Using Bounty Records for Virginia Research

Bounty Lands:  Proof of Settlement, Public Service, and Military Obligation

Proof of Settlement–Bounties identify earliest date of residence/arrival in Virginia and may supply other places of residence where you can research that will bypass burned or lost records. Names of sponsoring groups and individuals are supplied for new immigrants–adding to your kinship networks and circles of association–what I refer to as the mini-census approach.  Create  contact/connection list as you go through the records.

Most bounties are awarded in specific locations; boundaries of grant areas are often set by law.Early and contemporary histories will include maps of these areas.  Just be careful of those created by modern  genealogists who may only show new reserves, completely overlooking old designations of land-award areas.

Bounties could be  awarded for service to the government:  for building iron forges, for bringing settlers into an unsettled area, for having more than one child, or for payment or wages the government did not have the money to pay.

Bounty Land for Military Service awarded by Virginia–

  1. For French and Indian War Service–awarded in Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, and Western Pennsylvania.
  2. For Revolutionary War Service–awarded in Kentucky and Ohio. Watch  especially for grants that span a river or a boundary line.

George Washington gave Hessian troops and British Army regulars, willing to lay down their arms and fight no more, lands up to 700 acres in unclaimed areas.  Mostly in Georgia (Greene County) and Pennsylvania (Lycoming County.)  There is also  some document evidence and family traditions of grants in Southwestern Virginia and Eastern Tennessee. Watch also for these.  Your favorite Virginia genealogist, Arlene Eakle

PS  Stay tuned for some actual examples!


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