Track your ancestors who moved through Pennsylvania using their land tracts
Ancestor Tracks is committed to becoming a one-stop resource for researchers of Pennsylvania landowners from the earliest settlers to the late 1800s. Maps that show names of residents are one of the most valuable, yet underused, tools available to researchers. We are dedicated to publishing these maps (including thousands of free images as well as our own publications) and land ownership information allowing genealogy researchers to more precisely pinpoint the locations where our ancestors lived. We now offer two product lines which complement each other, as well as links to countless other sources:
- State-wide Warrant, Patent, and Tract Name Registers which document the first transfers of land from the Penns or the state government to private owners. We offer them now as pdf downloads or on a flash drive or CD.
- Select County atlases of the Pennsylvania Township Warrantee Maps on file at the Pennsylvania Archives in Harrisburg showing the exact metes-and-bounds tracts of early pioneers who purchased land from colonial or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania authorities. Both the county atlases and their individual chapters are available as pdf downloads. The newest editions of atlases are not available in print, only as downloads.
- In addition to publishing our own books, we are posting images of 19th century maps and atlases that we personally digitized at the Library of Congress for nearly every county in PA. These images can be used in conjunction with census records and published county histories, to which we have also posted links. Note: While the physical maps are in the public domain, the images we have taken of the maps belong to us and are not to be used commercially. For those researchers wishing to use them for personal use (including illustrating a family history you are working on), we give permission to use them as long as they are attributed to Ancestor Tracks. In addition, for the 1/3 of Pennsylvania for which the Land Office created Township Warrantee Maps, we have added links to those maps.
To understand how the state-wide resources and the county atlases complement each other, watch the 15-minute video we recorded before the 2020 revisions allowed us to offer our books as downloads. It will give you a good understanding of how the state ledgers (warrant, patent, tract names) interact with the Township Warrantee Maps and other information in our atlases.
To learn about the Pennsylvania Land Acquisition process that England set up to distribute colonial land (which basically continues today), as well as the boundary disputes (between Pennsylvania and Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia, and Pennsylvania and Connecticut), Revolutionary War Donation and Depreciation land, and land opened through treaties with Indians, see our Land Acquisition page.
How We Can Help You
We offer 4 major downloadable resources for locating the earliest private purchasers of land across Pennsylvania: Warrant Registers for the entire state (set of 67 county Warrant Registers plus 3 pre-1733 ledgers), Patent Registers Indexes for the state (complete set), Tract Name Indexes from 1682-1959+, and the New Purchase Applications Register.
The official Warrant, Patent, and Tract Name Register Indexes are also available as a set.
Free Tools for PA Researchers
Click this link for a state map with clickable counties leading to a compilation of free web resources, including thousands of images of 19-century landowner maps and atlases we have personally taken at the Library of Congress. These images can be downloaded and saved to your computer or printed. We give permission to use these images, for personal use only, with attribution to Ancestor Tracks.
More specific information is available for:
If you would like additional information, here is a PowerPoint Presentation (12.7 MB) giving further information about Ancestor Tracks.
We extend our warmest appreciation to John Buxton for his permission to use his evocative painting “Breaking Camp at Turtle Creek” on our books and website