(Shingle Bolt Sledge)

Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore

The most in-depth, comprehensive site about the Skagit

Covers from British Columbia to Puget Sound. Counties covered: Skagit, Whatcom, Island, San Juan, Snohomish & BC. An evolving history dedicated to committing random acts of historical kindness
Noel V. Bourasaw, founder (bullet) Sedro-Woolley, Washington, 98284
Home of the Tarheel Stomp (bullet) Mortimer Cook slept here & named the town Bug

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Homesteading, Part Two: more documents and links
and resources about homesteading and land laws

(Book Cover)
Frontier in American Culture by White and Limerick

      Here are some excellent sources for study of homesteading and land policy of the U.S. government that supplements the Homesteading story you will find in Issue 17 of our separate Subscribers Edition online.

(bullet) The Homestead Act of 1862 by Richard Pence. See also: Homestead Act of 1862
      Locating Homestead Records. At the time I did my research for homestead records, one needed to know the legal description of the land before the records could be located. That is, section number, township number and range number as they were recorded in that fashion. If you knew the county you could cut down considerably on how much you had to search. If you knew the township, even less searching was required. However, there has been quite a bit of indexing of the land office records since that time and record indexes for most of public land states east of the Mississippi are now available on CD-ROM. In addition to the particulars of each claim, the CD-ROMs contain the necessary reference numbers that you can use to get copies of the actual records. For further information, contact: Bureau of Land Management, Eastern States, Attn: Public Services Section, 7450 Boston Boulevard, Springfield VA 22153. (Note that there is generally little information of a genealogical nature in federal land records; however, the record for my great grandfather, Daniel Adelbert Stanley, contained a list of his children with their ages.)

(bullet) Gary Krell provides this terrific step-by-step Procedure to Homestead Records. In part, he suggests:

If you follow this procedure exactly, your search should proceed smoothly toward what we hope is a rewarding end! Please Note: Although we concentrate on South Dakota here, this method can be used for any Public Domain State.


Step One

      Write to the Register of Deeds in the county where your ancestor held property, giving the name and approximate dates for the landholder of interest. Ask them to locate all property transactions for that period and to advise you of their findings, pointing out which transactions involve Land Patents. (If you are at a loss for words, look at the sample letter included here to get some ideas.) The Deed Recorder should reply (sooner or later) with a list of the deed recordings and/or transfers that they have found, along with their requirements for obtaining copies of same.

Step Two
      Purchase copies of any of these records that you think might relate to a homestead claim. You will receive them (sooner or later!) by return mail. These documents will give you the exact Legal Description of the property, and, if it was an original homestead claim, the Land Patent Certificate Number, along with the name of the General Land Office where it was issued.

Step Three
      Send this information to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) — sometimes called the Suitland (Maryland) Branch — with a request for a copy of the Land Entry Case File. Be sure to include the following information: State, Land Office, Transaction Type, Document Number(s), Patentee's Name, and Land Description. Use our sample letter as a guide. The address is:

Step Four
      You will receive by return mail (sooner of later!) a standard form indicating one of a number of possible responses: a) They couldn't locate the case file. This has never happened to us, but we understand that it does happen. You're on you own from here!
b) They found the records, have copied them for you, but you must return the form with your payment within XX days in order to receive them. Otherwise, your copies go in the recycle hopper!
c) They have enclosed copies of the records for you, and request that you send them your payment in return. Do so without delay. After all, this is your government attempting to save time and money. (And you never know when you will need NARA again!)
As of July 14, 1997 a new fee schedule for land entry case files (and all other paper records) is in effect. The new charge will be $10.00 per file.
As you can see, this process is very simple (once you know how to do it!), and is potentially very rewarding. We encourage you to pursue it.
Archives I Textural Reference Branch (NWDT1), National Archives and Records Administration, 7th and Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20408
Send a separate request letter for each Land Patent Certificate No. that you have. DO NOT SEND PAYMENT along with your request! Failure to follow these steps carefully will cause an additional delay.

(Cranberry Marsh)
From the 1880s onwards many settlers in Skagit County who sought agriculture rather than logging located prairies in among all the first growth forests. Such prairies often resulted from Indians burning off the vegetation over generations in order to plant camas roots, their starchy staple. The Kallochs and Halls settled in the Prairie district, north of Sedro-Woolley, and the halls took along around this cranberry marsh. The pond is along what is now Highway 9.

Littoral Rights
      The qualified common law rights of a riparian owner below the ordinary high water mark of tidally influenced navigable stream and below the low water mark of a non-tidal navigable stream are called "littoral" rights. These are property rights burdened with a superior public servitude. The rights of an owner riparian to a non-navigable river are not so constrained.
Further Reading

Sample of a legal notice for the 1878 Timber Act
Nov. 19, 1896, Skagit County Times Sedro and Woolley, Skagit county, Washington
Timber Land notices
U.S. Land Office at Seattle, Wash.
October 31st, 1896
      Notice is hereby given that in compliance with the provisions of the Act of Congress of June 8, 1878, entitled, "An Act for the sale of Timber lands in the States of California, Oregon, Nevada and Washington territory," as extended to all the public land states by act of August 4, 1892.

Merritt Graves
of Prairie, county of Skagit, State of Washington, has this day filed in this office his sworn statement, No. 6,511, for the purchase of the e1/2, sw 1/5, Sec. 20, tp 36 n, r 5 e, and will offer proof to show that the land sought is more valuable for the timber or stone than for agricultural purposes and to establish his claim to said land before the Register and Receiver of this office at Seattle, Washington, on Wednesday, the 20th day of January, 1897.
      He names as witnesses: George B. Addington, Charles Addington, Zeb Anderson, Otto Standdall, all of Prairie, Washington.
Any and all persons claiming adversely the above described lands are requested to file their claims in this office on or before said 20th day of January, 1897.
Wm. D. O'Toole, Register

Frederick Jackson Turner

Links, background reading and sources

Story posted on Jan. 23, 2004, last updated Aug. 13, 2006, updated June 2019
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(bullet) See this Journal Timeline website of local, state, national, international events for years of the pioneer period.
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