Sunday, April 30, 2023

Missing Ancestor's Land Record?

Map of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Civil Engineer divisions and districts

Check Out Government Land Leases
In April 2023 a research project led the a3Genealogy to the Tulsa area - homeplace of the Tulsa District of the Corps of Engineers (COE) in the Southwestern Division. Well, what actually triggered it was crossing Tahlequah and settling in Cherokee County, OK on one of the beautiful Corps of Engineers Lakes, but I digress. 

A highlight of this road trip was an intriguing reminder of long term land leases along coveted Corps of Engineers' managed lakeside waters. The Corps of Engineers division (like other govt divisions) set aside land sector reserved for  US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) personnel and retired Corps of Engineers employees use. This land is technically not privately owned, but your ancestor may have:
1) worked for the US Army Corps of Engineers or 
2) was savvy enough to secure a 10 to 100 year lease along the Corps of Engineers public lands. 
(These practices continues today).

The federal government owns public lake and lakefront land managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers. The Army established the Corps of Engineers as a separate, permanent branch on March 16, 1802. Their land portfolio is an impressive 12.4 million acres of public lands and waters across the USA.[1] This property includes campsites, over 425 recreational areas and trails, and wetlands to include grazing land. 

Grazing Land (vs Recreational)
Marietta Monitor, OK, 23 Dec 1949
Although public land used for camping and recreational activities, properties may have corporate leases or were perhaps developed by the Corps of Engineers, grazing leases is where we most often find ancestral land leases. These leases may have been passed to heirs. Note: not all of public land leases allowed for transfers to heirs.

Your ancestors may have secured a grazing lease by responding to a bid or negotiated with a land office sans bidding process. The General Land Office (GLO) responsible for managing public lands in the western U.S. was established in 1812, and later became the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

It was in the later 1800's that the GLO began issuing permits for grazing on public lands. Although not for perpetuity, these land leases offered by different government agencies may have been for up to 100 years to government retirees. Most however are for 5-20 years, often renewable.

5 Places to Uncover Ancestors' Government Land Lease 
Many early settlers migrating westward preferred the tax free -no to low cost - leases. The family researcher may need to delve into several record groups though to uncover the lease and ancestral information. Researchers may learn a lot about their ancestors through these records.  Not unlike government issued early patents, we suggest researchers begin with the BLM-GLO website, however, we usually have to correspond directly with the following agencies: 
1. Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The BLM maintains records of grazing permits and leases issued for public lands under their management. You can search for records online using the BLM's or you can contact your local BLM office for assistance.
2. U.S. Forest Service (USFS). The USFS also issues grazing permits and leases for public lands under their management. You can search for records online using the USFS's special uses database, or you can contact your local USFS office for assistance
3. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The NARA is the official repository for records of the U.S. government. If you are looking for historical records related to grazing land leases, you may want to search the NARA's online catalog or contact one of their regional archives for assistance.
4. State and local government offices. Depending on where the grazing land is located, you may need to contact state or local government offices to obtain records related to grazing land leases.
5. National Park Service or Wildlife Refuge land offices. If the land is located within a national park or wildlife refuge, you may need to contact the park or refuge office for assistance.
[1] U.S. Government Accountability Office; online access 29 Apr 2023:

Kathleen Brandt
Be Historically Correct
Accurate Accessible Answers

Sunday, April 16, 2023

The Compensated Emancipation Act & Patriot's Day, Influence Tax Day


Compensated Emancipation Act
Keeping it Straight
Last time it happened, 18 April 2016. The blog post written 18 Apr 2016, entitled
Thank D.C. Emancipation Holiday for 2016 Tax Date has been updated for 2023Same Rules apply, but here's a refresher for those who missed the 2016 post, with a few updates relevant to 2023 (in red):

April 15 is synonymous with tax day, until it interferes with the Compensated Emancipation Act, signed by Abraham Lincoln 16 April 1862. This holiday is observed annually in Washington D. C. as Emancipation Day (only observed in the District of Columbia). It is a legal holiday in D. C., but affects all Americans when it is celebrated on Tax Day.  Yet, it still is fuzzy. Why was tax day moved from Saturday April 15 to April 18. when the D. C. Compensated Emancipation Act became law was 16  April?

