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An Overview of Courthouse Records

Peter M. Neidhardt, Nuts and Bolts of Mineral Title Examination

The task of locating various county, federal, and state title records is not “rocket science.”31 However, it does require a careful, methodical approach, together with a fundamental knowledge of how various records offices are organized and where certain types of records are kept. The scope of this paper prevents an exhaustive consideration of each and every aspect of title records on a state-by-state basis. As a result, what follows is a general discussion of the most commonly encountered types of title records with mention of the more obvious recordkeeping and methodology differences. The discussion that follows will touch upon the use of online information and its usefulness to the title examination process. Overall, great strides have been made in this area in recent years and ignoring the expanding availability of these resources would be a disservice.

Most mineral title investigations will entail building a chain of title in one form or another. A chain of title is simply “[t]he ownership history of a piece of land, from its first owner to the present one.”32 Ordinarily ownership information is collected in a run sheet-type format, where record title instruments are transcribed or typed line by line in ascending recording date order from top to bottom. Certain types of mineral examinations will require a less than complete chain of title (e.g. the lease take-off,