If you have ever wondered what happened on your property, who lived there and what your property was used for before you moved in, consider taking a few hours to explore its history. Using resources online and in your local community, you can find out about the history of your home and the property it's been built on. Knowing how and where to start investigating can lead to just the beginning of many answers.
Find the Deed
Visit the local county courthouse to find out where deeds are kept for homes in the area. Speak with the Recorder of Deeds or Assessor who can specify where deeds are located and how to retrieve them. Find out who the deed owners were throughout the property's history. Deeds are useful to those who want to trace the history of their home and the land it is on. When a person investigates deed owners, they are tracing the history of possession. This is called a title search.
Researching the church and parish records, as well as the census records may also reveal additional information about the people who lived and worked on the land.
Read the Newspaper Archives
Visit the local library and ask the librarian to see the newspaper archives relating to the land on which the home is built. Read articles about the town and the land. Newspaper articles from the past may provide information about significant historical events, including the history of the land the house is built upon. Newspaper articles may go into specifics about changes to the land, agriculture, battles or other facts.
Examine Public Documents
Ask the local librarian to show you public records, indexes, land surveys and other materials regarding the land on which the home is built. The local library may also house city directories that expound upon the local people's occupations and household information. This can provide important information about the kinds of people who lived on the land, if there were events, battles or any other important events.
Talk to Those Who Know the Property
Talk to people who live or lived on the land. Visit an individual who has lived on the land for many years. Record what they have said and compare this to the information found in public records and newspaper articles. People have stories and information that may not be known to the general public. Folklore and myths are often passed on by people but not shared officially.
Talk to Local Historians
Most cities, towns and counties have a local museum or a historical society that specializes in documenting the history of your community, including homes and properties. They may be able to help you find documents related to your land and old photographs. To find these local experts, do a search online for your municipality or ask the local librarian.
- Keep copies of and make notes about the information that you find. You can begin to put the pieces together simply by looking at all of the information collected over time.
- Investigating land can be time-intensive and sometimes costly if you pay others to help you.
Lisa Basile has been writing for magazines and newspapers since 2003. She has a Master of Fine Arts in writing and has contributed to local news and national magazines such as "Billboard," "Maxim" and "Cosmo!Girl." Basile also edits an online magazine and writes daily content for Alloy Media.