Prior to the original appearance of this work in 1948, the land records for Indiana had never been published, copied, or indexed by name, and unless you knew the exact location of the land on which your ancestors settled, the records were impossible to use. So in 1948 professional genealogist Margaret R. Waters, author of Revolutionary Soldiers Buried in Indiana, copied and published the records to enable researchers to determine if an ancestor did locate in Indiana, and if so, where and when.
The earliest land records of Indiana Territory go back to 1801, when a land office was established in Cincinnati. Tracts were surveyed according to the rectangular survey system first adopted in Ohio, and land was either purchased outright or bought at auction. The earliest tract books, published here, contain the records of the Cincinnati District and extend from April 1801 to August 1840. The area covered is mainly a district known as the “wedge” or “gore,” located in the southeastern part of the state and bounded roughly by the Ohio-Indiana state line, the Ohio River, and the Greenville Treaty Line. It comprises all of the present counties of Ohio, Dearborn, Union, and Wayne; most of Switzerland, Fayette, Franklin, and Randolph; and a tiny section of Jay.
The records copied here, including records of purchases made by “squatters” in accordance with the various pre-emption acts, give the names of about 10,000 purchasers of land in the Cincinnati District as well as the specific location of their land and the date of the record. Following the method adopted by the rectangular survey system, most descriptions of land are given as ranges east or west of Indiana’s second principal meridian, while townships are identified as being north or south of the established base line.
Invaluable in their own right as genealogical evidence, these records also serve as a substitute for censuses prior to 1820, the year of Indiana’s first census, and are thus at the very forefront of Indiana records.