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Nevada County Genealogical Society

 

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  Kitts' NC Land Records Index  
 

 

 

Records of Nevada County Recorder's Office 1856 - 1922

 

Origins of The Kitts' Index is a valuable tool for anyone wanting to research records in Nevada County between 1856 - 1922.  The following article, entitled "Kitts' Indexes," originally appeared in the "Nevada County Historical Society Bulletin".  It provides some background on how these indexes came about. A list of the types of records indexed as well as general information follows the article.

     "Charles W. Kitts, a Grass Valley attorney who had been Public Administrator from 1876 - 1879, painstakingly prepared an index to the deeds of Nevada County.  In early January of 1882 he offered it to the county for $2,500.

     Immediately there was criticism.  In letters to the editors of both local dailies on January 12, Kitts explained the scope of the project.  He had corrected 1,500 serious errors in the old indexes and placed the names in alphabetical order.

     Not only was the old index not alphabetized, parts of the 14 volumes were illegible.  Volume six had been rewritten in 1876 or 1877 with no corrections for a cost of $100.

     Kitts indexed about 90,000 names from the 61 volumes of deeds, comparing the index with every document recorded.  This chore took him over 750 days.

     He estimated that $2,500 amounted to three cents per name.  supervisors admitted the indexes were cheap and useful, but the county lacked the money to buy the set because the Central Pacific had failed to pay its taxes for two years.

     (The CP went to court in the early spring to halt the sale of railroad property by the Nevada County treasurer for back taxes.  Later a portion of the money the railroad owed was paid.)

     In March, Kitts copyrighted his indexes and the county eventually obtained them.  They are still in use in the recorder's office.  [Frances Burr, who began work in the Recorder's office in 1967, does not recall ever seeing them.]

     Records in the courthouse, then as now, only dated back to July of 1856 when the year-old courthouse burned and all previous records were destroyed."  

   (Article in "Nevada County Historical society Bulletin," Vol. 36, No. 1, p. 2, January 1982.)

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Former Nevada County Clerk-Recorder and current Nevada County Genealogical Society President, Bruce Bolinger, recounts the following items.

     Bob Bergantz of Roseberg, Oregon said that sometime prior to 1976 he acquired the nine-volume set of Kitts' indexes for the period of 1856 - 1922 from Charlie Kitts. owner of a corner grocery store at the intersection of Town Talk and Banner-Lava Cap.  Charlie Kitts was the nephew of Charles W. Kitts, who compiled the index.  Bergantz, an acquaintance of Charlie Kitts, had previously borrowed the index from him to do research on his property.  Charlie Kitts said that the books would be destroyed unless Bergantz preserved them and therefore he should keep them.  Bergantz recalls that the books had been kept in a storage building where the conditions were poor for storing such records; some moisture had gotten on some of them.  Bergantz had been employed by the Nevada County Sheriff's Department.  When Bergantz and his wife Mary Lee prepared to move to Placerville in 1976 (then to Oregon in 1989), he donated the books to the Searls Historical Library.    (Telephone conversation with Bruce Bolinger in 1994.)

     In December of 1994, Ed Tyson, librarian of the Searls Historical Library, loaned the nine-volume set of the Kitts' Index for 1856 - 1922 to Nevada County Clerk-Recorder Bruce Bollinger at the latter's request so that Bolinger could have the books microfilmed.  That way the Recorder's office could have a microfiche copy of the index and the originals could be retained by the Searls Library.  The staff of the Nevada County Recorder's office numbered the pages of the books to ensure that no pages were omitted during microfilming.  The books were microfilmed in January 1995 and then returned to the Searls Historical Library, with microfiche copies being distributed to the Recorder's office, the Searls Library, the Local History Branch of the Nevada County Library, and commercial and genealogical users.     

(Bruce Bolinger, February 1995)

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General Information

     The entire index was typed on pages measuring 11" x 17".  they are of good quality paper of a type used in ledgers.  (In addition to the printed horizontal lines, there are vertical lines.)  Each ledger page was divided into two sections or sub-pages, in effect, two pages of listings on each ledger page.  All ledger pages are headed as follows:

ALPHABETICAL GENERAL INDEX 

TO

RECORDS OF NEVADA COUNTY, CAL.

JULY 21, 1856 TO JANUARY 26, 1922

     Each ledger page contains approximately 76 listings.  With 2,814 pages in the nine-volume set, that means the Kitts' Index contains approximately 213,864 listings.

     The ledger pages are numbered from 0001 to 2,813.  (One ledger page was skipped during the numbering in 1995.  The error was remedied by numbering the preceding page as xxx-A and the skipped page as xxx-B.)

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Types of Records Indexed

     There are some 22 different types of records indexed in the Kitts' Index, appearing as follows:                             

CERT TAX SALE(S) NOTICE ACTION
CO. (COUNTY) JUDGE ORDER OF SALE
COLL. DEEDS PATENT
DEEDS* POW ATTY
HOMESTEAD(S) PROBATE JUDGE
JUDGMENT PROBATE ORDER
LEASE(S) SHFFS CERT SALE
LIEN(S) SHFFS DEED
MIS RECORD ST. TAX DEED
MORTGAGE(S) SUPERIOR JUDGE
MORTGAGE (CHAT) TRUST DEED(S)
*Deeds are not listed as such; see below.

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Interpreting the Index

     The Kitts' Index is an alphabetical index by name.  Unless otherwise specified, each entry is a deed and refers to the respective Book of Deeds.  If the listing does not involve a deed, one of the entries listed above, e.g., MIS (for Miscellaneous Records), will appeal.  For each listing two numbers are given, the first number being the volume, and the second the page.

     Within each sub-page on a ledger page, the information for each listing appears in two parallel columns.  The left hand column lists the grantor, the right hand column the grantee.  However, if a double plus sign (++) appears before the name in the right hand column, the name following the sign is that of a grantor, not a grantee, while the name in the left hand column is that of the grantee.

     In the left column, ditto marks are omitted after the first listing of the surname.

     The number in parentheses tells the user how many records there are for the individual on the page of the book of records, e.g., "LIEN (6)".  If there are additional book and page listings for an individual in the index, each listing involves only one page.

     As an aid to the user, alternate spellings appear when applicable, e.g., "COWAN--SEE--COWEN & COWIN.

     The entire Kitts' Index appears on 22 fiche numbered 01 to 22.  The first names listed in the first page on the Kitts' Index reproduced on a fiche is shown in the title strip along the top of the fiche.  With the exception of fiche number 22, each fiche contains 132 pages from the Kitts' Index.

 

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