By Tamie Dehler
TERRE HAUTE — One of my favorite things about the Internet is the genealogy databases that are available to search. You can subscribe to Ancestry or go to almost any library to use it for free. You can use Heritage Quest free from home with your library card, and the Family Search pilot project is also free for the time being. These are databases that contain massive amounts of information, from census, to state and county records, to foreign records. Here are some of my other favorite (free) databases:
The Bureau of Land Management General Land Office (BLM GLO) Web site at www.glorecords.blm.gov/ allows the user to search through original land patents granted by the federal government on public lands. The user can search land patents and surveys and download a copy of the original documents. The site has recently added land status records for Colorado, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota. The site is also currently adding military land warrant information for warrants granted as a result of military service.
The state of Illinois has a similar database called the Illinois Public Domain Land Tract Sales Database at www.ilsos.
html. This site can be searched by the legal description of the land (section, range, township), by county, or by the name of the original purchaser. I wish every state had something like this.
The Kentucky Secretary of State’s Land Office Web site at sos.ky.gov/land/ is so wonderful that it deserves an entire column (or two) devoted to it (which I plan to write at some point). At this site, you can search the Virginia and Old Kentucky patent series, Revolutionary War warrants, certificates of settlement and preemption warrants, Virginia treasury warrants, old Lincoln County entries, county court order patents, west of Tennessee River military and non-military patents, and Jackson Purchase patents. Each database contains pictures of your ancestor’s original patent, survey, and deed that can be downloaded and printed. This web site was spotlighted in a Wabash Valley Genealogy Society workshop a couple of years ago, and it will be the featured topic at their September meeting this year.
The Library of Virginia on-line catalog search engine located at ajax.lva.lib.va.us/F/?func=file&file;_name=find-b-clas30&local;_base=CLAS30 allows the user to access the Virginia Land Office patents and grants and the Northern Neck grants and surveys. This is also a wonderful site that allows the user to download and print the original documents.
For vital statistics, Illinois, California, and Michigan have some excellent searchable on-line databases. Check out the Illinois Statewide Marriage Index at www.ilsos.gov/Geneal
ogyMWeb/marrsrch.html and their Statewide Death Index at www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/archives/death.html. The Michigan Genealogical Death Indexing System can be searched at www.mdch.state.mi.us/gendisx/search.htm. California’s death records can now be found on RootsWeb at vitals.rootsweb.ancestry.com/ca/death/search.cgi.
If your ancestry goes back into England or Wales, the Free BMD site, also at RootsWeb at freebmd.rootsweb.com/, is excellent for finding birth, marriage, and deaths starting in 1837 when civil vital statistics began to be recorded. You can download the original record, which is in the form of a quarterly list for a certain county. If your ancestor is listed in that quarter, you would have to order the actual record to get the exact date of the birth, death, or marriage.