Georgia Archives

University System of Georgia

Land Lottery Records

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.
  • 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.
  • Eligible citizens registered their names in their county of residence. 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.”
  • District and lot numbers 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.

Where will I find more information on the lottery?

  • Georgia Land Surveying History and Law, by Farris Cadle. (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1991).
  • The Georgia Surveyor General Department, by Marion Hemperley. (Atlanta: Georgia Secretary of State, 1982).

How can I learn more about specific Land Lotteries?

Follow the links to see an overview of each land lottery, its eligibility requirements, and other information.

1805 (first)
1807 (second)
1820 (third)
1821 (fourth)
1827 (fifth)
1832 (sixth)
1832 (seventh or gold lottery)
1833 (eighth)