Monday, May 13, 2013

An O'Malley Research Trip to Mason County, Illinois

I knew that my maternal grandmother, Mary O'Malley Dean, had inherited some land in Mason County, Illinois; but I didn't know any details about the land.  In April 2009 I made a trip to the mid-West where I combined a visit to the Allen County Public Library with some research in Mason County, Illinois and Indianapolis, Indiana.  My grandmother was born in 1886 in Mason County and remained there until she was about 20 years old.  She and her brother inherited some land from their maternal grandmother when she died in 1933; but that is all I knew. 
Mason County Courthouse in background of Military Memorial


Havana Library

After visiting the Havana Public Library for some research of the newspaper archives (unrelated to this land search), I confirmed the existence of land records at the courthouse with the librarian and proceeded there for my first experience researching courthouse records.  The clerk was extremely helpful and directed me to the proper books to identify the property and the chronicle of its history.  After looking in the Deed of Record books; I was able to find the deed with the names of my grandmother and her brother as grantors.  That information provided the property legal description.  Then with the legal description we were able to go to the Abstract Record book containing the chronological history on that specific piece of property.

Abstract Record File
Once I had made copies of the information I had found, the clerk gave me a county map showing the location of the land and I was able to drive out and take a look at it.

Some courthouses have indexes of the information; but Mason County didn't.  Knowing the approximate date that my Grandmother sold the property, I was able to scan through the Deed of Record book and find the Warrantee Deed for the sale of 180 acres by my grandmother and her brother.

The Abstract Record revealed that the property was originally owned by Mason County in 1867.  My  gggrandfather purchased the land in 1876; but died in 1879.  The Abstract Record shows no record of the land then passing to his wife; but the clerk said that is normal.  My gggrandmother then passed away in 1933 and my grandmother and her brother inherited the land.  But, once again, the Abstract Record doesn't show inheritance transactions--only sales.  The next transaction recorded was the sale of the land in 1946 by my grandmother and her brother.  So, even though you would think the abstract record would show a complete chronological record of the owners of the land; it does not reflect inheritance of land.  I believe that is through the probate courts; but have to do a little more research on that. 

I must say that my first experience doing courthouse land record research was very productive and pleasant--due in great part to the very helpful clerk.