Bounty Land Warrants with Probate Records interpretation

While trying to determine how much an ancestor paid for a Bounty Land Warrant I researched the original recipient of the warrant. Based on the records I have located to date:

The warrant is based on the Act of 1855 passed on 3 March.

Probate records from Penobscot County Maine indicate a guardian was appointed in June of 1855 for the heir of the soldier who was authorized to recieve the warrant. Almost immediately after the warrant was issued to the minor heir in February 1857, the guardian filed a petition in March 1857 to sell the warrant for $155 to an Elvaton Wethern. The court ordered a notice of the petition to be run in a local Bangor Maine newspaper for three weeks. On 28 April 1857 the court approved the sale.

The NARA file for the warrant shows that on 30 April 1857 the warrant was transferred by the guardian of the heir to my ancestor who was not Elvaton Wethern. This information is penned on the reverse side of a preprinted form from the Probate Court in Maine on 5 May 1857  the clerk of the court signed a statement stating that the signature of the guardian is indeed him. There is not a notation that the paperwork was recorded.

The warrant number matches in the court records from Maine and the NARA file. In the 1850 & 1860 census Elvaton Wetherin's occupation is a farmer in Maine and not a land broker. I have not located a copy of the newspaper notice.

From a legal stand point would the court allow the transfer to another person not named in the original petition for the sale of the warrant? Can I assume that my ancestor paid approximately $155 for the warrant?

Thank you for any insight,

Ann Gilchrest

Submitted byEEon Wed, 10/29/2014 - 10:39

Interesting problem, Ann. The short answer is that what courts allowed varied from one jurisdiction to another and one judge to another, but the starting place would be the probate laws of Maine as they existed in March-May 1857. If this were my problem, I'd also research Elvaton Wetherin completely, in every kind of record, just as though he were my principal person of interest. Answers to issues like this so often lie in scraps of paper or administrative matter relating to other people with whom Wetherin was involved.  I'll also flag this question on EE's FB page for other Maine researchers to see.

Submitted byJadeon Sat, 11/01/2014 - 23:52

Once a court orders sale to a particular person, that person effectively holds title if the stipulated price is actually paid (to the selling party, not to the court).  The consideration need not be received from the nominated grantee, but could be paid by the individual actually owning the warrant at the time of the court order.

You have probably seen assignments (sales) noted on the backs of land warrants.  They are often not also recorded in deeds.

In this case the sale to a third party evidently was not noted on the back of the warrant.

One possible scenario is that Elvaton Wethern sold his "interest in" the warrant once he was nominated as grantee in the petition.  This could have been recorded in a deed, but might have been a private sale.  Many jurisdictions did not require that land transactions be recorded, but a subsequent purchaser could have required recordation by the original grantee in order to secure his title.  He might, alternatively, have been furnished a "true copy" of the warrant with the notation of sale on the reverse [preferably executed by a JP or justice or clerk of a court of record].

The original warrant sale could have occurred within the jurisdiction of the court handling the guardianship proceedings.

You do not mention whether you found where the land was that was claimed under the warrant, who actually claimed the land, the grant/patent document and whether you had searched in that location's records for a deed or other record whereby the claimant/patentee's land right was disposed of.  This information would be within my own definition of "exhaustive search" if I were analyzing the case, having essentially the data you describe.

I would not assume that your relative's purchase of the warrant was for the same amount stipulated in the petition to sell.  If you have been lucky enough to find a recorded deed somewhere in the chain of title, it could give that information.  Some recording clerks were incredibly diligent in recording every detail of documents related to the specific matters they were recording -- but many recitations of assignments/sales do not.  The claimant's disposition of the land might not have recited a chain of title, however, whether by deed, by court order pursuant to failure to pay taxes or other debt, by will or via proceedings concerning an intestate estate.

I wish you good luck in locating documentation.


Jade thank you for response.

The file for the Bounty Land Warrant at NARA contains the original warrant issued to the heir of the soldier. This file also contains paper work from the probate court in Maine stating that the warrant was sold directly to my ancestor who then redeemed it for 160 acres in Minnesota. The original land patent was issued to my ancestor from the US Government. The price paid for the warrant is not stated in the NARA file.

Based on what I have been able to find in the Maine probate records. There are no probate records for the soldier. The soldier died in 1842. At the time of his death he was not entitled to a Bounty Land Warrant. It wasn't until after the Act of 1855 that his service became eligiable to recieve a warrant. Shortly after the passage of the Act of 1855 the soldiers heir requested that his step-father become his guardian. My intrupration of these events is that the gaurdianship was done for the purpose of applying for the Bounty Land Warrant. The index for the guardianship does indicate that there maybe a file in the courthouse in Maine. Finding out if that file still exisits is one of the steps in my research plan. Another is to look at the deed books to see if anything was recorded in them.

At the time that the warrant was sold to my ancestor, he could have purchased the land without the use of a warrant for $1.25 per acre for a total cost of $200.00. My assumption is that he would have paid less than the $1.25 per acre that the US government was charging for the land.


Submitted byJadeon Mon, 11/03/2014 - 05:23

Ann, you have made considerable inroads on this problem.

I have no experience with land in Minnesota's being claimed under a Bounty Land Warrant -- yet :).

I do not doubt that you are correct in the thought that the guardianship proceeding was particularly related to the only known asset of the estate of the deceased veteran soldier.

I do wish you success in finding documentation as to exactly how your relative obtained the warrant, and what he paid for it.

Good hunting,