Somerset County Landowner Resources

Ancestor Tracks is committed to becoming a one-stop resource for researchers of early Pennsylvania landowners. In addition to publishing our own books, we are posting images of 19th century maps and atlases that we personally took in the Library of Congress. Our goal is to post landowner maps, or links to other websites with landowner maps, for every county in the state.

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.  See our explanation of how land was transferred from the government to individual owners from the earliest days of settlement.

We are incredibly fortunate that, while Pennsylvania did not plat the tracts of the earliest landowners of Somerset County, it was taken on as a project by the Works Progress Administration (WPA). We are posting those maps below (scroll toward bottom).

Somerset Co. was created in 1795 from Bedford County after so many people moved into the area that it became necessary to open a new seat of government for them. Prior to 1771 when Bedford was created, the area belonged to Cumberland Co. Thus, all of these counties should be checked for warrants, deeds, wills, etc. If your ancestor was actually a first landowner, purchasing his or her property from the colony or state of Pennsylvania, he or she should be on these warrantee maps drafted under the WPA. Information on most tracts is as follows: (1) Name of the warrantee, (2) size of the tract, (3) warrant date, and (4) usually the survey date. With this data, you can find out more about the first owner(s) of the tract; then you can compare it to the 1876 atlas we are posting to find the location of the tract. Here is the process:

  • Use the date of the warrant to open the correct Warrant Register (Cumberland, Bedford, or Somerset County) on the Pennsylvania State Archives website where each page of each county’s ledger is a separate pdf file, or download and save to your computer the entire 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).    
  • Navigate to the first letter of the surname in the warrant register. For example, a 446-acre tract was warranted to Abraham Stein in Brothers Valley Twp (see top left of the township warrantee map for his tract). His warrant was dated 1 Aug 1794. Open the Bedford Co. Warrant Register and look in the “S” section for the correct date. You will see that his survey was returned to the Land Office for patenting to John D. Roddey on 21 Nov 1864 and that the survey is recorded in Survey Book D28, pg. 257 (see last two columns). 
  • Click on the Survey Book (in this case, D28) and then the page number (pg. 257) to see the survey, which was actually conducted 10 Aug 1795 for Abraham Stein. You can access online surveys for free, and you can order copies of the original documents from the Pennsylvania State Archives in Harrisburg using their order form
  • According to the Bedford Co. Warrant Register, Roddey’s patent was recorded in Patent Book H58, pg. 96. The index to Patent Book H58, pg. 96, shows that John D. Roddy patented the tract 21 Nov 1864, the same date the survey was returned to the Land Office for patenting (issuance of final title to the tract), over 70 years after the warrant was issued! You can access all of the Indexes to Patent Registers here ($35). Patents were entered into ledgers by year, not county. They 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, you have to look through the entire alphabetical section (which may be as little as one page to as many as 50) to be sure you don’t miss anyone.
  • Keep in mind that all transactions involving land after a patent was issued is recorded at the county courthouse.

19th-Century Residents

In addition to the WPA Warrant Atlas below, we are posting free, downloadable images of the County Atlas of Somerset, Pennsylvania published by F. W. Beers & Co. in 1876. We hope that it will be a useful tool for locating your Somerset County families when coupled with the 1860 and 1870 censuses and published county histories such as the 1884 History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania  and the 3-volume History of Bedford and Somerset Counties published in 1906 (Volume IVolume IIVolume III).

If your ancestor was in the county before 1795 while it was still part of Bedford County, check out the website “Mother Bedford” maintained by Larry D. Smith. Larry has written extensively about early Bedford Co. and has posted much research, especially about early settlers and the Revolutionary War.

Finally, the Pennsylvania Archives in Harrisburg has posted the circa 1860  Map of Somerset County by Edward L. Walker. There are 9 sections to the map–click on the section you are interested in and it will enlarge.  Also, see the 1860 wall map of Somerset County in the Leventhal Map Center of Boston Public Library.

1876 County Atlas of Somerset, Pennsylvania

 

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. 

 

 

Business Directory

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1876 Township Maps 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Page 1 (Addison, Aleghany, Brothers Valley, Conemaugh, Elk Lick, Greenville, Jenner)

Page 2 (Jenner [cont.], Jefferson, Larimer, Confluence, Ursina, Middle Creek, Milford, Northampton, Paint, Quemahoning, Stoystown, Shade)

Page 3 (Somerset, Stony Creek, Shanksville, Summit, Myersdale)

Page 4 (Myersdale [cont.], Southampton, Upper Turkey Foot)

As mentioned above, a copy of Somerset County Atlas of Surveys and Warrants Collected and Plotted as a WPA Project, published in 1939, is located in the Office of Recorder of Deeds in Somerset. We purchased copies of the maps which we are posting here–we were assured these were the best copies available, although some of the writing is difficult to decipher. Only one township has been indexed, and if anyone creates an index for a township, we would be thrilled to post it! In the meantime, thank you very much, Tim Fisher, for taking the time to create this index for Lower Turkeyfoot Township! As Tim says, “A whole slew of the folks from Somerset Co., PA wound up in Perry Co., OH.” He should know since his grandmother was treasurer (and informal historian) of Perry County for 35 years who passed her extensive sources down to Tim, including her information on the Goodin family who came to Somerset County from Snyder County, PA, and then moved on to Perry County, OH. He has two websites for Perry County, Ohio: an interactive database with 22,000 individuals, and genealogy-related scanned and free sources for Perry County, Ohio. Do NOT miss his sites if your ancestors moved here!

Somerset County Atlas of Surveys and Warrants Collected and Plotted
as a WPA Project

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 is in the Somerset County Courthouse, we purchased the images to make them available to the public.  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 in addition to the WPA.