March 26, 2010
Q: I have two cabins which were built maybe in the 1930s, and I would like some guidelines on how to go about finding dates when they were built, who built them and any history on the cabins. |
– Patsy Schroeder; via e-mail
A: Interesting question! Luckily, a lot of this information is recorded, and it’s just a matter of tracking it down. But you will probably need some time and persistence.
It sounds like you own your cabins, so you already have an abstract of title or can at least access it via the title company that’s holding it. The abstract is a great document for home history information, as it gives all the legal transactions for the property in question. At the least, you will be able to find out who owned your cabins and for how long, but often, you can find out more.
Try finding the land, sale or transaction records for your cabins. Ask about these records at your county land use or assessors department. Failing that, a local historical organization may be able to help you locate building records or at least guide you in the right direction.
Finally, if you’re still trying to put some pieces together, browsing at the historical society or public library in your county is another way to glean information. City directories are often cross-referenced, so you might be able to look up information either by name or street addresses. Looking at old census records, newspapers and plot maps might help you pinpoint and verify some of the names that have come up in your searching.
All in all, your search is a matter of tracking down information about the buildings and the land itself, finding names of previous owners or builders, and doing further research with that knowledge on hand. If the information was recorded, you should (most of the time) be able to find it. Happy history hunting!