Land deeds may provide wonderful information. They may assist researchers in the following ways:
- Migration Pattern
- Sometimes, land deeds provide the only proof of family connections or where someone migrated from or to. Many times individuals would purchase property in a county and/or state prior to moving. The place of residence is recorded on the land deed.
- Married names of daughters and or wife's name
- When a married man sells his property, his wife must be included in the deed.
- When a married daughter receives land or purchases land from a father or widowed mother, the daughter's married name with her husband's name is included.
- Generation connections
- Many times there are quit deeds filed near the time of death of a parent. Often times, the quit deed includes all the names of the heirs and their places of residence.
Early Land Description
Ohio became a state in 1803. However, it was not until the 1805 treaty with the Indians that it was made legal to sell the land west of the Tuscarawas River and north of the Greenville Treaty line. This area was known as the Congress Lands.
In 1785, the government established the “Rectangular Plan.” This was in response to the difficulty of tracking land in the eastern states. This plan required three main pieces of information: range, township, and section. Ranges were formed beginning with number one (1) at the Ohio-Pennsylvania state line. Every six (6) miles going westward was numbered consecutively. Every six (6) miles, townships were numbered starting with number one (1) at the Ohio River and numbered successively going northward.
Each township is divided into 36 sections, each section being 1 square mile. Each section contains 640 acres. The Act of 18 May 1796 standardized the number of the sections. Illustrated below is how the sections were numbers within each township.
The numbering system skipped the U.S. Military Tract. This was one of several general subdivisions of the land in Ohio. Other subdivisions included the Connecticut Western Reserve Survey, the Ohio River Survey, the Virginia Military Survey, Between the Main Rivers Survey, The Main River Survey, South and East of the First Principal Meridian Survey, North and East of the First Principal Meridian Survey, and the Michigan Survey.
In 1805, a team of surveyors began to survey the New Purchase. The team included John Bever, William Henry, Joseph H. Larwill, and scout Jonathan Grant. By 1807, the survey was complete. One year later, in 1808, the U.S. Land Office opened at Canton. Land was $2 per acre for a minimum of 160 acres. One-fourth was to be paid in cash. The balance was paid in three (3) annual installments. When the debt was paid, the deed was issued. “Patents” could be assigned to another. This individual would complete the purchase. The original patentee was exempt from paying taxes for five (5) years. By 1820, the land was sold for $1.25 per acre in cash for a minimum of 80 acres.
Here is a diagram of the layout of Wayne County, OH given the range. The township numbers are in parentheses.
|Range 15||Range 14||Range 13||Range 12||Range 11|
|Jackson Twp (23)||Congress Twp (21)||Canaan Twp (17)||Milton Twp (18)||Chippewa Twp (18)|
|Perry Twp (22)||Chester Twp (20)||Wayne Twp (16)||Green twp (17)||Baughman Twp (17)|
|Mohican Twp (21)||Plain Twp (19)||Wooster Twp (15)||East Union Twp 916)||Sugar Creek Twp (16)|
|Lake Twp (20)||Clinton Twp (18)||Franklin Twp (14)||Salt Creek Twp (15)||Paint Twp (15)|
|Washington Twp (19)||Ripley Twp (17)||Prairie Twp (13)||Salt Creek Twp (14)||Paint Twp (14)|
The southern part of Wayne County, OH from 1812-1824 was bounded by the Greenville Treaty Line. It started in the corner of Washington Twp (19) and went through the lower half of Paint Twp (14). In 1825, Holmes County was fully organized. Washington Twp, Ripley Twp, Prairie Twp, Salt Creek Twp (14), and Paint Twp (14) all became part of Holmes County, OH. In 1846, Wayne County, OH lost a portion of its western border to the formation of Ashland County, OH. The townships of Jackson (23), Perry (22), Mohican (21), and Lake (20) became part of what is today, Ashland County, OH.
When Jackson, Perry, Mohican, and Lake became Ashland County, OH some of each township remained in Wayne County, OH. Below is a diagram of the sections of Mohican Township in 1826. The sections in Jackson, Mohican, and Perry were all numbered the same.
