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Research How-To

As a part of their Genealogical Research Series, the Illinois State Archives offers an excellent pamphlet, Land Sale Records, to help you find your ancestors through land transactions.

Land Patents

The original sale of land by the federal government is recorded in a land patent. This could be a available aid to locating your early settler ancestors. You might find a land patent for an ancestor by searching at The Bureau of Land Management. The site also allows you to view an image of the document, which will tell you where (county and state) the purchaser lived at the time of the purchase.

Public Domain Sales Index

Browsing through the Original Land Owners pdf should make it easier for you to spot your ancestor despite spelling variations. And, you can see the original owners mapped per section. The records were extracted and reformatted from Illinois Public Domain Land Tract Sales.

Locating Land

Notice the old county map, which shows Precincts instead of Townships. Usually, records refer to the townships. A good explanation of the system for mapping township sections is offered in the "Determining Location" topic located near the bottom of the Illinois State Archives Illinois Public Domain Land Tract Sales webpage, some of which was captured and displayed below.


Maps courtesy of the Illinois State Archives

Typically, townships are divided into 36 sections of 640 acres. Each section is further subdivided into quarter sections, half-quarter sections, or quarter-quarter sections. Examples of these subdivisions within a township appear below.

NW – The northwest ¼ of a section (160 acres)
S2NW – South ½ of the northwest ¼ of a section (80 acres)
NENW – The northeast ¼ of the northwest ¼ of a section (40 acres)

Obtaining Land Records

Copies of land records can be obtained in-person from the Bond County Clerk and Recorder's Office
203 W. College
Greenville, IL 62246
Phone: (618) 664-0449
Fax: (618) 664-9414
Office Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Weekdays


Trying to find a place within Bond County? Click on this link.

Templates in Time