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Locating county records in Texas.  



What information does a local county clerks office need in Texas to be able to locate records on rural farmland, about 100 acres, in preparation for having the land surveyed. The land has been in the family for generations. Nothing could be found by any of the owner's names.



Dear Patty,

I think the "stake in the ground" may be of metal if the survey was performed since 1940. Before that, especially in the Piney Woods, it may also be a pine knot, or something similar.

Another source of information may be the County District Clerk's Office, as it has records of estate settlements (wills) and heirship partitions. Many counties in Texas have online services that you can investigate yourself for recorded instruments from the luxury of your own home. 

Lastly, you may want to have a local Title Company perform research for you. This service may cost as little as $100 (of course, it may go as high as $1,000, too).

P. S. One other thing, a surveyor's duty is to locate the original position of the boundaries of your tract of land. That's why we have to go to such lengths to to our job right. We might be searching for evidence that is 190 years old.



Jack Chiles

10 Answers

Be prepared to soon be wanting to know a variety of things you would have never guessed you want to know.

If the property has been passed down from one generation to the next without a need for deeds to be filed it could be very challenging.

Start with what you are certain you know to be true.

The only easy one I can think of is in Oklahoma.  My grandfather was the homesteader in the 1907-12 timeframe.  It passed to my father upon my grandfather's death.  He recorded a deed adding my mother as co-owner.  After his death, my mother deeded that land to me.  The surname never changed in over 100 years.  But, if the original sole heir had been a married daughter, things would have been quite different.


Most County Clerks will not do the research, they can show you how to use their system. What County is this in? The County Appraisal District may have some information.   

Octa-Frequency GNSS Receiver, Quad Constellations


Try tax office?


Knowing what year your ancestors bought the land would be a very big help. If you don't know, sometimes the year can be found in the tax office faster.


Thank you all for your replies. I have copies of old Warranty Deeds from 1903 to 1964 describing 6 tracts of land that make up the 100 acres including book numbers, page numbers, and the word "Recorded".  When I hire a surveyor to have the land surveyed, would he go to the county clerks office himself knowing better how to locate what records he needs? I was trying to get prepared for having the survey done.


Javad Triumph-LS with 4 Super-Engine RTK


Any surveyor worth his grain of sand would do that and more.

This morning I am getting around to researching something for my daughter in law, esquire, and am beginning here:

My search begins here because the ranch is part of two pre-exemption headrights prior to 1834 and one school land circa 1942.

Your best advice came from Scott Ellis, begin with your county tax notices and take them to the county appraisial district office and find the land on a map and if you are lucky they will have in reference where the deed or other docuents declaring ownership of the properrty are recorded.


This post was modified 2 years ago by A Harris

Surveyors learn to search for everything pertinent at the courthouse. Even title company workers don't go to the same depth.

But, you can't fix stupid.  Just yesterday I was at a county office when two fellows came in wanting to see the current deed for the one fellow's small tract in a nearby city (25 miles away).  By listening to their conversation I learned want they really wanted to know was if there was an easement for a certain sewer line across that property.  That fact would rarely be included on a deed in this area.  No such easement was specified on the deed that was found.  I volunteered that what they really needed to do was search the index book(s) for that property for a recorded easement.  I could have done that for them in less than 10 minutes, but did not volunteer to do so.  They decided that if it wasn't on the deed then it didn't exist.  I could have listed off numerous examples of why their thinking was faulty, but I could see it would do no good.


Thank you again for sharing your knowledge and experience. I am learning that having land such as this surveyed to confirm and document where the boundary lines were meant to be is not as straightforward as most people probably think. It takes creative research, luck, and help from the right people along the way. And of course hiring a surveyor worth his grain of sand 😉

I won't bother y'all with all my questions. Well, except maybe this one. When the warranty deed says, "a stake for a corner", is it too much to hope for that the stake is made of metal and not wood? I have a feeling it is. Was thinking I'd go around the fence on the four wheeler with my metal detector. When I read where one of the deeds uses a tree as the starting point I changed my mind.  

Thanks again,

Terri(aka cowpatty)



I would suggest if you go around and try to find your corners with a metal detector, try not to dig them up yourself if you do find something.  Keeping it undisturbed in the condition it is found is extremely helpful in these instances.

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A surveyor will want to do his own research but that doesn't mean your time has been wasted.  You've helped point things in the direction you want to go.

"A stake" might have been anything. I might have been iron, it might have been wood.  Some kinds of wood can last a long time in certain conditions, or might have been replaced somewhere along the way with something more permanent. Even if not and the above ground portion of a wood stake is completely rotted away there may still be stain in the ground where the stub was. 


Good Morning, I can only make an educated guess as to what part of Texas you are located in for this survey, but most of the above help is going to really help you get far in getting your paperwork in order.  While any decent surveyor should do some homework on the job, if you have many of the records pulled, that saves us many hours of finding the trail, so to speak.  As for your "stake" question, I suspect that is first found off record on an older deed, possibly copied and pasted into new deeds,  but reads something like "to a stake and mound", or to "a stake in the prairie", and can be a code meaning for the original surveyor did not even visit that corner, but know that the following surveyors did visit that corner, and possibly left a monument of their own.  As for going around your fences with a metal detector, if the land has been in your family for that long, it could be possible that the corners are not at the fences...  Many reasons led to this over the years, from fences of convenience, to fences built before surveys were done, conflicting surveys, etc.  I guess my best advice to you is to search out who you wish to hire as a surveyor via websites, ask the title companies, the tax office (yes, they shouldn't recommend, but they could hint), friends, relatives, neighbors, all that.  Just don't go to the first in the phone book (sometimes that's a great idea, depending on where you are), or the largest ad.  Your property is one of the highest valued items you will ever own, trying to save money by hiring the cheapest surveyor usually ends up biting you, maybe even costing you some of your valuable asset later in life when a  responsible surveyor comes in and does the job correctly.

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