If you’ve been in real estate for awhile hopefully you’ve taken a plant tour at one or more of your local title companies. You’ll find most of them have very detailed land records that predate statehood.
I was in Yakima last week for work and during my visit I had a some time to hangout in the back plant (where the really old records are) at First American Title. It was a wonderful walk through time and fun to peruse the old land records of Yakima County, Washington.
Recording of a land lease dated October 17, 1898 in Yakima County, Washington.
When I started in the title business most of our records were hard copy stored in books and boxes arranged geographically by date. The new recordings were on microfiche rolls back to the early 70’s and some copies of the old hand posted track books and documents were on microfiche sheets.
As a history buff it was fascinating to search through these old records all the way back to the first transaction that created a parcel of land. I did a few projects that took me as far back as the first pioneers to settle here in the Pacific Northwest.
Property sale by Deed dated January 31, 1903 in Yakima County, Washington.
I learned to decipher (or ‘run out’ as we say in the biz) metes and bounds legal descriptions that used measurements like rods and chains and marked the plottings with poles and rocks and witness trees. It's amazing to me that all these years later we find them so accurate. Not perfect, especially over mountainous and rough terrain, but darn close.
A Tract Book for keeping property title histories from the 1950's in Yakima County, Washington.
Most title companies are more than happy to give their clients a plant tour. Experienced title officers, examiners, and searchers are a wealth of knowledge about the land in your county and how it came to be what it is today.
I did a post back in 2010 that shares a research project I did many years ago... If you like these land histories follow the link. The Shumway Farm