I Found the Coolest Site to Use for Land Records in West Virginia

Since learning land records of Mason County, West Virginia, are online at FamilySearch for the years 1803-1901, I’ve been trying to find answers. I wanted to figure out how the land assumed to have been owned by my 3rd great-grandfather William CLONCH came to be owned by him and his heirs. I also wanted to know what became of it in 1892. I covered these questions in my posts:

Time to Move on to a New Research Task?

I thought I was at a good stopping point and was thinking about new research tasks when I published the last post. But comments made had me doing new online searches for taxes on land, etc. This led to my discovering a site which pointed me to almost the exact location of the land once owned by my CLONCH ancestors. Before I share the site, bear with me while I show you how I plotted the land.

Abstracting the Call Lines

This is part of the 1885 land deed which gives the description of the boundaries of the 148 acres tract my 2nd great-grandparents Alexander and Tobitha CLONCH conveyed to Mary E. DOSS and her DOSS children: John William, Alexander, Lavinia, Betsy Jane, Thomas E., Joel, and Charles H.

I used Jacob Boerema’s tool Transcript to transcribe all of the land deeds in my previous posts concerning the land of William CLONCH. Here is the transcription of the above snippet.

Beginning at a small white oak
corner to a survey of 91 acres (Clark’s) Thence
with Beal’s line S 5° E crossing Bryants
fork at 71 poles, 124 poles to an ash tree on
a south hill side, thence leaving Beal’s S 63°
E 120 poles to a stake in a run bottom dog-
wood and hickory pointers, thence N 34 1/2° E
crossing the right hand fork of Bryants run
at 6 poles and the left hand fork of the same
at 26 poles 116 poles in all to a small white oak
N 44° W 52 poles to a white oak then N 17° W 84
poles to a stone in Patterson’s line, thence with
his line, S 65° W 94 poles to a small white oak
corner to Clark’s 91 acres, thence with a line of
the same N 85° W 33 poles to the beginning con-
taining One hundred and forty eight acres

Converting Poles to Feet

I put the call lines into a table and converted the poles to feet using Convert Pole to Feet.
Call lines in the deed
S5E 124 poles
S63E 120 poles
N34.5E 116 poles
N44W 52 poles
N17W 84 poles
S65W 94 poles
N85W 33 poles
Call lines converted to feet
S5E 2046f
S63E 1980f
N34.5E 1914f
N44W 858f
N17W 1386f
S65W 1551f
N85W 544.5f

Plotting the Tract

I then went to Tract Plotter and inserted the call lines in feet. After checking the box Show Labels, I submitted the call lines and the following plat was generated. The blue notes were added using Evernote (which I like to use for this type of quick annotating).

The land was now plotted but where was it located? I knew it was somewhere along Crab Creek in Clendenin District of Mason County, West Virginia. Still, this is a large area and I wasn’t able to find other geographical locations (Bryant’s Run) to zoom in on a specific area.

West Virginia Property Viewer

This is where the cool site I found comes into play. The West Virginia Property Viewer is an interactive map to search and display property ownership and location information in West Virginia. You can zoom in on the map of the state by county or use the search feature to search in a county for an owner’s name, parcel number, or parcel address. A search for CLONCH brought up a few owners in Mason County including one very interesting parcel. A tract of one acre on Crab Creek used as a cemetery and exempt from tax. The owner or name of the piece of land is Clonch Cemetary.

The tiny purple square of land known as the Clonch Cemetary (sic).

The land surrounding the cemetery is owned by a Patterson, a great-grandson of Lavina Ann CLONCH and James William PATTERSON. It’s a parcel with 76.54 acres, a bit larger than the 42 acres deeded to the Pattersons in 1892 and less than the original 148 acres owned by the heirs of William CLONCH. The fact that this is the location of the Clonch Cemetery, also known as the Patterson Clonch Cemetery, makes me certain this is the land William CLONCH and Mary E. DOSS lived on over 150 years ago.

In the pop-up at the bottom of the map, information about the parcel is listed. An interesting feature is the parcel assessment report which can be accessed by clicking at the bottom of the pop-up. In the assessment, under General Information, the deed book and page number can be found. In the case of the Clonch Cemetary there is no deed listed. The Patterson land has a deed book and page number which could be consulted – if the records were online for the time period.

Other Uses for the Site

Very often in county genealogy groups on Facebook, I see people asking for the location of cemeteries. West Virginia Property Viewer would be the perfect place to look them up.

