Have you mapped your family homesteads?
After my post about Sod houses, I wondered about my g-grandfather, Jakob Sailer’s (who changed his name to Sayler after arriving in this country) homestead claim. I began looking at homestead records on the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) site . After clicking on the ‘Land Patents’ button and typing in the last name(s), I was able to find Jacob Sayler and two of his sons with homestead claims: Gottlieb Sayler and Jakob Sailer Jr (who did not change his name, as he arrived years earlier that the rest of the family).
Then I contacted Campbell County, South Dakota, and they were able to share the tract page with me and I discovered a third child had filed a homestead claim. Christina Sayler (Jakob’s daughter) also filed, but it was a cash claim, so it did not show up on the BLM website. Christine’s land description was 128N-75W, Section 24, N 1/2 NE 1/4, N 1/2, NW 1/4.
I wondered if I could plot these land descriptions and determine if the land entries were near each other. If you click on the ‘map’ button under the land descriptions area, it will show on a map your homestead. This is Jakob’s.
Fabulous, except I wanted to do all four of them on one map. I have not been able to find the mapping software that would allow me to do this.
How would you map a homestead using a land description?
How would you go about mapping a homestead using a land description?
This goes back to the Land Ordinance of 1785 which set up a standardized system that allowed settlers to buy farmland in the undeveloped west. The government wanted to reward Revolutionary War soldiers by distributing land to them, as well as selling land to raise money for the nation (this was prior to the implementation of taxes). It established the basis for the Public Land Survey System (PLSS), which is the surveying method developed to divide or plat land for sale.
Township measures North or South from a baseline or designated parallel. A township is six miles by six miles square, equally 36 square miles. Range measures East or West from the Principal Meridian, or designated meridian. In the case of Campbell County, South Dakota, it is the 5th meridian.
Townships are divided into sections. A section is a square mile (or 640 acres). 36 square miles in a township equals 36 sections. The northeastern-most section is section 1.
Sections are divided into quarters: northeast, northwest, southeast, and southwest quarters. Each of these usually contains 160 acres. These quarters are then further divided into quarters, which are then 40 acres.
Going back to mapping my four homesteads, I have land in four Sections: 14, 22, 23 and 24. The only way I could think to do this was to do it in an Excel spreadsheet and this is what I came up with.
Christine’s application is dated June 26, 1899, shortly after their arrival in America. The application was made in the name of Christine Sayler and finalized under the name of Christine Forderer (a version of her married name Foerderer). The final approval was dated 4/12/1901. Jakob Jr.’s patent application was originally dated February 9, 1897, cancelled August 4, 1897, and reinstated December 6 1898. Jakob Sr.’s application was dated September 18, 1901, and Gottlieb’s was dated July 6, 1899. I found it interesting that the children’s applications (Christine and Gottlieb) were made in 1899, yet the father did not apply until 1901.
The only way I could figure out how to plot on the county plat map was to hand draw it. This plat map already has Township and Range and the sections marked. (If anyone has any ideas on how to map this digitally, please share it with me.)
What is interesting to me is that by 1911, things had changed. This is from the Standard Atlas of Campbell County, South Dakota 1911 Edition (this is a book available through WorldCat).
It appears Jakob Sr. still retains his land, Gottlieb retains his land, Christina has sold her land, and Jakob Jr. has sold his land and bought two other plots of land. Based on this, it seems that homesteading and land ownership is like a living document, changing all the time. I suppose it would be possible to find out when the land was sold outside of the family, but I did not feel the need to do that.
Have you plotted your homesteads? What have you found out?