Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Mining the Worcester County Land Records for Simon Gates Deeds

Having found the estate records for Simon Gates (1739-1803) of Gardner, Massachusetts, which describe his land holdings at the time of his death in 1803 (in Amanuensis Monday - Post 250: Appraisal of Real Estate of Simon Gates (1739-1803) Estate, published 5 January 2015), I wanted to know how Simon Gates obtained the land mentioned, and if there were any other land transactions for him.

I went to the Worcester County portion of the Massachusetts Land Records, 1620-1986 record collection on FamilySearch, and searched the Grantee and Grantor land record indexes.  The Grantee index had a number of deeds recorded for Simon Gates in the 1775-1805 time frame.  

I captured both the Grantee and Grantor Index pages for Simon Gates, and saved them to my Land folder in my Simon Gates family folder.  

Then, I created a Microsoft Word table of the indexed data, listing Volume, Page, Date, Town, Grantee and Grantor for each deed that might pertain to Simon Gates:

After listing all of the potential deeds - there are 14 in the Grantee index (Buyer) and 12 in the Grantor index (Seller) - I methodically went through the Deed books listed in the Worcester County records for the specific volume, found the specific page that had the subject deed, and downloaded it to my computer "Land" file folder for the Simon Gates family.  In some cases, there was more than one page in the records for a specific deed.  After I downloaded the deeds, I put a "D" in the "Found" column on my table above.

The next step is to read each deed carefully, noting all of the important information.  For instance: using the 1794 deed from Lucas Dunn (grantor) to Simon Gates (grantee), the deed looks like this (the Dunn to Gates deed is on the left-hand page):

The information extracted from the deed includes:

*  Grantor:  Lucas Dunn of Gardner, yeoman
*  Grantee:  Simon Gates of Gardner, yeoman
*  Consideration:  100 pounds
*  Location:  northeasterly part of Gardner
*  Lot:  number 121 in the third division
*  Size:  76 acres, with two acres allowance for highways
*  Bounded easterly by lot 119; southerly by lots 122, 26 and partially 27; westerly on land of Edward Jackson; northerly on lots 94 (partial), 95, 96, and 97 (partial) of the second division.  
*  Date of deed:  31 March 1794
*  Signed by:  Lucas Dunn, Hannah Dunn
*  Witnesses:  Samuel Wilder, Nathl Wheeler
*  Date recorded:  18 September 1794
*  Note:  the lots were defined in the Proprietors records of Westminster.

I could write that in an abstract in sentence format, but I find it easier to analyze it in the bullet point form above.

I will put the extracted information from each deed into a Note for a Deed Fact in my RootsMagic program along with a source citation for each deed.  I might add the Deed image to the Media file for Simon Gates and tag the specific Fact with the Media item.

The source citation for the specific deed above is:

"Massachusetts, Land Records, 1620-1986," digital images, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, FamilySearch ( : accessed 13 January 2015), Worcester County, "Deeds, 1794-1795, Vol. 122-123," Volume 122, Page 506, image 267 of 692, Lucas Dunn to Simon Gates, 1794; citing records in land offices and county courthouses, statewide, Massachusetts.

Once I write the extract above, add it to the Deed Fact in RootsMagic, and add the source citation to the Fact in RootsMagic, I add an "E" (for "Extraction") and an "S" (for source) to the "Trans" column on my table of Deeds for the person so that I don't have to do the tasks again.  If I transcribe the Deed, I will add "T" to the "Trans" column also.

If I do this for all of the deeds found using the deed indexes, I should be able to determine when, and from whom, the five parcels of land mentioned in the appraisal of real estate in 1803 were obtained, and also what other land was bought and sold by Simon Gates during his lifetime.

Concentrating on one person at a time to mine the Massachusetts Land Records works well for me.  Finding the Grantee and Grantor indexes and transferring the index information to the deed table is a manageable task - it took me about two hours to make the deed table list, and another hour to find and download the first ten deeds.

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Copyright (c) 2015, Randall J. Seaver


Polly Kimmitt said...

Very nice, Randy. You know you have a runner on the ground nearby if you need anything!

Celia Lewis said...

Very clear description of your careful work, Randy! One of the reasons I have yours as one of my "must-read" blogs!