Beaver County Resources
Our goal at Ancestor Tracks is be a one-stop portal to published maps and land ownership information allowing researchers to place more precisely the locations where our ancestors lived.
Original Land Owners: The state of Pennsylvania began platting the exact metes-and-bounds tracts of the earliest landowners, township-by-township, starting in 1907, but the Land Office only completed about 1/3 of the state before the project ended. Beaver County, fortunately, is one of the counties whose earliest landowners were completely platted (scroll to the bottom of this page for links to the Township Warrantee Maps posted by the Pennsylvania State Archives).
The draftsmen at the Pennsylvania Land Office used the Warrant and Patent Registers to create the Warrantee Maps. They searched each county and parent county, then each alphabetical section chronologically, in the set of 67 county Warrant Registers plus 3 pre-1733 ledgers called First Landowners of PA: Colonial and State Warrant Registers in the PA Archives, Harrisburg, 1682-ca 1940 ($35) saved to their computers. (Free images are also posted on the Pennsylvania State Archives website where each page of each county’s ledger is a separate pdf file). The Pennsylvania State Archives has posted the free online surveys (check both front and back sides) and you can order copies of the original documents from the Pennsylvania State Archives in Harrisburg using their order form. The draftsmen also searched Pennsylvania’s index to Patent Registers ($35). Within an index covering the relevant years, the names are grouped alphabetically by the first letter of the patentee’s surname, then grouped by volume number of Patent Book, and finally arranged chronologically by date of patent. Thus, the entire alphabetical section must be searched (which may be as little as one page to as many as 50) so as not to miss anyone.
Beaver County was created in 1800 from Allegheny, Lycoming, and Washington Counties but portions of it were included in several other counties as well: the future southern 1/3 of the county was in Cumberland County (1750- 1771), then Bedford (1771-1773), then Westmoreland (1773-1781), then Washington County (1781-1788), then Allegheny County (1788-1800. Also, the southern 1/3 was disputed between Virginia and Pennsylvania’s until the Mason-Dixon Line was finalized in 1780. The northern 2/3 of Beaver was annexed to Northumberland County in 1785 until it became part of Allegheny County in 1788.
This area was part of the Depreciation Land which was given to Revolutionary War soldiers, so locating an ancestor here definitely warrants further research into Revolutionary War records. Any Revolutionary War pension or service record will probably be on file in state archives rather than federal records since the land was given by the state of Pennsylvania. Note that land records may be the only piece of evidence that your ancestor served in the Revolutionary War!
To learn about the Pennsylvania Land Acquisition process that England set up to distribute colonial land (which basically continues today), as well as the boundary disputes (between Pennsylvania and Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia, and Pennsylvania and Connecticut), Revolutionary War Donation and Depreciation land, and land opened through treaties with Indians, see our Land Acquisition page.
19-Century Residents: We are posting images from Map of Lawrence and Beaver Counties from Actual Surveys by N.S. Ames which was published in 1860. This map is located in the Library of Congress Geography and Map Division Washington, D.C. We hope that it will be a useful tool for locating your Beaver County families when coupled with the 1850-1880 censuses and downloadable published county histories: Jacob Fraise Richard’s 1888 History of Beaver county, Pennsylvania, and Joseph Henderson Bausman’s 1904 History of Beaver County, Pennsylvania, and Its Centennial Celebration (Volume I and Volume II).
Click on the township of your choice below. Once the images are loaded, they can be enlarged by clicking on them. If an image doesn’t enlarge, right-click on it and choose “Open Image in New Tab.” When it is opened in a new tab, you will be able to zoom in. You can also save the images.
While the map in the Library of Congress, is in the public domain the images we have taken belong to us and are not to be used for commercial use. For those wishing to use them for personal use (including illustrating a family history you are working on), we give permission to use them, but we would appreciate attribution to Ancestor Tracks. It takes much time and effort to locate, process, edit, and post these and the many other county images we have posted, so we appreciate this courtesy.
Big Beaver Township
Center Township [see Moon Twp]
Daugherty Township [see Pulaski Township]
Moon Township [now Center Township]
North Sewickley Township
New Sewickley Township
Potter Township [est. 1910 from Moon and Raccoon Townships]
Pulaski Township [now Daugherty (est. 1894)]
Rochester Township [later enlarged]
South Beaver Township
White Township [est. 1887 from Chippewa Twp]
Links to the Township Warrantee Maps below will take you to the images posted on the Pennsylvania Archives website. Unfortunately, they are not indexed.
