Shelby County IndianaUpdated 18 September 2017
Index of Deeds, Mortgages, Indentures
Index of Original Land Purchases in Shelby County, Indiana
Reading deeds/ patents/ land records: an explanation of sections, townships and ranges.
The Official Land Patent Site or Bureau of Land Management: early government land sales, including scans of documents
Reading Older Deeds
Most older deeds were recorded using the “metes and bounds” method of describing the land in question. This was a system that defined the boundaries of a piece of land in terms of measurement of distances of each straight line and the land's relationship to natural features — such as a creek, a rock, etc. — and adjacent pieces of land, usually mentioning the names of the owners of the land bordering the piece being described.
The term “metes” refers to the length of a boundary line determined by measurement of the distance between the two terminal points of a straight line, or “run,” and the land's orientation or direction — north, south, etc.
The term “bounds” is a more general description of the borders of the land, such as “along the meander of the river” or other waterway. “Bounds” could also refer to a simple compass reading.
Poles, rods, chains. Distance was measured in “poles,” “rods,” “chains,” etc. A pole measures 16.5 feet. A mile is 320 poles, and an acre is 160 square poles. The most common chain was the Gunter Chain, which is 66 feet — that is, four poles or 792 inches. One mile is equal to 80 chains.
A link is 1/100 of a chain, or 7.92 inches.
Other, less-used chains include the Rathbone Chain, which is two poles or 33 feet. In early land surveys the “chain bearers” were assistants who were responsible for moving the chain under the orders of the surveyor.
It often pays the researcher to check out the chain bearers, as they were quite often relatives, even sons, of the person acquiring the land.
Some other measurement terms that may be found in older deeds include hide, hectare, furlong and hundred. A hectare is 2.71 acres or 107,639 square feet.
A furlong is equal to 40 poles — a quarter mile — and the term is derived from “furrow long,” which referred to the length of a furrow that oxen could plow before being rested. Originally a mile was 5,000 feet, but 1595 Queen Elizabeth I changed the mile to 5280 feet so that it would be an equal number of furlongs.
The term “hundred” referred to an area that was between a village and a county in size. Originally it varied in size depending on the location and quality of the land; it was the amount of land needed to support a family but was eventually standardized to around 200 acres.
We have often seen the term “hundred” in early deeds in the area known as “Delmarva”: Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia.
Grantor or grantee?. It is easy to confuse the terms “grantor” and “grantee.” The term grantor refers to the seller of the land, while “grantee” refers to the buyer.
An easy way to remember this is to compare the terms with “employer” and “employee.” The employer is the one giving the wages; the grantor is the one giving the land. The employee is the one receiving the wages; the grantee is the one receiving the land.
Another term that is often found in older deeds is “conditional line,” which refers to a line agreed upon by two people but not yet surveyed. It should also be noted that the term “corner” does not refer to a 90-degree angle as we think of a corner today, but simply referred to the juncture of any two lines, no matter what angle was formed where they met.
One often sees a clause in the deed in which a married woman relinquishes her “right of dower” to a piece of land that her husband is selling.
A married woman by law inherited one third of her husband's estate upon his death, including any land he might own at the time of death; this was referred to as “dower rights.” Dower rights should not be confused with dowry, which referred to any property brought to the marriage by the woman.
Along the same line, the term “feme covert” refers to a married woman while “feme sole” refers to an unmarried woman or a woman who owns property independently of her husband.
There are a number of other terms often seen in older deeds as well as different types of deeds. These will be discussed in an article in the near future. Any researcher who as encountered an unfamiliar term is welcome to send a query to this column and will be answered in the next column. Contributed by John Carney
Deeds are handled by the Recorder's Office. Index books are available for all years, and the individual deeds have been microfilmed. You can reach the Recorder at 317-392-6370. However, they are not staffed to search. If you will mail your request and a check to 25 West Polk Street, Shelbyville, Indiana 46176, I am sure they will pass it along to me. Phyllis Fleming
Fred Amos, chattel mortgage
July Ann Badger, indenture to Elijah F. Fleming
Ira Bailey, deed for "Bailey's Mill"
Transfer of James Baker's Steam Saw Mill
Indenture of John Taylor Ballard to Joseph L. Worland, 1867
John W. and Rachel Ballard, to Sarah Crail, Washington Street in the Town of Shelbyville.
