Thursday, April 12, 2018

Finding Thomas Graves Land Records in Worcester County, Massachusetts

Thomas Graves (1686-1756) is my 7th great-grandfather.  He was born  in Lynn, Massachusetts, married his first wife, Ruth Collins (1690-1714) in Lynn, had one daughter in 1711 in Lynn, and his wife died in 1714.  He married Ruth Taylor in 1715 in Lynn, had Hannah and Joseph Graves in Lynn, and moved to Reading, Massachusetts in about 1724.

In 1738, Thomas Graves sold his land in Reading, and moved to Southborough, Massachusetts.  In 1747, he sold his land in Southborough to his son, Joseph Graves (1717-1788).  However, he continued to live in Southborough, probably with his son Joseph on the home lot, and died on 21 February 1756.  He wrote a will on 16 February 1756 - see Amanuensis Monday - the Will of Thomas Graves (1686-1756) of Southborough, Mass.

The will mentions "In the first place I give to my Daughter Ruth Buck Six shillings & Eight pence Lawfull money and one Cow to be paid unto her at the end of one year after my decease and these with what she hath already had to be to her in full for her part of portion out of my Estate."

Ruth Buck is the daughter of Thomas and Hannah (Collins) Graves, and is my 6th great-grandmother.

I was curious about "what she hath already had to be to he in full" in the will of Thomas Graves.  Was it land?  And if so, where?  

I knew that Thomas Graves had sold land in Southborough to his son, Joseph Graves, so I wanted to find that deed record.  In 1756, Southborough was in Worcester County.  The process of finding the deed and worknig with it may be of interest to other researchers, so I will describe it below:

1.  On the FamilySearch Historical Record Collection List, I found the Massachusetts Land Records, 1620-1986 collection:

Note that this collection is not indexed or searchable, except by using the Deed Grantee and Grantor Indexes and noting the Volume and Page numbers in the Deed Indexes on digital microfilm.

2)  I clicked on the "Browse through 5,766,135 images" link and then saw the first waypoint - the list of Massachusetts counties:

3)  I want Worcester County, so I clicked on it:

The image above shows the links for all of the Deed index (grantee and grantor) and Deed volumes on digital microfilm.

4)  I want the Grantor Deed Index to find the record of Thomas Graves selling the land to his son Joseph, so I scrolled down to the Deed Index (Grantor) section:

5)  The Graves surname is in the "Deed Index (Grantor) 1731-1839 D-L" volume.

I easily found the index entry because these records are alphabetized by surname and then by given name, and then by year.  The index entry for Thomas Graves was on image 264 of 593:

The entry is for a recording date of 1756, the Grantor is Thomas Graves, the Grantee is Joseph Graves, and it is in Volume 37, page 164 of the Deed books.

6)  Back to the Deed Volume list, and I easily found the book with Volume 37:

It is in the "Deeds, 1756-1758, Vols. 37-38" volume.

7)  I easily found that deed on image 98 of 626:

8)  I downloaded the image to my computer, and renamed it and stored it in my file folder for Thomas Graves on my computer system.  Here is the full deed image (left-hand page):

9)  I abstracted the deed to add to my RootsMagic family tree program as a Deed event:

"On 20 February 1747, Thomas Graves, husbandman of Southborough, sold land in Southborough to Joseph Graves, husbandman of Southborough, for 400 pounds lawful money in hand.  The parcel of land in Southborough was thirty acres of meadow and upland, being one half of his dwelling place with one half of the buildings, fences, trees, and fruit trees.  The witnesses were Ezekiel Collins and Mark Collins. The deed was recorded in the Worcester County land records on 22 March 1756."

10)  The source citation for this deed is:

"Massachusetts, Land Records, 1620-1986," digital images, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, FamilySearch ( : , Volume 37, page 164, Thomas Graves to Joseph Graves, 20 Februaru 1747, recorded 22 March 1756; citing original records in Worcester County courthouse, and Family History Library microfilms.

11)  In his will proved on 23 March 1756, Thomas Graves bequeathed the rest of his lands and property to his son Joseph Graves.

12)  What did my ancestor, Ruth Buck receive from her father?  I did not find a deed selling or giving land to Ruth (Graves) Buck in Worcester or Middlesex Counties.  She may have received a portion of the real or personal property when she married in 1729.  I don't know exactly how much she received, or when she received it, but my educated guess is that she received a portion of the 400 pounds from her father in 1747 after he sold half of his land in Southborough to son Joseph Graves, plus the small amount (6 shillings, 8 pence) bequeathed to Ruth Buck in the 1756 will of Thomas Graves.

13)  This was a fun exercise.  I do something similar almost every week.  I'm familiar enough with how to work in these land records now that I found this deed within five minutes while working in my genealogy cave at home this afternoon.  It took a bit more time to download the images above and write this blog post.

14)  Note that there are land deeds for every county of Massachusetts in this record collection on FamilySearch.  There are deeds for almost every county in the United States on digital microfilm in the FamilySearch Library Catalog which can be accessed from home or at a local FamilySearch Library.  The records are available - are you searching for and finding them?


Copyright (c) 2018, Randall J. Seaver

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