Also see our posts labeled “Land Records.”
Land records in Pomerania were known by various names. Typically “Grundbücher,” or land registry books, will provide you with a clear understanding of what property your ancestors owned. These can be fragmentary at times, but they do provide a much more extensive look at your family’s past if you have the time or the money to spend looking for these records.
To begin, I usually start searching on Archives Portal Europe for the Polish and German versions of the place name. You may try limiting your search to keywords like “Grundbuch,” “Grundbücher,” “Grundakte,” etc. The word “Band” listed in front is the German word for “volume,” as these large documents were typically broken up into smaller, more manageable volume sets. Szukajwarchiwach can also be helpful, as their keyword search seems to work differently than Archives Portal Europe.
The following searches below will yield holdings for the given keywords. It is typically helpful to search for the place name first, unless the search results are too overwhelming to look through. In that case, the using keywords below will help in limiting the results. (Please note that searching just for “Grundbuch” will not return results for the plural form of the word “Grundbücher.” The same can be said about “Hypotheken” records and the variances that can occur. For one of my ancestors, the word “Hypothekenwesen” returns results, but “Hypothen” does not.)
Grundbücher: Land registry records. Each book is divided into various numbered sections. Typically, the first book lists original parcels. Later divisions, or partitions beyond a specific point divide later books into first, second, and third partitions (Erste, Zweite, and Dritte Abteilung).
Grundakten: The Founding Act, also called a Master File, is a specially created file in parallel with the land registry. It contains all documents and documents which are connected with a corresponding land register of a specific site (§ 10, 12 GBO, § 24 GBO). The documents based on which changes are made in the land register must, in accordance with § 10 GBO from the Land Registry are kept in this Founding Act of the land. These are specifically valuable as they may contain inheritance records listing family members.
Hypotheken: Mortgage deeds.
Grundsteuer: property taxes.
Erbhofakten: Inherited family farm records. Depending on the surviving collection, these can be as simple as a written document stating inheritable farm owner during the Third Reich or more expansive, including older mortgage documents that detail ownership from previous generations.
Kataster/Katasteramt: Best translated as “cadastre,” containing a register of property showing the extent, value, and ownership of land for taxation.
Mutterrolle: The “mother” book of cadastre records where all others are brought together. Here, you can find a list of owners. (Read more here)
Rezessakte: (Sometimes spelled “Recess”) are written agreements or settlements for land. In these documents, not only are the size of the villages, the courts, and the individual fields and meadows with maps listed, but also the value and the future owner. This usually also included the date of the detachment from the landlords, thus the date when the farm became property. Furthermore, these documents also contain the community and communal areas and information about the poorhouses.
Vermessungs: Land surveys. The word itself is best translated to “measurements” or “surveys.” These documents are perhaps the most useless of land records for genealogy. From the records we have gleaned, no personal information can be found in these records. However, they provide a look into land boundaries for those interested in further research on their family’s land from other record sources.
Urkunden Sammlung: a collection of certificates, typically dealing with the transfer of property rights (often from nobility or rich landed persons) to the people who worked the land. These collections are a valuable source for uncovering names of people in the late 1700s and into the early 1800s who were farmers or obtained inheritable rights that were eventually passed onto their children.