, 2022-08-06 00:01:49,
Part of the Survey of Grant 1022, Lincoln County, North Carolina Survey for Henry Bullinger for 400 acres on Maiden Creek and Higgins Fork, May 4, 1795. The final grant occurred on June 30, 1797.
Land records are possibly the most valuable records for determining relationships, especially before 1880, when the federal census began including relationships to the head of the household. One of the primary reasons our ancestors came to America and moved often was to find better land. Indeed, in many areas over 80% of adult males owned land.
Land records provide a more complete list of inhabitants than do census records because they span time periods and are not just a “snapshot” of a community. They supplement probate records, considering that part of probate includes sale of land or division of land. Description of the land allows researchers to determine neighbors and a location for ancestors. Land records often include mention of relationships. Finally, prior to 1850, land records may include the only mention of a wife’s given name.
When an owner sold land, his wife had to be named and had to relinquish her dower right. Dower was the right a married woman had to use of 1/3 of her husband’s land during her lifetime. Failure to relinquish this right could mean that a woman could return to claim it even after the land sold. This is not to be confused with “dowry,” which is property brought with a bride to her husband upon their marriage.
Children or heirs are often listed in land records — particularly valuable if the landowner lived to old age and had generations of descendants. Mention of current or past places of residence are valuable for determining other locations to research. Careful observation of dates allows researchers to place family members in time. Indicators of the economic status of people appear in land records — either in the value of the land, loss of land to debt or tax bills, or size of land holdings. A possible indication of literacy is whether the owner signed with a signature or mark.
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Land records are legal documents and describe property location and extent. Accordingly, there are numerous associated terms. For example, if your ancestor lived in Missouri from 1796 to 1832, then moved to Texas, you may encounter land measured in arpens/arpents, square rods/roods, acres and varas. A basic glossary of land terms is at:…
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