Locate the Civil Court office at the same time you are in a courthouse. Before , the subject of over half of the lawsuits in America had something to do with land disputes. A deed transcript may give you a back-door index to a civil court case and may even give you a case file number. Get a USGS 7. Here is how to get the best possible map for this type of research. Index of Map Coverage. There is one for each state, either a large sheet map or small booklet of maps.
This is a state-wide map showing a grid with the names of the 7. Catalog of Published Maps.
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For each state there is free catalog which lists the types of maps available for each state, and the prices. While on the phone, ask USGS for information on their state-wide gazetteers on microfiche or printed - one for each state. These gazetteers are the most complete list of U. If your ancestor was an early settler in an area, you may be surprised to learn that a stream or mountain was named after him, and these gazetteers are the way you find out.
You can also order a particular USGS map using your credit card. After receiving the Index to Map Coverage from USGS for the state or states you have an interest, you can order a topographic map giving much detail for an area about 6 to 7 miles across and 7 to 8 miles deep. Each map or "quadrangle" has a name, which is what you need to learn before you can order the maps you will need for the area of a county. Each map is about thirty inches square and is printed in seven colors. For the State Land States, where the land description are based on the "metes and bounds" system of land surveys, the topographic map is even more important.
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All of the lay-of-the-land surveys start with a watercourse. Finding the stream or river on a detailed map is the way you can precisely locate a parcel of land described in a land deed for Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, or any of the other State Land States. Once you have marked the exact location of your ancestor's land on the map, you can ask some important questions, such as: where is the nearest cemetery? Where is the nearest church? Where is the nearest town? How does one travel from this point to another point? A Case Study: The search for Philip Reynolds To demonstrate the power of deeds in retracing the trail of an ancestor, I will present a case study for one of my own ancestors.
This is a real example of the use of deeds to solve a difficult genealogical problem.
Historical Research Guide
If you have the problem of knowing that an ancestor was from Virginia, but do not know which county, then this example may give you an idea of how deeds can help you locate the right county. Remember, we are basing this research on the fact that there is at least a ninety percent chance that your ancestor owned land. Let's see if we can solve a "needle-in-a-haystack" search for an ancestor when all we know is that he lived in Virginia before The steps I followed to locate the right county using deeds has been repeated several times.
My first success was for an ancestor named Philip Reynolds. To follow along, I will have to give you some of my own genealogy -- but a genealogist should be able to relate his own situation to this example. The Problem: Where exactly did Philip Reynolds live before ? In Indiana? In Ohio? In Virginia? Where was he married? Who did he marry? Who were his parents? Does this problem sound familiar? I first saw the name Philip Reynolds as a result of Dollarhide research.
I found my great-grandfather, John Dollarhide and family living in Jasper County, Indiana in the census. John's apparent wife was Lucy Dollarhide, maiden name unknown at that time.
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Per the census, she was born in Ohio about But also in the household was a Philip Reynolds, a farm laborer, age 62, born about in Virginia. I had only a guess about who Philip Reynolds might be John Dollarhide, head of household, census of Tippecanoe County, Indiana. Based on this information, I wrote to the Tippecanoe County Clerk to see if a marriage record for John and Lucy might be found there.
This was the first confirmation that her maiden name was Reynolds. I returned to the census to look at Philip Reynolds with renewed interest. He now looked like the father of Lucy! I found Philip Reynolds as a head of household in the census of Tippecanoe County, Indiana, not too far from away from the John Dollarhide household.
Philip Reynolds, head of household, census of Tippecanoe County, Indiana. Several females were indicated, and one was the right age to be Lucy Reynolds, although not named.
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Since item one gave Lucy's birthplace as Ohio about , I moved to the Ohio census index. There were only two 2 heads of households with the name Philip Reynolds -- one in Trumbull County, the other in Miami County. The Miami County family seemed most promising, but I had no way to prove which was the right family.
Quite frankly, I was not learning anything new, and this research was no longer going anywhere. But several years passed and with a bit of luck, the search began again.
Recording Deeds with Documentary Transfer Tax Considerations
I received an obituary from a Corvallis, Oregon newspaper dated This was a gift from a researcher who came across the name Dollarhide and thought I might be interested in it. I was more than interested, I was ecstatic! The obit said that "Philip Reynolds was born in Virginia The obit also mentioned a surviving daughter, one Lucy Dollarhide, living in California.
After learning that he went to Oregon, I found Philip Reynolds living with a daughter near Corvallis, Oregon, and per the census, he was born c in Virginia. Philip Reynolds living with a another daughter in Iowa, per census, born c in Virginia. I might mention that Philip Reynolds has become one of my favorite ancestors.
It appears that when his wife died about that the man never worked again -- he just moved in with one of his daughters until she couldn't stand it any more. I found him living with four different daughters. Since he had nine daughters, it appears that he managed to live off his kids for over thirty years.
I have decided that this is a man I would like to emulate. Confirmation Needed: I still needed to know where Philip Reynolds lived in Was Miami County, Ohio the place to start? Or perhaps Trumbull County first? Since I knew that Philip was in Indiana by , I stopped here.
But, I did record the following information:. There were two things wrong with the deed. First, I expected a deed in which Sophia's name was mentioned, since dower rights were still in play in Ohio in the s. I expected to see "Philip Reynolds and wife Sophia Second, the date was all wrong. But, as I was to learn later, I was not paying attention. Book 15 of the Miami County deeds had been microfilmed, and on page , I found the following deed recorded:.
The deed gave Philip Reynolds' residence! But why wasn't Sophia's name mentioned? I have since learned that the dower rights for a wife did not apply to small parcels of land under one acre or so , so there was no need for Sophia's name to be part of the deed. It was also clear that Philip Reynolds had owned land in Miami County, Ohio, but did not get around to selling his lot in the town of Troy until some years after moving to Indiana. Since I had several census records giving Philip Reynold's birth as Virginia about , I wondered if it were possible to use this same technique to find the right county in Virginia to search for the Reynolds family.
I canceled everything else on my agenda, booked five more days in Salt Lake and headed for the microfilmed Virginia deed records. It was now "needle-in-a-haystack time", but which county first? My Second Breakthrough I needed to narrow down the number of counties of Virginia to start my search for Philip Reynolds. There were 98 counties in Virginia in , which included present-day West Virginia.
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