State of Georgia
Land Lottery Records Research

Seven times between 1805 and 1832 Georgia used a lottery system to distribute the land taken from the Cherokee or Creek Indians. These lotteries were unique to the state; no other state used a lottery system to distribute land. Lot size varied widely, even in the individual lotteries. The largest lots distributed were 490 acres in the 1805 and the 1820 land lottery. The smallest lots were the 40-acre gold lots distributed during the Gold Lottery of 1832. See also Georgia Land Records

  •  1805  •  1807  •  1820  •  1821  •  1827  •  1832  •  1832 (Gold)  •  1833  •  

   Many people, including the state of Georgia, combine the Land Lottery of 1832 and the Gold Lottery of 1832 and represent it as a single lottery; however, both the enabling legislation and the drawings themselves were independent, hence there were seven lotteries, not six.

   Prior to 1803 Georgia distributed land via a headright system. Designed to prohibit corruption, the system actually encouraged it. During early administrations the government abused this system and created what today is generally known as the Yazoo Land Fraud. These abuses led to the adoption of the lottery system in May, 1803 under governor John Milledge. The first lottery under the new system occurred in 1805.

   Almost 3/4 of the land in present-day Georgia was distributed under this lottery system. During the 27 years that land was distributed under the system the rules and the methods of the lottery remained virtually unchanged. Applicants could be white males over 18 (or 21 depending on the lottery), orphans, or widows. Fees depended on the lottery and the size of the lot won, but in general they only covered the cost of running the lottery. The state did not profit from allocating these lands. Fractional lots were sold in each of the lotteries and some lands, especially those near major rivers, was exempt from the lottery. These were distributed by the state using alternate, frequently corrupt, methods

   For each person subscribing to a lottery a ticket was placed in the barrel. Since each lottery was over-subscribed, blank tickets were added to compensate for the over-subscription. According to the state archives, no record remains of the people who drew the blank tickets after the 1805 lottery.

   Eight times between 1805 and 1833 Georgia held lotteries to distribute land, the largest held in the United States. The lotteries followed a simple pattern:

  • The General Assembly passed an act that authorized the lottery and spelled out who would be eligible to participate and the grant fees that would apply.
  • Eligible citizens registered their names in their county of residence and paid a small fee. The names were sent to the governor’s office at the state capital. Beginning with the second lottery the names were copied onto slips of paper called “tickets” and placed in a large drum called a “wheel.”
  • The land to be distributed was surveyed and laid out in districts and lots. The surveyors sent the district and lot numbers to the governor’s office. These were placed in a separate wheel. (At first, blank tickets were added to this wheel, so that the number of tickets would equal the number of persons drawing.)
  • Commissioners appointed by the governor drew a name ticket from one wheel and a district/lot ticket from the other wheel. If the district/lot ticket was blank, the person received nothing. If the ticket contained a district/lot number, the person received a prize of that parcel of land. A ticket that contained a number was called a “Fortunate Draw.” With later lotteries (after 1820), when blank tickets were not added to the prize wheel, individuals whose names remained in the second wheel were considered to have drawn blanks.
  • Anyone who received a Fortunate Draw could take out a grant for the lot he drew, after paying the grant fee. If he did not take out a grant, the lot reverted back to the state to be sold to the highest bidder.

1805 Land Lottery

  • Authority: Act of May 11, 1803
  • Date of Drawing: 1805
  • Counties
    • Baldwin: 5 Districts (1-5)
    • Wayne: 3 Districts (1-3)
    • Wilkinson: 5 Districts (1-5)
  • Size of Land Lots
    • Baldwin: 202 ½ acres
    • Wayne: 490 acres
    • Wilkinson: 202 ½ acres
  • Grant Fee
    • $ 8.10 per 202 ½ acre lot
    • $19.60 per 490 acre lot
  • Person Entitled to Draw
    • Bachelor, 21 years or over, 1 year residence in Georgia, citizen of United States - 1 draw
    • Married man with wife and/or child, 1 year residence in Georgia, citizen of United States - 2 draws
    • Widow with child under 21 years, 1 year residence in Georgia - 2 draws
    • Orphan or family of orphans under 21 years, with father dead and mother dead or remarried - 1 draw