Well…the practice is the 16 April Washington D. C. Emancipation day is celebrated on the closest weekday, (thusly, Monday 17 Apr 2023). Click here to see the tax code for a more confusing explanation.

Know that this date change only affects Federal Taxes, not local taxes such as KCMO Individual Earned Tax which was due 15 April.

Research D. C. Slave Owner and Emancipated Slave Records
Slave Record
D. C. slaves were emancipated on 16 April 1862, abolishing slavery 8.5 months prior to the Emancipation Proclamation that was issued 1 Jan 1863. 

Thanks to the Compensated Emancipation Act, slave and slaveholder information was detailed leaving a money trail to follow for the researcher.
This new act permitted slave owners to file petitions for compensation promising loyal Unionist masters up to $300 for each slave as well as voluntary colonization for former slaves outside the United States. An initial 966 petitioners filed claims for 3,100 slaves and another 161 persons submitted claims after the July 12 supplementary act including former slaves whose owners had not filed petitions. These are the records contained in this database.(
Records on the compensation leads DC slave and slaveholder researchers with useful documentations that most often shares names and ages of emancipated slaves, the names of their parents, and how these slaves were acquired.  
Slaveholder Petition
Combining the slaveholder petitions and statements of the emancipated slave paints a larger picture for researchers.  The Washington, D.C. Slave Owner Petitions, 1862-1863 records may also be found on
Minutes of Meetings
Be sure to also review the Minutes of Meetings, April 28, 1862 -  January 14, 1863 and the summary List of Awards to Slave Owners which have been digitized on for a final amount awarded to the slaveholder and the number of “servants” allowed per slaveholder claim. Researchers will also find digitized Slave Emancipation Records 1851-1863 for Washington, D. C. on

Tax Day on the 19th For Others
Maine and Massachusetts Holiday Moves Tax Day To 19th April. Because being an American and Tax Day is intertwined, we can’t forget the Revolutionary War patriots and their impact on tax day causing Maine and Massachusetts to have a different tax day in 2023 than the rest of the Union. 
Maine and Massachusetts traditionally celebrate Patriot’s Day on the 3rd Monday of April, so those tax payers have until Tuesday, 19 April. As expected, the tax code explains why Maine and Massachusetts do not have to file taxes until the 19th of April (note I did not say “pay”, but “file. I’m not an accountant).” Again, see tax code for a complete ‘confusing’ clarification.

What is Patriots’ / Patriot’s Day?
Patriots Day - a holiday never celebrated in my birth state of Kansas or adopted state of Missouri - commemorates the first battles of the American Revolutionary War - 1775 Battles of Lexington and Concord. From what I can gather, this holiday is most celebrated by the Boston Marathon. I’m sure there’s a link to the Greek Battle of Marathon, but that’s out of my pay grade.  

Don’t let me misguide you.  Patriots’ Day is a HUUGGEE day in New England - even to include the New Hampshire Minute Men. Check out Nutfield Genealogy blog entitled Patriot’s Day! Answering the Lexington Alarm from Hudson, New Hampshire. In this entire region there are reenactments and celebrations of patriotism.

Why Maine?
In Maine, like Massachusetts, Patriot's Day is an official holiday.“Why Maine?” is a common question in our email in-box.  And with a little understanding it makes sense. A simplified explanation is Maine, a former province of Massachusetts is 30,000 square miles of land carved out of Massachusetts – Massachusetts Bay Colony. Maine gained statehood in 1820 but that stretch of land and its citizens must be remembered for their quick response to serve in the Battles of Lexington and Concord.

To show their independence from Massachusetts, Maine celebrates “Patriot’s Day” whereas Massachusetts celebrates Patriots’ Day.  (Please let us know at a3Genealogy if you know the real history of the name distinction).

Thanking Your ME, MA Ancestor for Extra Tax Preparation Day?
I checked and none of my ancestors were brave enough to join the minutemen of 19 April 1775 (or not free to do so).
Lexington Minute Man Memorial
For the rest of the U.S.A. we can pick up this conversation in June, but for now, hoping you are either wrapping up your tax forms or filing an extension!

Happy Tax Day!

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers