Tag Archives: land records

Beginning Principles: Important Records Part 2

Last week we looked at a few of the “basics” when it comes to records a beginning genealogist should be looking for and possibly a few things beginners don’t realize when they are first starting out. This week let’s explore a few of the more “advanced” records that can be located for your ancestors. These records are where you can really start to dig in to the details about individuals.

  • Land Records – Deeds primarily fall into this category for the beginning genealogist, though there are other types of land records to be found. If your ancestors were farmers, like mine were, you are most likely going to find deeds somewhere along the way. These are held at the county courthouse for the most part though these days, they are likely digitized at FamilySearch. Take a look through their catalog for your county to see if they are there. Deeds will tell you when an ancestor bought or sold land, how much land, for how much money, and more importantly where that land was located.
  • Probate Records – Estates and wills are especially helpful when they can be located because they will often spell out family groups and relationships. You may also get very detailed information about the stuff your ancestors owned such as furniture and occupational equipment. Again, these are typically found at a county courthouse, though many may be digitized at FamilySearch.
  • Military Records – Draft registration cards or ledgers, pension applications, enlistment records, compiled military service records, and more fall into this category. These kinds of records are available in a lot of places, but a good starting point website is Fold3.

After these kinds of records, you really start digging into the details. But those are probably not records a beginning genealogist is going to dig into right away so we will address some of that later in another series. Next we will talk about how to start focusing your research.

What I Don’t Know, Part 7: Dimick’s Land in Hardin County

Similar to what I demonstrated in the last post regarding the Scroggins family land, I did a similar search for the Dimick family in Hardin County. Jeduthan and his wife Mary purchased land from the Federal government and the transaction is recorded at the General Land Office website:

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Jeduthan’s land was purchased in 1834. He died in 1837. Mary’s land was purchased in 1838, a year after his death. If you examine where each parcel of land was located you might notice something interesting. The entries in this database tell you where the land was located with what looks like a secret code. Jeduthan’s land is described as: NE1/4 of the NW1/4 in Township 12 South, Range 8 East in Section 32. Mary’s land is described as: E1/2 of the SW1/4 in Township 29, Range 8 East in Section 29.

Every township is numbered in the same way, beginning from the upper right corner of the township, moving to the left (west), then down and across to the right (east) and so forth. Each township is 1 square mile and consists of 36 sections or 36 square miles. If you examine Jeduthan and Mary’s land purchases on a map, they line up more or less like this:

2014-03-31 06.20.12 pmOk, the above map is not to scale but I know that the land they purchased lined up and gave the family a large farm. How does their land location compare to the Scroggins family? Using the GLO site’s map feature and Photoshop, I layered the two maps to line them up:

2014-03-31 09.39.29 pmSanders Scroggins land is within the green square on the left of the screen and Jeduthan and Mary Dimick’s land is within the square on the right. The families lived fairly close to one another, possibly attended the same church, social gatherings, or perhaps did business in the town of Rosiclare or Elizabethtown.

Using land records puts the families in a time and place and in relation to each other. By doing this exercise, you can see how your ancestors may have interacted or maybe determine if you are even working with the correct ancestors. If they lived too far apart, it might be a case of mistaken identity. However with names like Sanders Scroggins and Jeduthan Dimick, I think I’ve got the right men.

In the next several posts I will follow these men in vital, military and other records that are available online.

What I Don’t Know, Part 6: Scroggins’ Land in Hardin County

After reviewing the census and getting at least a beginning framework for the families I’m researching, I like to turn to land records and maps. This allows me to put the people in a physical location, and in relation to each other.

Illinois is a public land state meaning their lands were surveyed using the rectangular system. For my search I used two online databases to help locate the Scroggins and Dimick families:

These two databases seem to index the same information, however, you may find that one site is easier to use than the other. The GLO site has the advantage of having maps and original documents attached to the entries. Regardless of which site you use, always use the information to locate your research subjects on a map.

Beginning with the GLO records I found several Scroggins entries in Hardin County, Illinois.

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Sanders Scroggins bought land with two other men in 1851.

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Many men with the surname “Scroggins” obtained land from the federal government, including Chatten Scroggins in 1825.

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In 1855 Sanders Scroggins obtains more land.

The area in green is where Sanders Scroggins 1855 land is located. (This map can be obtained at the GLO database site.)

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The land is located northwest of Elizabethtown and Rosiclare.

I won’t bore you with all of the maps for all of the land transactions described above, but take a look for yourself if you wish. The GLO database is a rich treasure chest of information. You can find the original land patents and maps showing their locations.

The Illinois State Archives has an index of their Public Domain Land Sales. When searching for “Scroggins” I found the following entries:

2014-03-31 03.01.46 pmOften a capitalized “S” can look like a capitalized “L” so I am willing to bet that all of those “Landers” Scroggins are really Sanders’ land purchases. The Illinois Archive does not have digitized copies of the originals, instead you will get a transcription.

The next post will discuss the Dimick family’s entries and how the two families relate to each other on a map.