Hamilton County Genealogical Society
P.O. Box 15865
Cincinnati, Ohio 45215-0865
Telephone:  (513) 956-7078

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A chapter of the
Ohio Genealogical Society

Hamilton County Damaged Deeds

Damaged Deed Books, 1836 to 1881 --- deeds and other records
On March 31, 1884, the Hamilton County court house was destroyed by fire. Every attempt was made to get as many deed and other books out of the building. While many were saved, many sustained severe damage by burning and water in trying to contain the fire. Afterwards a heroic effort was made to transcribe what information survived by copying into replacement books. The best they could do was to copy verbatim the parts of the page as it was before the fire (see examples below). While a significant number of all deed books have been indexed and are available on this website on the -- HCRO Deed Indexes webpage, many were not indexed.
A project was started in 2020 by our society volunteers to provide buyer and seller indexes to those books without an index. To create the indexes as fast as possible, in most cases, only the buyer and seller surnames will be available at this time. If the "Qualifier" field is blank, this means the entry is a "typical deed" - a single owner (seller) transfer to a single buyer. Each book will be added to the total index as soon as it is returned. Be aware the damage to an individual deed, mostly those at the front or rear of the original books, could be significant.
If the person in the seller column is special commissioner, county official, executor or others as indicated in the Qualifier column, the record will be reviewed in total as time permits by Jim Dempsey. Then additional information will be added and additional rows with additional names to further describe the court actions or additional events as many of these entries continue over several years. So researchers should check back from time to time to see if additional information has been added. See the following paragraph about court cases. 
Recorder's office access to these deed books:  https://recordersoffice.hamilton-co.org/hcro-pdi/doc-view/deed-book
NOTE:  On the above Recorder's Office page the "Deed Page" entry box is really for an image page number. Many of the deed books were microfilmed as 2 pages per image. Therefore if you have acquired a deed book page from the indexes below you will need to divide that by 2 and enter that result in the "Deed Page" box to get close to the book page needed.  Then you can page forward or back if necessary an image or two to find the actual book page desired.
Superior Court, Common Pleas Court, Probate Court cases involving land
In addition to individuals, partnerships or corporations, Executors, Administrators, Guardians or heirs may be sued or need a court decree to sell or transfer property. Or they may sue for non-performance of payments due an estate or a minor or unpaid taxes. The county Auditor, Sheriff or Commissioners may be appointed by the court as a Special or Master Commissioner. Those court cases involving property were also recorded in the deed books and list all the heirs, husbands and wives.
Typically deed book document headings have one name as seller and one as buyer. In this project, as time permits, we will try to include other surnames of those related to or connected to the indicated seller or buyer. Others mentioned such as notaries, judges, witnesses or appraisers will not be listed. So you need to use Ctrl-F to search all surnames in the index. These entries will be highlighted in the "Qualifier or type" column with the official's title (Sheriff., Auditor, Mast. Commr., Executor, Adminr., etc.) and/or "Super. Ct., "Com Pleas Ct.", "Probate Ct." There are over 4,000 court related cases listed so far. For more detail on the courts at the time of the record, and causes and officials you will see in the deed books, see the text in red in the Ohio court history and jurisdictions here.
Cincinnati court descriptions, Salmon P. Chase and Nicholas Longworth.
Cincinnati in 1851 - court system extract                                     Cincinnati in 1869 - court system extract
