The Westmoreland County Tax Mapping Department located in the Courthouse in Greensburg completed a project to map the patents (or final title) of the county's original tracts and their owners about 30 years ago. Patentees were the people to whom the colony or state of Pennsylvania transferred ownership of each tract.
The county project produced one overall "Frontier Map 1783-1825" dividing the entire county into 353 segments. They then "zoomed in" and created two sets of patent maps: (1) a Township Patent Map for each township showing the segment of the 353 boxes located within that specific township (Mount Pleasant Township, for example, contains detailed maps numbered 241-331); and (2) further zooming in, they drafted 353 Detailed Tract Maps showing 4-8 original metes-and-bounds tracts with their owners, superimposed over current road maps with some of each tract's identifying information. The Detailed Tract Maps themselves are available at a nominal cost.
The maps produced by the county project provide only partial information for each tract, necessitating a great deal of research on our part. Each chapter in this atlas now covers one township as it currently exists and begins with the relevant Township Patent Map. Following the patent map, charts contain all of the information we were able to discern regarding each tract: names of both the warrantee (original petitioner for the land) and patentee (person who received final title); size of the tract; name of the tract, if given; dates of the warrant and patent; Survey Book and page number; Patent Register and page number where the patent was recorded; and, finally, the Detailed Tract Map number where the tract in question is located. We also added extensive footnotes giving further information, including New Purchase Applications and neighbors shown on surveys at the time the survey was conducted. Some of these neighbors do not appear anywhere else in land records, and their appearance as a neighbor may be the only reference to their existence. Copies of the original state surveys are posted online by the Pennsylvania State Archives.
The patentee maps show the location of the earliest landowners of the county—in other words, those who bought their land directly from the colony or state. This involved three transactions: the prospective owner applied to the colony or state and (1) after paying a fee, received a warrant authorizing the tract to be surveyed; (2) after paying a second fee, a deputy surveyor conducted a survey; and (3) after paying a final fee, a patent was issued conveying final title. Many years can separate these 3 transactions, and ownership might change hands multiple times be tween the warrant, survey, and patent. We looked up every tract and added all missing information, particularly warrantee names and dates as well as the Survey Book and page number in which a survey was recorded. After a tract was transferred to a private individual, subsequent transactions were recorded in the county courthouse. Examining the maps for other families in the township makes it possible to locate allied families, baptismal sponsors, neighbors, fellow church members, and migration companions.
Note that separate surveys often were recorded in two places, the state Land Office and the county courthouse. The survey information on the Detailed Tract Maps is nearly always a reference to a county Survey Book (or Deed Book) located at the Westmoreland Co. Courthouse (those starting with a number), but we were almost always able to supply the Pennsylvania State Survey Book and page number (those starting with a letter) by looking up the warrant information in the Westmoreland County Warrant Register or the New Purchase Application Register. Keep in mind that Westmoreland Co. originally encompassed far more territory than it does today, but this atlas includes only the boundaries of present Westmoreland County. These land conveyances start in the late 1760s when the western portion of Pennsylvania was opened for settlement and continue through the 1800s with a few in the 1900s. Once the land was transferred from the government to private individuals, all subsequent sales were recorded Deed Books in the Westmoreland County Courthouse in Greensburg, PA.
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