Deeds and Land Patents/Grants are one of the most value sources of information for genealogists. Property records can be found under a variety of different instruments known as: Deed of Trust, Deed of Gift, Warranty Deeds, Power of Attorney, Prenuptial Agreements, etc.
It is important to also pay particular attention to the dates on the deed because many times it was signed/executed on one date and filed years later on another date. One reason is because landowners would re-file deeds after a courthouse had burned or because they were going to sale the property and to do so, they needed to show ownership and just hadn't filed the deed when they originally purchased the land.
Regardless of the kind of property record, you can determine a considerable amount of information from the document. For example, relationships (father/son, dowager, etc.), dates, marriages, former or current residences, new residences, other items of family history.
When researching county land records, be sure and look in the Grantor and Grantee indexes (sometimes known as direct and reverse indexes in some counties). The Grantor/Direct index is the seller and the Grantee/Reverse index is the buyer.
Be sure and write down the county, book number and page of the deed so that you can go back to it in the future and to document the source of the instrument. Remember, deeds were copied into the early books and the signatures and "x" marks are not necessarily those of your ancestors, probably just the clerk who entered the deed information into the ledger.
A good tip is to checkout the names of the witnesses and the members of the survey crew because many times, they are often relatives of the seller and/or buyer.
Be alert for relationships mentioned in the deed. Recently, after 30-years of searching, a deed was found that provided a three-generation link and proof of family relationship. The deed was a division of property, 25 years after my great-great-great-grandmother's death. She had died intestate (without a Will) and it named all of her children, giving their married names and if they too were deceased. The deed also lists her grandchildren.
Deeds of Trust are instruments made to secure payment of debt by transferring the title of the property to one or more trustees. Deeds of Gift are often utilized to distribute property between parent and child. Warranty Deeds are used to transfer property with the guarantee of a good title. A Power of Attorney grants a friend, relative, business partner, or attorney permission to handle transactions on the seller's behalf.
Early Deed Books are often utilized to record and document other transactions dealing with property, including the sale of salves.
A Land Patent (sometimes known as Land Grant) is an instrument, which transfers the title of land ownership of public lands from the federal government to individuals.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), General Land Office (GLO) Records Automation website at: http://www.glorecords.blm.gov/ provides database access to Federal Land Patents/Grants. Those states included in this database are: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
Actual scanned copies of the Land Patents/Grants are provided for more than two million Federal land title records for Eastern Public Land States, issued between 1820 and 1908.
You can download original scanned copies of the Land Patents/Grants free. Additionally, this website allow the researcher to associate an individual (Patentee, Assignee, Warrantee, Widow, or Heir) with a specific location (Legal Land Description) in time (Signature date). The database includes the following title/deed information: Township/Range, Section Number, amount of acreage, etc.
Cyndi's List of Land Records, Deeds, Homesteads, Etc., at: http://www.cyndislist.com/land.htm also provides an extensive listing of websites related to land research.
Rootsweb.com now has free on-line search engines for the Texas Death Indexes for the years 1964-1998 at: http://userdb.rootsweb.com/tx/death/search.cgi. They also offer the Texas Birth Summary Indexes for the years 1950 thru 1995 at: http://userdb.rootsweb.com/tx/birth/summary/search.cgi and Texas Birth General Indexes for the years 1926 thru 1949 at: http://userdb.rootsweb.com/tx/birth/general/search.cgi.
In this column, I will be glad to highlight and review any family history, genealogy, county history, or similar book, free of charge, if you donate a copy of the book or item. After it has been highlighted and reviewed, on a space available basis, it will be donated to the genealogy section of a library. You will receive an acknowledgment of the donation from the library. Mail item or book to me at the below address.
Lynna Kay Shuffield has written several books related to Texas genealogy and military history. She has spoken before numerous genealogy and veterans groups. Also, is a County Coordinator for the Texas GenWeb Project. Regretfully, she cannot help with individual genealogical research. Please visit the website for this column at: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Academy/2670/ COLUMN-001.htm or if you have any questions, comments, suggestions for column topics, genealogy or historical society announcements, please contact her at: P. O. Box 16604, Houston, Texas 77222-6604 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
This webpage was last created on 17 May 2000 and was last revised on 18 May 2000
Copyright © 1999, 2000 Lynna Kay Shuffield - All rights reserved.
P. O. Box 16604
Houston, Texas 77222-6604