I have been spending a ton of time working with land records over the last few years. Land records help to create a timetable of locations and have the possibility of giving relationship information that is found no where else. After some time, I realized that I needed a better way of keeping track of the information I was finding – especially when trying to separate different men with the same name. So I created a half sheet form to help me keep track of everything. Over time, I created 3 variations of the form. They are all identical except for the Notes section. Here is the original form.
I have never been able to find all of the information in one document – and that is what spurred the creation of the form. I might find a deed that mentioned that John Smith was the assignee of a specific person and the warrant number might be included. Or the land grant itself might give the date of the survey. Or tax records would show me in whose name the land was entered, surveyed and patented. I needed a way to start keeping track of that information.
The top half of the form is pretty straight forward. The only thing that may need explaining is the section that I have for “Identifier”. I created that because I was chasing John Smiths and many of them were assignees of other men and that information would show up in later deeds. If I know a relationship, I might use “son of James Smith” as an Identifier. You can edit that cell title to be whatever you want.
The bottom half of the form is for notes. If a county border changed during my ancestor’s lifetime, I like to make note of that. Sometimes, I would notice that family members were chain carriers for the survey, so I started keeping track of the people who were involved with the survey. Sometimes, I needed to write down mystery dates or numbers that I would see in margins or on the back of a document until I could figure out what they represented. For example, going through 3 pages of records for one individual, I found the following list of information:
- 1865 (you’d think this was a date, but it wasn’t!)
- Treasury Warrant #975
- 19 Oct 1780
- 20 Mar 1784
- 6 Apr 1785
- 21 Dec 1781
- 28 May 1783
- Page 65
- Recorded Book 2 page 301
- Grant Book Page 5:157
Some of this information had an obvious place in the collection sheet, but some, I had no clue about. By writing these unknowns on the collection sheet, they gave me clues of where to look for other parts of the puzzle. If I am able to find a map on the survey, I take a screenshot and include that in the blank square. If I don’t have a map, I use platting software (DeedMapper) to draw the parcel and take a screenshot of THAT map to include. (Which revealed to me that the maps they included on surveys were often rotated to fit better on the page!)
Sometime, I wanted to keep track of all of the land border descriptions (S46E 150 poles) so I made 2 additional versions of the forms, to split the notes cells into columns for me to keep track of that information.
At the bottom of the form, I decided to add the 4 steps because I kept looking up if a “Certificate” was a Warrant or a Grant and to help me make sure the dates I was tracking at the top were in the correct order. I also added a footer so that I can quickly flip through the sheets to find a specific one. Sometimes, this footer is the name and identifier and sometimes, it’s the warrant number.
There are 2 forms per page. I tried to space them so that I could cut the sheet in half and hole punch the forms to keep in my day planner. If you need the space, you can always delete the bottom form in order to keep additional notes on the bottom half of a page. It’s all editable.
You can find all three forms in the Downloads tab at the top of the page. I hope you find them helpful!