In Ohio it is the County Recorder who has the important and indispensable task of keeping the vital records pertaining to ownership in real estate (land) and to all encumbrances or liens upon it. Without the work of the County Recorder in recording, safekeeping and organizing all documents in a competent and logical manner, it would be nearly impossible to purchase land and be assured of a clear title or to lend money with land as security.
The practice of recording real estate documents is based on law in England, which traveled to the New World with the colonists. Public land registrars were appointed in colonial America to keep accurate records. A system of registration was necessary to prove the rights of persons who first made claims to property.
In 1787 the Northwest Territory was formed, encompassing all lands north and west of the Ohio River. A Recorder’s office was established in each county. Ohio became a state in 1803 and although the state constitution did not provide for a Recorder’s office, the first state legislature mandated that a Recorder be appointed in each county by the Judges of the Court of Common Pleas. In 1829 the Recorder’s office became an elective position and in 1936 the term was established at four years.
Today the County Recorder keeps and maintains accurate land records that are current, legible and easily accessible. An important aspect of the Recorder’s work is to index each document so it may be readily located. Accurate indexing makes it possible for persons searching land records to find the documents necessary to establish a “chain of title” (history of ownership) and ensures that any debts or encumbrances against the property are evident. These invaluable records are utilized by the general public, attorneys, historians, genealogists and land title examiners.