25 November 2014

Nebraska, Homestead, Records, 1861-1936 on Ancestry.com

Ancestry.com has "Nebraska, Homestead, Records, 1861-1936," on their site. This database has been on Fold3.com for some time.

What's apparent, but not explicitly stated, is that the index is only to the patentee--the person who received the title to the property. There are witnesses and other people mentioned in these documents, but their names are not indexed. It's important to search for other family members, neighbors and immigrants from the same point of origin.

A nice feature of the search page for this database is the ability to search based upon the location of the homestead as shown in the screen below.

A minor frustration with the search box is that the geographic locations based upon the legal description of the property are "out of order" for how the descriptions are usually stated.

It's not a major problem, but for those of us who are fairly linear in our thinking it's likely that a few incorrect searches will be formulated.

My own ancestor, Focke Goldenstein obtained a homestead in section 12 of Township 11 North Range 25 West--in Dawson County, Nebraska.

A search for others who obtained homesteads in this same location resulted in four records, including the one for Goldenstein.

I've not had time to review all those homestead application files, but the one for Ehme Friesenborg contained an affidavit from William Ehmen--who also testified in the Goldenstein application and actually was a cousin of Goldenstein.

Homestead records are a rich source and this finding aid facilitates their use. Just remember that not every name in every record is indexed.

There may be others who started the homestead process in section 12 but never completed it. In an upcoming post we'll see how to get their names. Those incomplete applications can contain as much information as these completed files. But, because those homestead applications were not completed and patented, they do not appear in this database.