Wednesday, June 3, 2020

FamilySearch Has Grantor/Grantee Indexes For New York Land Records - But Incomplete

FamilySearch added indexed records for New York Land Records, 1630-1975 on 20 May 2020.  The Historical Record Collection page for New York indicates that there are now 21,233,661 indexed entries.  

This record collection of deed book images has been browsable for eight years by county (some counties are not available) and book volume, including the grantor and grantee indexes, and deed book volumes, but without a name index.  I wrote about the finding process to find a deed from the county record books in Using New York Land Records, 1630-1975, on FamilySearch.

In other blog posts, I have noted that "once we get an index of names for the grantor and grantee indexes of land records of a county or state, then our task of finding land records of our ancestors will be a lot easier."

1)  The landing page for the New York Land Records, 1630-1975 is here.  It says:

"Land and property records from the New York Land Office and county courthouses. The records include land grants, patents, deeds, and mortgages. This collection includes all counties except Franklin, Nassau, and Queens. Researchers, please note that the Oneida County records will be found with the Herkimer County records."
2)  I wanted to search for Seaver persons in these records:

In the name field above, I entered "Seaver" and checked the "Exact" box.  I think it is strange that there are fields for Birth, Marriage, Residence, Death and Any.  The only one useful for land records is Residence.  A year range might be useful, but land records usually don't have birth, marriage or death information.

When I clicked on the "Search" button, the page with the indexed names for Seaver persons appeared.

There are 1,965 Seaver names in the index.  Besides the name, a date and place name may be in the "Events" column, and the name of another person (e.g., the grantee or grantor) may be in the Relationships column.

I clicked on the second item on the list, for Harry A. Seaver, and the grantor/grantee index information for him appeared on the screen:

This screen does tell me the Event Date of the deed ("16 Apr 1923"), the Event Place (it says only "New York, United States"), the Page Number ("278"), the Entry Number ("728"), the Grantor's Name ("Harry A. Seaver"), the Grantee's name ("Berthold Heyman"), and the Record Number ("27"). 

By clicking on the "View the original document" link, I can see the Grantor Index for this record:

I can see that this record is from Albany County, New York.  The Harry A. Seaver entry is near the bottom of the image above.  From this it is clear that the actual deed can be found in:

*  Record Book ("Entry Number") 728
*  Page ("Page") 278
*  Recorded Date Apl 16 1923.

In order to find the actual recorded deed (note that the "recorded" deed is a transcription of the actual deed in the county deed office book; the actual deed was given to the person who obtained the land, the grantee), the user will still have to browse the specific Deed book in the specific County using the deed volume number and page number to obtain the recorded deed image.

I went into the Albany County Deed images in this collection, looking for Book 728, and it wasn't on the waypoint list of volumes for the County.  Huh?  A deed index, but no deed.  Aha - the Grantor index found above is in the "All Counties" waypoint rather than Albany County.  There was no Deed volume ("Book") 728 in 1923 - the last Deed volume was 514 was for 1900. 

3)  I have collected deed images from this collection for several of my ancestors - Amos Underhill in Erie County, James Vaux and Samuel Vaux in Erie County, Ranslow Smith and James Bell in Jefferson County, and several others.

When I enter their names, without the County, in the Search fields, I do not see a listing for their deeds in the Indexed records.  If I enter a County without a name in the "Residence" field and Search, there are no results for Erie or Jefferson county (or for many other Counties).

However, I searched for "Seaver" (exact) with "Albany" in the "Residence" search field, and it listed 1,265 entries, so that feature works.

4)  My Conclusion:  It appears that the index is only for specific Counties at this time, and not for every County in New York.  FamilySearch should be clearer as to which Counties have been indexed.  The heading on the record collection implies that there is an index for All counties, which is obviously not true.

This is a fairly good start to having complete Grantor and Grantee deed indexes available, but the searchable name index is incomplete, and does not encompass every New York County.  It's a big job to index all of the Counties.


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