Mappy Monday: Maryland Map, City Directory and Land Resources

Maps and Land Records are my favorite records to search.  Since I had many ancestors that lived in Baltimore City, Maryland, city directories are invaluable for me as well.

If you are researching in the state of Maryland, you may not be aware that there are several on-line resources (mostly free) for Maryland.  This list is not all inclusive, but a list of my favorite and most helpful resources. – Maryland Land Records
All land records are available with a free account.  There is a learning curve.
**Once you get your account and log in, be sure to read the “Help” menu for hints on using the system. – FINDER Online
Web based GIS system hosted by the Maryland Department of Planning.  Provides property maps and parcel information.  Also links to the Real Property Data Search (below). – Real Property Data Search
Provides current property information from the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation.  Very helpful when tracing a property backwards from the present day.
**Read the “Guide to searching the database” – Digital Image Reference System for Land Survey, Subdivision, and Condominium Plats
Access to various plats (many times referenced in deeds from Maryland Land Records.
**Read the “Beginners Guide” – Papenfuse Map Collection –  Enoch Pratt databases
An Enoch Pratt library card is required for access to Sanborn maps through ProQuest. – Baltimore City Directories
Requires a account.  (If you do not have an account, be sure to check your library or society to see if they have institutional access.) – Baltimore City Archives listing of Baltimore City Directories (electronic or otherwise). – Newberry Library Atlas of Historical County Boundaries
**Unfortunately the interactive maps are currently unavailable but the site does have a downloadable KMZ file that can be used with Google Maps and Google Earth.

As always, please be sure to read the copyright information for usage restrictions.  If you find a resource particularly helpful, also look for a “Donate” button.  This helps get more of these great resources on-line.

My Ability To Transcribe Deeds Just Got A Lot Faster

I hate to type.  I love land records.  These two things do not go together.

I have found so much great information in land records and I am lucky that many of the records I need are in Maryland.  In Maryland, all verified land instrument records are on-line (and free) through MDLANDREC.  All that is needed to access the records is a username and password, offered with a free registration.

The problem with getting all these great records is that the older records are hand written.  In general the copies are good, but they are tedious to read and even more tedious to transcribe, especially when you hate to type.

SOURCE – BALTIMORE COUNTY COURT (Land Records) WG RR, p. 0172, MSA_CE66-92

So since I had some gift cards burning a hole in my pocket, and a bunch of records to transcribe, I decided to spring for Dragon NaturallySpeaking.  I had heard some good things about the software and several administrative people in my office use it.

After my purchase I installed it and have been using it for about a half an hour.  So far I love it! In fact, I’m not typing this blog, I’m having Dragon do it for me.

I was hesitant on buying a voice recognition program because I have problems with phone systems that can supposedly use verbal cues in their menus.  But to this point I haven’t had any issues.  During set up it had me read a few paragraphs of text so the software could learn my voice.  Also, I have the TV on in the background and Dragon doesn’t seem to have an issue with picking up that noise.

I still have a lot to learn about the software, but to be able to go from installation to using it successfully in ten minutes is awesome.  I’m sure the cost of the software will be prohibitive for some, but for me the amount of time it’s going to save his worth that cost.  I purchased the Premium version which is supposed to work with spreadsheets, so I may not even need to worry about using Google Forms any longer.

Oh, and not only does this software type better than I do but it spells better than I do too!

Filling In The Blanks: Part Four

Continuing my Edna Henry and family project, I am getting ready to start a Land Records search on 3030 Westfield Avenue, the property that William Henry owned in 1930 and his daughter Edna Henry owned in 1940, based on the U.S. Federal census for those years.
Since the property still exists I am going to go to the Maryland Real Property Data Search site to get the Deed Number so I can (hopefully) trace the property back to the Henrys.  Depending on how many times this property has changed hands, I may have to look at several deeds.
If you have never used this method of research before it can be frustrating and intimidating at first.  Stick with it!  Once you have some positive results you will love it.
Also, there are other ways to research a property.  This is just one way.

OK, so off to  This site is public information and free (yay, I love free!!).
In the search area I will search in Baltimore City by Street Address.