Nicholas County Public Records Search includes online versions of the deed books of the county. You can sign in as a guest to search the site. A piece of land can be followed from the present time owner to the first owner and vice versa. With the assessment report’s information on the deed book and page, the starting point is easy to find.

West Virginia Property Viewer was found on Map West Virginia where all of their maps are free for use by the public.

A quick online search turned up other county and state parcel or property viewers. Am I the only one who did not know about these sites?

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Author: Cathy Meder-Dempsey

When I’m not doing genealogy and blogging, I spend time riding my racing bike with my husband through the wonderful Luxembourg countryside.

37 thoughts on “I Found the Coolest Site to Use for Land Records in West Virginia”

  1. Cathy, You go girl!! I’ve actually gone through this before as well. I have been in the civil engineering industry since 1979. My first job included drawing property deeds out by hand and by an old Texas Instrument deed plotter (it was an automatic pen plotter with magnetic strips that you sent through the machine, then punched in the bearings and distances). A lot of the older deeds never closed back to the POB (point of beginning). For those of you out there who are newbies to this task, it is well worth your time to learn. Some of the terminology for distances are as you showed poles, but also chains. There are many online sources to help you convert survey distance formats to feet. If you have any other civil survey questions Cathy, feel free to ask! I’ve also used the newest technology in software called GIS (Geographic Information System) to create historical maps of my ancestors. It really gives you a better perspective.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Hi Laura, There are a few really good free GIS softwares (QGIS is the best free one) out there for the really adventurous individuals who have a good handle on GIS. Also, ESRI has a whole world of online maps that people create that you can look at…and best of all you can make your own! Here is the link: https://www.arcgis.com/home/index.html

        So get started and see what you can do.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I find all this very impressive, and as I’ve said before, I truly admire your diligence and persistence. I also find it fascinating how many different ways people research their family history. Doing this would never be on my radar! Maybe because so many of my ancestors were city dwellers, so land ownership wasn’t in their cards. Or maybe because I can’t imagine doing all this detailed work. Brava to you!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This work is so impressive… especially how you can do it from where you live… definitely not anywhere near West Virginia. I’ve saving this post for the links… I need to push myself to research more. I don’t think I have any well known family in West Virginia, but I do have in Va. Now I’m doing the 52 week thing again, but not in the research mode but writing on the prompts… and I’m doing the April A to Z again, but I have my posts almost all written already on Italian foods and memories. I married into an Italian family… so I learned all about their foods. I came from the South, Italian foods were foreign to me. LOL

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank you times a million!!!! In Central Virginia, we have some retired civil engineers and surveyors, who locate old farms and explain/define old deeds and plots to help find early settlers’ farms-land. I have spent over 4 years trying to find a retried surveyor in Wythe/Pulaski Counties VA to locate an old farm site with ancestor graves. Maybe I can jump start the search with your tools. Happy Valentines Day, Laura

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you, thank you, Cathy! Glad to see the WV Property Viewer at work. You’re inspiring me to take another stab at finding where exactly that Kirk farm was in 18th century Berkeley County. Thanks, too, for the pro tip on Transcript. I’d never heard of that, but I definitely see the value to this work. And the AcreValue link you cited in the above comment does include counties for West Virginia as well as some of the parishes within each county – mighty helpful. Here I go again… Wish me luck!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love Transcript. A really neat thing it does is to convert images in a pdf to jpg and save them to the same folder as the pdf with the same name. No need to find a program to convert pdf to jpg and no need to name the saved jpg files. Quick and easy.
      As for the AcreValue link I haven’t played around with it and didn’t realize it was a not just for Wythe.
      Good luck and you’re very welcome, Michael.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. A few familiar thoughts, like “Am I the only person who doesn’t know about…” and “I thought I was at a good stopping point … But comments made had me doing new online searches… which pointed me to almost the exact location ”
    I’ve been looking for a Toffee Factory, and only found the easiest- and more obvious – source of evidence once I’d finished and pretty much guessed the location from other materials.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I haven’t done much metes-and-bounds work because I usually don’t do deep US research, but am fascinated with the process. In the Netherlands, land records just mention neighbors, often without even the cardinal directions. Makes for difficult puzzles.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I haven’t even looked into land records for Luxembourg other than looking at the cadastre de Marie-Thérèse 1767. I haven’t as yet found an actual ancestor in the collection – which is huge and browse-only.


      3. I confess I have still not visited the Luxembourg Archives. Having the BMD (civil and parish) and census online for Luxembourg has kept me so busy that I haven’t even taken the time to look into other documentation. Thanks for the push in a different direction, Yvette.


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