I attended a genealogy conference where Lisa Louise Cooke was speaking. In a session on Google Earth, she mentioned using the Bureau of Land Management's website to look for land patents. So as soon as I got home, I went and checked out my 3rd great grandfather, Nathan Thornton. I knew he came to Iowa about 1845 and settled in Polk County, near present-day Ankeny.
I learned between March 1, 1850, and May 1, 1855, he acquired approximately 496 acres of land. Wow!!! What was interesting to plot these purchases out on Google Earth and see what was there in the present time period. I still do not know where his homestead was, but I would assume he built a home on land in his first purchase.
His first purchases were on March 1, 1850 in :
160 acres in Twp - Rng 080N - 23W Section 29, SW 1/4:
|Section 29 -- SW 1/4 (160 acres)|
40 acres in 080N - 23W Section 18, SE 1/4 of NW 1/4:
|Section 18 -- SE1/4 of NW 1/4 (40 acres)|
The 88 acres from the patent issued on Dec 30, 1852, were originally granted "to certain Officers and Soldiers who have been engaged in the Military Service of the United States," a Private Smith in Captain Wild's Company Tennessee and had been returned to the General Land Office, "with evidence that the same has been duly located upon the North fractional half of the North West quarter of Section eighteen in Township Eighty North of Range Twenty three West in the district of Lands Subject to Sale at Iowa City Iowa Containing Eighty Eight acres and Ten hundredths of an acre."
One month later, in April 1850, he purchased:
48.14 acres in 080N - 23W Section 7, SW 1/4 of SW 1/4:
|Section 7 -- SW 1/4 of SW 1/4 (48.14 acres)|
Land Patents for additional land were issued on May 1, 1855:
80 acres in 080N - 23W Section 30, SW 1/4 of SE 1/4 (40 acres):
and 080N - 23W Section 31, NW 1/4 of NE 1/4 (40 acres):
This area would today be the airport's offices and hotels across the street.
So when you drive up I-35 through Ankeny, you will be driving where my ancestors farmed.
Here is an overview of the land owned by Nathan Thornton (see purple outlined sections):
In case you wondered how many sections are in a township and range, see below. Note how they are numbered.