Please note that these land transfers were from the colonial or state government to the first private landowners. These transactions predate the deed books located in each county which show transactions from one person to another person.
Once the land passed into the hands of a private owner, any subsequent transfer of the land was recorded as deeds in the county courthouse as it existed at that time.
Tutorial: Scroll down to below the table to learn how best to use these Warrantee Maps to gain the maximum information regarding your ancestor’s tract.
Beaver Co. Township Warrantee Maps: Links to Images on Pennsylvania State Archives Website
The following is an explanation of the descriptions shown on each tract. Refer to the tract owned by Ebenezer VOWELL near the top of the Hopewell Township map for this discussion. You will see that 300 acres and an allowance of 6% for roads was warranted to Ebenezer VOWELL on 27 Dec 1784 and it was surveyed 23 Mar 1785. Then it was patented to James SHORT 16 July 1785 and recorded in Patent Book P3, page 460 (shown as P.3-460 on the tract). Sometimes there are many years between each of the three steps (warrant, survey & patent) in finalizing the title of the first landowner and the tract may have passed through several hands before the patent is granted since each step involved paying a fee; in this case it did pass to another owner but it occurred within 6-7 months, indicating that VOWELL may have been speculating rather than settling.
According to this Warrantee Map, his western neighbors, John and Sarah RUSSELL, appear to have settled there in 1837, and his eastern neighbor, Solomon IRON, appears to have settled in 1825. To see who Ebenezer’s neighbors were at the time his tract was surveyed in 1785, though, you need to look at his survey which is online. Unfortunately, the Warrantee Maps above show the Patent Register information rather than the Survey Book entry which means you have to take a couple of steps before you can see the survey which was copied into Survey Books now in Harrisburg (they have the original surveys as well). First, determine which county the township was part of at the time it was warranted. In this case, you need to consult the Washington County Warrant Register (Butler County was created from Allegheny County in 1800, and Allegheny County was created from Washington and Westmoreland Counties in 1788.) Thus, in 1785 this township was part of Washington County and that is the Warrant Register you must consult. Next, you can either search the county Warrant Registers which have been posted online by the Pennsylvania Archives in Harrisburg or download all 67 County Warrant Registers ($35) which can be saved onto your computer for easy access in repositories where no internet connection is available.
For Ebenezer VOWELL, go to the section of the Washington County Warrant Register that starts with “V” and then find him chronologically by his warrant date (27 Dec 1784). You will see several other VOWELL warrantees who received warrants on the same day – they are probably all related so you should check them all out. The right two columns of the Washington County Warrant Register show that Ebenezer’s tract was recorded in Survey Book A7, pg. 49. The Pennsylvania Archives in Harrisburg, under the direction of Jonathan Stayer, has posted images of both the front and back side of every page of the Copied Survey Books online. Click on Volume A-7 and then page 49. The survey shows the date it was created for Ebenezer VOWELL and that it was situated on the waters of Logtown Run in (then) Washington County. It shows the neighbors at that time (1785) as Joseph ROBISON, the Logstown tract, and “vacant.” It also gives additional survey information for the adjoining tracts (C194-192, D45-28 & 29, C47-133, and C4-233). By looking at each of these surveys, you will find that Ebenezer’s tract was owned by Edward WARD in 1812 and later by Solomon IRONS and then William IRONS by 1868, and that John and Sarah RUSSELL’s tract (shown as warranted to the RUSSELLs in 1837 on the Township Warrantee Map) was surveyed for Thomas L. BIRCH in 1812 and actually warranted to William DAWSON in 1785. All of these transactions occurred before final title was handed over from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Always check both the front and back of the survey for additional information. Nearly all surveys show the date of the warrant, the name of the county as it then existed, the date of the survey, and the neighbors owning the surrounding tracts at the time of the survey. Many times there is additional information.
If you are interested in the person who actually received final title, or patent, to the land, all of the information you need has been recorded on the Township Warrantee Map (the date, Patent Book number, and page number). No additional information is recorded in the index to the Patent Registers, although you can check (they are posted online by the Pennsylvania State Archives, or you can download all of the state Patent Registers ($35) and save them on your computer for immediate access. You must search by the last letter of the patentee’s surname–in the case of Ebenezer’s tract, this would be James SHORT. As shown on the Township Warrantee Map, SHORT’s patent of 16 July 1785 is recorded in Patent Book P3, pg. 460.