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Land Grants and Bounty Lands

For services rendered during the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, many veterans received land grants or bounty land.


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The saga of American Frontier and the Westward Movement encompasses the very essence of our explorers and pioneers who "t'weren't" around by the time the Civil War erupted. Many of the "gone but not forgotten" Patriots of the Revolutionary War, who were clad in buckskin or linsey-wooley, called themselves "militia." They carried rifles and rode plow horses to get where they were going, but they fought on foot and not in the saddle. Up until that time, this was the dirtiest war to have ever been fought in that it pitted neighbor against neighbor, brother against brother, and father against son! It was bitter and merciless right to the end. It took six long years of major fighting with another two for "mop-up."

Although the militia was made up of a group of "ragamuffins," many of whom were illiterate, they were rough-and-ready! The backwoodsmen of the South scorned the so-called pretentious society of the seashore, and came out in full force for a new country. It appears that George Washington may not have been able to reverse the course of the war without the valiant help of these determined individuals. England started peace negotiations in the spring of 1782. Following this, the North Carolina Legislature set aside a military reservation located in middle Tennessee. When the final peace treaty was signed in September of 1783, warrants were issued to Revolutionary War veterans that could be exchanged for land grants, most of which were located in the Cumberland region of Tennessee.

Then between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, there was the War of 1812. This one was waged against Great Britain for cutting off our trade to Europe, inciting the Indians to a Frontier War, and searching our ships and taking our seamen. This time, the sons of our Revolutionary War Patriots secured our freedom! In several states, free land which was called "bounty land" could be obtained by veterans of the War of 1812. "War of 1812 veterans, and later their widows and heirs, could . . . apply for bounty land under the act of May 6, 1812, and a variety of subsequent federal laws." (NARA government publication, Genealogical Records of the War of 1812). In order to entice settlement, some states also made some low-coat land available to veterans of this particular war.

For example, here are some of the things I discovered about my family from these land records:

(1) After the Revolutionary War, my 3G-Grandfather, Matthew Alexander, was issued Voucher #5247 from the Salisbury District of North Carolina He made entry #1821 on April 23, 1784, Grant #284 was entered for him for 1,000 acres of land in the Middle District of Tennessee which was finally issued to him on December 17, 1794. (Tennessee State Library and Archives, Land Records, Nashville, Tennessee)

(2) In 1836, my 2G-Grandfather, James Alexander, utilized his War of 1812 record to obtain 240 acres of marginal land at a reduced rate in Gallatin County, Illinois. He received 80 acres of bounty land in 1852 and another 40 acres of bounty land in 1855, both of which were located in Wright County, Missouri. One son of James Alexander by the name of James Newton received 40 acres of land in the same manner. (Gallatin County, Illinois Land Records, Springfield, Illinois and War of 1812 Warrant Application and Records from the Old Military and Civil Records, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D. C.)

(3) Last but not least, another 160 acres of bounty land was obtained in Howell County, Missouri, through the Homestead Act under his War of 1812 record. The recipient of this parcel of land was his daughter-in-law, Mary Ann (Briggs) Alexander, second wife and widow of another one of his sons, George W. Alexander (my G Grandfather), a Civil War Veteran who died in 1874. (War of 1812 Warrant Application and Records from the Old Military and Civil Records, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

In conclusion, I was actually amazed at how much information was available from these records concerning the lives of my family members. It was all very inexpensive - it just took some time! What I gained also helped to solidify the genealogical connections as well as the current friendly relationships among my family members. As you continue to search, may you have the same good fortune!


Dr. Sarah Alexander-Culton is the author and publisher of A Documentary of Scotch-Irish Alexander History: The People, places and Events Before 4000 B.C. to 2002 A.D. Second Edition, 2003.

For more information on her book visit: A Documentary of Scotch-Irish Alexander Family History or To contact Dr. Culton send an e-mail to:">

Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2004.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.

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