Heir research help needed

I am an heir to oil and gas rights in the Ellsworth District in Tyler County. I have gone to the CSSI website and found 9 separate oil and gas leases from my great-grandfather. After looking at them I still cant tell what it is that I own. These are very old leases dating from 1890 to 1916. What should my next research steps be to determine what I’m an heir to? I’m really new to this, so any help would be appreciated.

I’ve been through this myself over the last year. Very difficult job, since all the documents and oil producing companies are very old. The leases you found should tell you what percentage royalty was agreed to; you then have to divide that by the “pool” (other owners whose land/minerals were contiguous with yours), and then divide that among all the legal heirs of your ancestor. That usually winds up being a small (hundredths or thousandths) of percent royalties. You may only legally claim royalties for the last 10 years; any unpaid royalties older than that are lost by default. You’ll want to communicate with any relatives who are also heirs. You may need to hire an attorney-- but that depends on whether there’s enough potential $, since attorneys are expensive. You’ll also find very little voluntary help from the oil companies, since it’s in their interest NOT to pay out royalties unless you can prove your claim, and even then, you have to get assertive and persistent with them, since they’ll often be dismissive of your claims, especially over the telephone. I went to WV recently just for the purpose of research and found many documents that an online search missed. But, to further my efforts, I’ll probably need to make another trip. This will be a real, long-term project, should you pursue it. And, my relatives all essentially said “sure, go find us some money but don’t bother us until you do” (no good deed goes unpunished, you know). Good luck.

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If you mean, where is the land located (whether you own any actual surface land), that can get complicated. One thing to do is to order a Tyler county farm map from the Ritchie County Historical Society Ritchie County Historical Society website The farm maps were made by the oil companies around 1910-1920, and I have seen some information which must have been added after that. They are maps of the farms, so that the companies could see who owned what land, and if the land was leased, to which company, and were there wells on the land. The other way to go is to look in the grantor index under your great grandfather’s name and see if he sold the land This would be the archive section. I am simplifying here. If you try this and need help, please let me know. I have used the Tyler website fairly often. There are other things that can be done, but this is a way to start.


I think that your first step should be to pin down your genealogy. Figure out how many kids your great-grandfather had, then your grandfather/mother, then your father/mother (well, you probably already know that one.) You can use ancestry.com or familysearch.org for that. Once you know who those folks are, check for wills. Figure out how the will divided up the oil and gas interests or, if there isn’t a specific gift of the oil and gas interest, how the will divided up general real property interests. If there wasn’t a will, the oil and gas interest passed down in equal shares to each child. Now you’ll know what fractional interest you own of whatever your great-grandfather owned. With that in mind you can start to work on figuring out what great-grandpa owned. Plug his name into CSSI and see what he bought and what he sold (compare it to the leases you found, just for fun) and determine which properties he never sold. Those are the properties that you (probably) own an interest in. Like someone else said, CSSI is not always complete. Good luck!

CSSI ??? I tried typing in the URL and nothing.