Deeds what they may say or why you may not find one.
It has been my experience that deeds after a State or Federal Census may be the next best record to look for. As a Grantee or Grantor if you find your ancestors name in either listing, you may find when they settled in a given area and were prosperous enough to buy real estate. The land description may include hereditaments (inheritable property-building or in some cases valuable timber) or appurtenances (objects that can cast a shadow i.e. fences and the like).
Likewise being listed as the grantor oe seller, may identify the time when youir ancestor moved on or sold land and or buildings to raise money.
Buying or selling can be done by a private individual, an agent for a land company or some with the power of attorney to facilitate usually a sale to settle an estate.
In some cases, a deed may include as a recent deed for a property in Geneva did, recount the power of attorney and the chain of ownership for what was then called the Pulteney Estates.
A deed may also be simply a lease which would list the terms of up keep of a property, reserve certain agricultural products to be reserved by the leasor and the penalties if payment terms as outlined in the lease.Starting around 1870, insurance to cover the property being leased became a requirement to protect the owner from the actions of the leasor.
The lack of a deed may not indicate a person lived in a given area. Deeds in some cases were not required to be recorded as long as seller and buyer each retained a copy. A deed to sell a property may be recorded inb a clerks office at the same time the deed to originally purchase the same property is recorded. This helps to establish proof of ownership and the right to sell.
In short a deed when found can help to flesh out a family story and shouldn’t be overlooked.