Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Using Land Records to Solve Genealogical Problems - Part 3

Today we begin to get into the meat and potatoes of William H. Ballenger's Iowa land file. We will be going through the file page by page, with one page per post. If you are just joining in, you can quickly catch up by reading Part 1 and Part 2.

In this post, we are going to look at the first page in the file along with a transcription. Then we will look at clues, questions raised and what was learned. Finally, we'll plot the property on Google Earth.

Here's the first page in the file, along with it's transcription. I'm really not sure what the 3 letters after "Wm H. Ballenger" are so if you have a suggestion, I would welcome it.

No 12389 //10
Christopher Rian
private in Capt Mont-
gomery's Compy 1st Reg
Illinois Vols.
Wm H. Ballenger afs[?] ass
of sd Christopher Rian
SE 1/4 34, 76N, 15W
5th P.M.
Iowa City
Patd. 1st June 1850
Recd. Vol 29 page 409 =
Oskaloosa Iowa

  1. The patent date of 1 June 1850 could turn out to be important. That was census day and I have been unable to locate William in any federal censuses during his life.
Questions Raised
  1. Who is Christopher Rian?
  2. Is William associated or related to Christopher Rian somehow?
  3. Why does William want property in Iowa? What's the push or pull factor?
What I learned

  1. The exact location of the property.
  2. The date of the patent (June 1, 1850).
  3. A quick online search for Christopher Rian in the 1850 census doesn't turn up Christopher but does reveal several Rians in Scott County, Illinois. This is important because that is where William Ballenger married Lucinda Campbell in 1849.
  4. Another quick online search for Christopher reveals a Christopher Rian in Scott County, Illinois in the Illinois Census of 1855. There are also a couple of Campbells on the same page. This could be important and is worth following up.
Let's put some perspective on this piece of land. Using Google Earth, you can see where William's property is located in relation to the surrounding counties. The orange box is the township and range. The pink box or dot is the section.

Tip: Click on the image to view a larger version and then click on the back arrow button to return to this post. If the larger version isn't big enough try this: Windows users: hold down the Control key (Mac users hold down the Command key) and press the plus key to make it even bigger (minus key makes it smaller).

Getting in a little closer, we are looking at the section. William's property is the SE 1/4 or in the lower right hand corner of the purple box.

As a side note, using MapQuest, I was able to determine that Oskaloosa, the county seat of Mahaska County, Iowa, where William's land was located is about 230 miles on today's roads from Winchester, the county seat of Scott County, Illinois. Scott County is where William Ballenger married Lucinda Campbell and where a Christopher Rian appeared in the 1855 Illinois Census. For now, we'll just file that little piece of information away.

Stay tuned for the next page in William Ballenger's Iowa land file.

For a full list of posts in this series, go to Using Land Records to Solve Genealogical Problems Compendium.

© 2011, copyright Michelle Goodrum


  1. I love land records and maps! I think the mysterious "afs" might be short for assignee (although they left off the "ee") I found this website for help: http://apps.sos.ky.gov/land/reference/glossary.asp
    Kentucky Land Office -
    Land Office Glossary
    assignee (abb. "afs'ee") - individual purchasing (or acquiring) all or part of a warrant or survey from another individual during the land patent process. or survey.
    I'm not sure about the top right "//10" or the near bottom "the" as correct (or important) they might be the same notation.... kind of looking to me like "160" if you cross your eyes..ha ha.
    (sorry for the double comments last post, I didn't think the comment was sent the first time:-))

  2. Great series, Michelle. My best guess on your mystery letters is that it reads "ass" meaning assignee.

  3. Thanks Donna, Nolichucky, and Carol for solving the transcripton "mystery". I agree it's an abbreviation for assignee. Sometimes it's a huge help to have fresh pair of eyes spot the obvious!

    Donna, I think you might be right that those other two notations are 160. It is a 160 acre parcel. And...
    Thanks for the Kentucky Land Office link! That website keeps coming up as being a good one. I've got it bookmarked now.

  4. Read all with great interest. How did you use Google Earth when all you have is township, range and section? What do you input to get these results?

  5. No doubt your blog article is great to me and most importantly it gives me information about my related issue. about public property record

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