The Bureau of Land Management office in Sacramento, California has copies of all Patents that were issued for land in California. The Patents are indexed using the legal description of the property. The following information was supplied by Rita, an employee of the BLM, Sacramento.
"How to inquire and or receive a copy of an original patent from the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management: You must have a legal description of the area that you want by township, range, section, base meridian and legal subdivision. (example: T3N R7E Section 17, Mount Diablo base Mer. S2NESW.) Majority of the patents are 1 page but sometimes your area may be covered by A GRANT and these documents can be from 10 to 40 pages. The cost per page is $1.10 and certification per document is $.25 cents. Pay by check or money order or you can even charge this on your Visa or Mastercard on credit card orders we do need your expiration date. You can even call the Bureau of Land Management for a quote of the cost of each patent."
The example shown above as, T3N R7E Section 17, Mount Diablo base Mer. S2NESW is an abbreviated description and can be interpreted as follows:
Township 3 North, Range 7 East, Section 17, Mount Diablo Base and Meridian. South 1/2 of the Northeast Quarter of the Southwest Quarter.
With a description of this kind, any piece of land can easily be located on the maps published by the United States Department of the Interior Geological Survey.
Bureau of Land Management
2800 Cottage Way, Room W-1834
Sacramento, CA 95825
Additional information about Patents can be found in the NORCAL Genealogy Index file, PUBLIC LAND PURCHASES.