Unpacking Real Estate Abstracts
As more and more newspapers are being digitized and made broadly available, it’s worthwhile to pay attention to some of their more mundane sections. Take, for example, real estate notices: brief abstracts of public real estate transactions, including transfers or conveyances and mortgages. These abstracts often name the grantee(s) and grantor(s), locate the land, and include the dollar amount of the transaction.
Since these abstracts are common (but not universal) from the late-19th century onward, they can serve as excellent substitute indexes to deeds of the period, when the actual indexes have not yet been digitized. In some cases, they can serve as substitute indexes to other records as well . . . if we know how to read them.
Take a look at the abstract below from two 1903 Brooklyn papers. What can you derive from it?
Humboldt St, w s (the rear end of lot being 86.3 e Diamond st at point 440.6 n Driggs Ave), runs e 86.3 to Humboldt st x s 25 x w 82.8 x n to beg h&l, Edward Magee & Rose, wife Adolph Cooney, children & heirs Luke Magee, to Rosee, wife Joseph Kellner & Sallie, wife Bernard Siegel . . . . nom
If you have trouble logging on or accessing the articles, please contact [email protected]
Great digging and food for thought as usual, Aaron! But is it likely that Rose “McGee,” 80, in the 1870 census, was the mother of a son aged 33? A difference of 47 years separates them, so perhaps she was a grandmother or another female relative? She would have been about 47 when he was born around 1833. Mothers certainly have children at older ages today, but 47 seems rather high for 184 years ago!
Sorry, I meant 188! Not a good math day!
Point taken, Joe. You’re absolutely right!
I liked “unabstracting” as a word. It was like rehydrating it with all the real words. Great article!