Vermont Land Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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Access the records: Vermont Land Records, Early to 1900 .
This Collection will include records from 1600 to 1900.
Land records were kept in the towns and were handwritten into large bound volumes. One deed usually fills one to three pages. Deeds may be recorded either in separate land record books or as part of the town records. Later deeds may have been recorded on pre-printed forms. Each town has separate grantor (seller) and grantee (buyer) indexes. Original copies of land records are in the town clerk’s office.
Vermont was originally part of Massachusetts. In 1749, New Hampshire claimed a large portion of the area and granted land for 129 towns in Vermont. In 1764, New York claimed jurisdiction over a large portion of the land held by New Hampshire. In 1777, Vermont became independent, and claimed the land was under its jurisdiction. The towns remained the same, and the town records contain the land deeds without regard to the political jurisdiction of the time. The legislature granted land in the towns to a group of individual called proprietors, so the earliest deeds are called proprietor’s deeds. Towns began recording deeds soon after the town was formed (Combined with text in date range). The town clerk transcribed into the registers the original documents which remained with the owners or their families. A high percentage of adult males who lived in rural areas of Vermont owned land at some point during their lifetime. Very few women owned land in their own right. They sometimes witnessed deeds and may have been asked to relinquish their dower’s rights.
Towns began recording deeds soon after the town was formed and continue to the present.
Towns in Vermont recorded land transactions to document the transfer of land ownership and thereby establish legal rights to land, track responsibilities for tax revenues, and designate persons to serve in various functions of the county, such as maintaining public roads in the early times.
The information given in town land records is generally reliable, although there may be errors made in transcribing the town’s copy from the original deed.
For a list of records by localities and dates currently published in this collection, select the Browse.
Citation for This Collection
The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org Historical Record collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher and archive for the original records.
- Town Clerks. Vermont land records. Town Halls, Vermont.
Genealogical facts in town land records are:
- Dates when the transaction occurred, was written up, and recorded in the town
- Names of the grantors (sellers), the grantees (buyers), witnesses, and sometimes neighbors
- Ages are seldom given, but a person might be mentioned as a minor
- Exact relationships may be stated in deeds for property sold or given to heirs during a person’s lifetime
- Usually the residences of the grantor(s) and grantees(s)
- Usually the occupations of both the grantor(s) and grantee(s)
- Signature or mark (usually an X) of the grantor(s)
- Legal description of the parcel
- The amount the property was sold for (consideration)
How to Use the Records
To search the collection, select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page ⇒ Select the Town Letter ⇒ Select the Town and County ⇒ Select the Record type ⇒ Select the Volume Number plus Date Span which takes you to the images.
Look at the images one by one comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to make this determination.
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.
When searching the index it is helpful to know the following:
- The county where the birth, marriage, or death occurred
- The name of the person at the time of marriage
- The approximate date the event occurred
- The place the event occurred
- The name of the individual or individuals such as the names of the bride and groom, the infant, or the deceased
Use the locator information found in the index (such as page, entry, or certificate number) to locate your ancestors in the records. 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. 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 marriage date and place as the basis for compiling a new family group or for verifying existing information.
- Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth of each partner to find a couple's birth records and parents' names.
- Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth to find the family in census records.
- Use the residence and names of the parents to locate church and land records.
- Occupations listed can lead you to other types of records such as employment or military records.
- Use the parents' birth places to find former residences and to establish a migration pattern for the family.
- The name of the officiator may be a clue to their religion or area of residence in the county.
- Use a marriage number to identify previous marriages.
- The name of the undertaker or mortuary could lead you to funeral and cemetery records which often include the names and residences of other family members.
- Compile the entries for every person who has the same surname as the bride or groom; this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual.
- Continue to search the records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives who may have been born, married, or died in the same county or nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family or even the second marriage of a parent. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify.
- 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:
- The information in marriage 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 marriage 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.
- Search for the marriage record of the marriage partner if known.
- Check for a different index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume.
- Search the indexes and records of nearby counties.
Known Issues with This Collecton
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Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
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Citation Example for a Record Found in This Collection
"Vermont Land Records, early to 1900," images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org: accessed 22 May 2012); W > Waterville, Lamoille > Land Records > Vol.7, 1898-1915 > image 1 of 397; citing Merritt H Mann, dated 2 April 1898. Digital copies of originals housed in Clerk-Treasurer offices in various counties throughout Vermont.