Researching the History of your Property
While digging up the patch of ground behind my house I often come across things I donít expect to find. Oversized nails have turned up, horseshoes, and chewed plastic figures. How did these things get here and who lived and worked here at the time? Was this house always here? Has it changed over time? For anyone intrigued by these questions, there is remedy. Historical research can answer many of the questions.
The deed to your land is the legal description of your property and a good place to begin. A deed to property outside of a subdivision will include a "meets and bounds" description of the property relative to the range, township, and section number. This specifies the property and identifies it in historic records. Property within a subdivision will require that one trace the propertyprior to the subdivision platting. This information will be your starting point for further historical research. If the information you have at hand is incomplete, the Boulder County Clerk at the courthouse in downtown Boulder can provide the source for complete tax records, land records, deed books, and certificates of incorporation.
With the legal description of your property the Carnegie Branch Library, located at 12th and Pine in Boulder, can be a great resource for further historical investigation. There are three main references for this type of information: Assessorís Improvement cards, Boulder County Treasurer Ledger 39, and the "Boulder County Historic Site Survey" by Manuel Weiss. The Assessorís Improvement cards may include a photograph of the property taken in the 1940ís. The Treasurer Ledger will give the name of the propertyís original owner, its acreage, and date of proof of ownership. Weissí Site survey has indexed many historic sites in Boulder County and gives a description, history, photo, and maps. The archivists at the Carnegie Branch are also a valuable resource for those engaged in this research.
Information can come from unexpected sources. Neighbors can be a good source of local lore. There may be stories about individuals and events in your. area that can help research your property. Your land was probably part of larger land holding at some time in the past and you may need to research the larger property. If your property was connected with a Boulder County Open Space purchase, professional archaeologists will have conducted prehistoric and historic research about that area.
The next issue of the newsletter will include an article on the geology of the region!CONTENT