Henry Barlow's deed from David Fitz Randolph, 1847
Indenture of Lucy Barngrover to James Babb
J. Edward Briggeman's deed from George F. Briggeman et al, 1935
Miranda L. Burr Deed from Wiett Ellis, 1839
Miranda L. Burr Bill of Sale from Joseph Bush, 1839
Levi Cagley, indenture to Elizabeth and Isaac Hildebrand, 1846
Thomas and Lucy Carney to Peter Mire [Meyer], Union Township, 1835
Keziah Caughey and Thomas S. Caughey deed to Harry Whitcomb, 1871
Thomas Creighton deed from Keziah Caughey, 1867
Frances Wilmeretta Crosby, indenture to David Weeks
Summaries of various Davis deeds.
Joseph Drake's lease of mill lot to Stephen Rogers and Daniel Shew, 1844
Andrew Ensminger, T12N R8E Sec 15, Rush Co IN
Andrew and Virginia Ensminger of Rush Co, 1874.
Martha E and Elzy Ensminger, to John Lower
Mary Ensminger, Ann White, Jane VanPelt and Sarah E Hendricks, to Andrew Ensminger of KY
Elijah Franklin Fleming's deed from Edward Miller heirs.
Elijah F. Fleming, Indenture from Robert Badger.
Samuel Fleming's deed from John Johnson.
Indenture of Rhoda Foster to Sylvester Kinney, 1869.
Franklin County, Indiana, residents who purchased original land in Shelby Co.
Indenture of John Grimes to John Morrison, 1836.
Samuel Hahn's deed from Michael, John B. and Hannah, 23 Aug 1851.
Jack Hardin's deed from George W. Means, 1836.
Byrum Harrell patent (image).
Samuel Harvey's deed from John Doran, 1837.
Samuel Harvey's deed to Harvey Pope, 1836.
Stephen Harvey 's deed from Benjamin and Rachel Sawin, land in the state of New York.
Stephen Harvey's deed from James Lee, 1837.
Samuel Fitz Randolph Hill, from Samuel Fitz Randolph, 1837.
Louisa Houser indenture to Lewis Cook, 1856.
Imhoff, Frederic, from the estate of John Blakeman, dec'd; William Cox, administrator
William Ellis Jackson indentured to David Montgomery, 1857.
John Johnson's deed to Loyd Paris, 1828.
John Johnson's deed to John Cline, 1833.
Division of John Joyce's land, 1845.
James Judge, from Absalom and Mary Green, 1866.
Kendall deeds in Decatur and Shelby counties.
Lena Keppel's deed from George F. Briggman et al, 1935.
Jesse King's deed from Alexander and Elizabeth Means, 1836.
Indenture of Jacob Kratzer to George Baxter, 1838.
Kuhn deeds in Hancock and Henry counties (our north and northeast neighbors).
Indenture of Mary Landen to John Laughlin, 1852.
Lemmons, Joshua K., from John B. Michael, 29 Aug 1851.
Lewis, John J., deed from William Smith and Thomas Fitz Randolph, 1836.
Love, Benjamin, quit claim from Eli Moore and Martha Ann Love Moore, 1850.
Lucas, Eber, transer to Abraham Hall, 1823.
Maple, Jackson, to William Moore.
Odd Fellows Lease from Royal Mayhew, 1848.
McCarty & Fletcher to William A. Moore.
George W. Means to George W. Means, 1837.
John Means from Moses Portlock, 1836.
Robert Means from Horatio Kallam, 1834.
