Grabas, Joseph A. Owning New Jersey: Historic Tales of War, Property Disputes & the Pursuit of Happiness. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2014. ISBN 978-1-62619-620-9. Paper, $19.99; Kindle, $9.99. 190p.
If you've ever researched New Jersey land and property records, this new book by Joseph A. Grabas provides needed historical context to help you make sense of conflicting title claims, courtroom squabbles and missing records. Grabas, a professional title searcher and educator, is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, a house historian, and resides in New Jersey.
This is not a how-to book. Introductory chapters discuss the evolution of land regulation and legislation that had lasting impacts on the state. Then, through a series of highly readable individual case studies, the author illustrates the legal complexities and scope of records to be found from colonial to contemporary times in New Jersey. In one chapter, he demonstrates how laws forbidding land ownership by African-Americans were cleverly circumvented using legal loopholes; in another chapter, he describes how a 2007 decision by the US Supreme Court was impacted by 17th century land titles in New Jersey and Delaware.
Recommended for researchers, libraries and archives with more than passing interests in New Jersey land records. Currently, it's available in print and e-book formats from online booksellers. Signed copies may be purchased directly from the Grabas Institute.