History of Bibb County Land Lotteries

In 1732, George II issued a charter to a group of trustees for the establishment of a colony which was named after him. The leader of the trustees, James Edward Oglethorpe, personally accompanied the first contingent of colonists settling in Savannah in 1733. The trusteeship regime lasted until 1753 when Georgia became a Royal Province.

In 1775, despite a vigorous Loyalist element, the Revolutionary Provincial Congress managed to set up a State Government which collapsed after the British capture of Savannah in 1778 and Augusta in 1779 and restored British colonial administration. The Patriot forces gradually regained control of the back country during 1780 to 1781, and with the departure of the British garrison from Savannah in 1782, the process was completed.

Although the Provincial Congress had passed a law setting up a land grant procedure on 7 Jun 1777, the British occupation had prevented it from functioning. On 17 Feb 1783, a new head right law was passed and it remained substantially in force until 1909.

During the critical period of the struggle to oust the British, the Georgia Legislature on 19 Aug 1781 passed an Act which (with amendments) provided for granting 250 acres of "good land" to be tax exempt for 10 years to "any person or persons who should produce a Certificate from the Commanding Officers of the District to which he belongs, to the Legislature of this State (on the total expulsion of the enemy from it) of his having faithfully done his duty from the time of the passing of this Act, ...Provided such person or persons cannot be convicted of plundering or distressing the country." ["The Hills of Wilkes County, Georgia and Allied Families" Lodowick Johnson Hill, Atlanta 1922, page 283.]

Although the First Georgia Land Lottery was authorized by an Act of 11 May 1803, the actual drawing took place in 1805. The available land was in the counties of Baldwin, Wayne, and Wilkinson. The records available to me do not show in which counties the winners' lands were located, but they do show both the successful and unsuccessful draws, as well as the county of residence of the drawers. This is not the case with the later lotteries which show only the winners. Single free white males age 21 and older who were US citizens, inhabitants and/or taxpayers in Georgia during the period May 1802 to May 1803, were allowed 1 draw. Free white males meeting the residency/tax requirement but with wife and/or legitimate children were allowed 2 draws. Widows with 1 or more children under 21 were allowed 2 draws. Each family of orphans under 21 with both parents dead or mother remarried was allowed 1 draw. (Note that "orphan" had a broader meaning than it does today.) Although the participants in these lotteries drew in the year given (in this case 1805) this does not mean that the winners ever moved on to the lands they had won. Some did, while others promptly sold their winnings to land speculators without ever actually occupying their lands. Most important, they did not have to take up their lands immediately. I have found cases where a winner waited some years to turn in his winning draw and receive his land. In some cases the winner died before he could claim his land, and his heirs or assigns might then wait many more years before submitting the claim.

The Second Georgia Land Lottery was authorized by an Act of 26 Jun 1806, with the actual drawing in 1807. The available land was in Baldwin, and Wilkinson Counties. The lots were 202.5 acres, and the grant fee was $12.15 per lot. Winners in previous lotteries were excluded from participation. Drawers had to have lived in Georgia for 3 years before 26 Jun 1806. As before, single white males 21 and older had 1 draw, and those married with wife and/or children had 2 draws. All widows and unmarried white females 21 or over received 1 draw. Each family of orphans whose father was dead had 1 draw. Families of 2 or more orphans with both parents dead received 2 draws, but single orphans received only one draw each. [See "Research in Georgia", Robert Scott Davis Jr., Easley SC, 1981 for full qualifications.]

The Third Georgia Land Lottery was authorized by an Act of 15 Dec 1818, with the drawing in 1820. The available land was in Appling, Early, Gwinnett, Habersham, Hall, Irwin, Rabun, and Walton, Counties each of which was divided into sections. The lots were in 2 sizes: 250 and 490 acres. The grant fee for both lot sizes was $18.00. Winners in earlier lotteries were excluded, as were draft dodgers from the War of 1812. The number of draws was similar to that of the previous lottery, with extra draws available to any widow whose husband was killed in the War of 1812 or the Indian Wars. The same applied to any family of orphans whose father was similarly killed. Invalid or impoverished Revolutionary veterans were entitled to 2 extra draws, unless they had won in a previous lottery. [See DAVIS pp. 168-188 for details.]

