McKean County - Early Landowners
Ancestor Tracks is committed to becoming a one-stop resource for researchers of early Pennsylvania landowners. In addition to publishing our own books, we are posting images of 19th century maps and atlases that we personally took in the Library of Congress. Our goal is to post landowner maps, or links to other websites with landowner maps, for every county in the state.
Original Land Owners
Typically, the Warrantee Maps produced by the Land Office of Pennsylvania have been very helpful for genealogists trying to track down the earliest settlers of the county, but vast areas of McKean County were purchased by land speculators after the Treaty of 1784 (also known as the “Last Purchase–see the explanation on our Elk County page). Thus, these maps are less useful to genealogists than the Warrantee Maps produced for areas outside the Last Purchase. We have posted links to the Warrantee Maps (scroll below the 1856 and 1871 landowner map images).
The warrants which were purchased under the Last Purchase are recorded in the Last Purchase Warrant Register at the Pennsylvania State Archives in Harrisburg (as are the original surveys), but the deeds which were spawned by these warrants are on file in individual county courthouses.
If an individual did not purchase land through the Last Purchase process, The draftsmen at the Pennsylvania Land Office used the Warrant and Patent Registers to create the Warrantee Maps. They searched each county and parent county, then each alphabetical section chronologically, in the set of 67 county Warrant Registers plus 3 pre-1733 ledgers called First Landowners of PA: Colonial and State Warrant Registers in the PA Archives, Harrisburg, 1682-ca 1940 ($35) which can now be downloaded and saved to your computer. (Free images are also posted on the Pennsylvania State Archives website where each page of each county’s ledger is a separate pdf file). The Warrant Registers give the Survey Book and page number onto which the loose survey was copied. The Pennsylvania State Archives has posted the online survey books where you can access the surveys once you know the Survey Book and page number (both front and back side of each survey have been digitized). Using the information from the Warrant Registers, you can order copies of the original documents from the Pennsylvania State Archives in Harrisburg using their order form.
The draftsmen also searched Pennsylvania’s index to Patent Registers ($35). Within an index covering the relevant years, the names are grouped alphabetically by the first letter of the patentee’s surname, then grouped by volume number of Patent Book, and finally arranged chronologically by date of patent. Thus, the entire alphabetical section must be searched (which may be as little as one page to as many as 50) so as not to miss anyone.
What is now McKean County was disputed between Pennsylvania and Connecticut before 1808 (or 1827, depending on the source). In 1785 McKean County was part of Northumberland County until it became part of Lycoming County in 1795. McKean was finally carved out of Lycoming in 1804, becoming its own county. You will have to go to or contact those counties for warrants, wills, deeds, etc., depending on when your ancestor settled here.
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.
As we have done for numerous Pennsylvania counties (hover over each county on the PA map), we are posting free, downloadable township images of two landowner maps of McKean County, one from 1856 and the other from 1871. We hope these maps will be helpful when coupled with the 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880 censuses and published county histories such as the 1890 History of the Counties of McKean, Elk, Cameron, and Potter and McKnight’s 1905 A Pioneer Outline History of Northwestern Pennsylvania, Embracing the Counties of Tioga, Potter, McKean, Warren, Crawford, Venango, Forest, Clarion, Elk, Jefferson, Cameron, Butler, Lawrence, and Mercer.
McKean County, 1856
Click on the township of your choice below. Once the images are loaded, they can be enlarged by clicking on them. If an image doesn’t enlarge, right-click on it and choose “Open Image in New Tab.” When it is opened in a new tab, you will be able to zoom in. You can also save the images.
While the map in the Library of Congress, is in the public domain the images we have taken belong to us and are not to be used for commercial use. For those wishing to use them for personal use (including illustrating a family history you are working on), we give permission to use them, but we would appreciate attribution to Ancestor Tracks. It takes much time and effort to locate, process, edit, and post these and the many other county images we have posted, so we appreciate this courtesy.
1856 Township Residents
Foster Township (part of Bradford Township until 1880)
Wetmore (created in 1856 from Seargeant and Hamlin Townships)
The 1871 map in the Library of Congress is so fragile and faded that it was necessary to make copies from a negative image of the map so that the names would show up legibly. We hope that these images will enable McKean County researchers to locate their ancestors even though the maps are not as pretty as the others we have posted.
1871 Township Maps