Amos and Mildred Merrill to John F. Ballard, 1856.
Sylan Buel Miller indentured to Augustus E. Kinsley, 1852.
Mincks, Jacob. Of Adams Co OH, 12 Aug 1834.
Mincks, Jacob, Jr. Of Rush Co IN, two parcels purchased 1834, recorded 1848
Maryetta Minton indentured to Tunis Spurling, 1852
Montgomery abstract. Land originally purchased by Shearer (1821).
Morris, William Godfrey, purchased land in Owen County, Indiana, 1840.
Nail deed records of Shelby County, Indiana, transcribed by Janet Morgan Ross, July, 2004.
Newspaper reports "Late Dealings in Real Estate"
Norris, James E., conveyance deed to Woodville B. Kirk (part of an estate settlement)
Andrew Jackson Pitcher indentured to John Means, 1845
Daniel Fitz Randolph's deed from Miles Hall, .
David Fitz Randolph's deed from William Morgan.
Thomas Fitz Randolph's deed from William and Elizabeth Smith, 1836.
Thomas Fitz Randolph's deed to William Smith, 1836.
Indenture of Henry Rathburn to William Mitchell, 1841.
Land Patent image of deed to Thomas Ray, April, 1824.
Franklin Richey deed from Isaac Fleming et al, 1876.
Indenture of John Rothburn to George Rothburn, 1841.
John Runyan's deed to Peter Hagarman, 1836.
Roy C. Rutherford, Petition for partition and sale of real estate.
Sanford, George, transferred from Benjamin Rue, 1822.
Indenture of Samuel Baxter Scull to John Scull, 1841.
Jesse Shaw, about 1837.
John Seward deed from John Freeman of Butler County, Ohio, 1852.
Samuel & Maria Sherwood and Alamander Stone to Joseph L. Silcox, 1847
Richard (Mary) and John Shipp, chattel mortgage.
Lafayette Simmons indentured to Christopher M. Allen, 1839.
Lafayette Simmons indentured to Nathaniel Albee, 1841.
Smith, William, et al, deed from William Eddy, 1833.
Daniel Snepp's deed from David Fitz Randolph, 1847.
Elijah Stewart apprenticed to Abraham Snider of Rush County, 1841.
Indenture of James Stewart to John F. Ballard, 1841.
Indenture of Martha Stewart to Robert B. Peak, 1841.
Jacob Surber, 1838.
General George Wayne Thornberry indentured to Isaac Hurst, 1845
Affidavit of Harriet A. Thornburg, 1919
Union County, Indiana, residents who purchased original land in Shelby Co
Various abstracts, compliments of Judy Tillison Wright
Jacob and Sarah Vernon to John M. Ballard
James R. Walker indentured to Brightwell Thompson, 1850.
Catharine Wheler [Wheeler] indentured to Wrighten Shiplet.
Wilkins deeds, Moral Township.
John Wilkinson deed to William Hacker; trust to pay creditors, 1847.
Sale of Josiah Williams' land to Merry W. Smith, to cover a debt involving Arthur McClure, 1835.
William Williams deed from Simeon Blackford, 1835.
Isaac Willson from Jeremiah Barlow, 1832.
William W. Willson indentured to Reuben Barnard.
Sarah Ensminger; James, Noble, Lydia & Catharine Wilson, to Susan and Ann Maria Wilson.
Wilson, William and Delila, to William Moore.
Lucy A. Wingate Deed from Thomas S. Caughey, 1867.
William J. Wingate Deed from the Widow's Home and Asylum of Hamilton County, Ohio, 1869.
James G. Yelton indentured to Abner and Susan Mariah Kelsay.
John M. & Nancy Young to Trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Shelbyville.
William E. Young indentured to James Bearmore/Bearmon.
Miscellaneous deed records transcribed by Judy Wright in the USGenWeb Archives.
Deed Book D, Index, 1833-1834
Early Deed Books, Surname Index only, various years
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Records of the School Commission Lands