Finding Maryland County Land Records – Certified & Uncertified Plats (Tuesday’s Tip)

Posted by: Eileen A. Souza

Plats.net is a land record site of the Maryland State Archives. It contains plats (surveys) for all land records. For the genealogist, it is especially useful for early patents. The early land grant process involved obtaining a warrant, then having a survey done (resulting in a plat) and finally, in many but not all cases, having a patent awarded. Plats can be certified by the surveyor or uncertified for various reasons.

As stated in the “Beginner’s Guide to plats.net”:

“Plats are cartography relating to land ownership. They represent in graphic and pictorial terms the metes and bounds of properties as described in deeds. As such, plats are crucial to understanding and documenting the conveyance of land title in Maryland. Attorneys, realtors, surveyors, title searchers, and private citizens need to consult plats recorded in the circuit courts when researching property boundaries and land conveyances.”

From a genealogical prospective, plats.net or the Digital Image Reference System for Land Survey, Subdivision, and Condominium Plats, is an extremely valuable resource. Whether certified or uncertified, these land surveys contain at a minimum the following information:  Grantor, Grantee, Patent/Deed reference number, description of property and, usually, a drawing or plat of the property. If certified, it may also lead us to the patent or deed.

How To Use the Site

To access these records, click here or copy and paste www.plats.net in your browser.

You are now on the home page of plats.net. The site may prompt for a user name and password. If so, use the following:

User name:   plato   Password:     plato#

To walkthrough an example, select “Frederick County”.

On the Frederick County Circuit Court page, select “Frederick County Land Survey, Subdivision, and Condominium Plats”.

Use the “Advanced Search” link and in the “Description” field enter a property name, a surname or a year. These are the three search options that I use the most. The default “Sort Order” is currently set for Reverse Date, which means it returns the most recent transactions first; so for property name or surname searches, you should change the “Sort Order” to Date so it will return the oldest transaction first.

In this example, I entered “Elder” in the description field and the changed the sort order field to “Date”.

Wm Elder Elders Choice 1752 sm

The image above displays my search results. The property is Elder’s Choice. The first green arrow points to the Patent record, providing a reference to the original patent. The next two columns, Direct Scans and Microfilm Scans are zero (0), which means there are no online images for the patent. Selecting the link in the Accession Number column takes you to a page with the pull sheet information that is necessary to retrieve this document at the Maryland State Archives.

The second green arrow points to the Patented Certificate. This entry supplies the reference for the certified plat and displays a three (3) in the Direct Scans column. This means that there are three (3) images from the original documents available for this plat. Clicking on the link in the Accession Number column allows you to download the three images to your computer. The image below is one of the images from this selection for Elder’s Choice. Signed by the surveyor, it includes a wonderful scale drawing of the property.

Elders Choice Plat 1752 sm

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One Response to Finding Maryland County Land Records – Certified & Uncertified Plats (Tuesday’s Tip)

  1. Jo Henn says:

    Thank you for posting this. I’ve just hit an ancestor born in Maryland, and knowing how to use this might be very helpful. I wanted to let you know that this post is included in my NoteWorthy Reads #22: http://jahcmft.blogspot.com/2015/10/noteworthy-reads-22.html Enjoy your weekend!

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