The following is taken from EOGN for Sunday, 8 Mar 2009:
Did you know you might find your ancestor's land grant online?
The Texas General Land Office maintains the Land Grant Database at http://www.glo.state.tx.us/archives/landgrant.html, which will let you locate your ancestor's land grant under that jurisdiction.
The Land Grant Database contains a listing of all original land grants that have been issued an abstract number by the Texas General Land Office (GLO). This database does not contain information on the subsequent subdivision of this land. Record of subsequent sale, subdivision, etc, is a matter of county record.
Original land grants are defined as grants of land issued by the sovereign of the soil—that is, one of the governments of Texas: Spain, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, and the State of Texas. An abstract number is a unique identifying number assigned by the General Land Office to an original survey on a county-by-county basis. For example, Borden County will only have a single abstract number, 93.
The Land Grant Database is not a complete listing of all land grant documents or records relating to a specific individual that may be on file in the GLO. It does not contain records of invalid Mexican land grants, canceled or rejected grants, or documents from the Agency Special Collection.
I found the Land Grant Database to be simple to use: go to the web site and fill in the blanks.
There are data entry fields for the county, abstract number, original grantee, patentee, class, file number, certificate, title date, patent date, patent number, patent volume, part section, and "Survey/Blk/Tsp." Of course, you can simply leave blank any unknown information.
I decided to search for a few typical entries, using my own surname. Luckily, that name is not common in Texas. I went to the database and filled in the name "Eastman" in the entry for original grantee, and I left all the other spaces blank. Within a second or two, the database returned 50 records of grantees with the surname of Eastman.
I then clicked on the record for Rebecca R Eastman and the following was displayed:
Abstract Number: 407
District/Class: Fannin ScripFile Number: 002037
Original Grantee: Eastman, Rebecca R
Patentee: Eastman, Rebecca R
Patent Date: 19 Feb 1863
Patent No: 252
Patent Vol: 16
Acres: 70Adj Acres:
While not all data fields contain information, it is obvious that Rebecca R Eastman received a grant of 70 acres in Denton County on 19 February 1863. This record does not include any images of the original records, although other records may. If so, the records can be viewed on-screen as PDF files.
To see all the remaining information, I need to order photocopies of the files referenced in the Land Grant Database. Prices vary from $1.00 to $3.00 per page, depending on the page size and whether or not a back-and-white copy will suffice or if you need a color copy. Other research of the official records of the General Land Office that may require staff to perform extensive searches can be conducted for $25.00 per hour. Details are available on the same web site.
All in all, this is a great web site for genealogists. For information on how to perform a comprehensive search of GLO documents, go to http://www.glo.state.tx.us/archives/service.html.
For another great online reference for Texas research, you can check out the Handbook of Texas Online at http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online.