I've ranted and raved about the Bureau of Land Management and how useful their website is, and here I'll demonstrate why.
In 1850, the Federal government passed the Donation Land Claim Act in the Oregon and Washington Territory, in an effort to settle the newly acquired northwestern United States. Settlers willing to move to Oregon and Washington Territory between 1850 and 1853, were granted up to 320 acres of land, providing they resided on and cultivated the property for at least four consecutive years. Married women were also permitted to stake their own claims. The program was extended with some modifications in 1853. During that time, settlers were required to pay $1.25 per acre, but the time required to reside on and cultivate the property was reduced to two years.
The Donation Land Claim Act (1850) - Click to read
My 3rd great-grandfather, Austin Miles Daniels, went to Oregon in 1850/51 and the family was counted there on the 1854 Enumeration of the Inhabitants of Benton County. When I learned about the Donation Land Claim Act, I was eager to see what I could find about my family in the database.
Searching the BLM's database is fairly easy - just choose a State and enter a name. Keep in mind the name must be spelled exactly the way it is given on the patent, so be sure to try different spelling variations.
Just click here to visit their website. Then, choose a State, enter a name (last and then first), and click "Search Patents".
My search is a perfect example of why trying alternate spellings is important. I searched for "Austin Daniels" but the search came up empty. I then searched "Austin Daniel" and found my match. If you find any matches, clicking the Accession number gives you access to the files:
In the page that opens, details are provided. Check off the blue checkboxes to see the locations on the map:
Another important tip
When I clicked the "Patent Image" tab, the image wasn't available, but then I clicked on "Related Documents" to see more transactions related to the property.
From there I chose "CDI" on the left, which produced a list of patents. This displays a list of related patents, with links to the image. Choose the one you want to see. I chose the patent for Austin Daniel, of course.
In the page that opens, click "CDI image" from the tab to see the actual patent. From there you can zoom in and view or download the file:
On Nov. 10, 1874, Austin's claim for 320 acres of land was settled. From this patent, we can see that Austin's land was located within these sections.
"...the South West quarter of Section 26 and the North West Quarter of Section 35 in Township 10 South of Range 4 West in the district of lands subject to sale at Oregon City, Oregon, containing 320 acres."
I drew in the approximate locations here in black:
This appears to be the area:
Austin's patent was signed by S. D. Williamson, Secretary of Ulysses S. Grant, America's 18th President.
Austin's family was found on the census in Soap Creek Precinct, Benton County, Oregon, in 1860 as follows: