Shelby  County  Indiana
Courthouse  Records
Land Purchases


Index  of  Deeds,  Mortgages,  Indentures


  Index of  Original Land Purchases  in Shelby County, Indiana

Updated 19 December 2016

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
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.
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,  Index1833-1834

Early Deed Books,  Surname Index only,  various years
" A "  Surnames
" B "  Surnames
" C "  Surnames
" D "  Surnames
" F "  Surnames
" G "  Surnames
" H "  Surnames
" J "  Surnames
" K "  Surnames
" L "  Surnames
"Mc "  Surnames
" M "  Surnames
" O "  Surnames
" P "  Surnames
" R "  Surnames
" S "  Surnames
" T "  Surnames
" V "  Surnames
" W "  Surnames
" Y "  Surnames

Records of  the School Commission Lands
Plat Maps of Land Purchases



Originally (1822), there were only four townships in Shelby Co:
Hanover (T14),  Union (T13),  Hendricks (T12),  and  Noble (T11).

County map and additional information on the federal survey practices

Courthouse Records       Main Page