Nebraska Land and Property
Nebraska is a public domain state, in which land is surveyed and transferred to private ownership through federal land offices. (See the United States Research Outline for more information.) Settlers could either purchase the land or, after the passage of the National Homestead Act in 1862, receive homesteads.
The first land office in Nebraska was established at Omaha in 1855. The Family History Library has research handbooks for many counties describing the evolution of the land office districts.
Each local land office kept tract books and township plats. Records of the land offices and microfilm copies of all tracts are at the Nebraska State Historical Society. The NSHS library has a collection of over 500 county atlases or plat books. The approximate time period of these atlases and plat books is 1885 to the present. Of these estimated 500 atlases/plat books, 147 have been microfilmed (Nebraska Plat Books on Microfilm). These are mainly from 1885 to 1947, though not every county has an atlas for every year.
A database (Nebraska Atlases/Plat Books) has been developed to give an accurate account of our holdings and to help researchers in verifying the existence of atlases/plat books for their years of interest.
You can write to the society for a reference leaflet on Nebraska land laws and records.
Homestead applications and other land office records are available from:
Textual Reference Branch
National Archives and Records Administration
7th and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20408
Patents and copies of tract books and township plats are at the:
Bureau of Land Management
2515 Warren Avenue
Cheyenne, WY 82003
Cheyenne, WY 82003
You will need a legal description of the land to search these files effectively.
A large section of land was granted to the Union Pacific Railroad, which then sold it to settlers through its own land offices. Many of the records of these transactions were destroyed in a fire. The Burlington Railroad also sold land. Microfilm copies of these records are at the Nebraska State Historical Society.
After land has been transferred to private ownership, subsequent transactions are recorded at county offices. The Family History Library does not have copies of the county land records. You can obtain copies of deeds and mortgages from the recorder in each county.
Nebraska Research Outline. Salt Lake City, Utah: Intellectual Reserve, Inc., Family History Department, 1998, 2001.