Finding Andrew Trask’s BLM Tract Book Entry

Andrew Trask appears in the Bureau of Land Management database as purchasing federal property in Clinton County, Illinois, in the 1840s. The patent details provide the legal description of the property, the land office where the local paperwork was completed, and other relevant information.


The Bureau of Land Management site also links to an image of the actual patent. But there’s more to the federal acquisition of federal property than the patent. One of those items is the entry for this property in the tract books of the Bureau of Land Management. Those tract books kept track of who had started the federal acquisition process for each parcel of property–largely so that no more than one person applied to acquire the same piece of property.

Those tract books will list those who completed the process, but there may also be others who started and never completed. In Illinois failure to complete was generally the result of failure to pay. In states where homesteading was common, failure to complete residential requirements (or simply abandoning the homestead) was a more likely reason. Looking at the tract books for the location where your relative acquired property will reveal the names of others who started the federal land acquisition process near your ancestor–whether they completed that process or not.

For land in Illinois, the tract books are organized by land office. These books have been microfilmed (the originals are still extant) and some have been digitized by FamilySearch. The ones for Illinois have been digitized.

They are organized by land office and thence by location–usually the township and range numbers.

Andrew’s property was in township 2 North 5 West at the Edwardsville Land Office. The FamilySearch wiki has a guide to what townships are in what volumes.


For Andrew, his property was in volume 6 of the books for the Edwardsville Land Office.

It takes a little moving through the images to get to the right page. Usually the books run through all the townships within a range and then continue with the next range.

The entry for section 31 in township 2 North 5 West is shown below:


The tract book for Andrew Trask’s purchase in section 31. [click to enlarge]

The entire image can be downloaded. In Andrew’s case there are no additional notations that are earthshaking, but one never knows until one looks.


The entire tract book page for Andrew Trask’s purchases in section 31. [click to enlarge]

Note: I’ve given a webinar on this topic for those who are unfamiliar with the books or with using them or need to see it step by step.

The Bureau of Land Management Office Tract Books. These books are a good source for additional information on your homesteading or federal land acquiring ancestors. This material supplements what is in the homestead file, allows you to see names of neighboring claims, even if those claims were not completed. If you’ve ever wondered who might have started a claim near your ancestor, but never completed it–these books are the way to find out. Our webinar on using the books (most of which are available for free on FamilySearch) discusses several examples in Ohio, Illinois, and Nebraska for a variety of federal land purchase types. If you’ve never used the tract books because you found them too confusing, let this webinar cut through the confusion.

This presentation is only $5.00 –purchase can be made here.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.