1807 Land Lottery

  • Authority: Act of June 26, 1806
  • Time of Drawing: August 10, 1807-September 23, 1807
  • Counties
    • Baldwin: 15 Districts (6-20)
    • Wilkinson: 23 Districts (6-28)
  • Size of Land Lots
    • Baldwin: 202 ½ acres
    • Wilkinson: 202 ½ acres
  • Grant Fee: $12.15 per 202 ½ acre lot
  • Person Entitled to Draw
    • Bachelor, 21 years or over, 3-year residence in Georgia, citizen of United States - 1 draw
    • Married man with wife and/or child under 21 years, 3-year residence in Georgia, citizen of United States - 2 draws
    • Widow, 3-year residence in Georgia - 1 draw
    • Spinster, 21 years or older, 3-year residence in Georgia - 1 draw 
    • Orphan under 21 years, father and mother dead, 3-year residence in Georgia - 1 draw
    • Family of orphans under 21 years, father and mother dead, 3-year residence in Georgia - 2 draws
    • Orphan under 21 years, father dead, mother living, 3-year residence in Georgia - 1 draw
    • Family of orphans under 21, father dead, mother living, 3-year residence in Georgia - 1 draw
  • Persons Excluded: Any fortunate drawer in the previous land lottery

1820 Land Lottery

  • Authority: Act of December 15, 1818; Act of December 16, 1819
  • Date of Drawing: September 1, 1820-December 2, 1820
  • Counties
    • Appling: 13 Districts (1-13)
    • Early: 26 Districts (1-23; 26-28)
    • Gwinnett: 3 Districts (5-7)
    • Habersham: 10 Districts (1-6; 10-13)
    • Hall: 5 Districts (8-12)
    • Irwin: 16 Districts (1-16)
    • Rabun: 5 Districts (1-5)
    • Walton: 4 Districts (1-4)
  • Size of Land Lots
    • Appling: 490 acres
    • Early: 250 acres
    • Gwinnett: 250 acres
    • Habersham: [Districts 1-4; 10-13] 250 acres; [Districts 5-6] 490 acres
    • Hall: 250 acres
    • Irwin: 490 acres
    • Rabun: [Districts 1; 3-5] 490 acres; [District 2] 250 acres
    • Walton: 250 acres
  • Grant Fee: $18.00 per land lot either size
  • Person Entitled to Draw
    • Bachelor, 18 years or over, 3-year residence in Georgia, citizen United States - 1 draw
    • Soldier of Indian War, residence in Georgia during or since military service - 1 draw
    • Invalid or indigent veteran of Revolutionary War or War of 1812 - 2 draws
    • Invalid or indigent veteran of Revolutionary War or War of 1812 who was a fortunate drawer in either previous land lottery - 1 draw
    • Married man with wife or minor son under 18 years or unmarried daughter, 3-year residence in Georgia, citizen United States - 2 draws
    • Widow, 3-year residence in Georgia - 1 draw 
    • Widow, husband killed in Revolutionary War, War of 1812 or Indian War, 3-year residence in Georgia - 2 draws 
    • Family of one or two orphans under 21 years, father dead, mother living, 3-year residence in Georgia - 1 draw
    • Family of three or more orphans under 21 years, father and mother both dead, 3-year residence in Georgia - 2 draws
    • Family of one or two orphans under 21 years, father and mother both dead, 3-year residence in Georgia, 1 draw
    • Orphan under 21 years, father killed in the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, or Indian War, 3-year residence in Georgia - 2 draws
    • Invalid or indigent officer or soldier in the Revolutionary Army who had been fortunate drawer in either previous lottery - 1 draw
  • Persons Excluded
    • Any fortunate drawer in either previous land lottery, except families of orphans consisting of more than one person and such other persons as indicated above.
    • Citizens of the state who were legally drafted in the War of 1812 or the Indian War and refused to serve a tour of duty in person or by substitute.
    • Any person who resided upon the lottery territory previous to the extinguishment of the Indian title to the same.

1821 Land Lottery

  • Authority: Act of May 16, 1821
  • Date of Drawing: November 7, 1821-December 12, 1821
  • Counties
    • Dooly: 16 districts (1-16)
    • Fayette: 4 districts (6,7,9,14)
    • Henry: 18 districts (1-18)
    • Houston: 16 districts (1-16)
    • Monroe: 15 districts (1-15)
    • 37 undrawn lots remaining from the 1820 lottery
  • Size of Land Lots: All new (1821) counties: 202 ½ acres
  • Grant Fee: $19.00 per Land Lot
  • Person Entitled to Draw
    • Bachelor, 18 years or older, 3-year residence in Georgia, 3-year citizen United States - 1 draw
    • Married man with wife or son under 18 years or unmarried daughter, 3-year residence in Georgia, 3-year citizen United States - 2 draws
    • Widow, 3-year residence in Georgia - 1 draw
    • Family of minor orphans, father dead, 3-year residence in Georgia - 1 draw
    • Family (one or two) of orphans under 21 years, father and mother dead - 1 draw
    • Family (three or more) of orphans under 21 years, father and mother dead - 2 draws
    • Widow, husband killed or died in Revolutionary War, War of 1812, or Indian War, 3-year residence in Georgia - 2 draws
    • Orphan, father killed or died in Revolutionary War, War of 1812, or Indian War - 2 draws
    • Child or family of children of a convict, 3-year residence in Georgia - entitled in the same manner as orphans
  • Persons Excluded
    • Any fortunate drawer in any previous land lottery.
    • Citizens of the state who volunteered or were legally drafted during the War of 1812 or Indian War and refused to serve a tour of duty in person or by substitute.
    • Any convict in the penitentiary.
    • Any tax defaulter or absconder for debt.

