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Interpreting Land Records

ISBN: 978-0-471-71543-6
440 pages
March 2006
Interpreting Land Records (0471715433) cover image


The difficult task of boundary retracement begins with three substantial steps: recovering land records, determining the significance of those records, and applying the findings to conditions on the ground. Interpreting Land Records thoroughly details everything surveyors need to know to formulate sound, defendable opinions, including how courts interpret ambiguous words and conflicts between words in documents, and between those words and items outside the documents.

Packed with illustrative case examples accompanied by descriptions of how a retracement was performed, what the problems were, and how the surveyor resolved them, Interpreting Land Records features:
* Practical information on records research
* Surveying methods used in the United States over the past several hundred years--including the English system, Napoleonic Code, Mexican and Spanish land grant systems, and more
* Two appendices providing definitions for historical words and phrases as well as how to interpret them
* Guidance for confirming a land record with physical evidence on-site
* Advice on using historic maps, photographs, and written documents in establishing a boundary for which official records are lost or corrupted
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Table of Contents


1. Introduction to Land Records.

2. Geometry of the Description.

3. Records Research: Title Search or Deed Search.

4. Rules of Construction.

5. Relative Importance of Conflicting Elements.

6. Exceptions and Reservations.

7. Words and Phrases.

8. The Use of Extrinsic Evidence.

9. Maps, Plats, Plans and Charts.

10. Pictures.

11. Document Examination.

Appendix One: Definitions of Words and Phrases.

Appendix Two: Definitions of Ancient Land Terms.


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Author Information

DONALD A. WILSON is President of Land & Boundary Consultants, Inc. in Newfields, New Hampshire.
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"This is an excellent reference book for those who work regularly with land records and will be a good resource for genealogical society collections." (FGS Forum, Winter 2006)

"Very rarely a book comes across my desk that makes me sit up and take notice, but the recently published "Interpreting Land Records" is such a book." (American Surveyor, October2006)

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