Press Release #1:
(shorter version of who we are and how we can be of help)
If your family came through Pennsylvania, you might be interested in a series of atlases published by Sharon and Angus MacInnes of Ancestor Tracks called Early Landowners of Pennsylvania: Atlas of Township Warrantee Maps of *** County, PA. These books show atlas pages of the land tracts, drawn in metes and bounds, of the earliest landowners of Pennsylvania. Each page reveals a wealth of information since neighboring tracts were usually owned by relatives, witnesses, and sponsors. Books and CDs have been completed for Berks, Fayette, Greene and Washington Counties. Ancestor Tracks plans to eventually publish books of all counties in Pennsylvania for which such maps exist. They have also published CDs containing .pdf files of all the the Warrant Registers on file in the PA Archives in Harrisburg, and will soon produce a CD with the indexes to the Patent Registers in Harrisburg. They are also posting free images to their website (www.ancestortracks.com) of later maps showing landowners which can be used in conjunction with the 1850, 1860, and 1870 censuses.
Press Release #2:
(regarding publishing the "Early Landowners of PA: Atlas of Township Warrantee Maps of ** County" Series)
We ran into Dr. Sharon MacInnes and her husband, Angus, at a recent genealogy conference and were excited to learn of their project to document the earliest landowners across the state of Pennsylvania.
The MacInneses have established a new firm, Ancestor Tracks (www.ancestortracks.com), to publish resources for those trying to find the land tracts of the earliest landowners of Pennsylvania. Their first step started almost three years ago when they introduced a new series of atlases called Early Landowners of Pennsylvania: Atlas of Township Warrantee Maps of *** County, PA. So far, books have been completed for Berks, Fayette, Greene, and Washington Counties. They plan eventually to publish books of all counties in Pennsylvania for which such maps exist.
Starting in 1907, the Pennsylvania Land Office began to research the original surveys, locating them once and for all on Township Warrantee Maps based on the outlines of current townships. These maps show precise metes-and-bounds outlines of each original tract and all surrounding tracts in the township, giving the names of the warrantee and patentee; dates of the warrant, survey, and patent; and the patent book and page of the recorded patent. Dates of the transactions range from the 1700s into the 1900s.
Until now, these Township Warrantee Maps, located in the Pennsylvania Archives in Harrisburg, have been underutilized because the thousands and thousands of names have never been indexed and the maps themselves are too large to work with easily. Ancestor Tracks has solved those problems by compiling all information into 8½” x 11” books with everyname indexes. Each County book contains separate chapters for all townships in that county. These include the Township Warrantee Map reduced to a 8½” x 11” and tables detailing all information from each tract, along with the coordinates where the tract may be found (see an example of a page from the Fayette County book at http://ancestortracks.com/Dunbar_pg1.htm). Numerous footnotes for individual landowners and townships from published county histories have been added.
Armed with this kind of information, researchers now can:
– Pin families down to exact locations prior to the 1790 census.
– Verify their ancestors by identifying settler groups who lived and moved near each other.
– Identify migration trails of their families as they moved through Pennsylvania.
– Determine the correct location of family wills, church records, deeds and orphans court records by knowing exactly where their families lived.
– Plan a trip to the land of their ancestors so they can walk where they walked and feel their roots.
Ancestor Tracks also publishes companion county CDs of scans of the Township Warrantee Maps which show far more detail than the 8½” x 11” reduced images in the books. They are also adding free images to their website of later maps showing landowners which can be used in conjunction with the 1850, 1860, and 1870 censuses.
The books and CDs can be ordered directly from the Ancestor Tracks website (www.ancestortracks.com)
Press Release #3:
(regarding publishing the Warrant Registers in the PA Archives on CD)
Ancestor Tracks, the producer of the series of books and CDs in the Early Landowners of Pennsylvania series, has announced the release of First Landowners of Pennsylvania: Colonial and State Warrant Registers in the PA Archives, Harrisburg 1682-ca 1940. This CD of .pdf files contains three major resources for researchers:
1) the warrant register for Original Purchasers (starting in 1682) with an everyname index for this register
2) two registers for Old Rights Purchasers (one for Philadelphia and one for Bucks & Chester Counties combined, also starting in 1682); and
3) all of the warrant registers (67 volumes, one for each county, starting with those in existence in 1733) for the original sales from the Penns, and then the state, to the first private owners of the land throughout Pennsylvania.
Please Note: These registers should not be confused with the deed books at county courthouses which are later records. The Warrant Registers on this CD predate the deed books located in each county.
These files are the primary finding aid for locating original warrants, patents and surveys in the Pennsylvania Archives when the name of the warrantee is known. While the 1682 registers give less information, each page of the County Warrant Registers gives the names of the warrantee and patentee; the size of the tract; the location of the tract (usually a township or a watercourse); the date of the warrant; the patent book and page number; and the survey book and page number. Remember that the original three counties — Philadelphia, Chester, and Bucks — were set up in 1682, while the rest of the counties were set up as soon as the population became dense enough to warrant a courthouse.
As each county was created, the Pennsylvania Land Office created a new register and began entering the land sales as they occurred. Thus, the warrantees are entered under the first letter of the surname, then more-or-less chronologically thereafter, and they appear in the county as it existed at the time that the tract was purchased. If a landowner’s name is in these registers, their original documents are undoubtedly in the Pennsylvania Archives. A copy of those documents can be obtained by writing to the Archives in Harrisburg or using the microfilmed records through your Family History Library (on the FamilySearch.org site, use the keywords “Pennsylvania Bureau of Land Records” and scroll down to “Original Warrants.” Then click on “View Film Notes” to find the film number to order).
Note: These registers were published in the Pennsylvania Archives (Series 3, Volumes 24-26), but the published version only includes the name of the warrantee, the number of acres (rounded off), and the date of the warrant (which is mislabeled as the date of the survey). No location or patentee information is given.
For more information and a map showing what land other resources now exist for the state of Pennsylvania, go to www.AncestorTracks.com. Or you can go to http://www.phmc.state.pa.us/bah/dam/rg/di/r17-88WarrantRegisters/r17-88AllCountiesInterface.htm#countylinks where the images have been posted by the Pennsylvania Archives, but the convenience of being able to page through the registers is lost and you must wait until each page downloads individually.
Press Release #4:
(regarding publishing the Patent Registers in the PA Archives on CD)
Ancestor Tracks, the producer of the series of books and CDs in the Early Landowners of Pennsylvania series, has announced the release of First Landowners of Pennsylvania: Indexes to the Colonial and State Patent Registers in the PA Archives, Harrisburg, 1684-ca 1995. These 10 volumes serve as name indexes to the patentees of the original land patents granted by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and by the Penn family before the Commonwealth was created. The volumes are indexes to Patent Register Series A-AA, Series P, and Series H. If you cannot find an original landowner’s name in the Warrant Registers (also on CD from www.ancestortracks.com), this is the next place to look. The names in the Patent Indexes 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. Please note that these registers predate the deed books located in each county because they deal with the first transfer of land to private individuals at the state level.
These files have also been placed online by the Pennsylvania Archives at http://www.phmc.state.pa.us/BAH/DAM/rg/di/r17PatentIndexes/r17PatentIndexMainInterface.htm, but the functionality of being able to page through the .pdf volumes is lost and you must wait for each image to download individually.
Ancestor Tracks is also adding free images to their website of later maps showing landowners which can be used in conjunction with the 1850, 1860, and 1870 censuses.