Don Allison has been restoring an 1835 home in northwest Ohio for the past 15 years. Mr. Allison, who was the editor of a daily newspaper, spent a lot of time studying the history of the house. He checked the county library files, read local history books, and scoured the county's tax and property records. Along the way, he learned that his home is probably the oldest brick home in Williams County, Ohio, and was built by John Perkins, a veteran of the 1812 War and one of the first district judges to be appointed to the area.
"It was extremely rewarding to learn this rich history of our home," said Allison. “I often sit in the different rooms and imagine how the previous residents go about their lives. I feel very attached to them and our search has not resulted in anything we would regret in any way. "
To start researching the history of your home:
Create a title chain. The first thing you want to do is identify the owner of the property. Start with your local appraisal office. You can request the information on the property card, which includes your name as the owner, the name of the person who brought it with you, the property address and a property card from an appraiser. This information is available online in many cities.
Follow the past of your home. Most city clerks' offices keep copies of title deeds for you to trace. Start with the person you bought the house from, keep track of who they bought the house from, and so on. Again, much of this information, especially recent records, is available online, but at some point you will likely need to call the city or county clerk to find out where the title deed is being kept. Sometimes in a town hall, sometimes in a local library or historical association.
Please help. You are likely to come across everything from land registry records to estate records – court documents showing how an estate was distributed after an owner died to warranty deeds – which guarantee a unique title and right to sell a property to deeds of repeal – which are commonly used to transfer property between family members and more. Understanding these documents can be a chore. You're looking for records that show the people and families who lived in the house and anything that shows how old it might be. Chances are, you will get stuck at some point.