Friday, December 5, 2014

Orange County Register of Deeds

For those of you who live outside Orange County and/or don't follow local government/politics, last Tuesday - December 2, 2014 - I took office as the Orange County Register of Deeds. I am really proud to undertake this responsibility. This is an office once held by Orange County's first surveyor William Churton. It was also held by the notorious Edmund Fanning - against whom much of the Regulators' anger was directed back in 1770. It is the office that is responsible for protecting and maintaining the county's land ownership records. As such, the Register of Deeds is in no small part the custodian of the county's history. If you read this blog, then you know I take that seriously.

Now that I am Register of Deeds, there will be a number of improvements to the modern process of recording deeds and obtaining marriage licenses etc. But for purposes of this blog, I want to focus here on some other things that I will be working to bring you.

Job One at the Register of Deeds office is to keep up with modern transactions, but a part of the job is also making our public records public. So I intend to do that. First, the Register's office is soon going to bring you access to scans of every page of every deed book in Orange County. Second, my office will be working gradually to abstract/transcribe many of our oldest records in Orange County. As we complete different aspects of this work, we'll post our information online so that researchers can easily find them.

Prior to becoming the Register, I had been researching the old land records of Orange County, North Carolina for several years. I have accumulated a large body of information. The information I gathered before becoming Register belongs to me. The work of this kind I do from here on out belongs to the people of Orange County. To simplify my life a bit, I am nevertheless going to release most of my private research on the internet subject to a Creative Commons License.

Therefore you can look for some MAJOR new blog posts later this month!

At the same time, this means that I will cease publishing almost all of the small run books that I have been producing for the last several years. I am going to endeavor to move all of that information online. The exception to this will be two major new publications which Stewart Dunaway and I have almost put the finishing touches on:

Granville Grants & Surveys of Old Granville County (including grants in Bute, Franklin, Vance and Warren Counties) 1746-1763

Granville Grants & Surveys of Old Rowan County (including grants in Iredell, Davie, Yadkin, Surry, Stokes, Forsyth, Davidson, Randolph, Guilford, Rockingham, Wilkes Counties) 1746-1763

Both of these works will include detailed images of the surviving surveys by Thomas Person, William Churton, James Carter and others who worked for Earl Granville. In addition, we included every reference we could find to grants from Lord Granville in the early deed books of the counties which were soon formed form Granville and Rowan Counties. Additionally, we have included as much subsequent title history information as we could readily find (i.e. citations to later deeds that are the subject of the original Granville grants catalogued in these two sets).

Those two sets will be available for purchase from Stewart Dunaway through - the equivalent information for Granville grants and surveys in Orange County records will be among the things that the Orange County Register of Deeds office will be publishing online.

I hope some of y'all enjoy the two forthcoming sets on Granville County and Rowan County land grants from Earl Granville. And I hope everyone will enjoy the huge body of free online information that will be forthcoming from the Orange County Register of Deeds office.

And let me close with a huge thank you to the voters of Orange County for electing me Register of Deeds!

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