Sound research of land records requires that one locate the records of acquisitions and dispositions–how land was acquired and how it was “unacquired” by the property owner.

Establishing both ends of the land transaction can lead to genealogical discoveries as deeds of purchase and sale can suggest rough migration times, potential associates, etc.

The problem is that some times both ends of the transaction do not result in a clear, straight-forward, paper trail. That’s more likely to be true when the deed that has been located is a quitclaim deed where the person of interest is the grantor. In that case they are transferring their claim to the real property to the grantee. Quitclaim deeds are common in situations involving inheritances, divorces, and boundary disputes. The quitclaim deed may not mention enough detail to determine how the grantor came to have an interest in the property.

Divorce cases and boundary disputes are often suggested by the quitclaim deed. Inheritances might not be and there may be no deed of acquisition because the person acquired an interest in the property when someone died. There may be an estate record, will, or partition suit that documents how the grantor came to acquire the property. Property tax records records may be helpful as well.