1827 Land Lottery

  • Authority: Act of June 9, 1825
  • Date of Drawing: 1827
  • Counties
    • Carroll: 16 districts (1-16)
    • Coweta: 9 districts (1-9)
    • Lee: 13 districts (1-13)
    • Muscogee: 24 districts (1-24)
    • Troup: 12 districts (1-12)
  • Size of Land Lots:All counties: 202 ½ acres
  • Grant Fee: $18.00 per Land Lot
  • Person Entitled to Draw
    • Bachelor, 18 years or over, 3-year residence in Georgia, citizen of United States - 1 draw
    • Married man with wife or son under 18 years or unmarried daughter, 3-year residence in Georgia, citizen of United States - 2 draws
    • Widow, 3-year residence in Georgia - 1 draw
    • Wife and/or child, 3-year residence in Georgia, husband and/or father absent from state for 3 years - 1 draw
    • Family (one or two ) of orphans under 18 years whose father is dead, 3-year residence in state or since birth - 1 draw
    • Family (three or more) of orphans under 18 years, 3-year residence in state or since birth - 2 draws
    • Widow, husband killed in Revolutionary War, War of 1812, or Indian War, 3-year residence in Georgia - 2 draws
    • Orphan, father killed in Revolutionary War, War of 1812 or Indian War - 2 draws
    • Wounded or disabled veteran of War of 1812 or Indian War, unable to work - 2 draws
    • Veteran of Revolutionary War - 2 draws
    • Veteran of Revolutionary War who had been a fortunate drawer in any previous Lottery - 1 draw
    • Child or children of convict, 3-year residence in Georgia - 1 draw
    • Male idiots, lunatics or insane, deaf and dumb, or blind, over 10 years and under 18 years, 3-year residence in Georgia - 1 draw
    • Female idiots, insane or lunatics, deaf and dumb, or blind, over 10 years, 3-year residence in Georgia - 1 draw
    • Family (one or two) of illegitimates under 18 years, residence since birth in Georgia - 1 draw
    • Family (three or more) of illegitimates under 18 years, residence since birth in Georgia - 2 draws
    • Child or children of a convict whose father had not drawn in any of the former land lotteries - entitled to a draw or draws in the same manner they would be entitled if they were orphans
  • Persons Excluded
    • Any fortunate drawer in any previous Land Lottery.
    • Citizens who volunteered or were legally drafted in the War of 1812 or the Indian War and who refused to serve a tour of duty in person or by substitute.
    • Anyone who may have deserted from military service.
    • Any tax defaulter or absconded for debt.
    • Any convict in the penitentiary.

1832 Land Lottery

  • Authority: Act of December 21, 1830; Act of December 24, 1831
  • Year of Drawing: 1832
  • Counties
    The original Cherokee Indian territory became Cherokee County by an Act of December 26, 1831. A law passed on December 3, 1832, divided original Cherokee County into ten counties: Cass (renamed Bartow), Cherokee, Cobb, Floyd, Forsyth, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Murray, Paulding, and Union. In the drawing of tickets and in the granting of the land, the area was treated only as Cherokee territory. It was divided between land lots distributed by the sixth land lottery and “gold” lots that were distributed by the seventh land lottery.
  • Sections and Land Districts
    The territory was so expansive that Cherokee County was divided into four sections, and each section was divided into districts. There were a total of 60 land districts, and each was divided into land lots. Fractional lots of 100 acres and more were counted as whole lots.
    • First Section: Districts 6-10, 16-19.
    • Second Section: Districts 4-14, 20, 22-27
    • Third Section: Districts 5-16
    • Fourth Section: Districts 4-15, 18-19
  • Size of Land Lots:160 acres
  • Grant Fee:$18.00 per Land Lot
  • Person Entitled to Draw
    • Bachelor, 18 years or over, 3-year residence in Georgia, citizen of the United States - 1 draw
    • Married man with wife and/or minor son under 18 and/or unmarried daughter, 3-year residence in Georgia, citizen of United States - 2 draws
    • Widow, 3-year residence in Georgia - 1 draw
    • Wife and/or child, 3-year residence in Georgia, of husband and/or father absent from state for 3 years - 1 draw
    • Family (one or two) of orphans under 18 years, residence since birth in state - 1 draw
    • Family (three or more) of orphans under 18 years, residence since birth in state - 2 draws
    • Widow, husband killed or died in Revolutionary War, War of 1812, or Indian Wars, 3-year residence in Georgia - 2 draws
    • Orphan, father killed in Revolutionary War, War of 1812, or Indian War - 2 draws
    • Wounded or disabled veteran of War of 1812 or Indian Wars, unable to work - 2 draws
    • Veteran of Revolutionary War - 2 draws
    • Veteran of Revolutionary War who had been a fortunate drawer in any previous lottery - 1 draw
    • Child or children of a convict, 3-year residence in Georgia - 1 draw
    • Male idiots, lunatics or insane, deaf and dumb, or blind, over 10 years and under 18 years, 3-year residence in Georgia - 1 draw
    • Female idiots, insane or lunatics or deaf and dumb or blind, over 10 years, 3-year residence in Georgia - 1 draw
    • Family (one or two) of illegitimates under 18 years, residence since birth in Georgia - 1 draw
    • Family (three or more) of illegitimates under 18 years, residence since birth in Georgia - 2 draws
  • Persons Excluded
    • Any fortunate drawer in any previous land lottery who has taken out a grant of said land lot.
    • Any person who mined—or caused to be mined—gold, silver, or other metal in the Cherokee territory since June 1, 1830.
    • Any person who has taken up residence in Cherokee territory.
    • Any person who is a member of or concerned with “a horde of Thieves known as the Pony Club.”
    • Any person who at any time was convicted of a felony in any court in Georgia.

