WVC Library Home Page > Research by Subject Menu > Genealogy > Land Records

Deed Research

I. Finding Deeds Online

 A number of state archives are putting up patents and warrants besides the Public Domain patents from BLM.  Deeds are often hard to come by online.  Some places to look      

          County GenWeb page  http://www.usgenweb.org/
          go to the state page and then the county page and remember to find out
          about county formation so that you don't miss parent counties.  Most
          county genweb sites also have a publications page which tells you if a
          compiled work of deeds for that county has been done in book form.

          U. S. GenWeb Archives  http://www.rootsweb.com/~usgenweb/
          go to the state and then the archives
          includes transcriptions and abstracts of deeds in many counties that
          volunteers have transcribed and donated.

          Google Search  (see handout on Google & Land Records)

Family history library catalog see what has been filmed
use the PLACE NAME search
in the dialogue box put 
Benton (the county) under place
Missour under "Part of"
scroll down till you see the link to Land & Property Records

If you are in the New England States you may also want to search by town or city and look to see if there are specific land & property records for that town that have been filmed.

          County Courthouse
          U. S. Vital Records information site has a great directory to courthouses


II. Searching  Deed Rolls

GET ORGANIZED & PREPARED before you ever order any film!

1. Do a timeline on the family you are working with [

2. make a list of
your cluster names.  Use your timeline and look for names - If you don't have one get out your files and groupsheets and mine a cluster from the following:

any name your family marries with - the children the siblings the uncles & aunts etc.

neighbors close to them on the census

go through any deeds, probate, death records etc. that you have and glean names of ANYONE that witnesses, signs, is mentioned, is an informant etc.

You can put this list in Word or Excel - someplace where you can keep adding as your research grows and you can annotate:

Tomlinson, Jacob - witnessed the will of Richard Covington in 1843 in Haywood Co. TN
Troxler, Adam - son-in-law to Richard Covington (married daughter Betsy)
Waller, Ambrose - bought land from Richard Covington in 1838 in Haywood Co. TN

3. Make sure you have a list of alternative spellings of your surname - almost any surname could be spelled more than one way (especially pre-Civil War era)

Ordering Deeds through the Family History Library

1. order the deed index

Really take time to use the index armed with your list of cluster names
hunt for deed entries for those names. If you are researching the Covingtons note ALL Covington entries whether you know them or not.   Excel works great for deed index entries but if that isn't available just make a grid on notebook paper or use Word or even a text file.

2. Order the appropriate deed roll(s).  If you have put the entries in Excel you can sort by book and page and just crank through the roll stopping at any name you have tagged.  Look carefully at neighbors deeds to see if your family is mentioned or are witnesses etc.

occasionally counties with very large deed rolls have been filmed with all the "Bs" together or all the "Cs" together.  This makes it more difficult to use a cluster in the film; easier to miss things than the deeds filmed in chronological order where you can look at all deeds from 1801-1825 etc.

Always document your source so you can go back to it.  Make sure your deed is labeled something like "Highland Co. OH Deed Book 2 p. 345".  This allows you to go back to find that deed if you should ever need to or for someone else you have shared research with to retrace your steps.

Don't ignore things because you don't think they are important!  Original research is like working a jigsaw puzzle.  You can pull pieces for months (or years) and think they never are going to amount to anything when you turn over the one piece that makes everything make sense.

If you are looking in colonial America or the new Republic cluster is everything; get to know who Grandpa "hung out with" and recognize the girls with their married names.


Anne Livingston   mizliv@yahoo.com      alivingston@wvc.edu