Mohican Township, Wayne County, OH 1826
In Jackson Township, sections 1, 12, 13, 24, 25, and 36 became part of Congress Twp.
In Perry Township, sections 1, 12, 13, 24, 25, and 35 became part of Chester Twp.
In Mohican Township, sections 1, 12, 13, 24, 25, and 36 became part of Plain Twp.
Lake Township, Wayne County, OH 1815
In Lake Township, Wayne County, OH sections 25-36 became part of Washington Township, Wayne County, OH in 1816. In 1824, these sections were in Holmes County, OH. Sections 1, 12, 13, 24, and 25 became part of Clinton Twp in 1846 when Ashland County, OH was formed. The remaining sections (2-11 and 14-24) formed what is now Lake Twp, Ashland Co, OH.
The other change with Wayne County, OH was the redrawing of the Franklin and Wooster Townships. The southeastern corner of Wooster Township is part of Franklin Township. This is shown by the lines in Wooster Township. The other change involved the formation of a new township in 1964: Killbuck. The city of Wooster is located in Killbuck Township.
Our microfilm collection includes Wayne County, OH land deeds from 1812 to 1910. The index is found on six volumes and covers the years 1812 to 1914. The index is not strictly alphabetical by surname nor is it strictly chronological. It uses a system known as the “First Name Variation” index. The initial letter of the surname is horizontally along the top of the page. Beneath the horizontal bar, there is a chart of divisions by first name, each with a page number.
|A 312||M 338||A 351||M 362||A 369||M 376||A 378||M 381||A 386||M398|
|B 315||N 340||B 353||M 362||B 369||N 376||B 379||N 382||B 387||N 399|
|C 316||O 341||C 353||O 363||C 370||O 376||C 379||O 382||C 388||O 400|
|D 317||P 341||D 353||P 363||D 370||P 376||D 379||P 382||D 388||P 400|
|E 320||Q 341||E 354||Q 363||E 370||Q 376||E 379||Q 382||E 389||Q 400|
|F 321||R 342||F 354||R 363||F 371||R 376||F 380||R 384||F 390||R 401|
According to this chart, if you were looking for an individual with the name Abraham McDaniel, he may possibly be on page 351. Find the letter “Mc” in bold at the top of the chart. Beneath the letter “Mc” there are two columns with divisions by the first letter of the first name. Next to the normal letter “A” in the left column, the page number 351 is given. If you were looking for an individual by the name of Michael McDaniel, follow the same procedure. However, look in the right, or second, column beneath the bold "Mc" and find the normal letter "M". The search should begin on page 362 for Michael.
Once you find the page the individual may be listed on, go to the designated page. You will notice that the names are not in strict alphabetical order. You will need to look through the entire column. They are recorded somewhat in chronological order. However, it is not unusual in the early indexes to find land entries for the 1820s mixed in with the 1850s.
There are two indexes on the microfilm. The index on the left is by the individual selling the property (grantor). The index on the right is for the individual purchasing the property (grantee). It is useful to look through both columns because at times you may find the individual in the grantor column but not the grantee column or vice versa.
The first column on the index is the year the land deed was recorded. The next column gives the name of either the grantor or grantee depending on which index you are using. Many times you will see the abbreviation “et al.” This usually indicates that the land deed involves an estate settlement. Many times, it could be a quick deed, indicating that one heir is buying out the other heirs. The third column gives the name of the recipient of the property (direct index) or the seller of the property (reverse). The fourth and fifth column provides the volume and page number consecutively. The next five columns give the location of the property:
R = range T = township S = section Quarter = which part of the section Lot = normally used for property within the city, town, or village limits
The range, township, and section numbers may help differentiate among individuals with the same name. If it is known that the individual was a resident of Chester Township, you would want to begin your search with the property located in range 14, township 20. If the individual was residing in Paint Township, you would want to begin your search in range 11, township 15.
Uses of Land Deeds
If the land transaction involves a settlement of the estate, there is a good possibility that many of the heirs will be listed in the land deed. Sometimes some generation connections can be made through this type of record.
As a general rule, the wife’s name is only given when the land is being sold. Sometimes if the land was given as part of a dowry, the wife’s name will be included.
