In some United States jurisdictions in some time periods the estate of a person owning real estate may not have gone to probate. When Riley Rampley died in Illinois in 1893, he owned real property. Instead of probating his estate, his oldest son filed an affidavit (recorded with the deed records) swearing that there was no indebtedness on the property and that Rampley’s final bills had been paid.
It would be fifteen years later before any action was taking involving title to the property.
If the estate of your land-owning ancestor was not probated after his death, see if an affidavit or similar document was filed in with the land records.