Maryland Real Property Data Search

On the next screen I will plug in the street number and name.
Note the highlighted portion.

Maryland Real Property Data Search

I am not going to post entire screen shots of the next part because it will provide information on living persons.
Once I hit ‘Next’ the property information appears.
What we want is in the upper right area where it says Deed Reference:

The deed reference is 12136/00368.  12136 is the Liber (Book) and 00368 is the Folio (Page).
Also, always take note of dates.  Many times, plugging in a deed reference will generate several results.  This is because deed numbers are reused, but prefaced by the court clerk’s initials.  Knowing the date will help grab the correct deed.  The date for this deed is 2009.
For a little more information on researching land records, this article from the Baltimore Sun may help explain the basics. 
Armed with that deed reference we can start the real search.

The Maryland State Archives provides land records on
To access the records you do need to apply for an account, but it is free.  At the workshop in May it was mentioned that certain email domains (the only one I remember is AOL) were having issues with the account process.  Since I already had an account at that point I really didn’t pay close attention…sorry.
Also, I would suggest you look through the HELP! link before getting started.  I have used this site for several years so I am fairly familiar with navigating my way around.
Once logged in the site looks a little, well…barren.
I am going to start by selecting Baltimore City in the upper left.

Since I have the deed reference I am going to plug that in the search.
Otherwise I would search the indexes by location and year (much more tedious).

Deed reference search

Again, no full screen shots here, living people.  Also note that in this case the deed reference did not present multiple results.
There are a few items of interest in this deed.

SOURCE – BALTIMORE CITY CIRCUIT COURT (Land Records) FMC 12136, p. 0368, MSA_ce164_21289. Date available 11/03/2009. Printed 12/21/2014

The first paragraph above refers to a plat (drawing of the subdivision).  If I want I can go to (free!) and put in the plat number and get an image of the plat.
The next paragraph in this deed refers to Ground Rent.
In layman’s terms, ground rent is when one person owns the land and leases it to the person who owns the real property (house) on the land.  Baltimore City has a huge amount of properties that have ground rent.  You can read more about ground rent here.
Although I am not interested in the ground rent information I will follow those references.  There may be information that does mot appear in the actual deed.  Basically, READ EVERYTHING!
The last part refers to the deed.  There are different types of deeds, I won’t go into that.  But essentially, this is the reference we need to go back further.  FMC 648/0345 in 2000.
Remember, FMC are the clerk’s initials.

Along the yellow menu bar is the option to JUMP TO A NEW VOLUME.  This allows me to plug in another deed reference.
If I just plug in the Book (648) and Page (0345) numbers I will get 4 results.
This is where I need to take note of the date reference of 2000 or the clerk initials of FMC to select the correct record.

Result by Book and Page

However, if I plug in the Clerk (FMC), Book (648) and Page (0345) I will be taken directly to the record.
I repeat this process back through the paperwork, deeds, ground rent information, mortgages etc.
I finally get to a mortgage release for Edna B. Henry on 3 May 1940 (no mention of her parents) that has a reference to a mortgage release on 7 Jun 1939 (MLP 5927/187) for Florence E. Henry widow and Edna B. Henry.
So, Florence Henry was a widow on 7 Jun 1939.  This doesn’t mean William died on this date, but he was dead by this date.

SOURCE – BALTIMORE CITY SUPERIOR COURT (Land Records) MLP 5927, p. 0187, MSA_CE168_5935. Date available 02/10/2005. Printed 12/21/2014

Right below that mortgage release (on the same page) is another entry for mortgage on 7 Jun 1939 in the name of Edna B. Henry.

SOURCE – BALTIMORE CITY SUPERIOR COURT (Land Records) MLP 5927, p. 0187, MSA_CE168_5935. Date available 02/10/2005. Printed 12/21/2014

So basically a mortgage from one bank was paid off and another mortgage was obtained.
Interesting to note that this mortgage only lists Edna, no mention of Florence although it is the same day as the other mortgage record.  The mortgage record continues on the next page.

