Friday, May 25, 2012

Using the Online Norfolk County, Massachusetts Deed Registry, 1793-2012

I was enthused this morning when I read David Allen Lambert's blog post - The Online Genealogist: Norfolk, Co. Mass. Deed Index - on The Question of the Day blog on the American Ancestors website.

David answered a question about Norfolk county Deeds with:

"... I would recommend you visit the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds online.  They have deeds and index page images since 1793 well into the late 20th century.  You can begin your search online here:"

This sounded promising, so I went to the Registry of Deeds site and tried it out.  There are really two parts to this site:

*  The Deeds before 1900 must be found by using the Deed Grantor and Grantee Indexes (searching by surname), noting the Deed Book and Page Number for specific deeds, and then using the Book and Page search fields to find the actual Deed (but there is a problem here - more later!).

*  Deeds after 1900 may be searched by First Name, Surname and Town.

I was most interested in the first set of Deeds - the ones before 1900.  I realized that I did not obtain one deed for Alpheus Smith when I was in Salt Lake City and used the Deed Indexes and Deeds on microfilm, so I wanted to capture that deed, plus several others.

The process to get to the actual deed is very time consuming and needs is my process:

1)  The home page for the Norfolk County, Massachusetts Registry of Deeds is

2)  In the box on the left-hand margin with the white background, click on the "Free Access" link.

3)  In the next screen, click on the "Click here to access Norfolk Records" link at the bottom of the box in the left-hand margin.

4)  The next screen looks like this:

The left-hand box on the screen above looks like this:

In order to access the Deeds from 1793 to 1900, click on the "Recorded Land Scanned Index by Name" link.  To access the Deeds from 1900 on, click on the "Recorded Land by Name" link.

5)  I clicked on the link for the 1793-1900 deeds, and the left-hand box looked like this:

In this search box, I used Last/corp name = "Smith" and First name = "Alpheus" and clicked the "Search" button.

6)  The list of Deed Index pages that MIGHT contain Alpheus Smith are shown (there may be more than one screen - make sure to find them all!):

While Alpheus Smith is named on only one line above, there may be entries for him on ALL of the links shown.

7)  I clicked on the "View" icon, and then the "View" link on the left on the last screen above, and saw:

There is the Deed of Grantee Alpheus B. Smith to Grantee Lebbeus Smith recorded on 1 July 1826.  This deed is in Book 78, Page 166 of the Norfolk Deeds.

In the screen above, the system provides a search box on the left-hand margin to enter the Book and Page numbers.

8)  I entered the Book and Page numbers, and did not land on the correct page - I eventually figured out that I landed on Page 83b (the page numbers were on only one side of the ledger book, so there were two images per page).

After experimenting a bit with the page number (involving going back to the Book/Page search fields), I finally figured out that I need to multiply the actual Deed Book Page number by two and subtract one.  So the Deed I'm searching for is on "image page" 331 (166 x 2 - 1) in this Registry of Deeds system.  Here is the deed page:

The Deed I want is at the bottom of the page image above (Page 166 in the Deed ledger).  In order to see the rest of this Deed, I had to go back and put Page 332 in the search field:

For the image above, I clicked on the "Zoom to Fit" button on the image.

9)  The user cannot Save or Print these Page images.  I was able to save the image by using the Windows 7 Snipping Tool.  You can purchase the page images from the Norfolk County Deed Records office.

This system is very cumbersome, but it works.  It's free to access and use.  The images that I accessed were easy to read.

Thank you to the Norfolk County, Massachusetts Registry of Deeds for putting these records online, and to David Lambert for pointing us to it.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

1 comment:

Kay Rudolph said...

Thank you SO much for figuring out the x2-1 algorithm to find the right page!