War of 1812 Bounty Land Warrant



11 February 2014

The Problem:

A neighbor has asked you for help, knowing how experienced you are in historical research. He grew up in a nineteenth-century Kentucky farm house that supposedly was built by man named Thomas Cravens. Online, he stumbled upon today's document. Being curious about the history of his childhood home, he's wondering if this is the same Thomas Cravens.

You've given him all the appropriate cautions, starting with: " 'Name's the same' doesn't mean the person is." You've asked him where online he found this but, of course, he doesn't know. What he is sure of is that you can find out something about this Thomas Cravens.

Your Challenge:

  1. The document needs to be analyzed.
  2. You need a short work plan of first steps to pursue on the basis of the information in this document.

Are you game? *



If you need a model, you might check the comments by Yvette Hoitink on our last Document Day, 14 January 2013, when we analyzed a church register entry.

PattiH's picture
Research Plan

I'd first 

check BLM site to see if he located the land also, or if he assigned the warrant. (he did -- in Arkansas)

Then I'd request the bounty-land application from NARA. You would be able to determine his military history: where he enlisted, how long, etc. to locate him in time and place. 

You don't mention when this house in Kentucky was allegedly built. If you knew that, you would then research the local land records (i.e. deeds) to find out the range of time the Thomas Cravens was living in the Kentucky area. 

Search for Thomas Cravens in both locations in the censuses.

He might be able to determine from there if they could possibly be the same person or not.  If nothing he finds contradicts the two being the same, then further research in the records in the Arkansas County would be in order. 

PattiH's picture
I meant Thomas Cravens did

I meant Thomas Cravens did locate the land using the warrant.

And he might also be able to tell from researching in the Kentucky county records and correlating with the censuses if the Thomas Cravens in Kentucky was the right age to be the person in the War of 1812.

PattiH's picture
Sorry, I did not follow

Sorry, I did not follow instructions. I was doing this while cooking dinner. I didn't analyze the document, which I know always needs to come first. :-) 

PattiH's picture
Wow, I worked up a response

Wow, I worked up a response that was much better (I assure you!) and when I went to submit it, it wouldn't connect, and I lost it. 

I'm going to give the nutshell version because I want to redeem myself somewhat.

The warrant can be found on Ancestry.com in the "U.S. War Bounty Land Warrants, 1789-1858."

It's a register copy of the original warrant, and the information contained is likely to be accurate. Cravens was a private in R.W. Ewing's company, 17th US Infantry.  The warrant was issued in 1819 and based on an act passed in 1812.

The acts (which can be found in the appendix of Christine Rose's book and I transcribed in my first version) give further information about who would qualify. Thomas had to have enlisted for 5 years, and enlisted for that length of time or until the war ended. The warrant was not assignable, so he had to apply for it and locate on the land himself. They also had to apply within 5 years of becoming entitled to the land.  Thus he had to have served in the War of 1812.

Research plan includes

1. Researching land and census records for the Kentucky Thomas Cravens to see if his age is consistent with the War of 1812 Cravens. He may also be in the county history. Search may be ended if he's too young to be the War of 1812 Cravens.

2. Search BLM GLO records for where warrant was located. It was Lawrence County, Arkansas. Now land records and census can be searched in a specific location.  Is the information gained consistent with the Kentucky Cravens?

3. Search Google, etc., for R.W. Ewing War of 1812 to see if anything can be learned about the location of this company. (a certain research report for a R.M. Ewing of the 17th US Cavalry in Kentucky can be found this way.)

4. Search Ancestry.com and Fold3 for military records and pensions for Thomas Cravens and perhaps Ewing. Since he was an officer, he may not have these same records, but others may reference him in their pension files (on Fold3 other names are tagged).

And that's all I'd do until I had more information from my searches.



EE's picture
Document Analysis

Patti the Brave ventured in where others fear to tread—and she did a great job of both the analysis and the work plan. There remains just one critical element not mentioned in her analysis. Most likely she included it in her first draft but it fell by the wayside after that cybergremlin ate her first post amid the "save" command.

What about that notation in the bottom left corner? It's barely there, but it's still readable: Genl T. A. Smith, Franklin, M. Ty."  Why was General Smith involved?   That notation is immensely important to the outcome of the research project. It also inserts a big Whoa! into our analyses of most War of 1812 bounty land warrants and our tendency to accept, as gospel, the wording of legal acts such as the one that Patti appropriately invoked.

