New to this - Any advice appreciated - New Milton District, Doddridge County, WV

Hello, I am not sure I am submitting this to the appropriate area to receive the best help and feedback, and would appreciate any information that would guide me in the right direction if it's not. I apologize for cross posting, I also posted this in the general area prior to me knowing of this county specific forum.

Brief Background:

I and my siblings, unbeknownst to us are apparently heirs to some mineral interests. We were recently contacted by a firm called Antero Resources informing us (individually) that they had concluded us to be the owners of mineral interests located at Red Lick Run, New Milton District, Doddridge County, WV. I received a VM asking for a current mailing address a day ago, my sister was contacted (that I did not know about) by formal letter with a Oil & Gas lease offer in early December 2015, and I am presuming based on limited info coming from my her that our estranged brother was also contacted in some way. The offer my sister received had a notation the offer would become null and void after December 18th 2015, 15 days after the letter was sent. She has not acted or agreed to the offer up to this date. I have not yet returned the call from Antero. My sister provided me a copy of what was sent to her and it appears we are heir's to this from 4 generations ago via my Father that passed away nearly 15 years ago... based on some very preliminary research it appears this originated from his great grandfather. Information gleaned from what was sent to my Sister indicates an oil & gas lease was executed and delivered to a J.E. Trainer from my great grandfather(x2) in 1920, which if records I reviewed are correct, was 4 years prior to his passing. I found it interesting that not only is that name come up in some posts I reviewed on this site, but the year 1920 seems to be a commonality too.

The proposal sent to my sister (and I presume I would receive) indicates there are 3 tracts of interest. One being 6 gross acres with a net of 0.0033, the other being 7.6 gross acres with a net of 0.0427 and a modification of lease for a 58 acre tract. Obviously there is a lot more granular info to it, but for the sake of brevity will leave that info out and will provide if it's needed to get me started down the right path. One additional note; my sister apparently contacted Antero requesting further information (which wasn't received) and asked some questions, and based on that concluded in her mind it might not be worth the hassle. We live in Florida, a long ways from the area to be able to do a proper due diligence on this inheritance we didn't know anything about.

Once I learned of this, I have taken a different point of view... it's worth exploring to me because I don't truly know what it is we have inherited and it's value not only in mineral interest, but surface if it even exists. Nothing in the lease proposal mentioned surface rights. This is where I need help and I have a lot of questions that pertains to not only the mineral rights, but the surface rights if they exist, and to make it even more complex, the lease proposal my sister received makes mention of bordering properties also in the same name as what I perceive to be the original rights owner, my great grandfather(x2). I am also very curious to learn and know how these rights were divided over the years, and if that was done correctly and just don't know where to start and what resources are at my disposal to do what I am expecting to be a lot of research.

Any info that can be shared, or referral to a good starting point would be very much appreciated.

Regards, Jeff...


First things first... Take a deep breath and relax. NEVER fret over statements like, "null and void" I have been hearing the same thing for more than 3 years, concerning a parcel.

I will send you an email on this site with my phone number and you are welcome to call if you wish, to discuss your situation.


Hi Jeff, welcome to the world of Mineral Ownership. It is complicated as you are finding out.

Here is link to the Doddridge County deeds and leases for the recent years, as well as some earlier ones. You might find some information there.

If you know the genealogy of your family, you could look for some relatives' names there.

Probably your great great grandfather sold the surface and retained all or some of the mineral rights. That was common in those early days, as well as sometimes today. I think they started drilling for oil in the 1860s in some areas, and by 1890s things were really moving along.

If the Antero document has a tax map and parcel number, you can get the tax map from the Doddridge county assessor's office for a few dollars. Even if you don't own the surface, you could see where it is.

If you go to this link for the Ritchie County Historical Society and go to the bottom of the page, you see "maps" and the county farm maps. They have Doddridge County. If you get that map set, you can maybe find your ancestor's name. It is from around 1900-1910.

You can calculate how much of an interest you own by doing the math on the gross and net (your net share is the fraction of gross that was inherited by you). The leasing bonus is generally a certain amount per acre (net mineral acre) so if their offer were $2000 an acre, your bonus would be your net interest times $2000. Just an example.

The leasing company, Antero in this case, needs to get all the owners to sign a lease, or a modification of a lease for those tracts already leased, in order to drill a horizontal well. If your sister (and your brother) were not interested in leasing they either would not be able to drill, or sue all the mineral owners who are not yet leased in a partition suit which could result in the sale of their interests, probably to Antero or another company with the money to pay the highest price. The judge for Doddrdge is not known to be in favor of the companies in these suits, but it is an elected office and elections are coming up in the fall. There is also a Forced Pooling bill coming up in the WV legislature (search for it on this site, lots of info) and if that passes, people who won't sign or who can't be found can be "forced" into a lease.

If your sister is really not wanting to bother, perhaps you could offer to buy her interest from her.

Please read as much as you can on this site. The Doddridge group has a whole lot of mostly good information as well as some of the other county groups (Tyler is pretty active and is adjacent to Doddridge so many similarities). And ask more questions if you want. You'll get some good answers.