The estate and court related records have been extracted from the complete surname index below. They are arranged in deed book and page order so that all the entries with the same book and page number are together. Therefore you need to get the book and page numbers from the complete surname index below or click on "Court records 1836-80" to get the PDF list and then do a Ctrl-F surname search to get to the person of interest.
Court Cases in the 1836-1881 books listed below:  Court records 1836-81
Tracer articles 2008-2022 on deeds, leases, court cases etc. that may be helpful for your research here.
Special Records
Financial crises of 1837 lasted until mid 1840's due to speculative lending, cotton price decline and land price bubble. 343 out of 850 US banks closed entirely. With no insurance system, many Americans lost their entire life savings.  Investments and mortgages listing hundreds of names and locations such as Cincinnati, Buffalo, Erie, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Washington, Mobile, etc. relating to the crises are listed in deed book 82, pages 89-155 summarized  under "Financial". None of these names are indexed. See  Panic of 1837  at Wikipedia.
There are 1139 leases or releases in the books indexed so far, not in the separate Lease Books. These were typically businesses, houses and apartments downtown.
8 Deed Books still without indexes
Books  216, 232, 237, 249, 255,
Books  264, 282, 291
73 Deed Books 1836 - 1881, previously without an index, now indexed ( as of 5 November 2022, about 128,000 names):
59, 65, 68, 76, 78, 79, 81, 82, 85, 88, 102, 111, 122, 123, 129, 134, 138, 143, 145*, 146*, 148*, 150, 182*, 185*, 189*,
190*,191*,192, 201, 211, 227, 233, 239, 240, 241*, 242*, 243, 244*, 258, 259, 260*, 261, 262*, 263, 265*, 266*, 267*,
268, 269, 270*, 272, 273, 274*, 277, 278,, 279*, 280, 285*, 286*, 287*, 292*, 312, 319, 321, 333, 339, 355, 383, 392,
459, 460, 507, 515
Buyer Indexes:    Surnames** A-B       Surnames C-F     Surnames G-K      Surnames L-O      Surnames P-S     Surnames T-Z          
Seller Indexes     Surnames** A-B       Surnames C-F     Surnames G-K      Surnames L-O      Surnames P-S    Surnames T-Z            
** Note: unknown names or comments sort before letter A
(The Indexes are every word searchable, use Ctrl-F)
* Books with missing pages from 1884 fire or incomplete at this time*
145 - p. 1-156
146 - p  1- 52, 512 - 640**
148 - p. 1- 111, 589 - 640
182 - p. 1- 4
185 - p. 1- 10
189 - p. 1- 88
190 - p. 1-125**
191 - p. 1-116
201 - p. 415-640
227 - p. 1-24, 602-640
241 - p. 1-161, 494-630
242 - p. 1-174, 405-630
244 - p. 1-187, 188-630
258 - p. 1-38, 598-640
259 - p. 1-62, 603-636**
260 - p. 350-373, 376-388, 394, 395, 458-512, 515-540, 542-598
262 - p. 1-18
265 - p. 1-28,120-151,176-197,402-454, 556-567, 578-583, 602-640
267 - p.  1-13, 65, 66, 342, 343, 357-372, 399-466, 476, 477, 497-499,
              518-520, 529, 530, 545-547, 561, 562, 585-595, 597-625
269 - p.  1-17, 314-319, 428-32, 440-447, 460-463, 468-473,
               480-483, 494, 495, 518-640
270 - p. 1-5, 10-21
274 - p. 1-77**, 601-633**
279 - p. 1-129
280 - p. 1-189, 539-640
285 - p. 1-55, 456 - 640
286 - p. 573-578
287 - p.9-47, 49-202, 205-08, 343-350, 379-392,397-98, 447-549, 551-56
292 - p.1-42
Adminr.  Administrator, person appointed by court to manage an estate
Commr.  Commissioner, Hamilton county official
dec.       deceased
def'nt.    defendant - an individual, company or institution sued or accused in a court of law.
et al       "and others" legal term
Exec.     Executor (male) or Executrix (female) asked to manage someones estate.
Gov.      Governor
Grdn.     Guardian - person appointed by a court to care for another person
Junr.      Junior
Pln'tf.     Plaintiff or petioner who requests a court case be held.
Senr.     Senior
(sign)    copy of a signature on a document
(surname)  wife's maiden name, usually like " Smith, John & Mary (Brown)"
Sherff    Hamilton co. Sheriff
Trm       Term, of court, when in session
Deed book 264 page 25 copy of text              Deed book 259 p. 291 copied.
still on the page that survived 1884 fire.         What could be read on original
Refers to Marcus Coombs and previous        previous deed..
deed recorded in book 259 p. 290
Pages 1 through 24 did not survive.
2022-02-18 RTB; 3/6/2023 JGD