The circumstances—and the evidence that backs up this assertion EE has just made—are much too complicated to deal with in a "comment" on a blog. We'll make it the subject of an upcoming QuickLesson.

The Editor

PattiH's picture
Thank you for giving me the

Thank you for giving me the benefit of the doubt, but I did not have anything about it in my original post.:-) However, I did wonder about it ... and wondering is a step in the right direction of more seriously considering implications. Since I could not read it very well, I think I'd want to see if I could get a better photocopy of the original. And I can't wait to hear how it all pans out. 

dawnb's picture
My comments on the Cravens War of 1812 warrant

The 17th Infantry would have been a Regular Army unit. I would want to locate the enlistment record of Thomas Cravens to corroborate where he enlisted along with those of others in the 17th. As a regular, he would have been entitled to 160 acres based upon an enlistment of 5 years or the duration of the war if he was between 18-45 under the acts of 1811 and 1812.

"M. Ty." certainly means Missouri Territory, of a portion of which what later became Arkansas. The territory of Arkansas was created 04 Jul 1819 one month before the issuance of this document, hence the "Arks" notation on the right, where the land lay.

Two important items per "The Commonwealth of Missouri: A Centennial Record", Chancy Barns et al., p. 197 (online at Google Books) - admittedly a derivative source:

1) General T. A. Smith was Receiver of the land office at Franklin in Howard County, later Boone County, Missouri Territory. This should account, at least in part, for the notation on the lower left.

2) "These early settlers were mainly from Kentucky (principally Madison County), Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina."

Of course, I would want to look to original sources, but this is a good start.

Also, I would include a search of the records at the Arkansas Commissioner of State Lands website for any additional clues. This link: http://history.cosl.org/docs/MilitaryBountyLands/1/DSC_0140.JPG does include a reference to Thomas Cravens in the NW 1/4 of section 20 Twp 16 North Range 3W (Lawrence County) patented 21 May 1821 under warrant 22,329. This checks out with the patent in the BLM database, and matches up with the warrant number in the initial record.

Here is a link to a beautiful map of the land set aside for War of 1812 bounty land in Missouri Territory: http://www.raremaps.com/gallery/detail/20067?view=print

Undoubtedly, there's more, so I cannot wait to see what others post. This is fun!

Dawn Bingaman

dawnb's picture
Cravens, Ewing and Hackley from Kentucky

From the "Army Registers of Enlistments, 1798-1914" database online at Fold3.com, (1798-1815, p. 501)
Thomas Cravens, age 21 on 05 Apr 1814 when he enlisted as a private from Kentucky in the 17th U.S. Infantry. He was 5'11" tall, fair, a farmer, born in Kentucky. Enlisted by a Lt. Hackley.

From Heitman's "Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army", vol. 1, p. 411
Ewing, Robert W., from Kentucky. Was an officer of various ranks between 1813-1817. Seems to have ended career as 2nd Lt.

Also from Heitman, vol. 1, p. 485
Hackley, James (Jr.), from Kentucky. Was an officer of various ranks between 1812-1818. Was part of 17th Infantry, and later transferred to the 3rd Infantry.

EE's picture
Work plan for War of 1812 Bounty Land record

Great ideas, Dawn, and a wonderful map!


The Editor

2clnorton's picture
Bounty Land Application

Hi Elizabeth,

Claire Bettag and I are indexing (working on letter M) the Unindexed Bounty Land Application Files at Archives I. I am also scanning the bounty land application files for the Mormon Battalion in the Innovation HUB at Archives I. I want to make sure I am citing my sources correctly. I want to send my readers to the Archives Catalog. Is this the correct format to use?

“The National Archives Catalog,” database with images, The National Archives (https://catalog.archives.gov/search?q=27494175 : accessed 11 February 2018), NA Identifier 27494175, for Richard E. Parker (Col., 5th Regiment, Virginia Militia & 111th Regiment (Parker’s) Virginia Militia, War of 1812), bounty land warrant file 22642 (Act of 1850, 160 acres); War of 1812 Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files, ca. 1871 – ca. 1900; Record Group 15: Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, 1773-2007; National Archives, Washington, D.C. 

Thank you for your help!

Cindy Norton

Cindy L. Norton