FamilySearch has had the Bureau of Land Management Tract Books (titled: United States, Bureau of Land Management Tract Books, 1820-1908) on their website. Using the books takes a little bit of patience and a little bit of knowledge, but it’s not impossible.

William Newman purchased property in Tipton County, Indiana, in the 1850s. Locating that parcel in the index was my first foray into using these materials.

This was known because Newman was located on the BLM website as having obtained a patent for property in section 29 of township 22N 5 E in Tipton County . A query was performed on the BLM website to determine the names of all others purchasing property in that section. One of them was William Tinsley, brother-in-law of William S. Newman.

This table shows all the entries from patents in the Bureau of Land Management website for the same section of property as the  William Newman purchase (29).

NamesDateDoc #Aliquots
COOK, JEFFERSON12/1/184932698NE¼SW¼
HALL, ROBERT1/1/185032751W½SW¼
JACKSON, JOSEPH3/20/184932070S½NW¼
NEWMAN, WILLIAM S1/1/185032863NE¼NW¼
RABB, SAMUEL G5/1/185034185NW¼NE¼
STEWART, ROBERT12/10/185034391NW¼SE¼
WOLFER, LEONARD1/1/185032990S½SE¼
WOOD, THOMAS5/1/185034358SE¼SW¼

The BLM database indexes completed patents. The tract book contains additional references and notations. The tract book indicated that William did not intend to just purchase the property for which he finally obtained a patent. His name is also listed in the tract books as having made an initial payment on another forty acres in the section, but that his deposit was refunded in 1854.

The entries in the tract book are helpful, but the actual patents (on the BLM site) indicate the county of residence of the purchasers, which is helpful in distinguishing between individuals and something that is not indicated in these tract book entries. The materials need to be used together–not in isolation.

I knew that William’s patent was in the volume for the Indianapolis land office as that was indicated on his patent image obtained on the BLM website.

Vol 1, Indianapolis, page 71–part of the left hand side.

Vol 1, Indianapolis, page 71–corresponding right hand side.

There were no huge revelations, but I was surprised to see that William had also started the process to purchase additional property in this township.
On my list of things to do with this information are:

  • Look at the residences of the other purchasers to determine where they were from at the time of the completed patent. Newman and Tinsley were from Rush County, Indiana. It is possible that other men–particularly those obtaining property at the same time–were from that area as well.
  • Plat out the parcels to allow me to visualize the relationships between the locations.
  • Look at purchasers of property in adjacent townships.



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