Kentucky land patents are divided into nine major groupings, each of which traces its origin to Acts of the Virginia or Kentucky General Assembly. In all instances the grantor is either the state of Virginia or the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and the grantee is the person or persons who receives the Governor's grant finalizing the patenting transaction.
The series are based on the type of warrant authorizing the survey, the location of the tract and the date the Governor's grant was issued. Most of the patent collection consists of patents authorized by warrants purchased from the Virginia Land Office, the Kentucky Land Office or County Courts.
Virginia Patent Series and Old Kentucky Patent Series
Patents under these series were authorized under 1779 legislation passed by the Virginia General Assembly establishing the land patenting process for appropriating land in Kentucky County and under the terms of a 1789 compact with Virginia by which Kentucky agreed to honor patents issued prior to its statehood on June 1, 1792. This database is still under construction, but files can be accessed by patent number or grantee.
West of Tennessee River Military Patents
The southern portion of the area known as the Jackson Purchase in western Kentucky was acquired from the Chicksaw Indian Nation in 1818. A number of Revolutionary War veterans, or their assigns, had settled in the area without clear title to their land holdings. In 1820 the Kentucky General Assembly approved legislation that instructed the veterans, or their assigns, to proceed with the land patenting process. This website includes information on 242 patents authorized by military warrants issued to Virginia veterans and scanned images of the patent files.
West of Tennessee River Non-Military Patents
On February 14, 1820, the Kentucky General Assembly passed legislation mandating the mapping of the Jackson Purchase into ranges, townships and sections. On December 21, 1821, the legislature provided for the sale of vacant fractional or complete quarter-sections (160 acres) in the Jackson Purchase. This database includes the names of persons who bought tracts at public land sales, their assignees, witnesses to assignments, grantees, cost of the tract and total acreage. It also contains links to scanned images for over 8,500 patent files. The Jackson Purchase Locator allows researchers to determine the location of the patented tract or, by entering coordinates, who patented sections and townships in the Purchase region.
County Court Orders
In 1835 the Kentucky General Assembly passed legislation that allowed counties to sell warrants authorizing surveys for patent applications. The County Court Order Series consists of 70,241 patents from 1835 to 2000. It is the largest patent series in this office, and the database is particularly useful to surveyors, engineers, land title researchers and lawyers involved in land litigation.
The remaining patent series (South of Green River, Tellico, Kentucky Land Warrants, South of Walker's Line and Warrants for Headrights) are not available online at this time. These series will be added when indexing and scanning is complete. Copies of files may be obtained via online order form or emailing the Land Office.
Further Statewide/Regional Research
You can request patent files for the Kentucky Land Warrant, South of Green River, Tellico and South of Walker's Line Series from the Kentucky History Center, Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, or the Land Office. Use Jillson's The Kentucky Land Grants to determine grantee, patent series and reference citation when requesting copies.