Land Grants

Kentucky Land Grant System

What is Land Patenting

Patenting is the system of land appropriation used in Kentucky to transfer land from the Commonwealth to a group or an individual.  All deeds trace back to an original patent on record in the Kentucky Land Office.  There are 4 steps to patenting:

1. The Warrant (syn. Certificate, Order)
This document authorizes a survey to be made.  It does not specify the exact location of the land.  County Court Orders (Warrants) are to be used within the issuing county.  Warrants can be traded, sold, or reassigned, in whole or part, anytime during the patenting process.  The researcher needs to examine both sides of the warrants as assignments are recorded on the back.

2. The Entry
This is sometimes considered a patent, but it is merely the intention to file for a patent.  The surveyor records in his entry book the name of the person wishing to reserve for patenting a particular piece of lan, the type of warrant authorizing the survey, and the date the intention is declared.  Entries are not binding and may be altered or withdrawn.

3.  The Survey (syn. Plat, Survey Certificate)
This is the actual laying off of the land.  In a statement prepared by the county surveyor, the name of the person having the survey made is given as well as the type of warrant authorizing the survey.  Any assignments that have already occurred are also mentioned.  The county is recorded as well as the closest watercourse, in most instances.  Surveys, like warrants, can be traded, sold, or reassigned, so it is imperative the researcher study both sides of the document to determine if a transfer was made after the Survey and before the Grant was issued.

4.  The Grant (syn. Patent Deed, Patent)
The issuance of the Governor's Grant finalizes the land patenting process.  This document states the name of the land recipient as well as the other assignees involved in the patent.  Also included is the date of survey, the type of warrant used, the metes and bounds description, the date of grant issuance and the governor's signature.  The original record (grant) is mailed to the land recipient and a copy is entered in the Land Office Grant Book.  Sales of the property then become a county responsibility and are known as "deeds".  Deeds are NOT registered in Frankfort; therefore it is incumbent upon each county clerk, as well as county historical agencies, to ensure all records of land transactions within their area are secured and properly preserved.

Grant Series

Virginia Series
Includes grants completed before 1792.  In some instances, the researcher will have to obtain copies of the Warrant and Survey from the Virginia Series, then copy the Grant from the Old Kentucky Series.  Some of these were authorized by military warrants.

Old Kentucky Series
These grants were issued after 1792, some of them being military

South of Green River Series
A 1795 Act of the General Assembly opened the former Military District ot settlers meeting certain requirements: they had to be 21 or older, resident on the property in question for 1 year, and an improvement such as cabin or planting a crop had to be done.  These patents are also known as "Headrights Claims".

Warrants for Headrights
Only 55 patents were filed under this series.  To date, it is not known why this grouping was not filed under one of the major series.

Tellico Series
This area of Kentucky was purchased from the Cherokee Indians in 1805 and opened up for patenting in 1810.  Confirmed residents of the area (6 or more months) wee entitled to warrants of 100-200 acres at $40.00 per hundred.  In 1831, the cost was reduced to $5.00 per 100 acres.  This land is in southeastern KY, with very few exceptions.

Kentucky Land Warrant Series
This was the result of a combination of the Old Kentucky Series, South of Green River Series, and the Tellico Series in 1815.  These warrants were simply purchased in Frankfort and also warrants issued to poor widows under the Act of 1820 as well as warrants issued by the General Assembly to trustees and commissioners overseeing educational institutions, building roads, or constructing bridges.  Again, read the warrant to determine why it was authorized.

West of Tennessee River Military Claims
In 1818, land west of the Tennessee River, now known as the Jackson Purchase, was ceded to the United States by the Chickasaw Indians.  At this time, there were many Revolutionary War veterans in that area and in 1820 the Kentucky General Assembly passed legislation directly affecting the newly acquired territory.  Veterans were advised to apply for patents on their lands as soon as possible.  If you are unable to locate your soldier in the Virginia or Old Kentucky Series, we suggest you study this grouping before deciding he did not use his warrant.

West of Tennessee River Series (Non-Military)
In 1821, lands which were not patented by the veterans were ordered sold at public auction.  Documents available for research include the receipt showing amount paid and the grant finalizing the patent.

South of Walker's Line Series
Due to surveying error, the Kentucky Land Office became responsible for patenting land in a small northern area of Tennessee north of the parallel 36 degrees and 30 minutes.  The series includes 4, 327 patents issued by Kentucky for lands in Tennessee.

County Court Order Series
All series of land patents were combined into one by the 1835 Act of the General Assembly establishing the county Court Order system.  The counties sold warrants for unappropriated land within their boundaries at the rate of $5.00 per 100 acres.  Later legislation set the maximum acreage at 200 acres per warrant.  Under the authorization of the warrant, the county surveyor completes the survey.  The warrant and survey are then sent to Frankfort where the grant is issued.

Some Points To Remember
The only military warrants recognized in the Kentucky Land Grant system were for service in the French & Indian War and the Revolutionary War (by Virginia soldiers).  NO military warrants were used in Kentucky land patents for service in the War of 1812 or later wars.

Follow the patent through step by step, first the warrant, entry if available, survey, and then the grant.  This will help place the order of the transaction, particularly when numerous assignments have been made.  Remember, warrants and surveys could be traded, sold, or reassigned anytime during the patenting process.  Study both sides of each document to trace the order of assignments

All original records of Kentucky Land Grants are housed with the Office of Secretary of State in Frankfort.  You can inspect these documents during regular business days, Mon-Fri, 8am to 4:30pm.

For further information, contact the Land Office, Secretary of State, Capitol Building, Frankfort, Kentucky 40601

This information was paraphrased from an article entitled "The Kentucky Land Grant System" written by Kandie Adkinson, Administrative Specialist, Land Office of the Secretary of State.

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