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The Rectangular Survey System

     The location of any land in the county can be found by reading the land description. The description starts by identifying the particular portion of a section (one square mile) of land. Typically this will read something like NE¼ Sec 4 which means the north-east quarter of section #4. Next would follow the township number. In Gallia County this is the number that indicates how many townships (each six miles long) north from the Ohio River. Next comes the Range number. This defines how many ranges (each six miles wide) west from the meridian of longitude that defines the Pennsylvania-Ohio border. So the complete land description would read NE¼ Sec 4 T 5 R 15. Township 5 and Range 15 actually define Green Township. The township and range numbers can be found with each township map in the maps section. Each map also shows how the sections in that particular township are numbered.
     The deed books are located in the Recorder’s Office. These are heavy ledgers which you can search by yourself. First look in the index books for Grantors (sellers) or Grantees (buyers). The same transaction will be in both books, under the sellers name in the Grantors book and under the buyer’s name in the Grantees book. These books are indexed in a modified alphabetic form. Gallia County uses a system used by many, but not all, counties in the US whereby the first two, or three letters of the surname are listed and then followed by all the first names that begin with a certain letter, which are then listed in the order the transactions occurred. The system is fairly complicated and it is best to have the staff explain it to you. Once you find the name of the buyer or seller you are looking for, it gives you the book and page number of the deed book where the complete deed is recorded. Copies of the deed may be purchased for a nominal fee. Some pages are too fragile to be taken out and copied and for those, typed copies may be made by the staff and mailed at a later date.
     For those researchers who do not live near the Gallia County area there is another source for obtaining these land deeds. The Family History Library in Salt Lake City has microfilmed all of the Gallia County deeds from 1803 through 1876 and an index is available through the year 1892. These can be looked at and copied in the library in Salt Lake City, or the microfilm can be ordered (for a fee of $6 each) at any of the branch Family History libraries. In order to ensure you get the correct film you have to first order and look at the film that contains the grantee or grantor index, find the deed you are looking for and then order the film for the proper deed book. The Family History Library card catalog is online at By doing a place search for Gallia County and then going to the subsection "Land and Property" you can find the microfilm number that you want to order. The ordering and subsequent viewing of the film has to be done at a Family History Library. The nearest branch Family History libraries to Gallipolis are in Barboursville, and Parkersburg, West Virginia but there are many scattered conveniently throughout the US.