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Land Grants Search Help


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What is the Texas General Land Office Land Grant Database?

The Land Grant Database contains a listing of original land grants filed in the Archives of the Texas General Land Office. Original land grants are defined as grants of land issued by the sovereign of the soil—that is, one of the governments of Texas: Spain, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, and the State of Texas. The Land Grant Database also contains listings for many of the record groups that make up our Special Collection. The Special Collection consists of records associated with land grants and the disposition of public lands in Texas. The Land Grant Database is not a complete listing of all land grant documents or records relating to a specific individual that may be on file in the GLO. More record groups from our collection are being added to the database on a continuing basis. This database does not contain information on the subsequent subdivision and ownership of this land. Record of subsequent sale, subdivision, etc, is a matter of county record.

For information on how to perform a comprehensive search of GLO documents, please follow this link. Genealogy Research

How do I search for information on my ancestors using the Land Grant Database?

The easiest way to determine if an individual has a land grant listed in the database is to simply type that person’s name into the Original Grantee bar, then click the Search key. It is best to type the name using the following format: Smith or Smith, John or Smith, J%. It will be important to pay attention to spelling.

The Land Grant Database has tools that will help you find similar names. For instance, a search for Smith will generate results for Nesmith and Smither as well. However, when searching for names with a wide range of spelling variations (i.e., “Reed” and “Reid”), you may need to try several name variations before getting a hit. Keep in mind that many of the people who lived in eighteenth and nineteenth century Texas could not read or write, and a large number of these documents were executed by attorneys, agents, and clerks acting on the settlers’ behalf; therefore the same name may be spelled a variety of ways. Other types of searches may also be helpful, and limit the number of hits or results.

If your ancestor has a very common name, but you know they were in a specific county, you can narrow your search by adding more information. For instance, if you wish to search for John Smith in Harris County, simply type Smith or Smith, John into the Grantee search bar and select Harris from the County pull-down menu. Then click the Search key.

Need Help with Spelling Variations?

Our database may also have a name under a spelling variation that you would not think of trying. It may list the initial of the first name of a person, instead of having the full name.

To help find these variations, you may use the percent sign (%) after a letter, or first few letters in the name you are searching.

A search for William Standefer written as: Stand%, W% will pick up any variations of Standefer (Standifer, and Standeford), and any first name starting with "W" or just the initial "W."

How Do I View Scanned Images of the Land Grant Documents?

The Archives of the Texas General Land Office is in the process of scanning the documents contained in the Land Grant Collection and the Special Collection. Millions of scanned images are now available to view online in PDF format, in high resolution and in color.

If a file has been scanned, there will be a PDF link attached to the Land Grant Database listing. To view the image, simply click on the PDF link.

I have a county and abstract number and want to find its file.

In order to look up a file by abstract number, you will need to know the abstract number and the county in which it is assigned. For instance, if you wish to find the file for Harris County Abstract Number 131 simply select Harris from the County pull-down menu and type 131, into the Abstract Number search bar. Then click the Search key.

How do I view all abstract listings for a specific county?

Select the county that you wish to view from the County pull-down menu and click the Search key. You will then receive a listing of all abstracts for that county presented in abstract number order. Note: At slower Internet connection speeds, this operation may take a few seconds to display all results.

How do I identify my files? (What are District, Class, and File Number?)

Original land grants filed in the Texas General Land Office are organized using an alphanumeric filing system that was created in the 1870’s. Each individual file has a number that consists of three parts: Land District, Class, and File Number. The state of Texas is divided into 38 land districts for the purpose of filing land grants in the GLO, (Click here to see the Texas Land Districts.)

These districts correspond with the 36 original counties under the Republic of Texas plus two additional districts, Panola and Paschal. The Land districts make up the first part of the GLO’s alphanumeric filing system. The Republic and state of Texas issued many different types of land grants ranging from grants to settlers and veterans of the Texas Revolution to grants to pay for the construction of railroads and steamships.

Each different type of grant has its own class. The class of a grant can tell you a little bit about what type of grant it is and the circumstances under which it was issued.

For more information on the various classes of land grants, click here for the information packet “Categories of Texas Land Grants.” The class of a land grant makes up the second part of the GLO’s alphanumeric filing system.

Each file, no matter what its district or class, is assigned a file number. This number, in combination with the district and class, completes the records full file number. So therefore a typical GLO original land grant file number would appear as follows: Harris 1st 131 or Sabine Pre-emption 15.

My file is missing a District and/or a Class?

It is not unusual to come across land grants in the database that have no district or class. These are typically grants that were sold as lands to benefit education institutions, state hospitals, the Permanent School Fund, or lands that have been sold off under the auspices of the 1900 Scrap Act.

If your file is lacking a district or class, this is not a problem; in this case, the class and the file number or the file number alone will identify the file. Some typical examples are School 123766, Scrap File 1211, or University & Asylum Lands 155.

I have done my research. Now how do I get copies of these files from the General Land Office?

You may order color or black and white photocopies of any of the files referenced in the Land Grant Database from the GLO’s Archives and Records Division. Click here for more information on ordering options and a list of current fees.

If you have questions about placing an order for copies, please call the Archives and Records Division directly at (512) 463-5277 or toll free at 1-800-998-4GLO (select menu option 2, Archives). Staff is available to assist you Monday-Friday 7:30am – 5:30pm Central Standard Time.