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State Land States owned and distributed their lands. These states included the original 13 colonies as well as Kentucky, Maine, Tennessee, Vermont, West Virginia, Hawaii and Texas. They used "metes and bounds" to survey the land.
Federal Land States were created from public domain land the United States acquired. The land was divided into territories as the population spread out. Surveys were done according to the rectangular survey system.
A Land Patent is the original transfer of ownership from the government to another party.
There are various types of land deeds. The most common are the Warranty Deed, which transfers property with assurance of good title and the Quitclaim Deed, which transfers one person's interest in the property without guarantee of good title. Quitclaim deeds are used frequently to transfer land from multiple heirs to one person.
Many legal instruments other than deeds appear in deed books. They include bills of sale, prenuptial agreements, powers of attorney, contracts, affidavits, wills and inventories, and voter and jury lists.
Sometimes a quitclaim deed transferring property from the heirs to a buyer may be filed many years after a land-owner's death. Check all deed indexes for your surname before concluding that there might be no deed.
A Bounty Land Warrant is a gift of land due to a person because of military service. Each pre-1900 military period has different bounty land rules. Check for your ancestor's service and then read the laws governing bounty land rules for that particular service, i.e., Revolutionary War, War of 1812, etc.
An acre is a square measure of land containing 10 square chains, 160 square rods, or 43,560 square feet.
Metes and Bounds is the survey method using a combination of directional and distance measurements with references to natural and artificial objects to define a tract of land.
Bounds are boundaries used to define the extent of a tract of land in a metes and bounds survey. The description may include natural and/or artificial objects and adjoining tracts of land.
Metes is a measurement of boundary lines in terms of their distance and direction.
The Bureau of Land Management is a federal government office with responsibility for buying, selling and managing public lands.
A grantor is the person who is selling the land.
A grantee is the person buying the land.
When looking at deed indexes, be sure to look at both the Grantor Index, an index to those selling land, and the Grantee Index, an index to those buying land.
Maps of all kinds are important to your family research. Be aware of boundary line changes over time. Your ancestor may appear to have moved, but in reality, the boundary line moved while he stayed on the same land.
Land deeds might give information as to the origin of the buyer.
Use land records to separate two persons of the same name in the same community.
When a couple sold land, the husband was not allowed to follow through with the transaction until his wife signed off her dower rights separately. Lack of a dower signature most likely means the wife was deceased at the time of the sale.
A Gazetteer is a geographical dictionary that lists place names in alphabetical order.