My great great grandfather, Joseph Zenophile Lanctot, was born in Quebec on 14 Jan 1861. According to his Declaration of Intent, he arrived in the United States in April 1877 via the port of Detroit, Michigan. Unfortunately, no border crossing records exist for that time period, so I can’t confirm that date.
Zenophile is found (as is his brother Philippe, who came to the U.S. in 1879) with his parents and siblings on the 1881 Canadian census. Perhaps they were visiting? I have been unable to locate a passport for either of them – though I admit I got extremely confused by the way the passport applications are categorized on the NARA website. Untangling that mess might create a whole new blog post. I have also not been able to locate Zenophile or Philippe on the 1880 U.S. Census.
In any case, Zenophile married Elizabeth Bourke in 1881, presumably in Fremont, Dodge County, Nebraska. She is enumerated with her parents in Saunders County, Nebraska in 1880 – but Fremont is just across the Platte River, so it’s plausible. Nebraska did not require civil registration of marriages until 1909, and nothing turned up on the FamilySearch database of Nebraska Marriages 1855-1995. In 1882, a daughter was born in Saunders County.
In April 1883, Zenophile entered his Declaration of Intent. It was filed in the District Court for Charles Mix County, 2nd Judicial District, Dakota Territory. I have not been able to locate his final papers. I obtained his land record from NARA, and it included a copy of his Declaratory Statement dated 3 Sept 1884. The Statement shows that he settled upon the land on 1 Aug 1884.
He is found on the 1885 Dakota Territory census, still living on his 160 acres in Charles Mix. He filed his notice of intent to prove up his claim in June 1885, and after the required publication in the local newspaper, final proof was made on 22 Aug 1885. On 9 Sep 1885, Zenophile made payment of $200 ($1.25/acre) to the Receiver, and the Register issued the receipt allowing him to obtain his patent. The patent was not issued until May 1890 – almost 5 years later. I’ve never been able to figure out why it took so long, or why I can’t find any final papers – are the two connected? Was he required to have his certificate of naturalization to receive his patent?
I consulted the Guide to Naturalization Records of the United States by Christina K. Schaefer to see what citizenship requirements there were for land patents in that time period. I wasn’t even sure what TYPE of claim it was (cash, homestead, pre-emption, etc.), but from what I could tell, as long as you had a Declaration of Intent filed, you were okay. Then I looked at my syllabus from IGHR last week. Angela McGhie told us all about federal land records, and in those notes was a reference to the Homestead Act requiring only a filing fee and an application fee. Zenophile paid $200 for his land, so that was out. He also never served in the military, so bounty land was out. Then I remembered Angela talking about the tract books. Aha! The tract books may contain some additional information that isn’t in the land record. It should also be quite clear about the type of claim being made. We’ll see.
First I went to FamilySearch and under United States records, I searched for Bureau of Land Management (if you type in “Bureau” you’ll only get 3-4 hits). The collection has not been indexed yet, but the images are available for browsing. Information about the collection says the records are arranged by state, then by township and range. Okay, no problem!
Umm … except there was a problem. When I clicked on Dakota Territory, all I saw was Vol 1, Vol 2 … all the way up to Vol 221, Vol A, and Vol X. How the heck was I supposed to know which volume Township 99, Range 67 was in?? There HAD to be something that would tell me how to figure out which volume I needed. Sure enough! Further down the page, in the description of the record, there was a link to the “Tract Books Coverage Table” and that’s where I discovered I needed to look in Volume 14. It’s only 264 pages … how long could this possibly take?
This tells me that Zenophile had a pre-emption claim. See the notation that says “Pre 41?” That means the land was claimed under the Preemption Act of 1841, which did not require citizenship to obtain a patent, only a Declaration of Intent. There is a notation made above his entry that says “D.S. 7583 NW4 Zenophile Lanctot Aug 1 Sept 2/84.” This essentially tells me what his Declaratory Statement #7583 says about his settlement on the land. But look at the entry above it. Emory V. Martindale appears to have made a claim to the same parcel of land earlier, and it his claim was abandoned and canceled in July 1884. In swoops Zenophile and takes it for himself.
The entry further shows that there were 160 acres, for which Zenophile paid $200 on 9 Sep 1885, receipt #4290. But wait … there is no entry showing the date of the patent. How can this be? I have the paper showing it was issued on 9 May 1890. I notice that some of the other entries don’t have final dates either, so maybe it’s not a big deal (although it will drive me absolutely nuts until I figure it out).
All I know right now is that sometime between 1883 and 1899, he must have received a certificate of naturalization, or I’m going to start wondering if his pants were on fire or his nose was growing in 1900 when he said on the census that he was naturalized.
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