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6 land & probate records


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  • 1. Land & Probate Records Lisa Rienerth – 2012
  • 2. Preparing For Research Which County?  Determine which county you are doing research in.  Watch out for “Parent” Counties – Counties which are formed from other counties.  Some no longer exist. – check adjacent counties – try state archive – Redbook
  • 3. Record Repositories  Most Records can be found in county offices.  Some in Town Halls, Probate Districts, etc.  Check local Archives & Libraries.  Some Courthouses are too small to keep all records so they send them to the local archives or genealogical societies.  Check Redbook: American State, County, and Town Sources.  County websites or
  • 4. Preparing For Research Visit  Phone number, hours, address, directions.  Copies? Cost?  Items to bring – Notepads – Pencils – Pens (if allowed) – Magnifying glass – Digital camera…ask permission – Portable scanner – Flash drive
  • 5. Can’t Visit On Site?  Contact office  Redbook or Google.  Rules for research?  Cost?  When writing for information – send S.A.S.E.  Family History Library – 4411 Windfall Rd.   Check for microfilm on these records  Order online
  • 6. LAND RECORDSLand transactions between individual parties under thejurisdiction of a local government unit, most often a county. Grantor – Seller Grantee – Buyer Real Property - Land & buildings on land
  • 7. State-Land States • First title for the land came from Colony or State • Kept at State level, usually in State Archives. – Connecticut – New York – Delaware – North Carolina – Georgia – Pennsylvania – Hawaii – Rhode Island – Kentucky – South Carolina – Maine – Tennessee – Maryland – Texas – Massachusetts – Vermont – New Hampshire – Virginia – New Jersey – West Virginia.
  • 8. Federal-Land/Public-Land Patent StatesFirst land transfer came from Federal Government to individual. • 30 States (see handout A).  Information – Handout B • Name of patentee. • Issue date. • Land office issuing patent – not always the place where land is. • Acres of land. • Legal description – state, county, township, range, etc. • Whether it was cancelled.
  • 9. Website:  GLO – General Land Office  BLM – Bureau of Land Management  Provides access to Federal land conveyance records for the Public Land States.  Includes image access to more than five million Federal land title records issued between 1820 and the present.  Images related to survey plats and field notes, dating back to 1810.  Due to organization of documents in the GLO collection, this site does not currently contain every Federal title record issued for the Public Land States.
  • 10. Local Land RecordsThe deed is the most commonly used land record in genealogical research. Other types of local land and property records: Warranty deed Mortgage Quitclaim deed Lease Deed of trust Bill of sale Deed of gift Plat and plat book Lease and release Land ownership maps Dower release Acknowledgements Handout E explains these in detail. Each may give you different, yet important information.
  • 11. Searching County Offices • Research the County. • Redbook/Google • Check out county’s website. • • Medina County records are found in the Recorder’s Office in the Administration Building. See information sheet C. • Local Libraries & Archives • Medina Library – Informational Brochure
  • 12. Types of Record Books  Deed Books – property sales (grantor-grantee)  Survey Books & Warrants – State or federal land  Plat Books & Maps – legal description of land  Powers of Attorney books - a legal instrument authorizing someone to act as the grantors agent.  Mortgage Books – real & personal property
  • 13.  There should be an index for these records. Handout D – ask clerk if it is not obvious. – If no index…check through the time period. Always make sure you pull all the connected records, match up all the grantor & grantee records & sales. Look for all mention of surname in index. – even if it isn’t yours, it may be connected some way. Look for different spellings. Remember these are copies of the original…there may be errors.
  • 14. Evaluate The Record  What type of deed is it? – Refer back to handout E. – Each type provides different information  How long after the deed was made was it recorded? – Many recorded day it was written. – Some are not recorded for days, months or even years – relatives did not feel the need to record the deed until it was sold out of the family..or they did not want to pay the fee to record it.  Name of Grantor & Grantee. – possibly residence & occupation.
  • 15. Evaluate  How was the property acquired? – From Government? – Developer – Relative – History of the property. – What was exchanged for the property. – Payment – especially “for love and affection” may be mean a relation.  Dower Release? – Until 20th century most dower laws gave the married woman rights to her husband’s property. – When it came time to sell the woman was examined separately to see if she was willing to give up this right.
  • 16. Evaluate Who else is named? – Officials – Court Recorder, Judge – If not officials, could be kin…look for records on them too. – Neighbors – Relatives. – Be careful with Jr. & Sr…sometimes didn’t mean father & son…sometimes a way to distinguish between the older and younger person with the same name (elder, younger & 1st and 2nd).
  • 17. Evaluate  Can you locate the property on a map? – Office should have plat maps for the area. – Shows the acreage. – Once located – locate nearby churches, cemeteries & towns - these might be other places to research. – Look at the neighbors – could be relatives.
