California, San Mateo County Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: California, San Mateo County Records .
Collection Time Period
These records cover the years 1856 to 1967.
The collection primarily includes land records – deeds, patents, and homesteads (1856 to 1967). However, the following various county records may also be intermixed within the land records:
- Marriage intentions (1856 to 1943)
- Naturalization (1856 to 1930)
- Military service discharges (1856 to 1965)
The records contain the following information:
- Dates when the transaction occurred, was written up, and was recorded with the county
- Names of the grantors (sellers), grantees (buyers), witnesses, and sometimes neighbors
- Ages are seldom given, but a person might be mentioned as a minor
- Exact relationships (may be included if property was sold or given to heirs during a person’s lifetime)
- Residences of the grantor and grantee (usually included)
- Occupations of the grantor and grantee (usually included)
- Signature or mark (usually an X) of the grantor
- Legal description of the parcel
- Amount of consideration (included until the late 1800s)
How to Use the Record
Begin your search by finding your ancestors in the index. Name indexes make it possible to access a specific record quickly. Remember that these indexes may contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned. In addition, some entries from earlier years may have been missed.
When searching the index it is helpful to do the following:
- Check an index for the family name (surname) and then the given name. Indexes enable you to access land records quickly by searching for the names of owners.
- Make a list of the volumes and page numbers for each deed you wish to check.
- For each deed, search the noted volume and page number.
Use the locator information found in the index (such as page, entry, or certificate number) to locate your ancestors in the records. Some on-line indexes, such as indexes to FamilySearch Historical Records, will take you directly to an image. Compare the information in the record to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct person. You may need to compare the information of more than one person to make this determination.
When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. Make a photocopy of the deed, or extract the genealogical information needed.
These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family.
- Use the residence and names of the parents to locate church and census records.
- Occupations listed can lead you to other types of records such as employment or military records.
- Search for the land transactions of a couple and their children. The parents may have sold or given property to a son or daughter. Such transactions confirm relationships that might not be found in other records.
- Search for records of people in the county who shared a surname. These may have been the couple’s parents, uncles, or other relatives. Your ancestor may have been an heir who sold inherited land that had belonged to parents or grandparents.
- To find later generations, search the land records a few years before and after a person’s death. Your ancestor may have sold or given land to his or her heirs before death, or the heirs may have sold the land after the individual died. For daughters, the names of their husbands are often provided. For sons, the given names of their wives may be included. Heirs may have sold their interest in the land to another heir even though the record may not indicate this. Continue this process for identifying each succeeding generation.
- When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
Keep in mind:
- Some counties were subdivided or the boundaries may have changed. Consider searching neighboring counties as well since that courthouse may have been more convenient for the person.
- One deed does not usually give sufficient information about a couple and their children. A careful study of all deeds for the person or the family will yield a richer return of information.
- For each parcel of land owned, you should obtain two documents:
- The deed that documents when ownership transferred to the individual or the family
- The deed that documents when ownership was transferred to someone else
- Witnesses and neighbors, even those with a different surname, may have been relatives, in-laws, or even a widowed mother who has remarried. You may want to check the records of these witnesses and neighbors, especially if they are frequently found in your ancestor’s land records.
- The information in the records is usually reliable, but depends upon the reliability of the informant.
- Earlier records may not contain as much information as the records created after the late 1900.
- There is also some variation in the information given from one record to another record.
If you are unable to find the ancestors you are looking for, try the following:
- Check for variant spellings of the surnames.
- Check for a different index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume.
- Search the indexes for the “parent” county to find the original purchase of a parcel of land. You may also need to search a neighboring county since that courthouse may have been more convenient for the person to record the deed.
- Check the land records of the people mentioned in your ancestor’s deeds to see if a different residence was ever mentioned for them.
- Make a list of all residences mentioned in the records within a year or two of when your ancestors came to the county—regardless of surname. Then search the records of places that seem likely or that occur frequently.
- Create a database for other people with the same surname who lived in the county. Doing this may help you identify which individuals were related. If your ancestor’s records do not contain the information you need, a county database might give you a more complete picture.
- Search other areas of the index. For example, if the land was sold for taxes, the entry may be in the grantor index under “S” for “sheriff,” under “T” for “tax collector” or “treasurer,” under the names of those officials, or even under the county name. County histories or other records may give the names of these county officials.
Soon after they were formed, counties began recording deeds and other land transaction records. The county recorder transcribed the documents to the registers, and the original documents usually remained with the owners or their families. Records of land transactions are generally well preserved, but some may have been lost in fires or other disasters. Some deeds were not recorded in earlier years.
Why the Record Was Created
Counties recorded land transactions to document the transfer of land ownership, thereby establishing legal rights to the land. The documents also helped track tax revenue responsibilities and helped designate persons to serve in various county functions, such as maintaining public roads in earlier times.
The information recorded in county land records is quite reliable, but some errors may have occurred while transcribing the county’s copy from the original deed.
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Contributions to This Article
| We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We especially need language translations for both content and images. For specific needs, please look for callout boxes throughout the article or visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records. |
Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.
Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.
A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the wiki article Help:How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.
Examples of Source Citations for a Record Found in This Collection
"California, San Mateo County Records, 1856-1967." index and images, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org): accessed March 24, 2011), entry for Orrin D. Wells and Flora V. Wells, purchased land 16 July 1916; citing County Records, San Mateo, Record of deeds, 1918-1919, vol 276, Image 3; San Meteo County Accessor-recorder-Clerks Office, Redwood City, California.
Citation for This Collection
The following citation refers to the original source of the data and images published on FamilySearch.org Historical Records. It may include the author, custodian, publisher and archive for the original records.
“California, San Mateo County Records,” index and images, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org); from the San Mateo County Accessor-Recorder-Clerks Office, Redwood City. FHL digital images, 10 folders, Family History Library Salt Lake City, Utah.
Information about creating source citations for FamilySearch Historical Collections is listed in the wiki article Help:How to Create Source Citations For FamilySearch Historical Records Collections.
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