Although the term "deeds" is used, this blog is designed to cover "land records, including deeds, mortgages, leases, liens, contracts, powers of attorney, releases, notices of action, judgments and decrees," as stated in this website.
An article by William Dollarhide entitled "Retracing the Trails of Your Ancestors Using Deed Records," explains the "Why" of "Why Find Deeds?".
Many deeds are recorded at the county level; according to this source, deeds were recorded at a central location as mandated by law. That same source also lists some of the steps used to research deeds.
Information used to abstract a deed :
Where the deed is recorded (i.e., Lapeer County, Michigan)
Liber (or book, volume) & Page(s)
Date the Instrument was made, especially if quite different from recorded date
Who was/were the Grantor(s) & Grantee(s)
Residence of involved parties
Type of Instrument (i.e., Warranty Deed, Quit Claim Deed, Power of Attorney, etc.)
Description of Land (legal description; acreage)
Price and/or Terms
Name(s) of Witnesses
Relationships, if any, between parties
Other pertinent information (i.e., heirs, dower interests, reference to prior deeds, etc.)
This website states that, "Abstracting styles vary from genealogist to genealogist. Some recommend the use of forms which help you pick out the important details in a document. Most abstracters prefer to handwrite their own abstracts, however, as this allows them to preserve the original order of the information." A nice (and free) Deed Abstracting Form can be found here which may be a useful checklist to ensure that the essential elements are abstracted.
From "OnBoard," the newsletter of the BCG, articles by Elizabeth Shown Mills, Part One and Part Two, provide more detail concerning what can be gleaned from deeds.
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