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
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 usgenweb.com.
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
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. www.familysearch.org Check for microfilm on these records Order online
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
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.
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.
Website: http://www.glorecords.blm.gov/ 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.
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.
Searching County Offices • Research the County. • Redbook/Google • Check out county’s website. • www.usgenweb.org • 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
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
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Make Copies Copier Camera Hand held scanner Abstract – An outline of the pertinent information Transcription – A complete copy of the deed.
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.
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
Other Repositories Archives Historical and/or Genealogical Societies Libraries – Medina’s library has records on microfilm - Brochure
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.