Following the Indian treaties of 1829 and 1833, the federal land
surveys of 1833, and the creation of the federal land office at Green Bay in 1834,
government lands in Wisconsin south and east of the Fox and Wisconsin rivers were made
available for public purchase at the price of $1.25 per acre.
The sales of these lands before the economic panic of 1837 and the
depression that followed began slowly, totaling 217,000 acres in 1835. It is estimated
that 75% of these early sales were made to speculators. By the mid-1840's, however, sales
were sustained at around 700,000 acres per year, and Wisconsin had become the area clearly
favored by homeseekers in the new Northwest.
Subsequent sales occurred rapidly, and local histories indicate that
by 1846 most government lands had been claimed. The following land patent records for the
townships of Fond du Lac County are compiled from the records in the Federal Bureau of
Land Management database.
With one exception, noted below, an attempt has been made to retain the
information as recorded on the original land patents. Names as originally recorded,
however, were not spelled with any more accuracy than the corresponding census records of
the period. In many cases, multiple variations on family names and first names are
obvious. In a few cases, BLM transcriptions from the original handwritten documents have
introduced additional inaccuracies. If you have reason to believe that a record is in
error, please contact Bob Schuster by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
or at 6020 Kristi Circle, Monona, Wisconsin 53716 (608) 221-1421.
One exception to presenting these records as presented in the BLM
database is related to the acreage of the property. Patentees were allowed to file for
multiple parcels in a single application, and the subsequent patents identified only the
total acreage for all parcels. The BLM records consequently assign the total to the last
of the properties listed and attribute "0" acres to the others. Because patents
generally described properties based on a system of sectional fractions (e.g. SW, NENW,
E1/2), the actual acreage for each parcel can easily be calculated. Questions do arise,
however, when townships do not consist of exactly 36 square miles. In these cases,
adjustments for the excess or deficit were apparently made in the westernmost and
northernmost "40's" of the township, resulting in 40's that are fractionally
larger or smaller than 40 acres. Because this site focuses on individual parcels rather
than on the patent numbers, an attempt has been made to attribute an acreage value to each
parcel. The procedure followed here in cases of fractional acreage is to assign all
fractions to western or northern 40's. This is, generally, a reliable approach, but
visitors are cautioned to confirm actual acreages through other sources.
It is also worth noting that in a few townships some properties were
identified not as sectional fractions, but rather as "lot" numbers. Because the
acreages of these lots are extremely variable, patents involving more than one lot in a
section are recorded here in a single record and with a single, combined total acreage for
Although the document facsimilies usually leave little ambiguity
about the property being described, in a few cases patents to a property are credited to
more than one individual. An example occurs in section 9 of the town of Alto, in which the
E1/2SE is credited to both James Thwing and Hendrick Bruins. In general on this site these
cases have been resolved by citing all of the patentees named. With the Alto example,
however, there is some reason to believe that the Bruins patent refers not to E1/2SE, but
rather E1/2NE. The 1862 county plat map credits Bruins with the latter, and the original
handwriting on the patent document is, at least, ambiguous (note the Township number,
which looks like "South" but is in fact "North"). For that reason, the
records here have been modified to read E1/2NE rather than as transcribed during the
creation of the electronic records.
The official records of the land patents in Wisconsin are now
available on the Web from the Bureau of Land Management-Eastern States General Land Office
at http://www.glorecords.blm.gov/. Searches
can be conducted by accession number, by name, and by state, county, town, and section.
Facsimiles of the original patent documents are available on the site.
CATALOG OF TERMS
- Accession Number
- An alphanumeric code unique to each document that directly relates a
document image to the original hardcopy document. Identifies the state, volume number, and
page of the original GLO document. An example of this might be LA3010_.023, which
identifies a Louisiana document found in Volume 301, Page 23.
- Aliquot Parts
- Using the rectangular system of survey, land in each state was
divided into Townships containing 6 square miles. Each Township was subdivided into 36
Sections, each containing 640 acres. Each Section was further subdivided into halves and
quarters, repeatedly, until the piece of land was accurately described. Without the use of
Fractional Sections, Blocks, or Lots (in the case of uneven parcels of land), Aliquot
Parts were used to represent the exact subdivision of the section of land. Halves of a
Section (or subdivision of it) are represented as N, S, E, and W
(such as "the north half of section 5"). Quarters of a Section (or subdivision
of it) are represented as NW, SW, NE, and SE (such as
"the northwest quarter of section 5"). Sometimes, several Aliquot Parts are
required to accurately describe a piece of land. For example, "E SW" denotes the
east half of the southwest quarter containing 80acres, and SWNENE" denotes the
southwest quarter of the northeast quarter of the northeast quarter containing 10 acres.
It is important to remember that the Aliquot Parts shown on the system usually translates
into words found on the land document. In general: a section contains 640 acres, a half
section contains 320 acres, a quarter section contains 160 acres, a half of a quarter
section contains 80 acres, and a quarter of a quarter contains 40 acres, etc.
- Document Number
- The primary identification number given to the original GLO document.
A certificate number, warrant number, serial number, or patent number may be used as the
- Fractional or odd-shaped tracts of land not generally describable by
conventional aliquot parts. Lots are sometimes expressed as "Lot 12" or
"Lot 12a." If a lot is included in a description of land, it will be denoted in
the aliquot parts as a one- or two-digit number and may include a lower case alphabet. For
example, "Lot 12a of the north-west quarter" is denoted as "12aNW."
- Signature Date
- The confirmation date for the land patent. Apparently there were
significant lapses of time between the date of filing and the completion of the legal
process. Curtis Higley in the town of Metomen is a good example. Although he filed his
paperwork on May 29, 1844, the date recorded on the patent is September 1, 1846. Other
records indicate that in some cases the signature date is significantly later for a given
land parcel than for another even when the document number indicates that it was filed