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Lotteries Leave Clues - Part 4

Between the years 1805 to 1832, Georgia distributed land via a lottery system which was unique to the state.


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Between the years 1805 to 1832, Georgia distributed land via a lottery system which was unique to the state. Seven lotteries were held over the twenty-seven year time span which opened up close to seventy-five percent of the land in present day Georgia. The last two drawings, both held in 1832, marked the end of the lottery system.

The 1832 Land Lottery, along with the 1832 Gold Lottery, virtually gave the Cherokee nation lands to settlers. These two lotteries are often treated as one. By the time of the 1832 Gold Lottery, most of the Gold Rush was over, and the state would not guarantee any gold on a lot.

The 1832 Land Lottery included original Cherokee Indian territory which became Cherokee County in December 1831. In 1832, original Cherokee County was divided into the following ten counties: Cass (renamed Bartow), Cherokee, Cobb, Floyd, Forsyth, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Murray, Paulding and Union. The land was divided by land lots distributed by the sixth land lottery and "gold" lots that were distributed by the seventh land lottery, hence the combining of the two lotteries into one.

For the land lottery, Cherokee County was divided into four sections with each section divided into districts. A total of sixty land districts were divided into land lots at 160 acres each. The First Section was Districts 6-10, 16-19; the Second Section, Districts 4-14, 20, 22-27; the Third Section, Districts 5-16; and the Fourth Section, Districts 4-15, 18-19.

For the gold lottery, Cherokee County was still divided into four sections with the following thirty-three gold districts with lots of forty acres: First Section, Districts 1-5, 11-15; Second Section, Districts 1-3, 15-19, 21; Third Section, Districts 1-4, 17-21, and the Fourth Section, Districts 1-3 and 16-17.

Those allowed to draw in the Land Lottery included the following: One draw - bachelor, 18+, 3 year resident, citizen of United States; widow, 3 year resident; wife and/or child, 3 year resident, husband/father absent three years; family (one or two) or orphans under 18, residents since birth; Revolutionary veteran who was a fortunate drawer in a previous lottery; child or children of convict, 3 year residents; male idiots, lunatics or insane, deaf and dumb, or blind, over 10 and under 18, 3 year residents; female idiots, insane or lunatics or deaf and dumb or blind, over 10, 3 year residents; and family (one or two) of illegitimates under 18, resident since birth. Those allowed one draw in the Gold Lottery included the following: bachelor, 18+, 3 year resident, citizen of United States; widow, 3 year resident.

Two draws were given to the following people in the Land Lottery: married man with wife and/or minor son under 18 and /or unmarried daughter, 3 year resident, citizen of United states; family (three or more) of orphans under 18, residents since birth; widow, husband killed or died in Revolutionary War, War of 1812, or Indian Wars, 3 year resident; Orphan, father killed in Revolutionary War, War of 1812, or Indian War; wounded or disabled veteran of War of 1812 or Indian Wars; veteran of Revolutionary War; family (three or more) of illegitimates under 18, residents since birth. Those entitled to two draws in the Gold Lottery included the following: family of orphans, 3 year residents, citizen of United States; married man, head of family, three year resident, citizen of United States.

The persons excluded from both the Land and the Gold Lottery were the same. These included any fortunate drawer in any previous land lottery who has taken out a grant of said land lot; any person who mined or caused to be mined gold, silver, or other metal in the Cherokee territory since June 1, 1830; any person who lives in Cherokee territory; any person who is a member of or concerned with "a horde of Thieves known as the Pony Club"; and any person who at any time was convicted of a felony in any court in Georgia.

Researchers will benefit from looking at the persons included and the persons excluded. If your ancestor did not draw in the 1832 Land or Gold Lottery, then it is possible that a draw was made in an earlier lottery with the land being taken. Be sure to look over the lists, and see the category into which your ancestor may or may not fit.

Sources to find the 1832 Land and Gold Lotteries include The Cherokee Land Lottery containing a Numerical List of the Names of the Fortunate Drawers in Said Lottery with an Engraved Map of Each District by James F. Smith with new material by Silas Emmett Lucas, Jr. (1991) and Alphabetical Index to Georgia's 1832 Gold Lottery by Mary Bondurant Warren (1981).

The last lottery, held in 1833 included the original Cherokee territory and a handful of land lots not placed in the earlier lotteries. The sections and districts included fractional lots of less than 100 acres and twenty-two undrawn lots from the Cherokee lotteries. These fractional lots resulted from irregular boundaries that prevented measurements in square lots.

Those who could draw included the people on the remaining tickets bearing names from the 1832 Land Lottery and the 1832 Gold Lottery. An important point to consider is the fact that if your ancestor drew in these lotteries, it is an indicator that your ancestor is not a Native American.

Information on winners may be found in The 1833 Land Lottery of Georgia and Other Missing Names of Winners in the Georgia Land Lotteries by Robert S. Davis, Jr. (1991) and Milledgeville, Georgia, Newspaper Clippings (Southern Recorder), Vol. 3, 1833-1835 by Tad Evans (1996).

Online sources for these lotteries include Look under the Georgia US GenWeb Archives pages. The 1832 Cherokee Land Lottery is listed by districts. The lotteries may also be searched online at

These land lotteries provide a unique opportunity for genealogists in Georgia. So many names are entered into the lists that even if your ancestor is not found, it is likely that a family member drew. As stated before, the listings included the county where the draw was located, as well as the home county of the drawer. This information is invaluable in locating your ancestor.

The early 1800's were a time of much movement in Georgia. The whole state virtually opened up in twenty-seven years, and an amazing amount of land was made available to settlers. Many of these settlers sold these lots and moved on to the west. Many of them sold the lots and stayed where they were at the time of the drawing. Many of them moved to the new land and started their families.

Familiarizing yourself with the land lotteries in Georgia will prove invaluable in your search for ancestors. Little did the state lawmakers at the time realize the important genealogical tool they would leave to future generations.

Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2005.

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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