by Lisa South,
Mitchell's Gone With the Wind, Scarlett O'Hara's
father says, "Land is the only thing in the world
worth workin' for, worth fightin' for, worth dyin'
for, because it's the only thing that lasts."
Owning and working the land was very important to
most of your ancestors. This makes land records a
very valuable source of information, but they are
often overlooked by the novice genealogist.
It is always important to try and locate
exactly where your ancestors lived in a certain
county. Many questions can be answered with this
information: Were they close to the county border?
What churches did they live close to? What would
have been the closest cemetery? What are the
possible routes of migration? Who were their
neighbors (this can often give clues to former
residence or possible relationships)?
Some land records will help establish the
movement pattern of an ancestor, for example the
record may state, "Madison Almon, lately of Coosa,
Some list relationships and, unlike most other
records, the older the land record is the more
details they seem to have.
There are three major types of land
1. British, Colonial or Federal government
a. British Crown grants land
to colonists - 1606-1732
b. Colonies transfer
land to individuals 1607-1776
c. Public domain
- this includes military county, homestead,
private land claim entries etc.
search for these records should begin at the
2. State to Individual
a. States that
did not cede land to the federal government
Thirteen original states, Kentucky, Maine,
Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and West Virginia
==> Your search for these records should
begin at the state level.
3. Individual to Individual
kept at county courthouses
b. Both grantee
(buyer) and grantor (seller) indexes are usually
c. Both should be evaluated carefully
before going to the actual deeds
Extract or copy the information from the deeds
A large number of land records are available on
the internet and at the Family History Libraries.
Once you have found your ancestor's land
record(s), you can mark a map showing their
property and find it's relationship to other
towns, counties, churches etc.
As you learn more about the land your ancestors
lived, worked and died on you will understand
Gerald O'Hara's statement to Scarlett - "It will
come to you, this love of the land."