Land Lottery Records

The information contained in this book was compiled from a variety of sources, primarily the List of Persons Entitled to Draws, the grant books, and the Numerical List. Sources used that relate to specific events and requests include the Executive Department Minutes, records of the Georgia General Assembly, and three series of land lottery documents. In addition, the List of Fortunate Drawers, the Proceedings and Ledger of Fractions Sales, and the Index Leading to Page were used for verification purposes. Various ledgers of fees paid, though available, were not consulted for this publication and are not discussed here.

Fortunate Drawers

The List of Persons Entitled to Draws is the official list of land lottery participants compiled by the state.10 The list includes the name of each participant, their residence and identifying remarks, their number, and the number of draws for which they were eligible. It is organized by first letter of last name, then by county, so that the list begins with As from Bryan County, Bulloch County, Burke County, etc. The names are numbered sequentially, beginning with “1” at the start of each letter, so that all number-letter combinations are theoretically unique, e.g. A-25, M-25, and Z-25. Despite their best efforts, the land lottery commissioners skipped and duplicated many individual numbers and some large sequences. The number-letter combination can be used to quickly locate a participant’s location in the original volumes. At the end of each book, the compilers included an official tally of the number of draws in each letter group. This calculation was used to determine the number of blank tickets to place in the land lottery wheel. At the land lottery, a “P” or “B” was placed by the name of each participant representing the result of each draw. This list was published as 1805 Georgia Land Lottery, by Virginia S. Wood and Ralph V. Wood.

The List of Fortunate Drawers was created at the land lottery and contains the name of each fortunate drawer in the land lottery and the lot number of the prize, recorded in the same order as they appear in the List of Persons Entitled to Draws. The last page includes a dated and signed certification by the commissioners outlining the process that had just been completed. Only a portion of the original book has survived, containing part of the letter H through letter Z. Letters A through the first half of H are missing entirely. The list was originally a single book and it appears that it was either rebound into two volumes or that the surviving second half was rebound so that it would be better preserved. This book and a small typescript index are not included in Marion Hemperley’s Georgia Surveyor General inventory.

Grants

Three primary types of grant books were used for the 1805 Land Lottery: fortunate drawers grant books, reverted lots grant books, and fractional lots grant books.

Fortunate Drawers Grant Books. Each person whose name was matched to a specific land lot was considered a fortunate drawer. These individuals were given first right to claim the prize for themselves. Fortunate drawers who took up their land lot were issued a grant from the state. These lots, won legitimately in the land lottery and granted to the fortunate drawer, are recorded in the Fortunate Drawers Grant Books. The grants for each district are recorded in separate books, so that, for example, all the Baldwin County District 3 grants are contained in one volume and appear in order by date of recording.

Reverted Lots Grant Books. If a fortunate drawer did not assert his or her right to their lot, rights to the land reverted to the state. The state then sold the lots. Grants for whole lots won legitimately in the land lottery, allowed to revert by the fortunate drawer, and purchased from the state are recorded in the Reverted Lots Grant Books. A single reverted lot book exists for Wayne County. The reverted lots for all the districts of Baldwin and Wilkinson County, from the 1805 and 1807 land lotteries, are recorded in Reverted Lots Books A, B, and C, and appear in order by date of recording. Because of the poor quality of land being drawn for Wayne County, 31% of all the fortunate drawers allowed their lot to revert (310 lots). Thirty-seven Wilkinson County lots reverted and only two Baldwin County lots reverted.

Fractional Lots Grant Books. Any lot surveyed that contained less than the acreage of a whole lot was considered a fraction. Fractions were not made part of the land lottery, but instead were sold to the highest bidder. The grants issued for these lots are recorded in the Fractional Lots Grant Books. Fractional Lots Grant Books A through N and HH cover all fractional lots granted in all eight land lotteries. Fractional lots grants for the 1805 Land Lottery were recorded together in Fraction Book A before being sold at public auction and are all dated 1 February 1806. Grants for lots that received no bids but were sold at a later date are recorded in Fraction Book N and appear in order by date of recording. In this land lottery, three condemned lots were re-granted in their entirety and are recorded in Fractional Lots Grant Book C.

Numerical List and Index Leading to Page

Soon after the land lottery, a list of all the lots drawn was created. This list is called the Numerical List.13 Sorted by district and lot, the columnar record contains the name of the lot’s fortunate drawer and their residence, the name of the lot’s grantee if different from the fortunate drawer, and the date of the grant. The list was updated as needed until at least the late 1850s. It is not included in Marion Hemperley’s Georgia Surveyor General inventory. At some time between 1867 and the early 1900s, the numerical lists for every land lottery were copied directly into a new set of books. Some of the original numerical lists have survived, including the 1805 Land Lottery Numerical List.

The Index Leading to Page was created during the same period as the copied numerical lists. The books contain a record for every land lottery lot in the state, including fractional lots, showing the book and page location of the recorded grant. Because many grants were recorded in incorrect grant books, the Index Leading to Page is an essential tool for determining the location of a recorded grant.

Executive Minutes and the Georgia General Assembly

Clarification of facts, claims of error, and verdicts in fraud cases were forwarded to the Executive Department from local superior and inferior courts. Any time an executive order was required to correct a problem, it was recorded in the Executive Department Minutes. The minutes contain information about frauds, name changes, deceased participants, duplicate grants, general errors, and the overall land lottery process. Each minute book contains a loose index, but no comprehensive abstract or index has been compiled. When available, executive orders dating from 1805 to the end of 1806 pertaining to specific lots distributed in the 1805 Land Lottery are included in this book as endnotes. Where references are made to specific executive orders in years subsequent to 1806, the text was retrieved and included in an endnote. Unfortunately, Executive Department Minutes from 2 January 1806 to March 1806 and from 22 June 1806 to 1 September 1806 cannot be located, and only the rough minutes from March to June are available. The rough minutes are only available in their original form, but the official minute books are available on microfilm at the Georgia Archives.

The records of the Georgia General Assembly, including acts, resolutions, and journals of the House and Senate, are extremely helpful in understanding the land lottery process. In addition to establishing the land lottery rules, the legislature acted on behalf of individuals to overrule or amend decisions of the Executive Department or local Superior Courts.

Original Documents

The original documents associated with executive orders and legislative acts are located in the Land Lottery Documents, Fraudulent Land Lottery Draws Records, and Land Lottery Administrative Records collections at the Georgia Archives. The original land lottery documents are a tremendous resource for researchers, especially for later land lotteries. They contain a considerable number of important facts, such as the death dates and heirs of individuals who died before taking up a grant, the state of residence or country of citizenship of fortunate drawers who registered fraudulently, and the exact dates of residence in a county for people whose name was entered incorrectly on the registration lists. Selections of these documents were published by Robert S. Davis, Jr., in The Georgia Land Lottery Papers.

Fractional Sales

All fractional lots surveyed for the 1805 Land Lottery were sold at public auction in 1806. The Proceedings and Ledger of Sales contains minutes of the commissioner’s meetings and a ledger documenting the purchaser of each lot. The ledger includes the following information: land lot number, land lot acreage, purchaser, purchaser’s residence, surety, surety’s residence, date of sale, and the price paid. The book was used to determine the residence of fractions grantees. The names of sureties are not included in this publication.