Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Land Resarch Tools

A good place to start, if you want to find out about early Las Vegas ranches is the University of Nevada, Las Vegas or UNLV online Digital Collections. An advanced search is available that will allow you look through the Southern Nevada and Las Vegas, History in Maps collection.

Search using keyword artesian and you'll receive links to maps of

One of the more complicated parts of researching an old ranch is to identify exactly where it was located. As an example, look on the early artesian well map and you can find the Wixon's ranch several miles south of the city.

  • Numbers close to the ranch will show you that it is in section 10
  • Left and right text indicates that the ranch is in Township 22 South
  • Top and bottom text indicates that the ranch is in Range 61 East

Once you know the location of the ranch, you can go to the Nevada Division of State Lands website and search the patent database to see who received the first state land patent. Note that this doesn't mean this was the first settler on the land... it was just the first person who was able to completely pay for it!

In addition to the land patent search from the state of Nevada, you can also search the Bureau of Land Management, or BLM Land Patents database.

If ranch owners filed for water rights, they can probably be found on the Nevada Division of Water Resources web page. After going to the Water Rights Database, you can search by permit, certificate or owner name.

Several ranches are shown on the early artesian wells map. You can chose the family name from any one of these, and use it to

A reference tool that may, or may not, be helpful is the Clark County, Nevada Assessor Property Records webpage. This database shows current, and recent owners. Some parcels contain historical owner information. However, it can be tricky to find it. To do so, you need to find past parcel identification numbers. For example, while very early records identified parcels by Section, Township, and Range, more recent records use an 11-digital parcel number.

To see if a parcel contains historical information in the assessor database, start by going to the Clark County Assessor Records and Maps webpage. The Parcel Map Index contains submaps for Clark County. If you can find the general area of your parcel, you will get a 5-6 digit number. As an example, the Wixon Ranch, used in early posts, falls in sections 177-10. These five digits can be used in a Parcel Maps Inquiry. Once you select a more detailed base map within this ranch, you can look for an 11-digital parcel number (I generally look for the smallest number available.) One of the lots in this submap, that we believe would fall within the old Wixon Ranch is 177-10-110-001.

Feeding this Parcel Number into a property records parcel number search will provide the current owner record. Above the record, click the Ownership History and you will find

  • A current parcel number of 177-10-110-001
  • A prior parcel number of 160-780-001
  • An 80-acre parcel owned, prior to 1971, by the Hughes Tool Company!

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