Researching the Revolutionary War Warrants Database
The database is a tool for researchers to identify: (1) whether an ancestor received a military warrant; (2) whether he assigned the warrant; (3) whether the warrant was used in Kentucky; and (4) what Kentucky survey(s) were authorized by the warrant.
If you are unable to find your ancestor on our database, is it possible his service was for a state other than Virginia? Kentucky was used as Virginia’s Military District. Veterans from other states had different military districts. Some had no districts at all therefore no bounty land warrants could be awarded. For example, if an ancestor served out of the Carolinas, his warrant had to be used in the Carolina Military District or Tennessee. Additionally, some veterans refused their bounty land warrants because they felt their service was a patriotic duty. (Frequently they, or their heirs, applied for bounty land in the 1830’s when pensions were requested.)
If your search of the database is productive, what next? At the bottom of the screen you will find a scanned image of the warrant from the warrants register. Notice that it does NOT identify a particular tract or location. This was done intentionally by the Virginia Land Office. If the warrants were confined, it would be difficult for the veteran to sell or trade his allotment. The veterans were not receiving money for their services; they were being compensated in land. Some preferred to stay in Virginia; others preferred moving to an area other than a military district. The fact that a precise location was omitted allowed buyers to purchase several warrants and patent large tracts. Frequently the buyers were agents working for wealthy speculators. If the veteran sold his warrant before the document was actually issued, the name of the assignee is included in the database. If the veteran received his warrant then assigned it to another party, the name of the assignee will appear on the survey and/or the grant.
It is imperative researchers study all documents pertaining to the military warrant. Those documents are: (1) the original warrant, if located, issued to the veteran or his assignee(s); (2) the actual survey; and (3) the governor’s grant. Original signatures are included on original documents. This can prove useful when matching signatures to marriage bonds or pension applications, for example. Original documents are filed with the Secretary of State’s Land Office, Capitol Building, Frankfort, KY 40601. Original documents are available on microfilm from the Kentucky Historical Society Library, P.O. Box H, Frankfort, KY 40601 and the Department for Libraries and Archives, Coffee Tree Road, Frankfort, Ky. 40601.
Military warrants for Revolutionary War service are filed with three patent series: Virginia (VA), Old Kentucky (OK), and West of Tennessee River Military (WTRM).
Patent Series are discussed on the History page of the Reference Library. See the Revolutionary War Military District page for information concerning the location of the district, etc.
If you find a likely ancestor and the "Authorized" field is blank, this indicates we were unable to locate any surveys in Kentucky authorized by that warrant. The warrant was never used, its number was not identified in the patent, or it was used in the Ohio Military District (also reserved for Virginia veterans). Contact the Ohio Historical Society, Velma Street, Columbus, OH 43211, for research suggestions. It is possible the warrant was lost or not used; veterans frequently applied for bounty land offered under pension acts.
If you find your ancestor received a large tract but research indicates only part of it was patented in Kentucky, it is possible the remaining allotment was patented in Ohio.
||Sample Research and Documents
George Rogers Clark
We are researching General George Rogers Clark.
The database indicates he received military warrant #2292 for 10,000 acres of land in Kentucky for his service as a Brigadier General in the Revolutionary War. The database supplies us with a copy from the warrants register. We also see General Clark divided his allotment; eleven patents were authorized by this warrant. Did he patent all the property or did he sell off parcels? (These parcels could have been located anywhere within the military district.)
In the "Authorized" field, we see the patent numbers & series for the eleven parcels.
Nine patents were issued under the Old Kentucky Series; one patent authorized by this warrant was filed under the Virginia Series. One patent was filed with the West of Tennessee River Military Series. Notice there is an asterisk after the WTRM patent number. This tells us the ACTUAL warrant is filed with that patent.
By researching the documents filed with WTRM patent #181, we can examine the following:
1. The actual warrant
2. The survey for WTRM #181
A copy of the grant for WTRM #181 from the Land Office Grant Book. The original grant (with seal & governor’s signature) was sent to Gen. Clark.
We recommend researchers examine the backs of the Warrants & Surveys for assignments. Grants do not have back pages.
Our research indicates General Clark did take title to this tract—he received the grant. What did he do with it? The county in which the land lies is not identified; the watercourse is listed as "Southwest of the Tennessee River". Kentucky maps suggest the land might be in McCracken or possibly Hickman, Marshall or Calloway counties. A study of county deeds would establish how, when and to whom the land was later conveyed. Deeds are not filed with the Kentucky Land Office; they are researched by contacting the county clerk or the Department for Libraries & Archives.