Colonial governments (including England, Spain, Mexico, Russia, and France) issued land grants to settlers in areas that later became part of the United States. In the early colonies, a governor or proprietor could sell land or give it away to soldiers and settlers. Those who immigrated or brought a certain number of immigrants to a colony sometimes received “headright” or similar grants of land as compensation for settling the colony.
Many of these records are now available at the appropriate state archives. The Family History Library has copies of many colonial land records and published indexes. These are generally listed in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under [STATE] - LAND AND PROPERTY.