Tracing Immigrants Arrival Land and Property

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Tracing Immigrant Origins Gotoarrow.png Country of Arrival Gotoarrow.png Land and Property

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Many immigrants left their homelands for the chance to obtain inexpensive land in a new country. Land records, therefore, contain many immigration clues, even if the place of origin is generally not given. Information about an immigrant's old hometown will more likely be found in records of land purchased directly from the government (such as homesteads) rather than from private individuals.

Most deeds indicate the purchasers' and the sellers' residences. If the immigrant purchased land right after arriving in the new country, the deed could reveal the place of origin. For example, “headrights” (the head of house's right to land for settling a colony) can show places—usually the country—of origin. Headrights are indexed in books like—

  • Nugent, Nell Marion. Cavaliers and Pioneers: Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants, 1623-1732. Reprint. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1983. (FHL book 975.5 R2n.)

Many places required that an immigrant be a citizen or that an immigrant file a declaration of intent to become a citizen before buying land. Land records may include copies of naturalization records or lead to them. An excellent set of land records with immigration data, on 1,641 rolls of microfilm, is—

Homestead applications in the United States often reveal immigration status. Homestead and other land transfers are indexed in the BLM-GLO Land Patent Index.