In cases where boundaries are uncertain,we sometimes suggest a Deed Study of the property. A Deed Study is not a survey, and cannot be used for legal purposes, but the information acquired during research is quite valuable. For larger rural properties a Deed Study can sometimes satisfy a landowners curiosity about boundary lines and areas without incurring the expense of a survey.
Current deeds are often unclear or vague in their descriptions, but many property boundaries today are the same as they were a hundred years ago (or longer). Important facts about modern land boundaries can be found in the old deeds. Reconstructing ancient property lines is like solving a jigsaw puzzle. A thorough Deed Study involves researching your deed and the deeds of abutters to create a picture of the properties as they were in the past.
Here we have some examples of the maps produced by deed studies. (Not shown is the extensive collection of deeds and research notes which are used to make these Deed Study maps). The first example shows a small tract of about 12 acres near a small town center.
This next example is of a very large tract in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts. There are dozens of parcels covering several thousand acres shown on a two-sheet deed study map. In this case a state agency was buying the land and did not want to go to the expense of having it surveyed. The deed study depicts every tract with its approximate location and shape, along with the best available deed “calls” found in the research.
Our most complete deed studies are drafted as this example. In this case the land title and boundaries were of interest to many different people, so a neatly drafted 2-sheet map was issued, complete with lists of parcels, legend etc.
A key to the ancient Proprietors’ Lots was supplied to make it easier to understand the original grants- many of whose boundaries are current today.