Finding Your Roots, Digging Up The Dirt, by Myrna Goodwin
MYRNA GOODWIN presented a great talk on Land Records and why they are so important.
She kept saying they are not exciting to most people but she found them exciting and intriguing.
She gave references as to the reasons for the places to search, She listed what to look for and
commented on attitude during the research.
She outlined the items one needs to pay attention to and the quirks that can toss you off the trail.
She talked about mannerisms and behavior when your in another's element. We need to respect the space
of the workers we are asking our help from and be smiling and courteous, even when they may not be.
It reminded me that " you can capture more results with honey than vinegar" . I enjoyed her talk because I
have been there and done that. Everyone whom attended was very excited about tackling the Deeds, they
mentioned having an aversion too.
It also applies to "do your homework". Go prepared and know what your looking for, where you think you
may find it. Dress to be comfortable so you do not become a agitated guest.
She commented that William Dollarhide stated that prior to 1850, 90% of white males owned land.
Know your land language, Grantor, Grantee, Indenture, etc. Land records have been around for a very long time
even longer than most census's.
Deeds have details that other articles can not give. Who was the neighbor, is there a link to the neighbor?
Watch the names of the witnesses and the peoples names involved in the Deed for clues.
Be aware of the "DOWER Factor" and how it relates to the family and the land.
Be aware that some counties have more than one place to find your data. An example was an area of Mass.
that had three areas central, south and north.
Do not let buildings turn you off or scare you away. Do not let a unfriendly face deter you from your task.
Introduce yourself and compliment them on the work they do. Make them aware you appreciate the work they do.
Make sure you bring the key items you will need with you, paper, pencil, post a notes, coins for copying, magnifying
glass, high liters, and maybe a friend. Remember many Deed Books are very large and heavy.
To read old Deeds, you do not have to go to a court house you can use the Family History Center films that are
Look at the Patent Files, Warrant Files and other land documents. Look at Maps, check the places on a map
to get your bearings on where the land laid. Who were their neighbor? Were they related to each other.
She gave great examples of this for people to see as she described the various topics.
The smallest land plot is the burial plot, They are bought and sold the same way. Check Findagrave.com for
help in locating data. Was the land donated or purchased? If donated who donated it to the family or the cemetery?
She posted a page of URL's and references for locating more information in her four page flyer.
She really dug up the dirt on tracking land records and recordings.
She can be reached at this address for further help. firstname.lastname@example.org
It was a great presentation with much emphasis on the key methods of doing research that really applies to
other documents as well. Great job, Myrna.