Land records have been a key to breaking through many of my brick walls:
- I found evidence of land being distributed at a man’s death to his children.
- I found a women selling land to a man of the same surname, which lead me to question if there was a relationship between the two parties.
- I have found a copy of a will in the deeds book. If perchance the will book or probate record had been destroyed, this may have been the only copy left of the will.
- I have found numerous instances where the buyer was “of” a different town than the land he was buying. This lead me to the other location for records.
- I have found a seller “of” a different place than the land he was selling. From that clue I determined where to search for him after he disappeared from the town where he was selling.
- I have found a deed where the wife’s name was recorded in the dower release. This is the only place I have found her given name.
In each case the land record was the key.
For this week’s challenge, I want you to look at those land records again and see what you can find.
For a deed of sale ask:
- How did he acquire the land?
- Is there more than one seller? What is their relationship?
- Have you found the deed where he purchased that parcel?
- Was it a military bounty land?
- Who purchased it from him?
- Who were the neighbors?
- Who were the witnesses?
- Was a dower release recorded?
- What was the date of purchase?
- What date was it recorded?
For a deed of purchase ask:
- Who did he purchase it from? If a private party, how did they know each other? Or was it purchased from the government or a private land holding company or awarded as bounty land?
- Is there more than one purchaser? What is their relationship?
- Who were the neighbors? Were they related in some way to the buyer?
- Who were the witnesses? Were they related to the buyer or seller?
- What date was it purchased?
- What date was it recorded?
For either type of deed, plot it on a map and note historical political jurisdictions. Are you able to distinguish between two men of the same name by studying the locations of their lands?
Make sure you have accounted for all your ancestor’s purchases and sales. To get a good visual of all the deeds, create an “In and Out Table” of all lands purchased and sold by your ancestor. Elizabeth Shown Mills first used this type of table in the late 1980s in her class at IGHR. This table shows the acquisition of a parcel on the left side of the page with the property description, and the dispersal of a parcel with the property description on the right side of the page. This way, you can see that you have all the deeds for your ancestor’s purchases and sales. If one is missing, you know to go look for it.
Note: A deed may not have been recorded for many years after the sale. To find all the deeds, search all the years for that jurisdiction.