I wanted to search the Massachusetts Land Records, 1620-1986 record collection on FamilySearch. These land records cannot be searched using a name or place or date in search fields. The researcher must "browse" the records in order to find the documents of interest. In the case of land records, the researcher must browse the Grantee (Buyer) and Grantor (Seller) indexes to determine the Volume and Page Number for a specific deed.
I knew that Amos Plimpton (1735-1808) resided in Medfield in Suffolk County, Massachusetts until 1793, when Norfolk County, Massachusetts was created from a portion of Suffolk County. I had to search both Suffolk and Norfolk County Land Records to find his deeds.
Here is the process I used for Norfolk County deeds of Amos Plimpton:
1) From the list of FamilySearch record collections, I clicked on the Massachusetts Land Records, 1620-1986 record collection page and saw:
See, there's no search field. The user has to click on the link to "Browse through 5,766,135 images." That sounds daunting, but it is remarkably well organized.
2) I clicked on the Browse link on the screen above, and saw the first set of "Waypoints" - the counties of Massachusetts.
3) I wanted Norfolk County, so I clicked on "Norfolk" on the screen above. That opened the next set of "Waypoints" - the list of "Books" that have been digitized and organized for Norfolk County.
At the top of the list of "Books" are the Grantee Deed indexes, then the Grantor Deed Indexes, and then the Deed Books themselves in Volume order. For Norfolk county, there are 25 Grantee Index books, 40 Grantor Index books, and 886 Volumes of Deeds from 1793 to 1901. Isn't that amazing?
4) I wanted to search the Grantor Deed Index for Amos Plimpton in the 1793-1849 time period. I scrolled down to the Grantor Deed Index list, and saw:
5) From the list above, I chose the "Deed Index (Grantor) 1793-1849 vol 18-20, N-Q" book because that is where Plimpton deeds would be indexed. Here is the first image of that Index:
This "Book" of the deed index is on FHL US/CAN Microfilm 0,838,381. The top left of the screen says this is "Image 1 of 632.
6) Now I have to guess where the index listings for Plimpton will be - I figured it would be in the second half of the "Book." By guessing, and calculating, and guessing again, it took several minutes to find the Plimpton section of the Grantor Deed Index on image 438 of 632:
The index entry for Amos Plimpton is at the bottom of the screen above. The entry has this information:
* Date: 1800, June 1
* Grantors Name: Plimpton, Amos &ux &al [&ux means "and wife" and &al mean "and others]
* Grantees Name: Herman Guild
* From where the Land Lies: Sharon, Walpole
* Lib.: 13 [Lib. = "Volume"]
* Fol.: 81 [Fol. = "Folio" or sheet]
* Instrument: Deed
* Description: All int. of Samuel Guild &al. in est. of Nathaniel Guild
6) So I need to find Volume 13 back on the "Books" "Waypoints" list:
7) I selected "Deeds 1799-1802 vol 12-13." That opened the first image with the FHL Microfilm number 0,839,603. I quickly found the image for Volume 13, Page 81 on image 386 of 551:
8) I reviewed the deed, decided that this was the correct deed in the Grantor Deed Index, and clicked on the "Download" link on the right-hand side of the screen above the image. I advanced to the next image (using the right arrow on the left-hand side of the screen) and downloaded that image also.
9) I saved the two images in my Genealogy >Ancestor Files > Family History - Seaver-Hildreth-Richmond-White > Plimpton > 01-Amos Plimpton + Mary Guild > Documents file folder with the file names of AmosPlimpton-1800-LandRecord-NorfolkCoMA-Vol13-pg81 and AmosPlimpton-1800-LandRecord-NorfolkCoMA-Vol13-pg82.
10) The entire process to find this one record took less than 10 minutes (partially because I am confident in my ability to find these records).
11) I hope that this description helps others find Land Records in the different states for which they are available.
The process is identical to that used for finding land records on FHL microfilm at the Family History Library or a local FamilySearch Center. Of course, I can do this for these digitized records online at home in my pajamas instead of going 12 miles to the local FSC after ordering the microfilm from Salt Lake City and paying $8 for the privilege, or spending several days and several hundred dollars to go to Salt Lake City for a day at the Family History Library.
Copyright (c) 2016, Randall J. Seaver