Thursday, September 28, 2017

Sorting Land Transactions by Date

When I go to a courthouse to do land research, I make spreadsheet of the land transactions that I find for each couple to summarize the information that I find.  Here's the link to a sample spreadsheet.  I feel it's important to sort the transactions by effective date - sometimes you see connections between transactions this way.

(Note that the effective date, the date that the document was signed, may differ significantly from the recording or filing date.  Occasionally someone delayed taking the deed to the courthouse for a long time.  The effective date is when the transfer of ownership and money actually happened - not the date when it was recorded in the courthouse to inform the public.)

When my great-grandfather Heinrich Reimer #317342 (1856-1923) moved from Jansen, Nebr., to Meade, Kans., in September 1908, he sold his land in Nebraska and bought land in Kansas.  Some of the transactions line up neatly.  For example:
  • He sold 80 acres in Nebraska for $5000 on 27 May 1908.  
  • Then he proceeded to buy 160 acres in Kansas for $4500 on 22 August 1908
  • And he bought another 80 acres in Kansas on 20 October 1908 for $2000.  
It seems very likely that his sale of land in Nebraska for $5000 funded a large part of his purchase of land in Kansas for $6500.  He didn't buy all of his Kansas land with the proceeds from sales in Nebraska, but there are several tracts that he bought this way.  Since I sorted the transactions by date (instead of grouping the Nebraska and Kansas transactions separately), it's easy to see which transactions occurred close together.

In another example, my great-grandfather Jacob Suderman #319370 (1856-1906) and his family moved from Buhler, Kans., to Fairchilds, Tex., in 1898.
  • In preparation for the move, he bought 334 acres in Texas for $3343 on 1 December 1897, using a lien from the seller for the purchase.  
  • But he paid that lien in full by 18 August 1898.  
  • Then he sold his Kansas land three weeks later on 8 September 1898 for $5700.  
Obviously, he didn't need the proceeds from his Kansas sale to pay the lien on his newly-purchased Texas land.  Based on this sequence of events and on other things (property tax records and his obituary), it is clear that he was a moderately wealthy man.  But I might have missed this small but significant detail if I hadn't sorted the land transactions by date.

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