Many times the land is purchased before the individual relocates to the county. In this case, researchers may discover which county in Pennsylvania, Maryland, or other state the individual was residing in. Also, many times the property is sold after the individual has relocated. Land deeds can provide evidence on where the individual migrated to.
When searching the index, keep an open mind in how the land deed may have been recorded. In the early years, when the property is being sold by the United States, it could be listed under United States or the U.S. President-at-the-time’s name. Land granted to churches or organizations may be under the church or organization’s name. Land deeds may be listed under the trustee’s name (whether it is a township trustee or the trustee of a company).
Wills have been known to exist in land deeds. These may be alphabetized under “Will” as the last name and “Testament” for the first name. There is an abbreviated list of these in the front of the book, Index to Probate Court Records 1812-1917 Wayne County, Ohio.
We do have some early land abstracts in book form. One of them is titled, Early Land Records of Wayne County, Ohio by Richard G. Smith. This book includes plat maps of each of the townships. The maps date around 1820 give or take a couple years. It includes the date of the transaction (format: yymmdd), the patentee’s name, the section of land and the number of acres. It is divided by township. There is an index in the back of the book. Chapter 4 of the book includes early tax lists, 1814-1819 then a separate listing for those remaining in Wayne County, OH in 1820. The book does include information pertaining to the townships now located in Ashland and Holmes counties.
Some of the abstracts in Early Land Records of Wayne County, Ohio gives the volume and page number where the original document may be found. Others may not appear in our Index to Deeds Wayne County, OH 1812-1864 on microfilm. Other entries may have been indexed in volumes 2-6 under United States.
The Wayne County Tax List 1826 is organized by township. There is an index in the back. It includes plat maps of each township. It includes not only those individuals who owned land but also those individuals who did not own land but did own chattel (horses and cattle). The first column has the individual’s name. The second column indicates the number of chattel owned. It looks like 2-3 or 0-1. The first number is the total number of horses and the second number is the total number of cattle. At times, the numbers given for horses may include mules and asses. For example, 2-3 would mean the individual owned 2 horses and 3 cattle. The example, 0-1 would indicate the individual owned no horses and 1 cow. During the early years, 1 horse was valued at $40. One cow was valued at $8. The third column gives the location of the land. The fourth column gives the number of acres. The final column provides the value of the property.
A third book is A Listing of Entrymen on Lands in Wayne Co, Ohio by L. Richard Kocher. There are two sections in the book. The first section is organized by surname. It gives the name of the entrymen (purchaser of the property), the date of sale of the property, residence information (School Lands or Virginia Military District School Lands), number of acres, and the location of the property. The second half of the book is organized by the location of the property.
For the townships currently in Ashland County, Ohio (Lake, Perry, Mohican, and Jackson), the “Research Aid” series co-edited by Rita Kopp includes abstracts of early land transactions organized by section number. Land transactions in villages are listed separately. In addition, it gives the real estate tax list for the years 1816-1838 and the personal property tax for 1826-1834. Abstracted lists of the 1820, 1830, and 1840 U.S. census records are included in the finding aids. Each finding aid includes an index in the back of the book.
- On our departments website there are a couple of databases for land deeds in Wayne Co, OH.
- First land owners of Wayne County, Ohio: If the original land deed was later re-recorded and if they were indexed under United States in our 6 volumes of land deed indexes, you may find the individual listed here.
- Land Deeds in Wayne County, Ohio: One of our department volunteers has been going page by page in the land deeds to compile an everyname index. This link will take you to these indices, organized by volume.
- U.S. Land Records
Search land deeds from 1988 to present. This site is searchable by name.
- Ohio Recorder, Wayne County, Ohio
- Wayne County, Ohio Auditor
Search current properties in Wayne County, Ohio. The site is searchable by name, parcel number, or address.
- U.S. Bureau of Land Management
They have digitized images of the Federal Land Patents. The site is searchable by name.
- The State Auditor’s Office transferred all the original land deeds to the Ohio History Connection, formerly the Ohio Historical Society in Columbus, OH. The researcher may visit Ohio History Connection to search the records.