Series 23279
Washington County (Utah). County Recorder Land certificates

Dates: 1856-1891.

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These records are housed in the Utah State Archives' permanent storage room.

Historical Note

An agency history is available.

Scope and Content

On the front page of the first Washington County Deed Book, John D. Lee inscribed, "Book A, Containing the Records of all transfer or conveyance of lands or tenements and all other instruments of writing and documents thereunto pertaining." He was quoting the territorial legislature's ordinance describing the duties of county recorders (Compiled Laws of Utah, 1876. Chapter three, Approved March 2, 1850, p. 130). The 1852 legislature established regulations for the transfer and possession of real estate. They determined that a quit claim or deed must be recorded for every sale or transfer of property, and that no transaction would be valid unless so recorded. They further directed that the recorder should not record land to any person or make any transfer without a certificate that the land had been surveyed (Laws of Utah, 1852. "An Act Regulating Transfers of Possession of Land and Real Estate," p. 66-67). Land certificates verify ownership and certify that the land has been surveyed. They provide a legal description of the land, specify the number of acres contained therein, and were signed by the county surveyor and/or county select men. Washington County Deed Books A and B contain land certificates as well as some transfers of title. Deed Books C, E, and I contain land certificates only.

The first records in Deed Book A are land transfers in Fort Harmony. Individuals transferred title to a block of the New Harmony town survey and in addition a garden lot and melon lot, usually to John D. Lee. In 1857-1858 many individuals in Fort Harmony and Washington City transferred their land to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for and in consideration of their good feelings for the Church. These transfers included not only land, but personal property and livestock. In addition to these records which comprise the first pages of Book A, a few other transfers are mixed with the certificates in Books A and B.

The first land certificates were recorded in Deed Book A in 1862. They are brief statements something like the following: "This certifies that I have this day surveyed to Charles Matthews the following described tract of land situated in Panacca, Washington County. . . commencing at a cedar stake and running north 160 rods thence west 160 rods, thence south 160 rods, thence east 160 rods to the beginning, containing 160 acres, known as lot 1, block 1, plat D of the Panacca Survey. September 1869. Signed George A. Burgon, County Surveyor" (Deed Book I, p. 5). The last land certificate was recorded in November 1891.



Research Note

The first two deed books include land certificates and transfers together, but beginning with Deed Book C (May 1869), the recorder began keeping transfers and certificates in separate books.

Related Records

Deeds (Pine Valley) from Washington County (Utah). County Recorder, Series 23264, contain subsequent deeds and other land related documents.

Deeds (Saint George) from Washington County (Utah). County Recorder, Series 23286, contain subsequent deeds and other land related documents.

Abstracts (Saint George) from Washington County (Utah). County Recorder, Series 23554, reference land certificates by location.

Abstracts (towns) from Washington County (Utah). County Recorder, Series 23555, reference land certificates by location.

Grantee indexes from Washington County (Utah). County Recorder, Series 82703, reference land certificates recorded after 1888.

Grantor indexes from Washington County (Utah). County Recorder, Series 82704, refer to land certificates recorded after 1888.

Deeds from Washington County (Utah). County Recorder, Series 84219, contain subsequent transfers and other land related documents.

Access Restrictions

This series is classified as Public.

Preferred Citation

Cite the Utah State Archives and Records Service, the creating agency name, the series title, and the series number.

Processing Note

Washington County land certificates were microfilmed by Utah State Archives in July 1973 and processed by Rosemary Cundiff in March 2001.

Finding Aids

Indexes: Books B, C, E and I include alphabetical indexes to land owners. Book A is unindexed.

Indexing Terms

  • Land titles--Registration and transfer--Washington County (Utah).
  • Real property--Washington County (Utah).
  • Washington County (Utah)--Recording and registration.

Container List

1 1856 Oct-1865 Nov; Deed Record Book A
1 1865 Dec-1869 May; Deed Record Book B
1 1869 Apr-1870 Dec; Deed Record Book C
1 1867 Apr-1875 Apr; Deed Record Book E
1 1873 Sep-1891 Nov; Deed Record Book I
2 Index to Deed Record Book I

Page Last Updated October 18, 2012.