<< A question about land records. I have been
using Census records and the like in my
research. I have not yet looked for Land
records. An experienced researcher recently
described such records as the "last resort".
I would like to know which kinds of records
I might expect to be most useful for genealogy
research. Also, not having seen such records,
I wonder what aspects of each record I should
look for/concentrate on >>
I would definitely look for deeds. While some can be nothing more than a
long complicated list of measurements concerning a particular property, many
will give relationships. Particularly if property was based down in the
family. I have several old deeds that identify father, grandfather, siblings
because the property was inherited through those people. Some deeds give a
whole history of the property, especially the older records. They also
pinpoint where the person actually lived, who the neighbors were. All can be
important clues to future information.
I think you want to look at both grantor and grantee lists. Your ancestor
could be on both ends. These land records tell you when your ancestor was
there. They also might tell you when he left town, if he seems to disappear
at some point. They can even tell you the person's religion. In the case of
Quakers, the wording will be different. They will not "swear" to anything but
affirm. This shows up in deeds and wills (and definitely send for wills, if
you haven't yet done so). You will find whether your ancestor is
educated--can he sign his own name? Or is it an "X" And it's certainly a
thrill to actually see your ancestor's signature.
Another type of land record are the federal land records. After war
service, many veterans were given land in the opening up territories. This
happened from the Revolution up to the Civil War. They can lead you to
possible military records.
Another interesting deed I have pinpointed a grave site. My
g-g-g-grandmother purchased a deed to a gravesite after her husband died.
This told me where to find his burial site.
So anyway, I really don't think land records are a last resort. They are
part of the whole research picture and shouldn't be ignored. They are often
difficult to plow through--lots of "legalese". But don't let that discourage
you. You just might find the clues you're looking for.
Peggy Rossi (firstname.lastname@example.org)