FEDERAL LAND RECORDS IN IDAHO
The first Land Office in Idaho was created 27 June 1866 at Boise City and officially
opened on 13 June 1868. Five other land offices followed at Blackfoot, Coeur d'Alene,
Hailey, Lewiston and Oxford through 1886 . All of these, including the original Boise Land
Office gradually closed, with final consolidation into the Idaho Land Office at Boise in
The former Idaho Land Office is now part of the Idaho State Office of the Bureau of
Land Management in Boise (BLM). The Public Room houses the
Idaho Federal Land Records.
Principal Land Laws of interest to genealogists in Idaho may be grouped as follows:
- Desert Land, Timber Culture, and Timber and Stone Entries
- Mineral Sales, Leases, and Entries
- Small Tracts (1938)
- Private Exchanges after 1934
- Rights-of-way and various permits
The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 repealed most public land laws that
allowed acquisition of Public Domain by private citizens, except that laws relevant to
Alaska were extended to 1986.
PUBLIC DOMAIN LAND RECORDS
Public land records fall into these principal categories:
- Field Notes--permanent, detailed records made by the surveyor as he establishes
- Survey Plat--drawings made from field notes showing land boundaries,
subdivisions, areas, and other features.
- Plats of Survey and Field notes may contain genealogical information. Where land was
occupied when surveyed, a dwelling and the occupant's name may be illustrated on the plat
if it were close to the survey line. Cultivated areas, fences and other improvements will
appear if on the survey line.
- Tract Books--index books organized by township, range, section, and subdivision
with names, dates and Acts for all applications, leases, licenses, or permits whether
approved, disallowed, rejected, or withdrawn.
- Tract Books may be the only place a name can be found if an application for land did not
become an entry before 1 July 1908 (see Serial Registers below). Names of applicants and
entrymen will appear here, and also notations for other actions such as leases, permits,
and rights-of-way. A researcher must know the legal description, or at least the close
proximity to find information in the Tract Books.
- Status Plats--copies of survey plats with notations about land actions, and
showing boundaries of patented lands. Master Title Plats and Historical Indexes now
replace Tract Books and Status Plats.
- Status Plats display patent or certificate numbers within the land area involved. In
addition, applications may be found on the plat, merely crossed out.
- Patents--deeds from the Federal Government. Also, within this category are other
conveyances of title, such as grants, Indian allotments, and private land claims.
- Land patents provide the patentee's name, date of patent, law under which land was
patented, and a legal description.
- Serial Registers--chronological Serial Numbers by Land Office for each
application beginning 1 July 1908 and containing the name and address of the applicant,
legal description, and sequential notations for each action from application through
patent or other closing.
- For applications that did not go to entry, these registers may reveal the only
chronological data now available for an individual who filed on land after 1 July 1908.
- A case record exists for each land entry, including those that failed, with a
history of all processing actions.
- Each case record contains at least the claimant's name, date filed, date title passed,
address, and a legal description. The amount of vital information tends to increase for
claims based on occupancy, such as Homesteads and Desert Land Entries.
Here are some ways that Public Domain Land Records may be useful:
- Establish a date a person arrived in a particular locale and address when application
- Grouping of family members based on adjacent or nearby applications and/or patents.
- Tracking a family as it moves to new locales where entries are
- made by family members.
- Age, marital, and citizenship status, depending on the kind of record.
- Family relationships based on names contained in case records,
- marital statements, and probate proof where claimants died.
OBTAINING COPIES OF RECORDS
IDAHO STATE OFFICE BLM:
You may visit the BLM Public Room or make an Online
Search as as described later. The Public Room has film copies
of Status Plats, Tract Books, Patents, Serial Registers, and Survey Records for Idaho.
They also have alphabetical index cards cross-referenced to Patent and Certificate
Numbers and Serial Numbers for applications beginning 1 July 1908.
A computer name search of Idaho BLM Automated Land & Mineral
Records may be done by Idaho BLM Personnel for land patents. Also, they can examine
the alphabetical cross-indexes for names.
- TIP: Now you make make an Online
Search of Idaho Patent Records yourself.
The Idaho State Office can furnish copies of all the records described above, either by
mail or personal visit. BLM personnel also will respond to telephone inquiries.
Appropriate charges are made for copies using standardized rates. BLM also may
impose a charge for research time if it exceeds one-fourth hour at a standard rate. Check
at the Public Room for current charges.
When requesting copies of documents found during an Online Search,
include at least the Patent Number, Patentee's Name, and
- TIP: If a name is found during the Online
Search, go to Details; click on "Click for printer
friendly version" and print the page. Include
a copy of the page when you request a document copy.
The Eastern States Office of the BLM has added online search access
to all Public Domain States under the jurisdition of the BLM,
including Idaho. These states may be
accessed at GLO Records -- ESO
Copies of documents images are not available for the states outside ESO jurisdition (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana,
Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin), but they
may be obtained from the appropriate state using links provided when a sucessful search is
done Online Vital information includes: Patentee Name,Serial
Number, Patent Authority, Patent Date, Public Land Survey Legal Descriptions, Acreage and
LandOffice. Unless one needs or wants a copy of the actual document, that information is
sufficient for genealogical purposes and to obtain copies of case materials from the
HELPFUL PUBLIC LAND LINKS:
U. S. Congress, AMERICAN STATE PAPERS: Public Land Series and Claims, Vols. 1-9
(Greenville, S. C., Southern Historical Press, Inc., rpt. 1994). Originally published
under authority of Congress 1832-1861 by Gales and Seaton, Washington, D. C.
Phillip W. McMullin, GRASSROOTS OF AMERICA A Computerized Index to the American
State Papers: Land Grants and Claims 1789-1837 (Greenville, S. C., Southern Historical
Press, Inc., rpt. 1994; Orig. Pub. by Gendex Corp., Salt Lake City, Utah, 1972).
William Thorndale, "Land and Tax Records" Chapter 7", The
SOURCE, A Guidebook of American Genealogy, Arlene Eakle and Johni Cerny, eds., (Salt
Lake City, Utah: Ancestry Publishing Co., 1984),
E. Kay Kirkham, The Land Records of America and Their Genealogical Value, (Salt
Lake City, UT, 1964: Deseret Book Co.)
National Archives and Trust Fund Board, "Land Records" Chapter 15, Guide
to Genealogical Research in the National Archives (Washington, D. C., U. S.
Government Printing Office, rev. 1985)
E. Wade Hone, LAND & PROPERTY RESEARCH IN THE UNITED STATES,
(Ancestry, Inc., PO Box 476, Salt Lake City, UT 84110-0476, 1997)
Once land entry information is obtained from BLM, case material may be
ordered from the National Archives for both patented and failed
entries. Supply the following information in a request to the archives:
- Name of Land Office Kind of Entry (cash, homestead, etc.)
- Land Entry File Number (usually the patent or warrant number)
- Patentee's full name
- Patent Date
- Number of acres
- Publid Land Description
- Act under which land was granted (title authority)
- Entry Classification (i.e., homestead, cash entry)
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
Idaho BLM Home Page: http://www.id.blm.gov/
- Idaho State Office
- Bureau of Land Management
- Public Room
- 1387 S. Vinnell Way
- Boise, ID 83709-1657
- Tel: 208-384-3890
- FAX: 208-373-3899
- National Archives & Records Administration
- TextualReference Branch (NNR1-Lands)
- Washington, DC 20408
- Tel. 202-501-5400
- Textual (Paper) Records and
Page URL: http://home.rmci.net/dyingst//fedland.htm
� Donovan Yingst, 1998
UPDATE: 20 Jul 2000