Land Records: An Underused Source in Lineage Society Applications

No birth certificate, no will. How do you document the relationship between parent and child to meet the standards of a lineage society, such as the Daughters of the American Revolution?

For many families, land records can help fill in the gaps. You may not have had enough money to require a will nor the religious affiliation to attend church, but if you farmed, you needed to be able to prove you owned your land. That meant filing a deed.

When are parent-child relationships indicated in a deed?

These are a few of the most common cases:

  1. The parent sells the child their land. It was common for farming parents to sell their farms to their children before retirement age. It protected the family’s assets, just in case something happened to them, and encouraged the child to care for their parents. The relationship might be mentioned in the initial deed or in later sales of the property.
  2. The child sells land they inherited. It was possible for a family to never file probate on an estate but still take ownership of the parents’ land. When they went to sell that land, the child’s deed of sale may indicate that they were the heir of said parent.

How do you find the deeds?

It will depend on the location. In most cases, deeds are stored with either the county clerk or the county recorder. In Connecticut and Rhode Island, they are stored with the town clerk. Once you’ve identified the record keeper, determine how to access the deeds. The clerk’s website should tell you what they’ve placed online. Check FamilySearch as well. Anything not listed on these two sites, you will likely have to access in the clerk’s office. Once you’ve determined how to access the records, use the grantor/grantee index to find the correct volume and page. Be sure to check both sides.

Happy hunting!

Published by Bryna O'Sullivan

Proprietor of Charter Oak Genealogy, Bryna O'Sullivan specializes in assisting clients with lineage society applications and with French to English genealogical translations.

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