals. In some cases, the Kentucky General Assembly authorized warrants to be sold by county commissioners appointed to oversee academies and seminaries and roads and construction projects. Kentucky’s early infrastructure was funded by the sale of vacant and unappropriated land.
When researching patents, study copies of all available records, including the warrant. This will help you determine why — and to whom — the warrant was issued. Although the warrant/certificate may differ in form, the purpose was still the same. The document authorized a survey or surveys.
Step 2- Entries
Once a warrant is obtained, a filing is made in the county surveyor’s Entry Book reserving the land for patenting.
Marginal notations listed the date of entry. The entry included the name of the person, the type of warrant used, the location of the land to be surveyed, including the closest watercourse, if known. In some instances, historical information, such as “Heir of….” or “Near the encampment of 1776….” is mentioned. Entries protected applicants’ claims until surveyors plotted the tract. Kentucky county entries, or entries prior to October 1780, are listed as Jefferson County entries in OLD KENTUCKY ENTRIES & DEEDS, by Willard R. Jillson.
On August 20, 1781, Nathaniel Hart reserved several parcels for patenting. All tracts were authorized by treasury warrants. Marginal notations indicate which entries were later withdrawn.
Entry books for early Fayette & Lincoln counties are housed in the Secretary of State’s office. The original entry books for Jefferson County are located at Jefferson County Archives, Louisville, Kentucky. Surveyors’ entry books for counties formed out of Jefferson, Lincoln, and Fayette counties are kept on the local level. They are available on a limited basis from the county surveyor, county clerk or the Department for Libraries & Archives, Frankfort.
Step- 3 Surveys
The third step in land patenting is the survey. The survey certificate includes a plat drawing and a description of the property. Surveys could be traded, sold, or reassigned any time during the patenting process. Researchers should check the back of the survey document for possible assignments.
The Jackson Purchase is the only area in Kentucky mapped in ranges, townships, and sections. The remainder of the state used the metes and bounds system. ‘Metes’ defines distance, usually in poles. ‘Bounds’ defines the next corner or point. Trees, stakes or rocks are frequently cited in the survey description. Each survey includes the following information:
- Name of person having survey made
- County in which land is located
- Type and identification number of warrants along with previous owner of warrant, if applicable.
- Nearest watercourse
- Metes & Bounds description, often includes adjacent property owners (joiners)
- Date of survey
- Signature of surveyor (DS = Deputy Surveyor; SFC = Surveyor Fayette Co.)
- Names of surveying party (CC or CM = Chain Carriers or Chainmen Mk = Marker of trees or corners; Hk = Housekeeper); Director or Pilot of Survey (usually the Housekeeper)
- The back of the survey may include assignments, the patent number, and the date of grant issuance.
1 pole or 1 rod = 16.5 feet or 25 links
1 link = 0.66 feet or 7.92 inches
1 chain=100 links, 4 rods or 66 feet
80 chains = 1 mile, 320 rods, 1760 yards or 5280 feet
1 acre = 10 sq. chains, 160 sq. rods, 4840 sq. yards, or 43,560 sq. feet
1 square mile = 1 section of land or 640 acres
Township = 36 sq. miles (36 mile sq. sections)
Surveys depict the tract being patented . The surveyor may include notations of historical interest. For example, on June 3, 1785, Daniel Boone, deputy surveyor of Fayette County, plotted a tract for John Ellis “by virtue of a certificate granted by the commissioners on account of corn made in the year 1776.”
Under the Virginia Land Law of 1779, a Fincastle/Kentucky County, Virginia, resident prior to January 1, 1778 could purchase a 400 acre Certificate of Settlement if he or she had built a cabin or planted a crop. An additional 1,000 acres adjacent to the settlement tract could be patented by purchasing a Preemption Warrant.
The Jackson Purchase in Western Kentucky was mapped in townships, ranges and sections by William Henderson in 1820.
Surveyors and engineers were among Kentucky’s first historians. Countless entries and survey descriptions include notations and drawings of great importance to the history of the Commonwealth. The Wilderness Road (or Old Trace), for example, is depicted by drawings of footprints on early surveys. Daniel Boone is one of many surveyors who worked the Kentucky frontier. Others, to name a few, included John Floyd, William Preston, John Crooke, William Croghan, Richard Anderson, Robert Todd, James Thompson, Thomas Marshall, and George May.
Step 4- Grants
Issuance of the governor’s grant finalizes the land patenting transaction. The document names the person receiving the patent, previous assigns, the type of warrant used, warrant number, date of survey, exact location, grant date, and the governor’s name.
The Commonwealth officially conveys title with the issuance of the grant. The landowner receives a signed and sealed document from the Commonwealth and a copy of the grant is recorded in the Land Office Grant Book. Subsequent conveyances, or deeds, are filed with county clerks’ offices.
The first governor to issue a grant for land in Kentucky was Thomas Jefferson. While Jefferson was governor of Virginia, the Virginia General Assembly passed the Land Law of 1779 pertaining to Kentucky territory. This act had many provisions, including the establishment of a military district in Kentucky for Virginia veterans of the Revolutionary War, authorization of certificates of settlement and other warrants, and appointment of a land commission to settle title disputes.
The Virginia Series of Kentucky land patents includes several grants approved and signed by Governor Thomas Jefferson, Governor Patrick Henry and Governor Benjamin Harrison. After the 1792 separation from Virginia, the first patent issued by a Kentucky governor was signed by Governor Isaac Shelby. The most recent patent, County Court Order #70238, conveyed title to land in Lyon County. The grant was signed by Governor Paul Patton and Kentucky Secretary of State John Y. Brown III declared the warrant “satisfied.”