Inherited mineral rights I didn't know about!

Hello all,

I have been contacted by a genealogy researcher/abstractor working for an energy company in WV regarding a deceased relative and I am apparently the heir of some mineral rights in Harrison County. I've done some reading and am just blown away by the complexities involved... wow.

Anyway, I'm trying to determine how much acreage of mineral rights (as I do not believe I have surface ownership), and if there are other owners along with me what percentage is mine, and millions of questions keep popping up as I read more. I have contacted the Harrison County Court House, however the clerk there wasn't interested in helping; said this kind of search is done by an attorney or abstractor (and the person who contacted me to begin with says she doesn't know the details of my ownership) and since I'm on the other side of the country and cannot "come do my own search" (nor can I afford an attorney) I feel like I'm stuck. I think I need to know the value of what I've inherited before I'm contacted by the landman for a lease agreement.

Could I possibly owe taxes on these mineral rights, the presence of which I was unaware (inexcusable by the law, I know)? How can I determine the value of these mineral rights? I have the distinct feeling that the energy company isn't going to want to be forthright regarding this info! The more I read, the more confused I become.


Kind regards,


Nancy, This type of problem seems to be pretty common at this time. I’m sure that there are people on this forum that will be willing to provide help. However, you have given no details for anyone to work with. I would suggest that if at all possible you try to hire an abstractor in Harrison County. If you absoloutly can not afford to do that, I would suggest that you wait until after the holidays and then post what information you have in as much detail as possible. Someone will probably be able to help or at least give you some advice. The other, possibly better approach would be to wait until a landman contacts you and then pump them for all the details you need. I am sure that people on here will be happy to give you a list of what info to ask for. However, I and I’m sure most here are tied up with the holidays at this time. I know that I am. Good Luck.

Hi Nancy!

Yes Richard is quite right that there have been many others in your situation. It seems that many years ago a lot of West Virginians became aware that, due to the oil (mainly) and gas boom from about the 1860s through maybe the 1930s, Oil and Gas rights were worth something. However, as many people decided to give up farming and move on (many went west, to Ohio and points beyond), they sold their surface and retained the minerals. Then if the minerals were not leased, they may have not notified the counties where their minerals were, of their new address (in Ohio, California, or elsewhere). Or maybe the transfer of the surface was not recorded correctly in the county assessor's office, and the minerals were not recorded separately. Thus a lot of minerals were not recorded and thus not taxed. If not taxed, no taxes were owed. That answers one of your questions! Sometimes the original owner had one child who took care of him in his old age and paid the tax bill. The Old Man died, that helpful child kept paying the taxes, and that child's descendents kept paying and are paying now, maybe as Heirs of Grandpa. The other descendents got a free ride on taxes but when it comes leasing, all the heirs need to sign so the company tracks down the other people. In this case, the other people who should have been paying, are just lucky. Once everybody is found and signs leases, the county starts sending out taxes to the correct people. That could happen.

It is not necessarily easy to find the other owners but as Richard said, perhaps with some more information some of us can help. Any geneaology research you can do should be helpful to you also.

There is a lot to learn about all this as you are finding out. There is quite a lot of information on this forum, and a huge amount of it is in the Doddridge group. Read as much as you can. Richard is quite correct about getting as much info as you can from the abstractor. A big part of that information is the name of your ancestor who once owned the land, and any other information such as original acreage and a watershed (such and such River, so and so Creek, etc) which is the usual designation of location in West Virginia.

Keep asking questions here as you have them.

If you want to keep some info private (understandable) you can Friend some of us and maybe we can help off the public portion of the site. However we are all hoping that people can share general info, and when they learn how to do something, will share that also. I have had to find out quite a lot of things, for different tracts that I inherited, so have accumulated a lot of ways of finding out things.

Many of us, me included, live out of state and there are various ways to get at least some things done long distance. Richard is also right that you might need to get professional help either to find out things in Harrison, and/or when negotiating a lease, when the time comes. There is a lot to learn about leasing on this forum also.

Happy Reading!

From another Nancy


You don't need to feel pressured by the landman/genealogist. If they want you to sign a mineral lease, they should be willing to answer your questions. Let them know you want all the relevant facts before you sign, and challenge them to provide you with what you want to know. If they don't know how many mineral acres you own, they should determine that before they ask you to sign a lease. They should also be able and willing to tell you how many mineral acres would be involved in the drilling or spacing unit, so you can determine what percentage of the total acreage you would have. They should also tell you what they know about drilling plans for your acreage.

Your interest may be tiny, it may be substantial, or it may be something in between. Don't get excited until and unless something gets very real. But you don't need to rush. If some company really wants to drill on the land where you own minerals, they should be willing to provide you with the information you need to evaluate your decision. Take what they give you and if that is not satisfactory, then you can explore further research.

Good luck!


I'm new to this, too, but I think you might set your mind at ease by calling the county tax collector and asking if they tax mineral rights if the minerals are not extracted. In my state, minerals are only taxed once they are removed from the ground.

Char, in West Virginia they are taxed whether producing or nonproducing.

Ken G is right about getting as much info as possible from the landman when talk starts about leasing.

Nancy M, thanks for correcting me!

Nancy Mosley said:

Char, in West Virginia they are taxed whether producing or nonproducing.

Ken G is right about getting as much info as possible from the landman when talk starts about leasing.