Many researchers with whom I come in contact have not “adventured” into the land records that their ancestors left behind. In not doing so, they have potentially missed out on some real finds. In my search through land records I have found the “normal” items like deeds, mortgages, bills of sale, and quit claims. I have found other items as well, such as the following:
I found the following documentation in copybook no. 121 for the registry division of Grey North, no. 16, Keppel Township, Grey County. When William Wilson Sims, my great grandfather, decided to retire from farming in 1903, his son William Wilson Sims Jr. received lot 6 Jones Range and lot 17 on the 25th concession from his parents for the sum of $1.00 and the following considerations. He was to make a payment of $50.00 a year for nine years and then $75.00 a year to each of his parents as long as they lived. They were to receive the use of one half acre of land for garden purposes and the use of six fruit trees. The use of a horse and vehicle on every Sunday was a consideration as well. Even the harness was mentioned, William Sr. did not miss anything. He specified the bedroom and the parlour that would be theirs to use. William Jr. was to provide board and lodging for his sister Mary Maud Sims until she married. He also had to guarantee “to conduct their funerals in a respectable manner and to pay all the expenses for the funerals.”1 My great grandfather either had a good lawyer or he had spent some time deciding what he and his wife needed for the future. I used this information in my family history because it helped bring him to life as well as providing a picture of life at that time.
Legal Records Among the Land Records
In researching my great grandfather John Pratt Campbell, I found instruments in the land records for Bosanquet Township, Lambton County, Ontario, related to a court situation. The instruments included a summons dated 11 October 1879 in which they were ordered to appear in court to answer to unpaid bills.2 This summons explained why the farm on which they were living, owned by his wife’s brother, was sold to his oldest son, Frederick, for a dollar. Frederick then sold the farm for $3800.00, the bills were paid and his mother and his siblings joined Pratt who was already homesteading in Manitoba. A court order dated 24 December 1879 recorded that the debts had been paid.3 These records tell a story about the family and the difficulties that they experienced.
What potential records are you missing because you haven’t searched the land records?
Copybooks were created by county registrars at the time that my great grandfather Sims deeded his land to his son. By this time the county registrar had to copy the complete text of each deed into the copybook, a tedious procedure I am sure.
Watch for my next post with details about finding and exploring land records.
1. Copy Book, no. 121, for the registry division of Grey North, no. 16, Keppel Township, instrument no. 7870, dated 21 March 1902, pp. 523-524.
2. Summons on behalf of Morris Lyman et al, instrument no. 6416, lot 16, concession 7, Bosanquet Township, Lambton County, held at the Lambton County Archives, Wyoming, Ontario.
3.Lyman et al and Campbell et al Order, instrument no. 6514, lot 16, concession 7, Bosanquet Township, Lambton County, held at the Lambton County Archives, Wyoming, Ontario.