Thursday, April 28, 2011

Using Land Records to Solve Genealogical Problems -Summary of William Ballenger's Military Warrant File

We have reviewed and analyzed the Military Land Warrant of William Ballenger and the deed of sale of the property to Jeremiah J. Ballenger. Today it's time for the "final report".

Each document in the file represents one of the steps in obtaining the land.

Step 1: A warrant was issued to Christopher Rian for his service in the Mexican-American War on 20 March 1848. See Part 7.

Step 2: Christopher Rian sold the warrant to William H. Ballenger on 17 February 1849. See Part 8.

Step 3: William located the property he wanted in Mahaska County, Iowa, took the warrant to the Land Office in Iowa City on 10 April 1849 and filled out the appropriate paperwork to notify them of his intention to claim the property. See Part 4 and Part 5.

Step 4: The patent, which granted William ownership of the land, was subsequently issued. The patent was not actually in the file obtained from NARA but is available for viewing at Bureau of Land Management(BLM), General Land Office (GLO) Records Automation web site.

We can use some of the information from the file to fill in William Ballenger's timeline from 1848 to 1856 more thoroughly.

Remember this 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).

Numerous questions still beg an answer:

  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?
  4. Who are Jeremiah J. Ballinger and Samuel Ballinger?
  5. When did William leave Scott County, Illinois for Mahaska County, Iowa?
I hope examining this Military Land Warrant File has helped you to understand the kinds of information that can be obtained by obtaining one from NARA. We have gained some valuable information about the life of William Ballenger by examining this file. It hasn't directly answered my question of, "Who were William Ballenger's parents?" but many valuable clues have been unearthed and I am confident they will eventually help to answer this question when combined and correlated with other data.

Note: My timeline format is a slightly modified version of one that Miriam Robbins Midkif of Ancestories uses. She wrote about it in her post, Using Timelines.

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

© 2011, copyright Michelle Goodrum


  1. Michelle,
    I saw your postings via Randy Seaver and thoroughly enjoyed all of the posts. I loved how you broke it down by each document both with a transcription and image, and then your comments about what you found.

  2. Lisa, I'm glad you enjoyed the series and hope you see how helpful land records can be.