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Local Land Records

Posted Wednesday, November 21, 2012, at 4:00 PM

Although the deed is the most commonly used land record in genealogical research, there are other types of local land and property records you may use.


A mortgage is a document by which a person pledges his real property or a portion of it as security for the payment of a debt. In earlier times a mortgage was a form of conveyance similar to a deed of trust. More recently it is merely a lien or encumbrance on the property and does not constitute a transfer of title. The two parties to a mortgage are known as the mortgagor and mortgagee.


A lease is a contract by which the owner of real property agrees to give possession of it to another for a stated period in return for a consideration. The two parties to a lease are known as the lessor and lessee.

Bill of Sale

A bill of sale, a document similar to a deed, was used historically to convey title to major items of personal property such as slaves and livestock. These documents frequently were recorded along with local land records.

Plat and Plat book

A plat is an official drawing of the boundaries of a tract of land. Original survey plats can be found filed with land entries and land grants in some courthouses in the state-land states. Plats prepared subsequently can be found recorded in deed books, with probate records, and bound into special volumes. Plats of individual tracts of land were drawn to settle boundary disputes and divide a tract of land among heirs Other plats depict the lots into which new towns or subdivisions have divided.

Many courthouses have one or more books containing township maps for the county. These are essentially land ownership maps that show for a given time the boundaries, number of acres, and ownership of each tract of land in the township. You may also find an atlas that contains land ownership maps.

I welcome comments, queries, and suggestions at: poinsetthhs@yahoo.com attn Ms. Sylvia

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Ms. Genealogy
Sylvia Evans
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