Trace OWNERSHIP of A Cook County HOME
                                    Cook County, Illinois


Information contributed for use in Cook County ILGenWeb (from Cook-Co-L mail-list)
        with permission from original submitter


Tracing the Ownership of Your Ancestor's Home

Many genealogists have an interest in the homes their ancestors lived in. An
abstract  is a summary or list of all the recorded documents pertaining to a
particular property, including transfers of ownership and mortgages on the

Abstracts usually begin with the original Government survey of the land in
the early 1800s, here in the Midwest, and have the original Land Grant or
sale of the property. They progress through subsequent sales and divisions
of the original plat, down to the lot where your ancestors home was 1st
built. Abstracts can be quite lengthy, and wonderfully historical or dull
reading, depending on your point of view.

You can get an abstract (history) of ownership of your ancestor's property
for any time span you wish. With some time, luck, resourcefulness and
hopefully only a little money, you can trace the ownership of your ancestor'
s property no matter where you are.

To trace the ownership of property in Cook County, you will need to know one
or more of the following -

1. the address of the property
2. the property number or PIN.
3. the legal description of the property.

1. You must have the address of the property to begin. If you do not know the
address where your ancestor's lived, you will need to obtain it from census
records, city or telephone directories, or other sources.

2. To obtain the property or PIN number go to the Cook Co. Assessor's search
site as shown on the RESOURCE page of this Cook County ILGenWeb (check the
GOVERNMENT category and/or the LAND and/or PROPERTY categories).

You will notice that the search asks for a range of numbers for the address.
Type in the same address number in both boxes. Besides the PIN number, you
will get the class code of the property and assessed valuation.

If the class code tells you the property is not residential, or the property
does not appear on the search, you may have to contact the Assessor's
Office.  Your ancestor's home could be the site of an expressway, factory,
shopping mall or the like.  If this is the case, you can still trace the
ownership, but you will have to search the title at the Recorder's Office or
through a title company.

  Cook County Assessor's Office
  118 N. Clark St.
  Chicago, IL  60602

3. Once you have the property address and PIN number, you can get the legal
description, if you need it, by contacting the

  Cook County Treasurer's Office
  118 N. Clark St.
  Chicago, IL  60602

A legal description will read something like - W  of Lot 5, Block 4, of the
XYZ Addition to the ABC City Plat, Section 21, Township 42 N, Range 13 E, of
the 3rd P.M.

Contact the Current Owner -

The first place to try and get information on the history of your ancestor's
home is to try and get it from the current owner. Assuming you do not live
in the Chicago area and have no one to go knock on the door, go to your
favorite internet search engine and look for "reverse directories" where you
can type in the address. This is my favorite -

If you get the current owner's name, but not his phone number, go back to
your favorite internet search engine and look for "telephone search" or
"internet white pages". You can call or write the current owners. You
decide. Maybe they have an abstract they would share or copy for you, if YOU
PAY THE COSTS. At the least try and get the former owner's name and about
when they bought the home.

Even if you cannot get the name and phone number of the current owner, you
can still write them. Tell them who you are and what you are doing, and ask
if they can help. Include a SASE or tell them they can call you COLLECT.
Yes, you will be writing to RESIDENT @, but put a short clever HANDWRITTEN
message on the envelope to get them to at least open it and read your

Cook County Recorder of Deeds -

If you don't have any luck with the current owner, you have 2 more options.

   The Cook County Recorder of Deeds
   118 N. Clark St.
   Chicago, IL  60602

This office keeps all records of transfer of ownership or sales of property
in Cook County as well as related documents such as mortgages, liens,
easements and disputes. They have all the original documents there, either
in bound volumes or on microfilm, and you can get copies of anything.
HOWEVER, they DO NOT do lookups or research. SOMEONE must go there in
person. Don't panic yet.

They have a number of searchable indexes, either in bound volumes or on
computer, that a good genealogical researcher can easily navigate. They have
staff on hand to assist and advise people on how to research the records and
use the indexes.

There are Grantor (the person who sells the property) Indexes and Grantee
(the person who buys the property) Indexes. Here, you need only the name and
approximate year to begin the search. However, this search can be quite time
consuming for a common name.

There is a Property Search Index in which you can search for property
records by the PIN number or name of sub-division tract. Finally, there is
the Retrieval Tract Book Index which lists all documents for property
between 1871-1985 based on the legal description of the property.

So, you're not in the Chicago area and don't know anyone there who will help
you. Hire a genealogical researcher to do it for you. That's what I did. I
hired a researcher for $15.00/hr. and it took her 3 hours to get the
information and document copies I needed.

Genealogical researchers are listed on the Cook Co. IL GenWeb page, on
Rootsweb classifieds, and on Cyndi's List. Use your favorite search engine.
Contact Chicago area genealogical libraries and associations. They will have
or know of private researchers.  Use your PC, telephone and snail mail.

Title Company Search -

If you have a lot of money or can't find a researcher or have no time, a
Title Company will have the entire history of your ancestor's home, or any
part of it you want, ready to sell you.

Use your favorite internet search engine to find a Yellow Pages Directory
for Chicago, and look up Title Companies. I used Yahoo Yellow Pages and came
up with over 100 title companies.

I used Chicago Title & Trust Co.  You will want what they call a Tract
Search. Call 1-800-621-1919. Punch in ext. 5981 and ask for Norbert Tyrus.
Have the Cook County address of the property and PIN number from the
Assessor's search site. Tell him what you want and for what period of time,
and he'll quote you a price over the phone.

I asked to have all Deeds of Conveyance (sales) and Mortgages from 1898-1930
for my ancestor's Cook County home. The cost - $300.00. That's what prompted
me to look for a researcher. I wound up paying $45.00 for 3 hours of
research and received information and copies of documents for 3 different

The above are my experiences. I hope people on this list can make use of
this information.  I'm sorry, but I will not respond to any questions.
Ingenuity and self-help are among the genealogist's best tools.

(MANY thanks to Ron Flynn for providing this info)

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