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TO CAROLINA FAMILY ROOTS READERS.
Thanks for reading and commenting about my blog postings. My goal is to accurately document the genealogy of my family and allied families living in Chesterfield County, SC and Anson County, NC. If you have a Chesterfield County surname you are interested in please send me an e-mail.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Land Deeds – An Overlooked Genealogical Treasure

One of the most overlooked documents in our family research is the Land Deed. When we think about doing genealogical research the first thing that comes to mind are census and vital statistic documents such as birth baptism, death and burial. Many family researchers have gone for years and never looked at a deed book in the courthouse.

Most land deeds are witnessed by family, friend or neighbors. As families moved into an area they generally migrated and settled in clusters. By looking at neighbors in both census and land deeds oftentimes female family members can be identified. Land deeds are good sources for identifying the wife or wives of your ancestors. In many cases the wife was examined privately for "relinquish of dower" to ensure undue pressure with not used.

In September 1883 my second great grandfather William A. Purvis[1] and his wife [Sarah Jane Graves Purvis] sold 60 acres of Land in Anson County, NC to Jefferson D. Rhyne. (DB 22, Page 532-533)

Sarah Jane Purvis[2] died on 30 Dec 1893.

In September 1899, my second great grandfather William A. Purvis[3] and his wife [Elizabeth "Betsy" Purvis] sold 12 acres of Land in Anson County, NC to J. D. Rhyne. (DB 33, Page 370)

This clearly indicates a second marriage of my second great grandfather William A. Purvis; yet, none of my older Aunt, Uncle or great Aunt and Uncle's claimed any knowledge of a second marriage.

I was contacted by an individual attempting to join the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR#828527). The DAR wanted proof of the children of her ancestor. We used a Land Deed [4](DB 4, pages 263-265, Chesterfield, SC) which listed the children names. The deed listed the following children: William, David, Sarah, Eliza and Calvin Rivers selling land formerly owned by F. F. Rivers (deceased). The parents of these children were Frederick F. Rivers & Siddie Boatwright Rivers.

Partial transcription of above deed.

Chesterfield County, SC

Deed Book 4, pages 263-265

Wm. RIVERS and others to B. F. WHITE DEED

Know all men by these presents that we, William Rivers, Sarah Rivers, David Rivers, Eliza Rivers, Calvin Rivers, all of the state and county aforesaid, for and in consideration of the sum of three hundred and sixty seven dollars to us paid by B. F. White of the county and state aforesaid have granted bargained sold and released and by these presents do grant, bargain, sell and released unto the said B. F. White all that tract and parcel of land formerly owned by F. F. Rivers (deceased). Situate lying and being in the County and State aforesaid on the waters of Thompson Creek,…

Then there is the goldmine of land deeds; it usually entitled "Division of the Lands of Your Ancestor". In the body of this land deed ALL surviving descendants are listed and often their spouses in case of a female descendants and the property is divided. Some examples are:

Division of lands of William Caudle now deceased– 10/1/1858 – October court. (Anson Co., NC, Deed Book 15, page 687)

Division of Land -September 1819 Term of Court, Stephen Jackson and Nancy Kendrick/Hendrick, Division of Land: Lot #1, to Stephen Jackson; Lot #2 to Nancy Kendrick/Hendrick (Anson Co., NC Deed Bk Y, Pg 609)

For an on-line example take a look at the Division of William Gurley's Land (DB P&Q:261) - Here

Be sure to look at the neighbors and adjoining property owners; you may find the daughter of one of your ancestor and her husband living nearby or adjacent to her parents.

Land deeds can be used to place your ancestor in an area at a particular time. I'm researching the Purvis surname in Chesterfield, South Carolina. About 1818, many of the Purvis in the 1810 Census (Chesterfield) disappear and are not listed in the 1820 census. Where did such a large group go? The group that left ALL seems to be children and descendants of John Purvis and Sarah Johnson. Among them were brothers Gilbert, James and Joseph. They finally settled around Rankin County, Mississippi. Two land deeds (Gilbert [5]& Gilbert Johnson[6]) proved they first stopped in Clarke County, Alabama before reaching Mississippi and two marriage licenses (John[7] & Rebecca Purvis[8]) in Clarke County proved their presence there also before reaching Mississippi.

Make land deeds an important part of your research. Don't feel intimidated. Most land deeds are maintained within the local Register of Deeds Office at the County Seat Courthouse. Indexes are maintained for both the Buyer/Purchaser (Grantee) and the Seller (Grantor). They are public records. Walk into your local Register of Deeds and tell them you would like to browse through their Grantor & Grantee Indexes. Remember there may be multiple books divided by years and surnames. If you locate your Ancestor, the index will listed the parties involved, the date and the book and page number where the deed is recorded.

Most county offices will copy the index and /or the deeds for a nominal fee. This also applies to your local Probate office for wills, marriages and divorces.

Happy Hunting!!!



[1] Anson County, North Carolina, Deed Book 22: pages 532-533 404, Wm. A. Purvis and wife [Sarah J. Purvis] to Jefferson D. Rhyne; 28 September 1883, Register of Deeds, Wadesboro, Anson County, North Carolina.

[2] Sarah Jane Graves Purvis obituary, Messenger-Intelligencer, Wadesboro, North Carolina, 4 January 1894, page 3, McFarlan News.

[3] Anson County, North Carolina, Deed Book 33: page 370, W. A. Purvis and wife Elizabeth Purvis to J. D. Rhyne; 23 September 1899, Register of Deeds, Wadesboro, Anson County, North Carolina.

[4] Land Deed - William Rivers & Others to B. F. White; Deed Book #DB #4; Page(s) pages 263-265; Register of Deeds; Chesterfield, Chesterfield County, South Carolina; 2000.

[5] Land Deed - William Stringer to Gilbert PURVIS; 25 December 1821; Deed Book #A; Page(s) 182-183; Register of Deeds; Clarke County, Alabama; 10 January 2012.

[6] Land Deed - Gilbert J. PURVIS to Grass Scruggs; 12 January 1829; Deed Book #G; Page(s) 366-367; Register of Deeds; Clarke County, Alabama; 10 January 2012

[7] Clarke County, Alabama, marriage (14 December 1819), John Purvis to Mary Parks; Montgomery, Alabama, USA, State of Alabama Center for Health Statistics, Record Services Division.

[8] Clarke County, Alabama, marriage (9 November 1824), Henry HOWELL to Rebecca PURVIS; Montgomery, Alabama, USA, State of Alabama Center for Health Statistics, Record Services Division.

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