Non-Land Record Lessons from a Grantor Index

It did not dawn on me that the section of the grantee index to deeds for Bedford County, Pennsylvania, where the last names started with a “C” and the first names started with a “T” would be such a popular section.  I was looking for Thomas Chaney and realized there would be other men with names like Thomas Chapman, Terrance Campbell, Thomas Capon, etc. There should not be too many pages or images to go through. But there were many and the answer was simple:

the Commonwealth

There were numerous deeds where the Pennsylvania Commonwealth was the grantor (most of them were patents) and those deeds were all indexed as having a first name of “The” and a last name of “Commonwealth.”

It resulted in a large number of entries in the T C section of the index.

While it was frustrating, it served to remind me that if you can’t find a deed involving your ancestor and the other party was an official (either the state, the commonwealth, a judge, a sheriff, etc.), there’s probably a standard way that official name was indexed. One needs to know that. Is the County Sheriff indexed under “Sheriff, County” “County, Sheriff,” Sheriff, The” etc.? Users of indexes need to know the local “style guide” for how titles were entered in indexes.

There’s another lesson or reminder on this index page as well. The volume “names” this index refers to are actually letters. This illustration reminds one that viewing the index (or any record) in context is advised. If I had just cropped this entry for the Thomas Chaney entry, that context would have been gone. I’m not certain I would have read the “X” as an “X” if I had not made an image of the entire page. Those other volume letters made it clear that the preceding volume was a “W” and the succeeding volume was a “Y.”

Reasoning skills should indicate the volume in between is an “X.”

And if it does not, well then you might want to swear off of using alphabetical indexes.

And you might want to review some of your genealogical conclusions.



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