While the Centre County Web Information Access system isn’t new, it’s capabilities and expanded usefulness for genealogists, is. The two features of most utility are the Recorder of Deeds search and the Centre County GIS mapping. This online system also indexes and access documents from the Recorder of Wills, Prothonotary, Tax Assessment, and Tax Claims – but these offices only have more recent documents available. While these services aren’t free, they are a really great value. I won’t rattle on about the importance of oft-overlooked deed research, but hopefully the easy access many counties are now offering will allow beginning researchers an easy way to get into the swing of things.
This tutorial is far simpler than last week’s Cuyahoga County primer. It’s pretty much “sign and drive.” Okay, maybe it’s more like “sign, pay, and drive,” but still…
From here you will will need to click the “Click for more information and to sign up!” link just below the login box. You will be taken to an information page that shows you the costs of the various credit purchase options and other information about the system. At the bottom of the page, you will need to click the “Apply Online” link in the Application section to begin your registration. I won’t go through those steps here, as they should be pretty self-explanatory. Again – keeping in mind the number of documents you expect to find – purchase the appropriate amount of credits. The 250-credit option was a good start for me.
Step 2: Once you’ve registered and followed the instructions to activate your account, the searching is pretty simple. After logging in, you will be taken to the main search page:
Step 3: Type in the name you are looking for and hit enter. Yes, it’s that simple (usually). Note that the search is either a partial or full match, not a “soundex” search. You will have to search for spelling variations manually. For this example, I will use my ancestor, Jacob Shroyer. That search provided the following results:
Step 4: Click the “Click to View” link for the deed you want to see. I’ve selected the deed recorded 2/2/1852:
The toolbar is pretty self explanatory:
Step 5: Viewing options:
The only options you really need to be concerned with are the page selection options on the right (navigate through the various pages of the selected deed), and the printer icon on the right. The print function is how you will save the deed to your computer rather than just print a hard copy. Just a note, the bottom left of the screen (not the toolbar) will tell you how many pages are in the deed you are viewing.
Step 6: Printing options:
If all you want to do is print a copy, you are pretty much done at this point other than clicking on the print icon. I recommend, however that you save a copy as a pdf file for future use. If you don’t know how to do this, you can refer to my Cuyahoga County deed article for instructions on how to install and use a free program called PDF Creator to do this.
The printing script will bring up a dialog box to allow you to choose the options. Most likely, you will want to select the “All” option rather than just the current page.
After you click “OK” and the file processes, another print option dialog box will appear. Select “PDFCreator” as the printer, click “OK”, and then name the file and save it. That’s it. You’re done. You’re ready for the next deed.
Another thing I should mention is that the saved (or printed) image contains no source documentation other than the page number. Be sure to add your documentation to the images (or printed copies) as you make them to avoid confusion down the road.
Hope you found this of use, and happy hunting! Next up in the “Pajama Series” will be an example of how to use the mapping feature of the Centre WebIA system, followed eventually by how to do Lancaster County, PA deed research.