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Thursday, August 12, 2010

How to Research the Ownership of Your Property, Part 3

Taking up where we left off yesterday, today we are looking up the actual deeds in the county clerk's office from the volume and page numbers written on your worksheet. Remember we are looking for Volume 707, page 299, hoping to find a clue or reference to the next previous owner so we don't have to look through several volumes of indexes.

Step Eight
Find the document in the deed books. Remember the books are numbered, so it’s just a matter of walking past the rows of books until I get to the one with volume 707.

When I turned to page 299, I read through it and saw in one of the Exhibits that this is the same property conveyed to W. Ralston in a deed located in volume 376, page 347. Yeehaw! That saved some time. You can take the pages out of these books and copy them in the clerk's office, but the cost is $1 per page ($2 per page in Oklahoma!), so I usually just take a picture with my camera. All I care about is that it’s legible, so I take a couple of pictures of every page. Sometimes I have to put the book on the floor to see what I am photographing. The older books are hard to open and close too which is another good reason to photograph.

What is an exhibit, you ask? On standardized forms like this, there wasn’t enough room for long legal descriptions, or to make special provisions, so they did them in additions called exhibits. Exhibit “A” here was the legal description, and Exhibit “B” was where they kept a portion of the mineral rights. Always read the exhibits.

Then I looked in volume 376 on page 347 to find out who sold the land to Ralston.

What I see here is that a lot of people, many with the same last name, sold to Ralston. They are Edna Pearl Carder, Lorita Carder, and Lorena Carder, femes sole (that means they were single females), and Charles Carder, a single man, of Ellis County, Texas, Frances Napper and husband, Monroe E. Napper, Claude Carder and wife, Florence Carder, A.L. Carder and wife, Fannie Carder and Lena Carder, a feme sole, of the County of Dallas. That tells me that these are probably the children of the person who originally bought the land. Further reading through the document references a deed from Thomas Morgan to James D. Carder in volume 30, page 359. There is no name listed as widow in the grantors above, so either Mrs. Carder died prior to James D. Carder buying the property, or they both died after buying it.

I looked at the deed in volume 30, page 359.

And see that Thomas Morgan and his wife Addie, sold the property to James Carder in 1883. No mention of a Mrs. Carder. At this point, I could go to the probate records to see if the will of James Carder was filed, giving his land to his children, if these are his children. James Carder could have been a single man, never married, and these are his brothers, sisters, nieces, or nephews. Or I could go back to the indexes and see if I can find an affidavit explaining the relationship.  My best bet is an affidavit.

Step Nine
I know that the Carder clan sold to W. Ralston in March 1946, so if there is going to be an affidavit, it will be filed at or near that time. An affidavit will be from them to whoever it may concern, which makes them grantors.  So we look in the Grantor Index to see if there is anything on that date from the Carder family, besides the deed to Ralston.  . 

There are two deeds from Lena Carder, one to Claud Carder (who is her brother), giving him her 1/5 of the 100 acres. (Yes, 100 acres. When the Carder clan sold to Ralston, part of the 100 acres became a county road and they were left with 82 acres to sell.) There is a certified copy of a dissolution of minorship of one of the Carder children, Charles, and there is an affidavit explaining the relationship of everyone named as grantors in the deed to Ralston. Jackpot!

It also gives the date of death of both James D. Carder and his wife, Sallie. James died in 1908 and Sallie died in 1924. So now I know that both of them died while owning the property, and their dates of death so I can search for their wills easier.

At this point, this is what my worksheet looks like.

Now I need to look in the Grantee index to find the grantor who sold the land to Thomas Morgan, and I can look in the probate index to find the wills of James and Sallie Carder, if there are wills.

When I look in the grantee book for Thomas Morgan, I see that he bought the 100 acres from the original patentee Bingler who received 160 acres, so there my search ends. The original patent is where the State of Texas officially handed over the land that wasn’t owned by anyone when Texas became a state of the Union. Because most county records start with this state patent, it is hard to research beyond that at the county level.

So now what?

If you just want to know the ownership of your land or minerals, that’s pretty much it. You can search the indexes, both grantor and grantee for the names you have on your worksheet within the dates those people owned it. You can find leases, releases, right of ways, deed of trusts, sheriff’s deeds, assignments, and quit claim deeds, all of which give bits of information about the property, the mineral rights, and the people who owned it. Probate records often give a list of property owned, which family members become owners of the land, what happens to minors, and any debts owed on the land. Marriage records reveal the new names of daughters who were named in a will of one parent but not the other. Death records give date of death and often list parents names. Divorce records and judgment records are at the district clerk’s office.

Next time, how to find personal and genealogical information about the former owners.

Until next time, may you have blessings and an unbroken chain,

p.s. I changed the volume and page numbers as well as the some other information here to protect my identity, but the concept is the same.

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