Most surviving pre-1900 county land records, including deeds and land court minutes, are on microfilm at the Georgia Department of Archives and History
and the FHL.
Some of the most important records for Georgia are the tax digests, and the property and land records. The Georgia Archives has surviving state and colonial records of land grants. Many of them are original documents that have not been microfilmed. However, most of the surveys (plats) from before 1776 no longer exists. Neither do some of the last colonial land grants.
On February 17, 1783 a law was passed providing bounty-land and headright grants in Georgia. Each head of household was given 200 acres of land for free and could pay 1 to 4 shillings for each set of 50 additional acres, one of which could be purchased for each slave or other family member. However, each grant has a 1,000-acre limit. Grant and survey fees had to be paid by each grantee. Anyone who already occupied land at that time as a result of colonial grants from before Georgia gained statehood was allowed to keep their land.
The act that passed in 1783 also called for each county to have its own land court. However, most of the county land court records are no longer extant, except for those from Wilkes County. In order to obtain a warrant of a survey for a land grant, the applicant had to swear to five justices under oath that he was stating his family size and number of slaves accurately. After the applicant’s land was surveyed by the county surveyor, the surveyor general’s office was set a copy of the survey plat. The county kept the original document. Each applicant had to agree to cultivate at least 3% of their total land acreage and live on the land for a minimum of one year. Once the requirements were met, the applicant could pay the fees and apply for a grant. The grant would then be issued to the applicant and recorded. Counties where headright grants were awarded were: Bryan, Bullock, Burke, Camden, Chatham, Clarke, Columbia, Effingham, Elbert, Emanuel, Franklin, Glascock, Glynn, Greene, Hancock, Hart, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Laurens, Liberty, Lincoln, Madison, McDuffie, McIntosh, Montgomery, Oconee, Oglethorpe, Richmond, Screven, Taliaferro, Tattnall, Warren, Washington, Wilkes
Soldiers who served in Georgia’s military were given bounty-land grants. From 1781 to 1782 come civilians were also given grants, along with those from Georgia who continued the war in other states, who were known as “refugees.” Abstracts exist for most Georgia bounty certificates from the Revolutionary War. However, civilian certificates have not been abstracted.
On February 25, 1784 another bounty land act was passed and land was given out in other counties. Those grants were given to veterans of the Navy and the Continental Line. Bounty-land grants from that act were mainly given out in what became Greene County later on.
Unlike other states, Georgia distributed bounty-land using a lottery system. The lands in the northern and western three-quarters of the present-day state were distributed using that system from 1805 to 1833. Lotteries were held in the following years: 1805, 1807, 1820, 1821, 1827, 1833
Two lotteries were held in 1832 as well. Every citizen of the state could participate in the lotteries. However, special consideration was given to veterans during the lotteries of 1820, 1827, and 1832. There are several published lottery books, which may help resources pinpoint the location of ancestors at the time when the lottery was held.
Deeds from times when lottery lots were resold can also be useful sources of information. Each county recorded those deeds for lands within that county. Each county’s superior court clerk recorded land transactions that were conducted between individuals privately.
Most land records from before 1900 that still exist today are at the FHL and at the Georgia Archives on microfilm. That may include land court records, as well as deeds. However, most of the individual courthouse plat books for each county have not been placed on microfilm. See Also Guide to U.S. Land Records Research
- BLM Land Records (glorecords.blm.gov)
- Land Grants to Georgia Revolutionary War Veterans The state of Georgia did nothing for its Revolutionary War veterans until 1820 when veterans were allowed to enter the Third Land Lottery of Georgia. Requirements for entering this lottery included residence in the state of Georgia for at least three years and service in the United States military during the Revolutionary War. This military service was not limited to service in or under the state of Georgia. Subsequently, Revolutionary War veterans were also allowed to enter the Fifth and Sixth Land Lotteries of 1827 and 1832, respectively, with the same requirements as in the Third Land Lottery. This database contains a list of all the veterans who won land in the Third, Fifth, and Sixth Land Lotteries of the state of Georgia. Along with the name of the veteran, the list also includes the name of the county in which the veteran resided as of the date indicated, Land Lottery, the year of the Lottery (1820, 1827, or 1832) in which the veteran won land, the Land Lot number, District number, occasionally the section number, and county of the draw (which are all indicated under the “Fortunate Draw” column), and the date the land was granted.
- Georgia Land Lottery, 1827 Georgia began in 1805 to offer land to its citizens through lotteries. These lotteries often serve as useful substitutes for the lost federal census returns for the early 1800s in the state. The 1827 lottery dispensed lots in Carroll, Coweta, Lee, Muscogee, and Troup counties. Search this database for thousands of Georgians who were “fortunate drawers” in this unique land dispersal.
- Georgia Cherokee Land Lottery, 1832 Of all the states, Georgia has the distinction of being the only one to distribute parcels of land by lottery. This database is a listing of persons allotted land in 1832 from what was considered “”Cherokee Land.”” Located in the northeastern part of the state, over 18,500 parcels were distributed by lottery in that year. Each record of this collection contains the individual’s name, residence, and county. Additionally, it provides the district and section number of the parcel of land. For researchers of early Georgian ancestors, this can be an enlightening database.
- Georgia Headright and Bounty Land Records, 1783-1909 (familysearch.org) Collection of individual documents from Georgia’s original land grant system, the headright and bounty system, 1783-1909. Bounty lands were awarded for service in the Revolutionary War. Headright law provided the head of a family with a grant of land. The records were filmed at the Georgia State Archives in Morrow. This collection is being published as images become available.
- Headright and Bounty Plats of Survey, 1783-1909 (sos.state.ga.us) This series consists of original plats of survey for headright and bounty land plats. They are the copies submitted to the Surveyor General to be recorded in plat books, the official record copy.
Beginning in 1783 a man living in Georgia could be granted 200 acres of land on his own head-right and fifty acres for each additional family member, including slaves, up to 1000 acres. To acquire a land grant an applicant would appear before the land court in the county in which he desired land to obtain a warrant of survey. The county surveyor then surveyed the land, made a plat of survey, and forwarded a copy of the plat to the Surveyor General to be recorded. The applicant then applied to the Governor’s office for the grant after he paid all office fees. The grant was then issued and recorded.
The headright and bounty plats depict a tract of land surveyed, including physical features and adjoining land owners. The document includes the name of the individual for whom the land was surveyed; the number of acres surveyed; the date the warrant was issued for the survey; the date of survey; and the names of the chain carriers and surveyor. Often the reverse of the plat includes the location of the recorded plat.
- Georgia Land Record Books (amazon.com)