Sorry readers, I missed a day over the holiday.
Land records are an important source in genealogical research. Deeds will give you a description of the land. The 13 colonies used metes and bounds [beginning at an oak tree 20 yards north of the property line of...] which can be tough to follow, but can give you the names of your ancestor's neighbors. Most of the remaining states used a township grid map. Township, range, section and quarter were the keys here. [An explanation of the grip later this week.] So you may find the following: the NE 1/4 of section 20, township 21N, range 15E of county X, state A. Much easier to locate on the map!
Check both the grantor [seller] and grantee [buyer] indexes for the name of your ancestor, or the family surname.
Record all names from the deed and try to find out how the people are related. Frequently relationships are given [son, in-law, brother, etc.]
In some cases, deeds may be key to probate questions. My ancestor, Cornelius Prall was not named as an heir in his mother's will. A Hunterdon Co., NJ deed resolved the issue. Cornelius' father had arranged for eldest son James to deed Cornelius his share of the family estate prior to his death.
Watch out for Junior, Senior, I, II, III and so on. The eldest John in the family will be Sr. or I until his death. Then the next eldest John becomes Sr. or I. Don't assume that all of the deeds referencing John Sr. refer to the same man, especially if the deeds span 40 or more years. [Unless the grantee is mentioned as a minor, assume he/she is of legal age, generally 18 or 21.
Deeds were not recorded until the land was disposed of by the owner. If your ancestor died in, say 1785 and you find his name under deed indexes 15-20 years later, check them out. The person who bought your family's land in 1770 may not have sold it until 1804 - when it was recorded.
Read the notes in the margins. Paper was at a premium in colonial times and even later. A paper-poor clerk might have recorded a birth or marriage that happened near the date of the deed. That birth or marriage might not be recorded anywhere else!