Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Finding local property transactions on line isn't easy. (I'm not talking about plat maps or lists of the first landowners, but the deeds and mortgages that record all buying and selling after that.)
Many county recorders have only recent records, say the last 10-60 years, on line -- and even this limited access seems tailored for the deep-pockets crowd. Some charge $5 per search or have subcontracted the access to places like countyrecords.com and landaccess.com. (I'm not opposed to paying for on-line convenience but that seems a little steep.) Genealogy-friendly on-line access seems rare, but it can't be as rare as my unsystematic searching has found!
FamilySearch has browseable deeds for two Midwestern counties:
* Outagamie County, Wisconsin (deeds 1867-1900, indexes 1870s-1957)
* Clay County, Minnesota (deeds 1825-1901 and later in a few books; grantee indexes 1879-1901, grantor 1839-1901)
In local initiatives:
* Will County, Illinois, has searchable grantor-grantee deed indexes 1836-1885, available through the Illinois Digital Archives (offering only surnames A-K in a user-unfriendly format) or through the Plainfield Public Library site Will County: Preserving History's Heritage (only very terse transcriptions of the index).
So far, the best I've found are in Ohio's Western Reserve, where direct free access to deeds of any age from:
* Stark County, Ohio's Recorder. Complete a simple signup, sign in, and go to "archive search."
Sometimes the best solution is to go there. On line or off, it helps to be familiar with the many indexing systems used. (In Stark County the indexes are by first letter of surname, first letter of given name, and then chronological. There are good reasons for this but for the novice it can be challenging.)
But check around first and feel free to add to (or correct) this little list in the comments!
Harold Henderson, "Midwestern Deeds On Line -- More or Less!" Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 7 June 2012 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]