Historical Land Status Records
In 1789 Congress established the Treasury Department and gave it the responsibility of overseeing the sale of public lands and on April 25, 1812 the General Land Office (GLO) was created within the Treasury Department. Headed by a commissioner, the new bureau was responsible for the survey and sale of public lands. Field offices of the GLO were established, served the needs of the local settlers, and were closed as patterns of migration and settlement dictated.
The General Land Office was transferred to the new Department of the Interior in 1849 and continued to establish field offices in the western territories and states. Oregon and Washington Land Offices began with the Oregon City Land Office (1855 to 1905) and were established in many towns including Olympia, Seattle, Walla Walla, Yakima, and Spokane in Washington and Burns, Lakeview, Roseburg, The Dalles, and Vale in Oregon. The local land offices in Oregon and Washington were closed by 1948 - 1949 and all of the survey and homestead records were consolidated in the Portland office.
These historic land status records were maintained in Plat Books and Tract Books organized by township until the "new" Master Title Plats and Historical Indices were compiled in the 1960s. The Plat Books and Tract Books often contain a more detailed summary of land dispositions for the time period. The pages of the books have been filmed and are available on microfilm rolls. Copies of pages may be ordered from the Land Office.