  • 18. Genealogical Information –Kinship ties - especially if a group of heirs jointly sells some inherited land. –Possible in-laws. –Wife’s name. –If wife isn’t mention in earlier records, then shows up in later record, you have a time period to search for a marriage license. •Place person in a specific time & place, which will also help in finding other types of records. •Will help distinguish between two people with the same name, by comparing land records for that area.
  • 19. Make Copies  Copier  Camera  Hand held scanner  Abstract – An outline of the pertinent information  Transcription – A complete copy of the deed.
  • 20. BREAK TIME
  • 21. PROBATE RECORDS Lawful process that gives a deceased person’s property to another person or persons.• Will Bequeaths real estate & buildings attached to it.• Testament Bequeaths personal property.
  • 22. Courts • Name of court varies from state to state. • Research your area. • Medina is Probate Court – located at the County Court House. • Others may be – to name a few.  Superior Court  District Court  Orphan’s Court  Surrogate’s Court  Register of Wills  Circuit Court
  • 23. Other Repositories Archives Historical and/or Genealogical Societies Libraries – Medina’s library has records on microfilm - Brochure
  • 24. Onsite Research – Ask what type of records are kept in this office. – Some records are kept separate from the estate records – make sure you are seeing them all. – Any Fires? Breaks in the years the records were kept? – Remember some courts are more restrictive with their files than others. Ask them their procedures. – If you are unable to do the onsite search – handle it just like you would with the land records.
  • 25. Two Main Classes of Probate Records  Testate – A person dies leaving a will. – Person making will is Testator.  Intestate – A person dies without making a will. – States have a process that settles estates and distributes property among the heirs.
  • 26. What’s In A Probate File? •Wills • May be a gold mine of genealogical information or vague. For example : name of wife or just say “my beloved wife”. • Approximate ages of children by how property is distributed, or if a guardian is appointed. • How property already passed to heir may mean he/she is out of house and of age. •Executors are usually the widow & eldest son. •Witnesses may be relatives or friends.
  • 27. Probate File Petitions for probate or applications for letters of administration. • Document initiating a probate case. • Usually decedent’s (person who died) date & place of death. • May also include name and place of residence of surviving spouse. • And maybe next of kin.
  • 28. Probate Files  Letters testamentary or letters of administration. – Document that directs the executor to proceed with the settlement of an estate. – Usually does not contain any genealogical info. – This indicates an approximate date of death.  Executor’s or administrator’s bonds – Bond posted by an executor or administrator. – No genealogical information. – Person who signed for the bond may be a relative.
  • 29. Probate Files  Will Contests and Proofs of heirship – A contested will or question of proof of heirship. – Very valuable genealogical information. – If contested, all heirs are made parties. – Listed by name & degree of relationship.  Appointments of guardians – Names decedent’s minor children & guardian. – May be child’s surviving parent or another close relative. – Early American history – if guardian appointed usually indicated child was under 14. – If allowed a guardian of his/her choosing - 14 or older.
  • 30. Probate Files  Inventories – Intestate. – May be the only document copied into will book. – Approximate date of death – at time copied. – Property may give clues to occupation or economic status.  Sale Bills – List of decedent’s property sold at public auction. – Buyers & purchase prices. – Often includes family members & relatives as purchasers. – Relationship not normally stated.
  • 31. Probate Files  Assignment of Dower – Widow’s dower is her claim to a portion of her deceased husband’s estate. – Covers her lifetime. – Her children’s support. – Gives her name, which may not be given in will.  Accounts and final settlements – Record of debts. – Disbursements. – Assets remaining for distribution. – If it takes time there may be several pages. – Disbursements to widows and children may have good information.
  • 32. Probate Files  Decrees of Distribution – Division of estate. – Especially most recent, lists names, addresses, and degrees of relationship for all the heirs.  Receipts – Written acknowledgements of the receipt portion of the estate. – Authentic signatures of an ancestor & family members. – May state place of residence.
  • 33. How To Evaluate The Information  Accurate? – Should be, information given at time of event by people who should know the facts. – If it was transcribed into a record book there is room for error. – Most of the information is primary.  Relationships – Sometimes people are mentioned without relationship – illegitimate children. – Brother – may be half, in-law, step. – Cousin can refer to many degrees of relationships. – In probates without a will, the relationship of the heirs is usually given. – Cannot be sure all heirs are named.
  • 34. Evaluate Remember may not be complete family picture. – May have left out some children. – Deceased. – Already collected inheritance. – Fallen from favor. – Adoption may not be noted. – Illegitimate children are most likely left out. – Children may not be mentioned in order of their birth. – Sons are often listed before daughters. – Wife mentioned in will may not be mother of children named in will.
  • 35. QUESTIONS?