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# Tuesday, June 26, 2007
This Land is Whose Land?
Posted by Allison

Q One of my coworkers told me she’d bought a farm and turned it into a winery, but was having trouble tracing how ownership has changed hands over the years. Any advice?

A In most counties, you can research recent land transfers on the county auditor's or property assessor's Web site. Before that, research deeds, which record land sales between individuals.

“You’ll find deeds in county courthouses, except in New England states, when they’re typically in town halls,” writes Sharon DeBartolo Carmack in her August 2006 Family Tree Magazine article on land records. “Clerks generally recorded copies in huge ledger books, including an index with each volume.”

Each book usually has two types of indexes: grantors (sellers) and grantees (purchasers). You’re working back from the most recent known owner, so you’ll probably want to consult grantee indexes.

The Salt Lake City-based Family History Library (FHL) has microfilmed many counties’ deed records. To see if that includes the records you need, run a place search of its online catalog for the county, then look for a “land and property” heading. You can borrow FHL microfilm through your local Family History Center. If only the index is filmed, use the volume and page number given and request the original deed from the courthouse.

Once you get back to early settlement in the area, you’ll look for an original land purchase from a Colonial proprietor (in a state-land state) or the US government (in a public-land state).

In a state-land state, these records are with the state archives or historical society. In public-land states, you’d look for land patents and related records at the National Archives and Records Administration (read the archives’ guide). You can search most public-land sales at the Bureau of Land Management General Land Office Web site.

Read county histories, too, for information on early settlers—look for them at the local library and historical society, or search online bookstores such as Amazon.com.


land records
Tuesday, June 26, 2007 6:36:48 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Finding Your Ancestor in State Hospital Records
Posted by Diane

Q My grandmother died at the Cleveland State Hospital during the Flu Epidemic of 1918 after staying there two months. I’ve learned the hospital was torn down, but I could never find out where the records went. How can I get them?

A We received this question in response to a Family Tree Magazine E-mail Update newsletter editorial about my search for my great-grandmother’s Cleveland (Ohio) State Hospital records. I’d learned from her death certificate that she died there.

To learn the whereabouts of the hospital records, I first did a Google search on “Cleveland State Hospital” and learned some history. The hospital was once called the Newburgh Asylum and was demolished in 1977.

The Google search also led me to a Web page from the Case Western Reserve University archives, which referred me to the Ohio Historical Society for patient records. That made sense: Records of a state institution would probably be in that state's archives.

I searched the Ohio Historical Society library catalog and found (after experimenting with various search terms) entries for patient admission and discharge books. The catalog listing labels these hospital records “restricted” and instructs you to call the archives for more information.

The public can’t access these records because patients named in them may have passed medical conditions to their descendants, who may be living. Instead, I submitted a research request and a $25 fee. A few weeks later, I received a transcription and photocopies of my ancestor’s entries in admission and discharge registers (the archivist had obscured other patients’ names in the photocopy).

A reader e-mailed us a suggestion to examine county court records, too, for documents related to commitment hearings. She’d obtained her great-uncle’s “Inquest of Lunacy 1884, the full medical certificate of the doctor's exam and the application of admission by the probate judge.” Write the court clerk or see if the Family History Library has microfilmed the records, in which case you'd be able to borrow them for a fee through a branch Family History Center.


institutional records
Wednesday, June 13, 2007 1:07:07 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Monday, June 04, 2007
In the News
Posted by Diane

Q I remember seeing as a child a clipped newspaper ad for a boxing match in which one of my ancestors (with a very distinctive surname) participated.  Is there a way to track down old newspaper advertisements?  I'm almost positive this was from a Chicago area newspaper, at least 75 years old, but beyond that I don't have much to work with.

A Newspaper research can be time-consuming because not many papers are indexed online—but what a thrill it would be to find this ad!

You’d need to narrow the possibilities for which newspaper this could be, then locate repositories or online databases that carry the newspapers you want to search for the time period in question. One way to do this is searching the Illinois Newspaper Project online directory. Results show newspaper titles and years of publication; click the title to see repositories holding that publication. 

If the papers you need are in a database such as NewsBank or ProQuest Historical Newspapers (available through many libraries), or GenealogyBank (by subscription), you’re in luck: Such databases use optical character recognition to search both articles and advertisements.

If the newspapers you need aren’t in an online database, you’ll have to visit the holding library to view it on microfilm, or ask your library to request the film through interlibrary loan.

To reduce your microfilm scrolling time, narrow the time period when you think the ad ran as much as possible. Try doing a Google search on terms such as Chicago boxing history. I came up with an interesting Encyclopedia of Chicago Web page—looks like boxing was a popular pastime in the Windy City. Browse local history books, too: You could find mention of the match your ancestor fought.

You may already have done this, but ask your relatives if they remember when this boxing match happened. (You might as well ask if they have copies of the ad, too.)

The February 2007 Family Tree Magazine has an article on finding and searching old newspapers—even those that aren’t indexed. Let us know if you find your ancestor's ad!


printed sources
Monday, June 04, 2007 10:27:21 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]