Locating Plantations

Once you have identified the slaveowner, it is possible to identify the location of the farm or plantation. In most cases, the primary resource used for locating plantation is deed records on file in the county courthouse.

Do you know the name of a plantation but not the slaveowner? If so, you should contact the local historical or genealogical society in the county where the plantation was located and get help from a knowledgable local source. Many people gave their plantations names other than a surname, so you will need more information to match the slaveowner with the plantation.

When was the Land Purchased?

Once you know the name of the slaveowner, look in the Grantee Index to Deeds in the county courthouse for his name. The Grantee is the person who is buying the property. If there is a deed, it will tell you when the land was purchased and will provide a legal description of the land being purchased.

When was the Land Sold?

To determine when the plantation was sold, look in the Grantor Index to Deeds in the county courthouse for his name. The Grantor is the person who is selling the property. If there is a deed, it will tell you when the land was sold and will provide a legal description of the land being sold.

Where is the Land Located?

Once you have a deed (or multiple deeds), you can use the property description to determine the location of the plantation. To do this, you will need to locate modern and historical maps of the county. You will also need to learn a little bit about how property is described in the area. Using the property description, try to find it on the maps using key descriptive phrases, such as the names of streams and roads. If you have all your documents with you, a helpful clerk might be able to show you where the property is or how to find it yourself.

In many cases, especially in the Atlantic coast states, the legal description of the property is not detailed enough to draw specific boundaries on a map. In these situations, you may need to bring back some of your puzzle-solving skills and piece together deeds from the immediate area.