Bound Volume, Deed Record, and an Error, and an Obsolete (and Confusing) Place Name

Dear E. E.,

Here's a bit of citation fun: A deed record located in a bound volume (, clearly marked "Harrison County [Texas], Deed Record D." The deed record, alas, tells a different story, beginning at the bottom of page 134. The deed "header" notes: Republic of Texas, County of Harrison (that's all fine and easy to deal with in a citation). Here's the conundrum: the land description indicates that the tract lies in "Panola County" and the deed recorder was also in "Panola County." Interestingly, some of the deed records in the volume have "County of Harrison", some "County of Panola" and others "County of Shelby." 

There are several problems here: Panola did not yet exist as a county. These records were created in the Panola District, established in 1841 for judicial matters. Panola did not exist as a county until 1846. And, when Panola County was formed (from Harrison and Shelby Counties), this parcel of land was nowhere near the border of the new county. It was, and always has been, part of Harrison County (see the James Asher headright, south of Marshall: The deed record book is obviously in Harrison County. I have read the paragraph about defunct jurisdictions in EE 8.12.

Here's the fun part: If I begin the citation with the actual jurisdiction, Panola County [District], Republic of Texas, then Deed Record D:134–136 seems to suggest that there are deed record books A–C in the universe, waiting to be discovered (that would be quite the miracle: deed record books A–C are actual Harrison County deed books from the Republic of Texas). Do I cite the deed header (which matches the bound volume) to avoid confusion? Or, do I cite the jurisdiction in the legal land description? 

Here's a meager attempt using the deed header:

Harrison County, Republic of Texas, Deed Record D:134–36, James Asher to Thomas Timmins, 4 November 1841; image, FamilySearch ( : accessed 14 March 2023), images 147–148; County Clerk's Office, Marshall. The parcel is described as lying in Panola County [District], but is located in Harrison County. The Panola District, created in 1841 for judicial purposes and encompassing Harrison and Shelby Counties, should not be confused with Panola County, formed in 1846.

Thank you for your help with this.


Submitted byEEon Wed, 03/15/2023 - 09:35

V P, you've done an excellent job of analyzing what you are using. Despite the history of this one record and the complexities involved, the citation itself is still basic:

  • Layer 1: Author/Creator, Title of Manuscript Volume, page number(s), ID of what to look for on that page;
  • Layer 2: [Author/Creator not needed for a self-titled website], Title of Website (Place of publication = URL : Date), image number(s).

To that citation, we may then add (as you have done) a discursive note to discuss the complexities that affect our interpretation of the record.

You specifically ask:

                             Do I cite the jurisdiction in the legal land description.

A basic citation to a courthouse register cites the Author/Creator and Title of Record Book. That Author/Creator is almost always a “jurisdiction,” but it is not the jurisdiction per se that is being cited; it’s the Author/Creator.

Do I cite the deed header (which matches the bound volume) to avoid confusion?

Many courthouse documents carry multiple “headers” that identify jurisdictions. A recorded will—for example—may begin with a statement of the jurisdiction in which the will was probated, it may internally state an earlier jurisdiction in which the will was drafted. Following that, there may be multiple “headers” representing each jurisdiction in which witnesses to the will (who had moved off to other areas) went before their local court to attest that they did witness the will’s signing. There may also be appended other statements from other jurisdictions to which heirs had moved, or other jurisdictions in which the testator owned property.  Trying to include all these jurisdictions in the citation itself would create considerable confusion.

Ergo, for the citation itself, we cite the elements shown for Layers 1 and 2 above. We may then add that free-form discursive note to record all the other details that we feel are essential to understanding the record.


Submitted byJoan F Pearceon Wed, 03/22/2023 - 15:39

I am a beginner at citing. It is all pretty confusing so I really appreciate all the explanations and help. I had no idea, when I started this process, how much there is to learn.