Deed Chains

Every home has a history. In Shepherdstown, chances are good that a long line of people owned and/or lived in your home before you did. Creating a deed chain is one way to document this succession of owners and your home’s place in Shepherdstown’s history.

A deed chain is a listing of all known owners of a property, from the first person to purchase it to the present-day owner, if possible. A deed chain typically lists:

  • the grantor (seller) and grantee (buyer) for each purchase
  • the date of the purchase
  • the deed book and page where the purchase was recorded
  • a link to the deed, if available

It may also list:

  • the purchase price
  • the date the deed was recorded
  • any interesting details the deed chain creator has been able to find out about the people who lived there and events that took place there, from newspapers and other sources

Start with your deed when creating the deed chain. It will list not only you and the people from whom you purchased your home, but also the people they purchased it from, along with the deed book and page where the previous owner’s deed is recorded. With this information, you can go to the County Clerk’s Office at the courthouse in Charles Town and look up the deed for the previous owners. That deed will tell you where to look for the next deed, and so on.

You can print out the deeds at the County Clerk’s office for a small fee, and most of the deeds are also online (although there are some gaps in coverage, and you cannot print from the online site.) The County Clerk’s Office has deeds back to 1801, when the county was formed. If you want to extend your search further, you’ll need to look at deeds in Berkeley County and in Frederick County, Virginia. You can check with the Berkeley County Historical Society; the Society has deeds available on microfilm for much of the area. Once you have a list of names, you can stop there, or if you are hooked, you can begin to research the owners and find out what kinds of contributions they made to the town.

The Sharpsburg Historical Society has done a great job of putting together deed chains for many of the homes in Sharpsburg. They can be viewed here:

https://sites.google.com/site/davidhackley/sharpsburghistory

If there is interest, we might consider doing something similar. Please contact us if you would consider  volunteering to do a deed chain for your home.