All of a sudden, his father raises his hand and grabs Joseph and says, “Joseph, I’ve got something to tell you … Joseph you’re an especially odd boy.”
Joseph responds to his father, “You came back from the dead to tell me I’m odd?” … After a few words are exchanged, Joseph tells his father, “I have my dreams. I’ll work my own land someday.”
That said, Joseph’s father sermonizes, “Without land a man is nothing. Land is man’s very own soul.”
Land has been a driving factor as people moved westward across the country. The government offered land for free for a low price in an effort to encourage settlement to help protect its borders.
It worked. Streams of settlers poured across the country in their quest for land.
Since land was so valuable to a people that had little else, it was vital for the new settler to register his ownership of the land. Thus, land records are a great resource for tracing a settler’s westward migration.
For me, land records have been a key to breaking through many of my brick walls.
- I found evidence of land being distributed at a man’s death to his children. Deborah Twogood sold a parcel of land. In the record I learned that she and her siblings had received the land as an inheritance from their father, Thomas Halstead! With that record I found Deborah’s siblings AND their father (see Rensselaer County, New York, Deeds Book 47:462).
- I found record of what I believe is a women selling land to a man of the same surname, leading me to question if there is a relationship there between the two parties. Deborah Twogood sold the above mentioned land to William Twogood on 11 February 1834 for $250. In another deed William sold the parcel 11 February 1836 for $800 to Daniel Halstead (possibly Deborah’s brother or nephew). Both deeds begin on the same page and were recorded on the same date. (Rensselaer County, New York Deeds Book 47:462).
- I have found copies of wills in the deeds book. If perchance the will book or probate record had been destroyed, this may have been the only copy left of the will.
- I have found numerous instances where the buyer was “of” a different town than the land he was buying. This leads me to the other location to see if he resided there previously.
- I have found cases where the seller was “of” a different place than the land he was selling. From that clue I could determine where to search for him after he disappeared from the town where he was selling.
- I have found a deed where the wife’s name was recorded in the dower release. This is the only place her given name has been found.
In each case the land record was the key.
So why should you want to search land records?
- You may be able to link a person between two locations, the land he came from and the land to which he went.
- You may be able to pinpoint when a man arrived at an area and when he left it.
- You may find neighbors are unknown relatives and as you follow them, they will lead you to the answers you seek.
- You may find a land transferring at the death of the owner to his children .
- You may find a will recorded in the deed book.
- You may find a woman signing her dower release, giving you her first name or a date she was still alive.
It’s all about the land. Land is everything.
If you haven’t used land records, now’s the time to learn how. I’ll be spending many posts this month focusing on these records to help you find the family you seek. I hope you check in often!
Other Things You Might Want to Know About:
* Be sure to sign up for my email newsletter to be entered in the random drawing for a free book on August 11! You can read about it in this post: Free Giveaway Random Drawing.
* You might be interested in catching two webinars by Kathleen Bitter of Heritage Collector. You may sign up at the links here:
- Creating a Family Heirloom Cookbook on Thursday, August 11, at 7:00 PM (MST).
- Creating a Fun Way to Organize Your Home This Upcoming School Year on Thursday, August 25, at 7:00 PM (MST).
* Sharing Time will be releasing their Family History Center Version to FamilySearch in about a week and a half. FamilySearch will thereafter make Sharing Time available for free access at Family History Centers.