Property Research

Title Search Collection

In 2012 LMHS received three four-drawer filing cabinets, containing nearly 3,000 title search documents compiled by three Lancaster law firms. Thanks to the diligent work of LMHS volunteers, indexes of these documents are available below.

Before the transfer of real estate can occur, an attorney or title search company must determine whether there are any liens, mortgages, back taxes, etc. that must be paid off at closing, or if there are restrictions or easements on the land in question. This is determined by researching a number of legal documents. While these records are all in the public domain, it is a time-consuming process to pull together all of these documents, so it is useful when one finds that the legwork has already been done for a specific property. That is the advantage of this collection.

For each property, the law firm created a Summary or Brief of Title. Typically these include not only references to legal documents, but copies of entire deeds, wills, Orphans’ Court records, survey drafts, etc. that are relevant to the story of a particular property. This establishes the “chain of title” for a property but can also reveal related documents that may be of interest to the genealogist as well.

The records in this collection were compiled by the law firms of William H. Mann, John A. O’Brien, and Stein, Storb, Mann & O’Brien, from the 1920s to the 1990s, and generally include research at least 80-100 years prior to those dates. Most of the researched properties are in Lancaster County, with a concentration in Lancaster City.

To access the indexes, click on one of the links below. The spreadsheet (requiring MS Excel or compatible software) allows for sorting by owner, other persons, township/borough, date, and more. The two PDF files (requiring Adobe Reader) are sorted by location of property being conveyed and by persons named in the documents. Persons named are not only those who owned the property, but include anyone associated with the property according to the research at hand. Researchers are welcome to view the documents in the LMHS library or request copies (717.393.9745).