Land & Property Research in the United States by E. Wade Hone, is one of those oldie but goodie genealogy reference books, published in 1997 by Ancestry, that is a classic.
Following the land (which was actually following the money) is a tried and true method for adding details to our ancestors’ lives.
There is an important question to be answered as land records are sought:
Which governmental body was in power at the time our ancestor bought/sold their land?
My husband’s 2X great grandfather is an excellent example. He lived in four different counties, but never moved off his original land purchase in Missouri. The county lines changed. I need to know that to find records pertaining to him.
E. Wade Hone’s book is one that should be in every genealogist’s reference library, as it provides a 500-page comprehensive overview of American land records.
It will also never become outdated, as the information is not dependent on the most current version. Historical land records are just that!
Section 1: Pre-U.S. Possessions
Chapter 1: Spanish Possession
Chapter 2: British Possession
Chapter 3: French Possession
Chapter 4: Mexican Possession
Each of the four chapters above includes Historical Background, The Records, Conclusion, Repositories and For Further Reference.
Section 2: State-Land States
Introduction to State Lands
Chapter 5: Organization of State Lands
Chapter 6: Records Generated by State Lands
Chapter 7: Strategies for State Land Records
This section includes Platting Metes and Bounds (e.g. From the white oak tree, 10 rods to the . . . . )
Section 3: Federal-Land States
Introduction to Federal Lands
Chapter 8: Organization of Federal Lands
Chapter 9: Records Generated by Federal Lands
Chapter 10: Strategies for Federal Land Records
This section includes Graphing Township, Range and Section.
Section 4: Individual Lands
Introduction to Individual Lands
Chapter 11: Records Generated by Individual Lands
Chapter 12: Strategies for Individual Land Records
Section 5: Special Interest
Introduction to Special Interest Lands
Chapter 13: Native American Land Records
Note that each of the chapters contains a number of sub-sections.
There are also two appendices:
Appendix A: Tract Book and Township Plat Map Guide to Federal Land States
Appendix B: Land Office Boundary Maps for All Federal Land States
In summary, Land & Property Research in the United States by E. Wade Hone will tell you just about anything and everything you ever wanted or needed to know about land ownership in the United States.
There are examples of land deeds, maps, documents, diagrams, how-to lessons in platting land to aid in our understanding of these records.
There is only one tip I want to add. Because this book was published before the explosion of digital records, repositories such as NARA and county/state archives may well still have the records you seek. However, Family Search has digitized millions of images of U.S. land records. A quick check in their catalogue will let you know whether you can view them online at home, if you need to visit a family history center, or if they haven’t yet been digitized and you need to contact a local, state or federal depository.
This book can be purchased online from Amazon as either a paperback or hard cover book. I bought my copy (hard cover) for around $30. It’s clean with no markings and actually looks brand new. Paperback versions can be found for under $30.