[this is an old tip we’ve moved to the new site because it’s still a timely one]
If you have been using the Bureau of Land Management Tract Books which were recently published digitally on the FamilySearch site, there is a guide on FamilySearch to what locations are contained in which volume. The books are organized geographically–you’ll need to know the legal description of the property your ancestor acquired from the Federal government. The best place to get that is from the Federal land patent from the BLM website. The tract books can provide additional information in some cases.
Note: I’ve given a webinar on this topic for those who are unfamiliar with the books or with using them.
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.
The presentation can be purchased for immediate download here.