Clock Tower

Out of the Clock Tower

Hello and welcome to the Greene County Archives' blog, "Out of the Clock Tower".  Please join us as we share information on archival issues, news, special events, and highlights from our collection.

Before the archives program began in Greene County in 1996, permanent records were stored in every conceivable space, in basements, garages, and closets. Usually they were in boxes of various shapes and sizes, although seldom adequately labeled, but occasionally they were just in loose piles of books and papers. Most notable were the old records stuffed into the clock tower of the County Courthouse, where they shared their home with pigeon droppings.

Now, there is a clean, environmentally controlled, well appointed location for the county archives, where our historical records are housed in standard sized boxes on steel shelves. We have taken note of their journey in the name for our blog.

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Nov 09

Property Research 101: Using Greene County Records

Posted on November 9, 2018 at 8:45 AM by Melissa Dalton

Have you ever attempted to do research on your property or tried to do a house history? Did you quickly learn that it is a long, and involved, process? More than once, we have undoubtedly crushed someone’s spirits when they came in asking “for all our records on” fill in the blank. Unfortunately, we do not house our records in such a way, and there is a process to doing property research. This week, we would like to highlight Greene County records that are useful when conducting property research, as well as provide a guide we created to assist our patrons in their research.

When thinking of property research, one of our most widely used records are the Tax duplicates, which date from 1806 through 2007 (Fig 1). These records are essential for property research, and list landowners by township and/or city. Tax records also indicate location of property, when property was bought/sold and by whom, and sometimes they demonstrate when buildings were added or if there was a loss. In some of the records (which date from 1826-1930, but are incomplete), taxable personal property might be identified as well (person owns cattle, carriage, etc).

Fig 1. Example of tax record (JPG)
Fig 1. Example of tax records

Another valuable resource are the deed records and indexes. The Archives holds the deed records from 1803 through 1864, as well as the indexes (on microfilm) from 1803 through 1909, however, these are incomplete. Deed records provide researchers the legal description of the property, value of property, when property was bought/sold and by whom, and these records allow researchers to trace the history of the property (Fig 2). Many times, researchers use the tax duplicates in conjunction with the deed records to identify and trace the property through time. We also house a small sampling of the mortgage records, dating from 1939 through 1959, which also can be used with the tax and deed records.

Fig 2. Example of deed record (JPG)
Fig 2. Example of deed records

Engineer Maps are a great resource in property research as well. These records provide a visual illustration of the property, which include names of property owners, names of streets and other landmarks, property boundaries, and sometimes where buildings were located on the property. The Archives houses county maps dating from 1870 through 2001.

Fig 3. Example of engineer map (JPG)
Fig 3. Example of engineer maps

Survey records provide much of the same information as the engineer maps – names of landowners, names of neighbors or adjacent property – but these records also furnish the researcher with legal descriptions and land features, and many times, a sketch of the property (Fig 4). You may have noticed that we highlight one Greene County Surveyor every week on Facebook with our Fieldbook Friday posts. Washington Galloway was the surveyor from 1840 through the 1880s, and we have many of his fieldbooks from that time frame. Additionally, we have the survey records from 1792 through 1995. Frequently we use the Greene County Atlases with the survey records to gain a better understanding of the property. The atlases we have available are from 1855, 1874, and 1896.

Fig 4. Example of survey record (JPG)
Fig 4. Example of survey records

In last week’s blog, we discussed records useful for genealogy, and there are two types of records that are quite beneficial in property research. The first are the will and estate records. These records provide the researcher with the value of property, changes in ownership, and how property has been passed down through generations. These records date from 1803 through 2017.

The second type are our Common Pleas Court records. Disputes of land ownership, and petitions to partition land, can be found in the Common Pleas records. These petitions might be due to dower rights, disputes over property lines, partitions of land for heirs, and part of divorce proceedings. These records vary, but date from 1804 through 1981.

Lastly, we have a terrific guide to researching Greene County properties, which you can access here. And remember, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us! We are here to help and serve!

Until Next Time…


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