1832 Gold Land Lottery

  • Authority: Act of December 24, 1831
    This act mandated that approximately a third of the 160-acre land districts to be laid out under the act of December 21, 1830, be designated as gold districts of 40 acres each and to be distributed in a separate lottery.
  • Date of Drawing: October 22, 1832-May 1, 1833
  • Counties
    The original Cherokee Indian territory became Cherokee County by an Act of December 26, 1831. A law passed on December 3, 1832, divided original Cherokee County into ten counties: Cass (renamed Bartow), Cherokee, Cobb, Floyd, Forsyth, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Murray, Paulding, and Union. In the drawing of tickets and in the granting of the land, the area was treated only as Cherokee territory. It was divided between land lots distributed by the sixth land lottery and “gold” lots that were distributed by the seventh land lottery.
  • Sections and Land Districts
    The territory was so expansive that Cherokee County was divided into four sections, and each section was divided into districts. There were 33 gold districts, and each was divided into gold lots.
    • First Section: Districts 1-5, 11-15
    • Second Section: Districts 1-3, 15-19, 21
    • Third Section: Districts 1-4, 17-21
    • Fourth Section: Districts 1-3, 16-17
  • Size of Gold Lots: 40 acres
  • Grant Fee: $10.00 per lot
  • Person Entitled to Draw
    • Bachelor, 18 years or over, 3-year residence in Georgia, citizen of United States - 1 draw
    • Widow, 3-year residence in Georgia - 1 draw
    • Family of orphans, 3-year residence in Georgia, citizen of United States - 2 draws
    • Married man, head of family, 3-year residence in Georgia (officers in the army of navy of the United States, 3-year residence not required), citizen of United States - 2 draws
  • Persons Excluded
    • Any fortunate drawer in any previous land lottery who has taken out a grant of said land lot.
    • Any person who mined—or caused to be mined—gold, silver, or other metal in the Cherokee territory since June 1, 1830.
    • Any person who has taken up residence in said Cherokee territory.
    • Any person who is a member of or concerned with "a horde of Thieves known as the Pony Club."
    • Any person who at any time was convicted of a felony in any court in Georgia.

1833 Land Lottery

  • Authority:Act of December 24, 1832
  • Date of Drawing of Land Lots: December 6 and 7, 1833
  • Date of Drawing of Gold Lots: December 9-13, 1833
  • Counties
    Original Cherokee territory and a handful of land lots not placed in the prize wheels during earlier lotteries.
  • Sections and Districts
    • Fractional lots of fewer than 100 acres from the 60 land districts and 33 gold districts.
    • Twenty-two undrawn lots from the previous Cherokee lotteries.
    • Tickets representing lots and fractions from the 1832 Land Lottery were placed in the land wheel and those from the 1832 Gold Lottery in the gold wheel. They were distributed in separate drawings. It is likely that the whole lots from earlier lotteries also were placed in the land wheel.
  • Size of Land Lots and Gold Lots
    Lots varied in size, but the fractional lots from the 1832 Land Lottery were fewer than the 100 acres specified in the laws authorizing that lottery. Fractions result from irregular boundaries that prevent measurements in square lots.
  • Grant Fee: $18.00 per lot
  • Person Entitled to Draw
    The remaining tickets bearing participants’ names from the 1832 Land Lottery were drawn to match tickets drawn from the Land Wheel, and remaining tickets bearing participants’ names from the 1832 Gold Lottery were drawn to match tickets drawn from the Gold Wheel.
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