Q. How would I trace cattle-brand registrations? I have the names and sketches of some brands my great-grandparents used, and I’d like to see if the documentation would provide any genealogically relevant information.
A. According to Robert Gant, curator of the Old West Museum in Cheyenne, Wyo., most states have livestock boards that regulate the movement and branding of livestock. Records of active brands are kept in annual brand books. Current brand books can be purchased from the livestock board, or you can consult early books to identify brands used over the years. The books are often available in county libraries or state archives; some livestock boards may search their records for a fee.
You don’t say where your grandparents lived, but an Internet search on the state name and “livestock board” or “cattle brand” should point you in the right direction. In Montana, for example, you’d go to www.discoveringmontana.com/liv/brands/history.asp and find that records of 1873-1950 brands are at the Montana Historical Society Research Center . Then you can submit a research request or search the online catalog.