Skillbuilding, NGS 2017: Hait’s “Analyzing Deeds Deeply”

SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2017 National Genealogical Society (NGS) Family History Conference, is pleased to offer a review of this BCG Skillbuilding lecture, presented 12 May 2017.

F301, Michael Hait, CG, CGL, “One Dollar and Natural Love and Affection: Analyzing Deeds Deeply”

Reviewed by Jean Atkinson Andrews, CG

LiveStream Description: This lecture goes beyond the obvious to explore the rich variety of evidence that deeds, mortgages, and other instruments offer regarding relationships and identity.

Michael Hait’s lectures include a rich mix of information for beginners and intermediate genealogists and tips for the advanced. “Analyzing Deeds Deeply” delivers on all counts.

Michael Hait, CG, CGL

Michael Hait, CG, CGL

For the less experienced, Michael outlines the usual segments found in a deed using an 1837 example from Pitts County, North Carolina. Walking through each segment, he expands upon the obvious to offer more advanced tips on the nuances of conveyance language and how the word “thence” can be a useful marker in understanding tract descriptions.

An overview of the two major types of land survey systems is covered: Metes & Bounds (State Land) and Rectangular Survey (Federal Land) along with an emphasis on finding the neighbors of your ancestor within each system. The concept of dower was discussed along with a brief summary of the general land patent process.

Not disregarding or glossing over the legal language, sometimes referred to as boilerplate, was a point of emphasis. This is a valuable reminder to those of us who look at many deeds and “already know” what it will say. Surprises do indeed sometimes lurk in the bottom language of a deed and the document that looks like a sale of land at the top may be something else based on the language at the bottom.

The last segment of the session discussed several examples of use of land records in proving identity and implying kinship. Not to be missed are Michael’s excellent use of tables and his creative and unique “waterfall table” which he used to understand a complex descendancy of land from the original patentees to descendants over a hundred years later, and which became the basis of a published journal article.[1]

This is a lecture that could be viewed several times with new insights gained each time and applied profitably to any research involving deeds.

Information on purchasing this lecture can be found at Playback Now http://www.playbackngs.com.

[1] Michael Hait, CG, “The Parents of Thomas Burgan of Baltimore County, Maryland,” National Genealogical Society Quarterly, V. 101, March 2013, pp. 19–34.

The words Certified Genealogist are a registered certification mark, and the designations CG, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, used under license by board certificants after periodic evaluation.