Why deeds are valuable research documents for me
- Deed books contain Affidavits of Descent. AOD's list all of the living potential heirs to a decedent's estate. An AOD often lists the Executor of the estate, the person most likely to inherit genealogically valuable personal items. - Deeds often indicate who lived near a grantee. People with a family connection often live near each other. A surname difference might cause them to be over-looked by a casual researcher. - Deeds are an aid in translating census residence into an actual physical address. Early census records don't contain home addresses. - It's a joy to finally track down the actual house or farm where your relative lived a hundred years ago. You can sometimes compare a 100 year-old photo with the house/farm of today. - Deed titles may be followed to determine who actually ended up with the decedents real estate property. - Deeds may indicate to whom an individual was married, and approximately when, when formal marriage records are lacking. - Signatures on deeds can sometimes be used to distinguish between individuals with similar names. Some people unfailingly used initials on their deeds, others always spelled out their full names. These are useable clues to identity. - Religious affiliation can be determined if property is donated to build a church (which happens more often than you might imagine). - Deeds may indicate if an individual can write their own signature. - Deeds are an indicator of activity in an area of non-residence (e.g.. farm ownership in an adjoining county), which would then prompt new areas of research.

Submitted by: John W. Grace