Initial Thoughts on FamilySearch’s “New York Land Records 1630-1975”

FamilySearch recently released “United States, New York Land Records, 1630-1975” on their website. While I appreciate greatly the free nature of this database, there are some frustrations with it.

The two main groups of individuals on land records are the grantors and the grantees. It would have been preferable if the database could be searched in this matter. I do realize that FamilySearch wanted to make this database searchable with the same interface as the other databases it has on the site. The workaround is to search as shown in the illustration, using the “Deceased Ancestor’s Information” last name box and the last name box for the “other person.”

Wildcards and “exact matches” only options can be used. As with any database, keep track of how searches are conducted to reduce the chance the same search is performed needlessly.

One needs to watch the “Event Type” for these entries as well. They are not necessarily accurate. As with any record, the index entry is meant to be a means to the actual image of the record itself, not a replacement for it.

The entry for Sarah A. G. Derlett indicated that it was a “Land Assessment”as the type of record as shown below.

It’s not. It’s a reference to her name in the grantor/grantee index for Kings County, New York as shown in the image that is linked to the index entry for the “Land Assessment.”

The search results are occasionally vague, only indicating that the entry was from New York State.

Clicking on a specific entry does not even necessarily indicate the county of the record either as shown in the entry for F. C. Droletz. Because the index entry does not include the county it would likely be difficult to perform any sort of geographic search at a level smaller than the state in order to locate this record.

Again, one must view the actual image to see the county where the record was located.

It also appears that this “index” is to the grantor/grantee indexes created by the original recorder of these county records. The index entries I located all took me to the index entry. They did not take me to the actual entry in the deed book. The image that this index links to is not the end of the record–there is still the actual deed image that needs to be located.

Searching by location can be done–keep in mind these are county level records. The appropriate location needs to be put in the “Any Place” life event box. I had the best success with entering the county in the following format:

countyname, New York, United States

Not all counties are included in this index.

This database is a help, but be aware of the limitations:

  • not all counties are included
  • some items are tagged as the wrong “event”
  • the index indexes county-created indexes to these records–you will still have to search for the actual deed. Do not stop when you have the image


2 thoughts on “Initial Thoughts on FamilySearch’s “New York Land Records 1630-1975”

  1. When you say ‘Do not stop when you have the image” what do you mean exactly? Can the associated images be found on FamilySearch or would it be safe to assume you need to go to the actual location/county where the Deed index refers.

    • In some cases the images may be on FamilySearch-found through the card catalog. In other cases you may have to contact the county to get the actual records.

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