[APG Public List] How to find land when location unknown and no deed has been found

Kimberly Powell lovegenealogy at gmail.com
Fri Dec 3 22:19:12 MST 2010

Hi Mag,

A few suggestions that might help. As Barbara said, these early land records
can be tricky and time consuming sometimes!

Am I correct in assuming that you did not find the names of your five men in
the deed indexes of Duplin County? It's also possible that the land was
originally purchased or granted prior to 1750 when Duplin County was formed.
Earlier records would be found in New Hanover County.

The Duplin County deeds are online, although you have to search by name.

Maps are online as well, and the plat maps and indexes are also available on
microfilm from FamilySearch, as well as the deed indexes and other land

 Did the men you are looking for die in Duplin County? If so, then check the
probate indexes for them. You'll likely find descriptions of the land they
owned among the records concerning the division of the estate (although you
would generally expect these to be included in the deed indexes). If the
men died elsewhere, then check the grantor indexes again, as they probably
sold their land at some point. This may have been long after they left the
area. If you can't find them, then trace all of their children and look for
their children (and childrens' spouses) in the deed indexes.

If you haven't already, you should also check the land grants for Duplin
County. Land grants were not always recorded in the county deed books.
Indexes are online from the NC Archives in MARS (
http://mars.archives.ncdcr.gov/BasicSearch.aspx). Some of the land grant
records have been microfilmed by FamilySearch, but some are only available
from the NC Archives.

If none of these pan out, published deed extracts (if available) may help
because you can search for specific physical landmarks, such as a creek (has
anything specific turned up in the land descriptions of the neighbors to
help you identify the location?). Then acquire all of the deeds in
that location and plat them to construct the "neighborhood." Use the lines
(distance and direction), corners, etc. to find neighboring plats. Was the
area of the land listed in the 1811 tax list? If so, this is another clue to
helping you find the correct piece of land. Did you check other tax lists
both prior to and after 1811 to help narrow down the time frame when these
men arrived?

 If that doesn't work, sometimes it really just takes a page by page search
through the county deed books looking for the names of neighbors, physical
landmarks, etc. to find your missing land.

Best of luck in your search!

Kimberly Powell

On Fri, Dec 3, 2010 at 9:58 PM, MFP <courthouseresearcher at gmail.com> wrote:

> Five men were listed on the Duplin County, NC tax lists of 1811 but no
> location was found for the lands on which they were taxed. I am hoping to
> find the location of those lands. Following the advice of listmembers,
> during these past ten months I did the following:
> 1. purchased a NC Research book by Helen LEARY;
> 2. purchased a study of land records by LINN;
> 3. purchased a book on genealogical research in general by VALWOOD.
> I have read every word the authors wrote in those three books on use of
> land records, several times.
> In neither of those books did I find any directions and/or research
> strategy for locating the
> lands on which those five men were taxed.
> So, I went to Kenansville, Duplin Co., NC courthouse,  and, using the
> census as my guide to neighbors, platted all the
> neighbors' lands surrounding those of the four men remaining in Duplin
> County  by 1820. I went ten persons before the person of interest and ten
> persons after that person----don't know where I found that idea-----and I
> used land records as closely dated to the 1811 tax listings as I could find.
> Back home, I put all my little plats together, again using the census as my
> guide, and lo and behold, there are a couple of "holes" in the plats.
> I also looked up and copied, deeds of land that belonged to witnesses to
> the deeds I platted.
> Is there anyone on this list who has the time and knowledge to tell me what
> next? How do I find the deeds to lands that are "holes" in my plats?
> BTW: the entire time I was in Kenansville, a law firm was using something
> called plat books, so I did not get to become familiar with them. The
> assistant at the desk informed me the law firms' researchers take priority
> when it comes to use of courthouse materials. I was in Kenansville ten days,
> but only eight at the courthouse.
> Mag Parker
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