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Land Records

Land and Real Estate Records

Many different public records document land and real estate. Title searchers and abstractors use them every day, but genealogical and other local history researchers can also find vital information in these large and fast-growing records series.

Yates County has deeds and mortgages from 1823 to the present, transcribed deeds and mortgages from 1788-1826, tax rolls for all towns 1890-present and for some towns 1866-present, recorded maps 1823-present, and a few historic maps from the earlier period. It is possible to use these records to get a very clear idea of individual and community land use for the past 200 years.

Finding and Using Deeds and Mortgages

A key date to remember is that Yates County was organized in 1823, when five towns were split off from Ontario County; three years later, two more towns were added from Steuben County. The series of deed and mortgage books reflect these changes. All real estate transfers after 1823 are recorded in a series of deed books indexed by grantor (seller) and grantee (buyer). Mortgages after the same date are also recorded in a single series, indexed by mortgagor (borrower) and mortgagee (lender). There is also a smaller series of transcribed deeds originally recorded either in Ontario or Steuben County before the respective towns became part of Yates. These are also indexed by grantor and grantee, in a single General Index; early mortgages were also transcribed and indexed in separate volumes.

An index of the transcribed or transmitted deeds and mortgages has been prepared for posting on line. Copies of the relevant documents can be mailed to researchers.

Taxation Records

In New York State, taxes on real property are collected by each of the several complicated levels of local government. County and town taxes are levied together, so assessment and tax rolls for these municipalities are filed together at the county seat. Yates County holds a very large series of town tax rolls beginning in 1890, with some missing prior to 1915. In addition, the Yates County Records Management Project has microfilmed assessment rolls by town and filled in some of the missing volumes, with some towns complete from the 1860s. Current assessment records and tax maps are also available for public use.


Maps are extremely valuable sources of information about land use and ownership. All maps recorded with the County Clerk are indexed by town and by the name of the person for whom the survey was done. Nowadays these are mostly survey maps associated with land transfers, but many other maps have been recorded as well. The County Historian has a set of railroad right-of-way maps, early surveys and other 19th-century maps. Current tax maps are available for public use. The County has several published maps as well, which show the names of 19th-century property owners. These are dated 1854, 1857, 1865 and 1876.