The Fourth Georgia Land Lottery was authorized by an Act of 15 May 1821, with the actual drawing in the same year. The available land was in Dooly, Fayette, Henry, Houston, and Monroe Counties. All lots were 202.5 acres, and the grant fee was $19.00. Winners in earlier lotteries were excluded, as were the War of 1812 draft dodgers, deserters from US or Georgia forces, convicts, tax delinquents, and those who had left Georgia to escape state laws. The number of draws was similar to the 1820 Lottery. [See DAVIS pp. 188-9.]

The Fifth Georgia Land Lottery was authorized by an Act of 9 Jun 1825, with the actual drawing in 1827. The available land was in Carroll, Coweta, Lee, Muscogee, and Troup Counties. All lots were 202.5 acres, and the grant fee was $18.00 per lot. Winners in earlier lotteries were generally excluded, but a number of exceptions were made. Illegitimate children and children of convicts were treated as orphans under the 1827 Lottery. [See DAVIS pp. 189-91.]

The Sixth Georgia Land Lottery is a term sometimes used to embrace the last 2 Georgia Land Lotteries, known as the Cherokee Lottery and the Gold Lottery, since the drawings for both were held during 1832. However, they were authorized by separate Acts of the Georgia General Assembly, and the results were also recorded separately, so it is more convenient to treat them as 2 distinct operations.

The Cherokee Lottery was authorized by an Act of 21 Dec 1830. The lands available in this lottery were in the original Cherokee County, in lots of 160 acres. On 3 Dec 1832 Cherokee County was divided into Cass (Bartow), Cherokee, Cobb, Floyd, Forsyth, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Murray, Paulding, and Union Counties. However, the records simply show the granted lots as being in Cherokee County. For the purposes of the lottery, Cherokee County was divided into four sections, each of which was further divided into districts. The grant fee was $18.00 per lot. [See DAVIS pp. 191- 194.]

The "Gold" Lottery was authorized by an Act of 24 Dec 1831, and the drawing took place in 1832. As in the Cherokee Lottery, the available land was in the original Cherokee County. The qualifications were considerably simplified, but basically limited participation to single white males 18 or older, heads of families (2 draws), widows, and families of orphans. The lots were only 40 8acres, but the grant fee was still $18.00, the same as for the 160 acre Cherokee Lottery lots. It appears that some winners drew in both the Cherokee and Gold Lotteries, since some names are found winning both 160 and 40 acre lots.

The name of the "Gold" Lottery should remind us that, at this time, there was a veritable gold rush in Georgia, many years before the discovery of gold in California. There was a delay of some years in the issuance of many of these grants to the winners. The surveys of the winners' tracts are dated as early as November 1832, but the US Supreme Court in the meantime had ruled the Georgia disposition of these Indian Lands to be illegal. As a result, many of the Cherokees stayed on the lands until 1838 when the legal problems were resolved. Even so, the actual grants to the winners were delayed in many cases until after 1840. [See DAVIS pp. 194-5.]

Further information can be found in: Silas E. Lucas Jr., "Index to the Headright and Bounty Grants of Georgia 1756-1909", Vidalia 1970.

Virginia S. and Ralph V. Wood, "The 1805 Land Lottery of Georgia", Cambridge 1964.

Silas E. Lucas Jr., "The 1807 Land Lottery of Georgia", Easley 1968.

Silas E. Lucas Jr., "The 1820 and 1821 Land Lotteries of Georgia", Easley 1973.

Martha Lou Houston, "The 1827 Land Lottery of Georgia", 1928 reprint edition Easley 1968.

James F. Smith, "The 1832 (Cherokee) Land Lottery", 1838 reprint edition Easley 1968.

Silas E. Lucas Jr., "The 1832 Gold Lottery of Georgia", Easley 1976.

Robert S. Davis Jr. and Silas E Lucas Jr., "The Georgia Land Lottery Papers 1805-1914", Easley 1979.

Return to Deeds Index

Return to Home Page

Compilation Copyright by The GAGenWeb Project Team 1996 - Present - All Rights Reserved.

This page was last updated on -11/14/2015