YOUR HOUSE HISTORY - Directions for tracing the history of your home or any address.
by Laura Hine
The main scope of this article is to show you how to research the history of your home, including previous owners. We will take you on a step-by-step tutorial showing you where to look and how to do this work and will show an example of the process using the Lava Lounge located at 1307 Auburn Avenue. My grandmother, Paulina Liebert was an early female business owner in Tremont. She owned and operated the Eagle Printing Company out of the building at 1307 Auburn Avenue in the early 1920's.
COUNTY AUDITOR'S WEBSITE
The first stop in your research is:
Cuyahoga County Auditor's Website located at: http://fiscalofficer.cuyahogacounty.us
- Click on Real Property on the left
- Click on Real Property Information
- Click on Online Property Search
- Click on By Address
You need to remember these terms:
GRANTOR is the seller
GRANTEE is the buyer
1. On this page enter your address. In our case, we are looking for 1307 Auburn. Hit the search button.
2. A page comes up showing you the current owner of the property, Jack Lounge Inc.
3. Click on the parcel ID.
4. On the new page, click on TRANSFER HISTORY. In our case, this shows that the previous owner was Richard A. Sosenko. He sold it on August 18, 1999 to Jack Lounge. Directly above the transfer date is the word PREVIOUS in red. Click on this.
5. You will again see the previous owner.
6. Keep clicking on PREVIOUS on the succeeding pages until you come to the earliest owner. This website goes back to 1975. In our case, we see that the earliest owner back in 1975 was Helen Sosenko.
COUNTY RECORDER'S SITE
Having completed your work at the Auditor's website, the next place to go to trace your property back even further is:
Cuyahoga County Recorder's Site located at: http://recorder.cuyahogacounty.us/
- 1. On this page, on the left-hand side, hover over SEARCH DATABASE and then click on GENERAL SEARCH
- 2. On the next page, first change the dates that are going to be searched. Make the starting date 01/01/1800 so that the search goes back far enough.
- 3. Type in the last name Sosenko and first name Helen. Click BEGIN SEARCH
- 4. A page will come up showing every deed, mortgage, or transaction involving Helen Sosenko. Now, from the auditor's site we know that she owned the house in 1975, but she could have purchased it prior to 1975. So, you need to look through the list for a date prior to 1975. In the DOC. TYPE column look for either the word DEED or DEQC. We are not interested in mortgages. You can also watch the "Legal Description" column for the word AUBURN, though the street name will not always appear.
- 5. In this case, I thought that Entry #9 looks like a likely candidate. Click on the AFN number next to entry #8.
- 6. This shows that Julius Hollowacz sold the property to Helen Sosenko on November 5, 1965.
- 7. You can download a copy of the deed by clicking on VIEW IMAGE.
- 8. Click on VIEW IMAGE again.
- 9. A window will pop up on your computer and you will click on open and you will then see the deed. You could also have clicked on save and save it to your computer to view or print out later.
- B. Now that we know that Julius Hollowacz sold the property to Helen Sosenko, we need to start this entire search again for Julius Hollawacz. Go back to #1 directly above and repeat the entire process. You see that on October 24, 1957, Alex and Viola Marko sold the property to Julius Hollowacz.
- C. Start this entire search again for Alex and Viola Marko. I didn't find anything using Alex Marko, so I tried Viola Marko. On Nov. 29, 1954, Paul and Laverne Maximuk sold the property to Alex and Viola Marko. I know this is the correct entry because I downloaded a copy of the deed ascertaining that it is talking about the property on Auburn Ave.
- D. Start the search again for Paul Maximuk. I can't find a Paul Maximuk that fits, so I go back to the original search screen and change the first name box to leave it empty.
This is a wildcard and gives you all entries for a given surname. I see the word Auburn under the column "Legal Description" and see that on April 4, 1924, George and Anastasyz Kociszewski sold the property to Isador and Zuzana Makimuk.
- E. Continuing on, we search for Kociszewski. On February 5, 1923, Charles McCoombs sold the property to Anastasya Kociszewski.
- F. I continue and try with the name McCoombs and see no relevant entries for Auburn Avenue. So, our work is done on this website for now. This website goes back to the early 1800's, so perhaps the name of McCoombs is misspelled on earlier deeds. But, you might be able to take your property all the way back to the original owner. In my case, the next step is to go to the Cuyahoga County Archive.
CUYAHOGA COUNTY ARCHIVES - 2905 Franklin Blvd.
In continuing our search, we go to the Cuyahoga County Archive. You do need an appointment to do property research. We ask for the plat maps for 1307 Auburn Avenue. The Staff will pull the plat maps and will even make copies for you. Tell them that you wish to trace the ownership of this property and give them the earliest owner that you know of from the Recorder's site and the date of transfer. There are different sets of plat maps for different timeframes and you want to start with the one that shows the earliest date that you found on the Recorder's site. By tracking the plat maps backwards, you'll see who owned the property to its earliest date. The Archive also has tax duplicates and property cards that may have an early picture of your residence. Be sure to ask for this.
In the case that we are using, the list of owners from the plat maps were:
6/26/1902 - Dorcas Society
5/2/1905 - Charles E. McCombe
2/3/1923 - Anastazya Kociszewski
4/3/1924 - Isidor & Zyzana Maximulk
4/21/1989 - Julius Hollowacz
(I was only interested in going back to 1902 in this example, but could have gone back further using the plat maps)
1. So, we see that Charles McCoombs name was indeed misspelled and should be MCCOMBE. We could go back to the recorders site and continue the search using this spelling. I did this and still couldn't find anything under Charles McCombe. So, I tried searching with the last name field of DORCAS and a * in the first name field. The results show that Martha McCombs sold the property to the Dorcas Society on July 11, 1902.
2. Continuing on, we see that Henry Senne sold the property to Martha McCombs on April 23, 1888.
3. Finally, on May 5, 1886, there is a transaction between Charles Oehlstrom and Henry Senne. I tried searching for Charles Oehlstrom and found nothing, so we can perhaps assume that this was the earliest transaction and perhaps Charles Oehlstrom was the first owner.
So, to recap the owners of this property:
5/5/1886 Charles Oehlstrom sells to Henry Senne
4/23/1888 Henry Senne sells to Martha McCombs
7/11/1902 Martha McCombs sells to Dorcas Society
5/2/1905 Dorcas Society sells to Charles McCombe
2/5/1923 Charles McCoombs sells to Anastazya Kociszewski
4/4/1924 Anastazya Kociszewski sells to Isidor & Zyzana Maximulk
11/29/1954 Maximulks sell to Alex and Viola Marko
10/24/1957 Markos sell to Julius Hollowacz
11/5/1965 Hollowacz sells to Helen Sosenko
2/12/1991 Helen Sosenko sells to Richard Sosenko
8/18/1999 Richard Sosenko sells to Jack Lounge Inc.
CENSUS RECORDS - You can also use Census records to learn more about the various families that owned your house throughout the ages. Census records are available from 1790 to 1940. So, if you know who was living in your home in 1920 for instance, you can look them up in the census records and see how many people were in their family, and their ages and occupations. The Cuyahoga County Public Library system has a subscription to Ancestry.com where these census records can be searched for free.
GOOGLE Type in the address you are researching at www.google.com. A map will appear and you can click on that map and choose "Street View" and see an actual picture of the house (sometimes itís vacant land now if the house was torn down.) You can drag the map up and down the street, see across the street, and get a good visual of what the area looks like today.