by Lisa South, Certified Genealogist
The following article was written in the June
9, 2005 OneGreatFamily newsletter. Since Lisa is no
longer writing for us, we are featuring some of our
favorite articles written by her.
In Margaret 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 County".
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 transactions:
1. British, Colonial, or Federal government
a. British Crown grants land
to colonists 1606-1732
b. Colonies transfer land to
c. Public domain - this
includes military, county, homestead, private land claim
==> Your search for these records
should begin at the National Archives.
2. State to Individual
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
Most 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."