Editor’s note: This was published in the July 5, 2015, edition of the Tribune-Star.
We genealogists are always looking for new tools to aid in our searches. Sometimes we find a tool that was created for another use but is helpful for our own purposes. The website www.doxpop.com is one such example. Doxpop gives the user instant access to recorded documents and court cases from any participating county in Indiana. The service was created to assist attorneys, paralegals, abstract and title companies, real estate agents, mortgage companies, and others to access public records without having to drive to the court house.
Information from the Doxpop brochure states: “Recorded documents have always been available to the public. However, they have not always been easy to access. For some time, counties have used document indexing software systems to enable visitors and workers to access documents at the county recorder’s office. …The Doxpop™ Recorded Document Public Access System is the fastest, easiest, and least expensive way for counties to provide web access to recorded documents.” For the purposes of the genealogist, the site features the ability to search by full name or just surname and to search in a single county or state-wide. Of particular interest to family researchers, it provides access to deeds and, in fact, almost acts as a deed index.
To use the site, go to www.doxpop.com. At this point, you will not have an account, but you can still use the site. My advice is to look over the site, play the introductory video, and do some name searches to get familiar with how it works. There are two boxes on the home page. One is to search and access court cases across the state. Eighty-eight Indiana counties participate in this portion of the site, representing information on nearly 25 million cases. All of the counties in the Wabash Valley are participants in this section.
The second box is for searching and accessing other recorded documents, including deeds, mortgages, liens, and releases, and would probably be of greatest importance to the genealogist. Unfortunately, only 35 counties in the state participate in this portion. In the Wabash Valley, this includes Vigo, Vermillion, Sullivan, Parke, and Putnam counties — but not Clay County — representing 12,804,589 recorded documents across the state from the participating counties.
At this point, since you have not signed up with the site, your search results will give you the name of the primary party on the document, the type of document (such as “deed”), the date (if it is a more recent document), and the county where the document is located. There will be two links called “details” and “available” that you won’t be able to use until you have an account.
Now you should create an account. There are several choices. I chose a free, ongoing, account. This gives the user six free searches per month. And I was actually given 14 “bonus” searches for free. With your account, you can go back and the “details” links will be available to you. This gives the book and page number of the document, along with possible other information. For older deeds that do not have the text online, you can use this reference information to create a list of deeds of interest and then visit the court house for the actual deed. In addition, the “other parties” to the document (not just the primary party) will be listed when you search with an account. These are often relatives. You can also now use the “available” link, which gives you access to reading (but not copying or saving) the actual document. Documents as far back as the early 1900s are online. You can also purchase the document for $1 per page, if you wish.
My final advice is to save your limited free searches by doing broad surname searches rather than full-name searches. I did this for “Dehler” and got 106 hits, whereas if I had searched for a full name, I would have been able to access only six names (and the search counts even if it yields no hits).