Chain of Title = Abstract of Title

The Chain of Title or Abstract of Title, is of Paramount Priority when considering recording an Original Land Patent/Grant Assignment by Contract.

One MUST do a title search all the way back to the Land grant or patent by the Government. The act of ceding, severance and relinquishment of Public Lands heretofore held by the Government, under the laws in force at the time of the Certificate is issued, are where your land rights are vested. These rights become vested when the certificate is issued, and/or the survey is completed. One MUST document a clear chain of title all the way back to the severance of the sovereign; without having been sold in a property tax sale. The tax sale is only selling the tax liability, or equitable interest the county may have in the land, without the actual conveyance of the Title to the land. This conveys only clouded color of title to the property, despite eventually acquiring a deed to the property. This clouded title must be cleared by buying out the lawful owner, or his heir's interest to the land, in order to possess a Lawful Title.


By: David W. Johnson

The United States of America never had, or held, sovereignty; proprietary title; public trust; public interest; control; or jurisdiction to, over and of the lands within the New England and Atlantic Coast states, excepting Florida, or Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Texas. The only exception being those lands which any state ceded total, partial or concurrent legislative jurisdiction, title, interest and control to the United States through their respective legislative act(s).

Excluding the founding states, Vermont, Maine and Texas [the foregoing where all sovereign nations prior to joining the Union], all other states entered into the Union came from territories acquired by the United States of America either from the founding states cession of lands, outright purchase or treaty obligations from foreign national governments. Congress, empowered by Article IV, Sec. 3, Cl. 2 of the Constitution, enters new states into the Union out of the public domain. These states are ‘public land’ states and are given certain powers, duties and responsibilities per compacts (contracts) identified as ‘Enabling Acts’ that Congress passes into law (statutes at large). Within some of these ‘public land’ states there exists land that had already conveyed into private ownership, prior to that territories acquisition by the United States of America, either from a previous foreign nation or one of the original founding states.

Congress by authority of Article IV, Sec. 3, CI. 2 of the national Constitution passed hundreds of acts to dispose of land from the public domain or, to confirm titles called ‘private land claims’ issued by a foreign government. Today someone is buying land out of the public domain from the United States and title to that land will be a United States of America land patent. That land patent is issued to the original purchaser [the patentee], his/her heirs or assigns [who ever else buys that land] forever. All rights, privileges, immunities and appurtenances of whatsoever nature as stated in the Congressional act and patent became vested to the patentee, his/her heirs and the assigns on the date of purchase by the patentee. Once the land patent issues no one, including the grantor, the grantee, an heir or, an assign can change the patent.

The highest evidence of title for the possession, use and enjoyment of land, as determined by two hundred plus years of American jurisprudence is a land grant or patent, issued either by a previous foreign government, a state or the United States of America. The land grant or, patent, is conclusive evidence against all persons whose rights did not commence previously and, against those persons not in privity with the paramount source of the title. The only laws applicable to land are laws that existed at the time when title was issued. This applies to foreign royal charter, land grant or patent, a founding state’s, a public land state’s or a United States of America land grant or patent issued at any time. Current public policy; statutes; ordinances, administrative rules or regulations, legal definitions of words or phrases are not applicable.

What is the intent of the phrase ‘the patentee, his heirs and assigns’? That was determined by the U. S. Supreme Court in Deli Vergne Refrigeration Machine Co. v Featherstone, 147 U.S. 209:  

‘The word ‘heirs’ in a patent should not be regarded as defining the extent of the patentees’ own interest. It is not used in a technical sense, but indicates the persons who are to have the benefit of the invention in the event of the patentee’s death. The absolute character of the interest of the patentee is not attributable to the word. The words of the statute ‘the patentee, his heirs and assignee’ whether constructed according to the rules of grammar or to the intent of Congress mean, ‘the patentee, his heirs or assigns’. They comprehend the legal representatives, assigns in law, and assigns in fact and the phraseology raises no limitation in the strict common law rule applied to realty.’

Naturally the obvious question you now ask is; what is my first step to take?

A. First you need to locate the original title to land you intend to buy or already own by doing a title search (abstract):

1. If the land is located in a public land state you look up the legal description [original U. S. government survey] usually listed in your deed, mortgage papers or property tax statement. It will look similar to this: Serfdom Acres subdivision # 1, lot # 6, located in the southeast quarter of the northwest fractional quarter of section 10 in township T4N R6E

2. If the land is located in one of the founding states; Texas; West Virginia; Kentucky or; Tennessee, the legal description usually listed in those documents as referenced above may be described in what is called ‘meets and bounds’. Whereas, the legal description will be based on either a foreign nation’s or that state’s survey and look similar to this: Beginning at the large oak then running west for 2,000 rods to a large boulder, then southwesterly for 1,500 rods to a creek, then easterly along said creek for 3,000 rods to the point of beginning.

NOTE a): In the original founding states original titles to land, especially located immediately in or near 250 - 350 year old cities, i.e.; New York City, Salem, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, St. Augustine, etc., the chances are the original titles emanated from a European nation. Example: New York City; the title could be from Holland or England, if not then it would come from the State of New York. For West Virginia, Kentucky or Tennessee the original title could be from England, Virginia or the respective state itself. For Texas the original titles could be from Spain, Mexico or Texas. For Florida [a public land state] the original titles could be from Spain, England, the United States of America or Florida. I can’t go into exact detail for each of the 50 states or the various territories.

NOTE b): In some county register of deeds offices land titles are recorded either by grantor/grantee listings which means the grantor is the seller and the grantee is the buyer or, by tract index which always deals with the specific legal description by on the original surveys. Also, be advised that one county register of deeds office may record by grantor/grantee while a neighboring county register of deeds office may record by tract index.

B. Now that you’ve located the original title you need to progressively work on up in history to determine that there was no break in the chain of title from that time to the present.

1. The reason for this is to make sure that you, if you already own the land, do not merely hold a ‘Color of title’ which is also called a ‘marketable title’. ‘Color of …” means it looks, acts, feels and smells like the real “McCoy” but isn’t, it only has the appearance of the real “McCoy”. ‘Marketable’ means that if someone is willing to buy it even if it’s worthless then it’s marketable. Similar to buying my interest in the Brooklyn Bridge and then recording it.

2. If the county where the subject land is located uses the tract index method of recording you can progressively work your way up in time to the present, just like reading a book.

3. If the county where the subject land is located uses the grantor/grantee method of recording then it’s generally easier to work backwards in time, from the present backwards.



  How you can research and document your Chain of Title Abstract yourself (2 page WORD document Example)