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Transmitted Records

To submit a copy request: Copies

How the Index entries are set up and arranged: Index entries

To search the index: Index search

Real Estate Records prior to 1823

Before Yates County was organized in 1823, all of its towns had settlements, and therefore land transactions and records documenting them. Deeds and mortgages were filed at the county seat, which was in Ontario or Steuben County, depending on the town. Of the nine modern towns, seven came from Ontario County, and two from Steuben.

All the deeds recorded for land sales in the towns which became Yates County were transcribed by commissioners in the mid 1850s. There are five books of deeds from Ontario County, two from Steuben County, a book of mortgages from each, and a general index.


The original five towns which made up the new Yates County were Benton, Italy, Jerusalem, Middlesex and Milo. Potter and Torrey were made from portions of some of these, making a total of seven towns in the original area of the county. Land transactions in these towns began in the fall of 1788, as soon as Oliver Phelps and Nathaniel Gorham completed their purchase of the Genesee Country from the Senecas. Purchases and sales of real estate in these towns between 1788 and 1823 were originally recorded in Canandaigua, the seat of Ontario County.

The two southernmost towns, Barrington and Starkey, were annexed in 1826. Unlike the others, these two towns were taken from Steuben County, and thus all transactions between 1796 (the year Steuben County was formed from part of Ontario County) and 1826 were originally recorded at the county seat in Bath.

To summarize: from 1788 to 1796 the entire area of modern Yates County was in Ontario County, from 1796-1826 part was in Steuben. All the rest remained in Ontario until 1823, with (naturally) one exception. The area between the forks of Keuka Lake, known now as Bluff Point, was part of the Steuben County town of Wayne until 1815, when it was transferred to the (then) Ontario County town of Jerusalem.

The transcribed (or transmitted, as they are legally called) deeds from Ontario County fill five books of nearly 600 pages each, and document the earliest settlements in the county, the tribulations of the people caught up in the uncertainties over the Pre-emption Line, bankruptcies and consequent forced sales, distribution of land to settle estates, gifts of land from one relative to another, and numerous other important issues. They are an incredibly valuable resource. The two Steuben County books are equally valuable and interesting.

The original books have been wrapped and are stored in the Archive. Copies were made several years ago, and it is these volumes that are available for use by the public. The General Index is organized by the initial of the surname of the buyer (grantee) and the seller (grantor). It covers both sides of all transactions in both counties, and is fairly confusing to use. A new index has been prepared for posting on line. [See below.]


There are two books of transcribed mortgages. One contains 116 pages of mortgages originally recorded in Steuben County between 1797 and 1825; most apply to land in the present towns of Barrington and Starkey, which were annexed to Yates County in 1826; a few apply to lands on Bluff Point in Jerusalem, which was annexed by Ontario County in 1815.

The other book contains 632 pages of mortgages originally recorded in Ontario County between 1792 and 1821. Each book is indexed separately in the front by the initial letter of the surname. Grantees (also known as mortgagees, who were the lenders of money with real estate as collateral) and Grantors or mortgagors (borrowers) are in separate columns on the same page of the index.

Copies of land instruments

Of course, anyone who wants to may copy any of these documents at the County offices. The County Historian will also make copies and send them to researchers by mail, for $1 a page (to help cover postage costs).

To get your copies in a timely manner you must include in your request:

  • your name and postal address;
  • the name of the County and index (eg: Ontario grantee);
  • the reference exactly as it is in the index;
  • the phrase "Historian's deed (or mortgage) request" in the subject line.

Submit copy request

 How to use the Index

All index files in this series are set up the same way. A typical "Grantee from Grantor" entry would read:

Benton Levi // Caleb Benton // 1 // 245

This means that a parcel of land was sold to Levi Benton, the grantee, by Caleb Benton, the grantor. The deed was recorded at Book 1, page 245.

The same transaction would be entered in the "Grantor to grantee" index like this:

Benton Caleb // Benton Levi // 1 // 245

This is the same deed, so the reference is to the same book and page; however, the file is sorted by the surname of the seller instead of the buyer as in the first example.

Since there is only one book of transmitted mortgages for each county, there is no need for a volume reference for them. Index entries in the Grantee part look like this:

Williamson Charles // George Brown // 78

This means that Charles Williamson (who was the agent for the Pulteney syndicate) loaned money to George Brown for the purchase of land, and this transaction was recorded on page 78 of the Ontario transmitted mortgages. The instrument is in the form of an indenture and resemble deeds quite a lot, except they are conditional on the payment terms being met. Thus this particular mortgage will read as though Brown is turning over a lot to Williamson unless he (Brown) can make a series of payments amounting to a certain sum by a certain date. That's why the lender is the grantee, because he takes title to the real estate unless the payment is made.

Entries in the Grantor part of the mortgage index look like this:

Brown George // Charles Williamson // 78

Nowadays the grantee or mortgagee is nearly always some institution, like a bank or mortgage company. But at the period covered by this index, people were more apt to borrow purchase money from a relative, the seller of the property, or some pther private individual. They can sometimes be very revealing, and are almost always well worth checking.

Together, the transmitted land records represent a massive effort in an attempt to make title searches more convenient. Modern researchers can find a wealth of information, including location and value of property; occupations, places of residence and relationships among the parties; land usage; distribution of rights (to water, minerals and other resources); clues to estate settlements; the maiden names of married women, and their given names as well; and the patterns governing the early settlement of the area.




Deeds Transmitted from Ontario County 1788-1823
Grantee from Grantor


Grantor to Grantee



Deeds Transmitted from Steuben County 1796-1826
Grantee from Grantor



Grantor to Grantee



Mortgages Transmitted from Ontario County 1788-1823
Grantee from Grantor


Grantor to Grantee


Mortgages Transmitted from Steuben County 1796 - 1826
Grantee from Grantor


Grantor to Grantee