“parcel of ground known as” blah blah blah (deeds are really boring), “recorded in the land records” blah blah blah “Edna B Henry subject to the payment of” blah blah blah…”William R Henry having died on or about May 5 1937 and the said Florence E Henry having died on or about February 23 1939″, blah blah WHAT?!?!?!  Back up!  Yup, there it is.

SOURCE – BALTIMORE CITY SUPERIOR COURT (Land Records) MLP 5927, p. 0188, MSA_CE168_5935. Date available 02/10/2005. Printed 12/21/2014

Aren’t land records cool???
Searching back further there was another record that listed William’s death date (SCL 5762/564) and I learned that 3030 Westfield Avenue was purchased by the Henrys on 7 Dec 1920 by William, Florence and Edna.
As I searched the land records I downloaded PDF copies and filed them to be transcribed and entered into my database.  Normally I would do this as I search but because I wanted to created these posts “live” I couldn’t transcribe at the same time.
Oh, one other cool thing about the land records, source information is automatically printed on the left side of the pages in RED.  Sometimes it is a little hard to read depending on the page image but it is there.

I’ve looked at a lot of records but it did not take much time since I had reference numbers.
So, what questions have the land records answered? 

  • William R. Henry died on (or about) 5 May 1937
  • Florence E. Henry died on (or about) 23 Feb 1939

What questions do I have?

  • What is up with Edna’s husband (or a lack of a husband)?

If she got married in 1936 why is she still using the name “Henry”.  If it were 2014 I would not be at all surprised at a woman keeping her maiden name, but in the 1930s (and at least until the 1940 census in April)?  Maybe the Edna B. Henry I found in the Howard County marriage index wasn’t her, so the SSDI and Florida Death index entries aren’t for her either?

  • When did the house at 3030 Westfield Avenue get sold?

I never came across a land record for Edna selling 3030 Westfield Avenue.  I need to follow up on that, I may have missed something.

So now that I have potential death dates for William and Florence (I don’t want to rely on just information in the land records), searches of the Baltimore Sun and the Maryland State Archives death indexes are in order.

Let me say that I was a bit surprised when I found death dates for both Florence and William!
Remember that I chose this method of searching because the property appeared to stay in the family after William and Edna disappeared from the household (1940 census) AND the property still exists.  I thought there was a possibility I could get some good information and (for once) my hunch proved correct.  I said before how I love free.  I also I love LUCK!

OK, the dogs won’t walk themselves and it is football day.  So although it is so hard to stop, especially after finding some new information, those searches will have to wait.

Time For A Refresher

Although I have been researching my family for over 10 years I cannot honestly say that I am completely comfortable navigating any of the repositories I have used.

I am lucky in that on this side of “the pond”, most of my research is contained in a couple counties in Maryland, as well as Baltimore City and York County in Pennsylvania.  My family apparently saw no reason to venture outside of this small corner of the world once they got here.  I haven’t either as I live in the same area as my ancestors.

Because my research is so concentrated in Maryland, I should be an “expert” at searching Maryland repositories.  However, I feel my knowledge is woefully inadequate.
I am a member of several local societies and groups but have not taken advantage of their services.
I am relatively comfortable with the library system and knowing what library branches have what material.
I am comfortable with finding records for various local cemeteries.
I have been to the Maryland State Archives numerous times (although not as many times as I would like), mostly for death, marriage and church records.  I know that there is a lot more available there and I have not yet explored all of it.
I have not done any courthouse research, honestly it intimidates me.  I need to get over this and become more familiar with the records available at local courthouses.
There are a lot of records (or at least indexes) available on-line for Maryland and I am pretty familiar with those resources.

One set of records that has been available on-line and I need to delve into more are Land Records.  I have had accounts to access these records for quite a few years and have done a few searches (admittedly, mostly on myself). 

So I decided to take a stab at improving my skills this year and since this year is almost halfway over I need to get cracking!
What luck that the Maryland Genealogical Society is holding a Basics+ Workshop on Maryland Land Records and Resources this Saturday, May 31!!
I am all registered and am looking forward to attending.  This will be the first genealogical event I have attended (sad, I know…but you gotta start somewhere) but certainly not my last.