Using CB&Q Land Records for Family Research, part 1

Land records and their complex overlapping relationships can be tricky to navigate when looking for a family name or place. Recently, in surveying the records of the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad in Iowa – Land Department, I tested a few names to see if I could follow the string of records that would give me the information I would need for doing genealogical research.  My first step was to consult the original CB&Q guide and take a look at how they organized their land records into sales registers, plats and maps, and applications and contracts for land. I found an index of sales, call number CBQ +754.1 Index, and chose a name at random:  Axel Frisk, Stanton Iowa (see middle of page; click on any image to see full size).

Detail of page; name Index, CB&Q 754.1 Index

The number by Frisk’s name, 2978, is both the number of the application Frisk filed to apply for land, and the contract number for the deed to own the land.  The next step was to find the original application. Applications are located in bound multi-volume sets in the series 752.4.

Application for Land, Axel Frisk, Contract number 2978, April 8, 1874.

The application contains some important information: The plot of land (Section 6, Township 71, Range 37 in Montgomery County Iowa), the date of the application (Apr. 8, 1874), the number of acres (58 and 24/100), and if there was a land agent involved (B.M. Holland).  Interestingly, many applications also include country of origin (Sweden, in this case), and length of time in the U.S. (5 years, 6 months).  Frisk’s own signature is at the bottom of the application.

More details can be found by checking CB&Q 753.8: Contracts: Delinquents, cancelled, etc.  By looking up the contract number I was able to find that Frisk had a difficult first few years farming the land (see letter, Mar. 27, 2875) and paying it off, but in time he did pay in full. The examiner’s report dated 1879 shows exactly how many family members Frisk had and how much stock he owned, and why he couldn’t pay. Since he bears “good” character in the community, the examiner determined that he shouldn’t be evicted from his land. The outer envelope for the contracts indicates that Frisk’s credit was extended to 1881, and he did eventually pay in full.  Iowa State Census records for Axel Frisk show that he was still in Montgomery County, Iowa, in 1915, at the age of 78.

Letter to CB&Q from Frisk, Mar. 27, 1875

Examiner’s Report for Frisk, 1879


The next step is determining the exact place in Montgomery County, Iowa where we can find the Frisk family farm, and I will be using the Newberry’s map collections and other family history resources to try to discover that, in part 2.

For more assistance in tracing your family history, visit the Newberry’s Genealogy Blog.

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