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HHR Research Guide – Tracing the History of a Property’s Ownership

March 21, 2011

If the building is a major public structure or otherwise famous:

  1. Try a Google search.  For example, a search on "State Capital Concord NH" leads you to many relevant sites, including
  2. Use the Past Perfect and the Conway Public Library Catalogs to search for books with the property or building name as a keyword and/or for books about the area in which it is located.   Look in the index of any books you find for the item of interest.  For example, the index of Conway, New Hampshire, 1765-1997 by Janet Hounsell provides seven page references for the Bolduc Block, one for the Stickney Memorial Church, and several for the Willey House through a listing for “Willey slide of 1826”.



Up to 1770, there were no counties in NH.  All data on deeds and probate were kept in one place (in Portsmouth).  The “NH Provincial and State Papers” (40 vol.) are an excellent resource.  These volumes hold typed versions of all deeds and wills through 1770, among many other things.  The complete series is available in hard copy in the Henney History Room, along with an index on CD.  The NH State Papers also can be read online at


Carroll County has existed only since 1840 when it was formed largely from a portion of Strafford County.  Jackson (formerly called Adams, originally New Madbury), Bartlett, and Hale’s and Hart’s Locations were dis-annexed from Coos County to Carroll County on January 5, 1853.  Records for what are now Carroll County towns prior to these dates are found in either the Coos County or Strafford County records.  In addition, Waterville, NH, located in Grafton County, was known as the Gillis & Foss Grant until 1829.  A part of that Grant was transferred to Sandwich in Carroll County in 1864.


The Town Clerk’s Office in the Conway Town Hall has basic information on Conway deeds issued since 1967.  The Carroll County Registry of Deeds office has records for the entire county going back to 1840, and is located in the Carroll County Business Office at:

95 Water Village Road

PO Box 163

Ossipee, NH  03864

(603) 539-4872

Hours: Monday - Friday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.



The Carroll County Probate Court is the place to find wills, which may include bequests of real property.  It is found across the street in the Carroll County Courthouse:

96 Water Village Road

Ossipee, NH 03864

tel. (603) 539-4123

Hours: Monday - Friday, 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.

See for directions.


The Coos County Registry of Deeds is located at:

55 School Street

Suite 103

Lancaster, NH 03584

tel. 603-788-2392.



The Coos County Probate Court is found in:

Suite 104 at the same address

tel. 603-788-2001

Hours for both offices: Monday - Friday, 8:00am to 4:00pm.

See for directions.


The Strafford County Registry of Deeds is located in the Court House at:

259 County Farm Road

Dover, New Hampshire 03820

tel. (603) 742-1741

Hours: Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.



The Registry of Probate is in the same building:

tel. (603) 742-2550

Hours: Monday - Friday, 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.


The Court House is easily accessible from the Spaulding Turnpike. Take Exit 9 West, then left at the lights to the intersection with Sixth Street, then right for about one mile to County Farm Road, which is on the left.  After one mile you will see the Strafford County Court House on the right.


The guidelines below are based on facilities at the Carroll County offices, but are generally applicable.


  1. Go to the Carroll County Registry of Deeds in Ossipee.  Pick up a copy of their guide to using their records.
  2. Starting with the earliest known owner of the property, search the deeds looking for the "Grantor"who sold the building and property to the person whose name you know (the "Grantee").
  3. When you find this person, repeat the search to find the previous owner.
  4. Continue the process until you can find no previous owner.  Presumably, the earliest person you find either had any building constructed on the property or inherited it.
  5. If a person inherits a piece of property, there may or may not be a deed showing that transaction.   If you cannot find such a deed, look for the earliest known owner’s parents using birth records.   (See the Henney History Room Genealogical Research Guide for recommendations as to how to do this.)
  6. When/if you find ancestors, go to the Registry of Probate in the Carroll County Courthouse across the street from the Registry of Deeds.
  7. Using their index files, look for the will of the ancestors whose names you just found to see if they bequeathed the building to your earliest known owner.
  8. If you are successful, you can return to the Registry of Deeds to pick up the Grantor/Grantee search process looking for yet earlier owners.
  9. Note also that the Registry of Deeds has a large collection of "Plans", i.e., surveyors’ drawings of geographic areas showing property lines.  The office has an index linking those properties to the names of the property owners.  Of course, not all areas are covered, but many are, especially "planned developments".