Prove your Family Tree, Part II: Land and Property Sources that Link

Scan0001surnametargetSurname Target—Search Strategy Worksheet

  1. Draw an archery target with at least 5 rings.
  2. Align the names from your lineage and family charts to coincide with the rings.
  3. Systematically search each surname connected with your ancestor of interest:  family surname; maiden surnames; in-law surnames of brothers-in-law, uncles, nephews; surnames used as middle names of children; surname units used as namesakes

Land and Property Sources that link–

  1. Tax delinquent lists—especially in Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia
  2. Powers of Attorney—recorded in state of filing and state of interest/residence
  3. Signatures—match original signatures on deeds, wills, personal papers, family Bible pages, passenger lists
  4. Property Descriptions—will usually be the same on deeds bought and sold, land bequeathed in wills or land descending by law, tax rolls and rent rolls, equity court minutes, claims and supporting documents, land surveys (may contain a map of the land with the description in calls)
  5. Dog Tax Lists—South Carolina kept dog tax lists; many Blacks had dogs.  1865 Slave name; 1866-67 Freed name.  Use with probate inventories of white or black family who owned slaves before 1865. And some 1850-60 slave censuses where individual slaves are named.

How Is Land Acquired?

  1. Original title to land—headright grant, bounty grant, patent, council grant, state government grant—VA, MD, PA in Southwestern PA, VA and MD grants overlap); VA in KY and OH, including bounty lands; VA claimed land rights in parts of North Carolina, including bounty lands; SC in North Carolina, especially along the boundary line; KY and TN grants overlap, especially along the boundary line; NC in Tennessee, including bounty lands; FL in  GA, AL, MS (in West Florida); GA in AL, MS, LA (in Yazoo territory 
  2. Subsequent transfer of title to land—deed/conveyance from prior owner, tax sale, inheritance by will (testate), inheritance by descent (intestate, without a will)

 Legal Terms in Land Records–

  1. Buyer or heir is the grantee
  2. Seller or deceased is the grantor
  3. Borrower is the mortgagee
  4. Lender is the mortgagor

Land Descriptions–

  1. Metes and Bounds System—boundaries are referenced by physical items:  trees, stones, streams/rivers, mountains, neighbors and their land holdings
  2. Rectangular System—dates officially from 1787.  Uses numbered sections, townships, ranges, and principal meridians.  Some use of this sysem befo

Indexes are Essential Search Tools:  What trips you up is not realizing you are searching an index!

  1. Grantor/Grantee; Mortgagor/Mortgagee
  2. Reverse or cross index
  3. Some clerks include etal entries in each alpha section; some clerks only put the first name or initials
  4. Some indexes are actually indexes to indexes, watch carefully
  5. Indexes can be made by genealogists, societies, county clerks, state clerks, law firms, title companies, gas and oil exploration businesses
  6. Original indexes were made in large ledgers
  7. Third-party indexes are usually on cards or computer databases

This outline of specific land and property items can guide you to link the data from one source to another.  And hopefully, prove relationships and origins.  Your favorite genealogist, Arlene Eakle

PS  And stay tuned for more key evidence to be found in land and property sources.

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