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  1. #1

    Default Obtaining the full abstract of title for my property for historical research

    In my continued historical research into the 100+ yo home I own, I would like to obtain the abstract of title, the full record going all the way back to when the property was a ribbon farm. I know that they were generated as a matter of course, I've seen my neighbors', but the title companies I'v spoken with only generate a title search and an affidavit indicating no liens against the property. Not helpful.

    Does anyone know how can I get the full abstract?

  2. #2


    In 1983 I bought a house and at the closing the title company, which was a long-established Detroit company, gave me the printed abstract, saying then that they were doing away with them and I might as well have it.
    Paul Szewczyk 's blog about the history of Corktown housing ( remarkable for the depth of research. He seems to have access to lots of records and probably would be able to lead you.

  3. #3


    You can do it yourself, but you're probably going to spend a lot of time in the county clerk's office searching property records. If the folks in the clerk's office are helpful, they can explain how the records are maintained and how you follow the trail of ownership back to original platting. In the early 1970s, I bought a house and the seller gave a title abstract that had been done in the 1960s. When I sold the house a few years later, I gave the buyer that same abstract.

  4. #4


    The turn of the century foreclosure rush left huge holes in hand-to-hand realestate history.

    I too would be interested in a full abstract. As it stands the title I give my children will be 5 pages long and filled mostly with the things that hold National City Bank harmless.

    It's always the luck of the draw on how much help you find. I just had a good experience researching GIS down at CAYMC. Getting a copy of my deed from Wayne County was not as pleasant and filled with attitude.

    My Google-Fu is off today and I cant seem to locate an in-depth pay service.

    Dont know if I have the time and patience to do it myself.

  5. #5


    I still have the full abstract of the home we owned in St. Clair County. Interesting to read back through the history of the property, figuring out what used to be on parts of the property, etc. I'd have to look, but I may still have the abstract from our home on Wayburn in Detroit. Doubt the new owner would want it...he seems to be a rather strange rock musician producer type with a foul mouth and he hasn't responded to messages I've sent him on Facebook. Still, it would give someone some insight into the history of the particular subdivision.

  6. #6



    You can do your own abstract title, but you're going to have to know some of the geographic, legal and political history of Detroit, Michigan and the Northwest Territories to get back to the ribbon farm owner. You could probably piece this together with a steep learning curve and a lot of time talking to someone at the Burton Historical Collection and several expensive trips to the Wayne Co. Register of Deeds.

    There are a few folks at the Register of Deeds office and the City Engineer's Office who can actually help you with this, but you have to know these folks from working with them or stumbling across them during your trips to the County and City and getting in their good graces.

    If you don't have a geography, urban planning, civil engineering, history or law background, doing your own abstract is going to be very tough and time consuming. However this might be a challenge you're up to and you'll learn a ton along the way about your house as well as the history of Detroit.

    If you don't have time to make trips to the Burton and the Register of Deeds during the day during business hours you may want to consider hiring Lamont Title. I know they can do this for you. They're about the only title company around that would even know how to do this anymore in Detroit. They already essentially do this for many of the larger projects in Detroit where ownership of properties is cloudy. I'd give them a call and explain what you're looking for and ask for a quote or a potential range. Be aware that you could spend a few hundred to a few thousand dollars on this, possibly close to $10k if your property has a long chain of title or has some messy ownership.

  7. #7


    I have the abstract on my mother's house that dated back to when the property belonged to the Pottawatomi tribe in SE Michigan. They executed a quit claim deed to Jacques Godfroy in the 1700's and that is the beginning of the abstract, made by the Union Title & Guarantee company. Quite an interesting old document.

  8. #8



    I've been able to trace the ownership of several houses from their current owners all the way back to the original ribbon farms. To be honest, I've learned how to do this haphazardly, so there might be a more efficient way--but I can still get it done.

    The first thing to do is request a search for all past deeds on the property from the Wayne County Register of Deeds. This usually costs about $45. You need to have the legal description of the property, which you can find on your own deed or on your tax bill. Bring cash with you, because they do not accept credit cards or personal checks. The initial search is $15, and when it's time to pick up your documents, you pay $1 per page of additional documents. (To save money, just request the first page of each deed--that will have all of the names and dates you need.) It's harder to read some of the older documents. They are printouts from microfilm copies, and the really old ones are written out in longhand. It's confusing and messy, but it's cheaper than paying a title company $10,000.

    There is a lot more you can do that I couldn't summarize in one post like this, but email me if you want help in your search: five_khandhas[at]yahoo dot com.

  9. #9


    Thanks to everyone for their input. It's very much appreciated. I'll report back and let you know what I find. And I'll check back for other suggestions.

  10. #10


    When my mother passed away last year in the far east side of Detroit, after living in the same house for 50 years, we sold her house, which was once part of the Rivard ribbon farm. We were stunned at closing to get the entire printed abstract. My siblings didn't want it, so I took it, and have been amazed at the amount of details going back to the 1780s. I haven't had a lot of time to read it yet, but it was a detailed listing of the history of the area for over 2 centuries.

  11. #11

    Default Abstract dating back from the Potowomoni

    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic zamboni View Post
    I have the abstract on my mother's house that dated back to when the property belonged to the Pottawatomi tribe in SE Michigan. They executed a quit claim deed to Jacques Godfroy in the 1700's and that is the beginning of the abstract, made by the Union Title & Guarantee company. Quite an interesting old document.
    Cosmic I'd like to see what that looks like, can you scan and post it? Pretty intersting, I understand that every section of the midwest got blocked into square sectors, called townships I think, may have the wrong word here, but every deed that wasn't directly from the natives has this transition in it from the early 1800's. I'm curious about these old deeds granting off large amounts of land.

  12. #12


    You can go down to 400 Monroe 5th floor and search your property in the hall on a computer, write down instrament #'s of what you want, this will save you $5 for each instrument # you have, $1 for the hard copy. The mood of the people working records varies and your charm will get you everywhere as it always does working with the city. If they like you they will do their job to try to help you. I avoid the old man on the right and anyone who scowling when they say next, I say no thank you, and wait for the one who seems helpful to the people before me. They can go back pretty far at records, keep asking politly to probe farther back, following your own chain of title. You can get every deed and paper recorded there. Then the Burton library can help you better once you have the oldest document from records to get the abstract. Having the entire chain and history of your title is good to add to the abstract in your history file.
    good Luck!

  13. #13


    Good luck is right. Had a reason to get a copy of our deed on the 7th floor. Amazing morons. I did ask about getting info on the house and they never said a word about records on the fifth floor. A neighbor (same block) has his abstract and gave it to us so have a good idea of history but thought it would be nice to have all owners of record for our home.

    Have the abstracts for both sets of grandparents, both sets were eastsiders. Really fascinating reads.

  14. #14


    I found this on property owners.

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