Inherited minerals - Discovering "lost" ownership

My sister and I inherited some minerals in Billings and McKenzie Counties a few years ago from our stepmother, who got them from our grandmother, who got them from our grandfather, who died in 1963. Good old grandpa was active buying minerals in North Dakota and elsewhere way back in the fifties. Although some of these producing interests did correctly find their way to us, I believe there may be others that our rightfully ours that we know nothing about. Twice in the past two years we have discovered producing wells, in Burke County and more recently in Dunn County, completely by accident. It seems that all it takes is a slight misspelling of a name, and funds quickly go to "suspense", and then to a state's Unclaimed Property coffers.

My question is this: is there a way to research individual state or county mineral ownership records? I know in North Dakota you can research documents that have been recorded, but what about old mineral rights acquired forty or fifty years ago or those where a name could have been misspelled?

By sheer luck we have found wells that are producing $$$ for us now, and I am sure that there are other hidden mineral rights and leases out there that I don't know about. Has anyone else had this problem, and what have you done about it?


The online records do not go back much farther than 1990 in ND, in most cases for documents older than that you have to go to the courthouse and look. Not to alarm you but a surface owner can succeed to the minerals under their surface if you don't record a statement of claim every 20 years or show other use such as lease, borrow money against the minerals or other such actions that would show use.

I'm in Missouri so I probably won't be scouring the ND courthouse records. I have already experienced the "dormant" minerals issue up there, and was fortunate that the oil company supported our claim. So far, I am trying to visit the various states Unclaimed Property websites for leads and requesting the companies that we do get royalties from to check their databases for variations in spelling in the family name. There is no telling how much money is held in suspense, or otherwise been turned over to the states because there is no systematic way to track down old claims.

John, things get lost in time if nobody preserves records. My father didn't preserve records. I would be out of luck except the distant family tug of war over minerals has left such a footprint that a blind man couldn't miss it. I wish you luck in the future.