A deed is a separate issue to "betterment" land or otherwise known as a land
grant or contract through a Land Company. i.e., the Holland Land Company,
Phelps and Gorham purchase, The Ogden Land Company to name a few.
These were very large tracts of land purchased by investors. These are two
distinctly different sets of records to that of deeds.
There are some deeds filed in Genesee County Clerks office prior to 1818
even prior to 1810 by private individuals. These are people who had the means
to pay for their land up front to the land companies, received their deeds, which
were then filed in the County Clerks Office.
Then there was the majority who could not afford to pay for their land up front
to the Land Company. Some of them never did pay for them. Therefore there
was no deed to file. The average man chose to basically make a deposit on the
land buying it on credit. The individual Land Company held this record.
They buyer contended that it wasn't practical to sink all his money into the land
when it would cost him an arm and a leg to clear it, cut lumber for a home,
clear land for farming etc. He would have to use his funds for supporting his
family while he was doing this. Then there were the tools he would need,
horses to move the logs, feed for the animals, you get the idea.
In the beginning this was the way it was most often done. The agent for a
company, such as Joseph Ellicott for the Holland Land Company, had to do
something in order to get the land sold. The cash up front buyers weren't as
many as predicted. Very few had the 10% down that the company had
originally wanted. The terms of purchase had to be adjusted. Ellicott had to
answer to the higher ups in the company and he needed to show some
progress was being made towards settlement.
So if you had only a few dollars then that's what was used for a deposit. What
had to be done was done to get the land sold. It wasn't really until after the war
of 1812 that settlements boomed.
There are two books in the Genesee County History Department that has
land transaction records. There are little codes next to the entries that tell the
name, date, and location. If I remember correctly it indicates too if it was
renewed, nullified, or purchased.
The original records to the Holland Land Purchases I believe are in Holland.
The records are on microfilm though. There are two links to investigate on the
Holland Purchase. They can be found on my "Favorite Links" page.