If your relative was a landowner and you cannot find a deed of acquisition for the property he owned, it is possible that:

  • he inherited the land and there was no actual “deed;”
  • the deed of acquisition was not recorded (possible, but not likely);
  • the property was acquired through a grant that was not recorded with the local land records.

Acquisitions through inheritance may be documented in the local will or estate records. Deeds that were unrecorded are often impossible to locate, but consider looking at local real property tax records to determine when the ancestor started paying taxes on the property. Grants may have been colonial, state, or federal records–determine where these records are kept for the location and time period in question. Always ask researchers familiar with the local area to determine if there are any unique situations that may explain the failure to locate the record of acquisition. They may have suggestions specific to the place in question.



2 Responses

  1. In much of the midwest, prior to title insurance, proof of title was an abstract. Abstract and title companies prepared these documents for the seller to present to the buyer. I have several abstracts for the real estate that I own and have made copies of several more that I was allowed to see. The genealogical data in these abstracts can be great – copies of wills, original grants, foreclosures, etc. I’ve often wondered if the title and abstract companies kept copies and what happened to them?

    • Some are still in business and may have some records of what they compiled–they would just have to be willing to share them. Their records would not public records…and that could be the problem. In some locations they do allow the “public” to access and utilize their records for a fee.

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