Hello Jeff B!

You have come to the right place to ask for info and you are prudent to investigate before signing anything. Read as much as you can on this forum from past posts, not only in the Doddridge group, but it's worth checking out some of the other counties as well, like Tyler, Richie, Wetzel, Harrison, and Wirt because many people own rights in several counties as well as Doddridge and they post invaluable information.

The best thing to do to is to secure a WV oil and gas lawyer to help you with the lease details. They can also help you with researching your title. If you do not have a lawyer, then you must do as much as you can on your own to learn everything in order to fully protect your rights. Many of us learned of our own inheirited rights in the same way as your family has - by simply getting a lease offer in the mail!

It is surprising, but most people receive a lease offer and without researching anything they just sign it! They either do not realize or are not concerned that the leases can be negotiated - terms changed, dropped, or added - to better protect their interests. If the lease is signed without any changes it basically gives all the benefits to the drilling company. Bonus signing amounts are always low and those should also be negotiated.

Another important thing to keep in mind is THERE IS NO DEADLINE! Even when they tell you up and down that such and such will expire at whatever date. It is a pressure tactic they use because they have their own deadlines to meet. The way the laws are now in WV, if they want to drill they need every mineral rights owner to sign a lease. If you hold out, they will start bending over backward to convince you to sign - offering over better terms and bonus money than they were willing to originally. If you and your siblings stick together as a unit, you will have more negotiating power than if you do everything separately because it covers more acreage. If you can find cousins, that will also increase your negotiating strength. I once read on here that the best way to get the best terms is to say, "No, I won't sign." If you make them believe that then they will come to you with better terms.

As for owning surface, you likely do not own any surface. Many of our great grandparents sold off the land but kept the mineral rights, so much of WV is divided like that now. You can call Doddridge county tax assessment and they will either direct you to another department or help you out. Every time I have called the people are very friendly!

There are many good folks on here with a lot of information to offer! Please keep asking questions!


*Laughing* @ "...welcome to the world of Mineral Ownership" Nancy, you forgot to add 'and headaches' LOL

As always, very wise advice and those are very helpful links.


True words Wilson! lots of headaches. Buy stock in headache medicine!

Thanks everyone, I very much appreciate the prompt and informative replies I have received already. And yes, I will take the advice I have been given already!! Although getting a lawyer involved may not practical for me; I'd have to get some sort of cost analysis first.

I left out a detail of my original that I had already spent some time reviewing a lot of the info in these forums, and got a quick up to speed understanding of how some of this works or will work, including the initial contact expectations and how to handle.

Shortly after I posted my original message I returned the call to Antero and provided the info for formal mailing address, etc... including my e-mail; I also had some exploratory discussion and during that talk I made it clear and set this landmans expectations that I would not be acting within a 15 day timeline that was originally presented to my sister, and that type of thing would not work with me. I informed him at least her and I will be doing our due diligence regarding this and it will start with how the succession this property was divided up through the years, and how it is we've ended up with what we have from a overall standpoint. He indicated he could help with that and would send me some maps and his flow chart of how it was handed down, etc... he even sent me an e-mail already outlining what he would try to provide me... I asked for GPS coordinates of the property and he was taken aback, but said he thinks he can get them... but somethings struck as odd right away when he described where he started in the tree of succession - it omitted one generation, the first from what I can gather and obviously the oldest. These old property records and who things were handed down to or sold off to I am starting to think could be ripe with errors, and I am certainly not going to trust or rely upon what Antero's independent research shows without having some other form of verification.

I didn't get into lease offerings or any of that... I will take that part up later. I think my first priority is to find out if the property and mineral rights are actually in order. Where I come from they have online property records and land info... with link to the Doddridge County Deeds and Leases I only found a death and heirship affidavit of my grandfather, which incidentally was not a resident of WV at the time... I suppose it's a start.

Thanks again everyone.... I will post what I am sure to be more questions soon; and if there is anymore pointers or advice, please do not hesitate to send them.


In West Virginia conducting a "Title Search" is considered the
Practice of Law" and can only be conducted by a lawyer. If this landman is telling you that you have a marketable title he is breaking the law.


I respectfully disagree with your statement and interpret the WV Bar statements included in your link, differently than you. Countless firms serve as abstractors in WV and there is absolutely no reason a person cannot research their own property.

I do agree, that a CERTIFIED Title, must be composed by an attorney.

It is my humble opinion that Jeff has nothing to fear.


Hi Jeff,

Unfortunately the Doddridge County records are not digitalized except the recent ones, and those added to their database (my understanding is that those are records scanned by Antero and other companies for their own research that they arrange to have added to the Doddridge database, so hardly comprehensive). Perhaps you could manage a trip to the Doddridge County courthouse sometime to do research. Several members that I know of have done that. A lot more trouble than for some neighboring counties such as Ritchie and Tyler and Wetzel whose old records as well as the recent ones are online. Or perhaps there is some way to hire a researcher.

I have also read of someone who was able to find copies of some old deeds in the Family History library of the Mormon church in Salt Lake City. I know they have regional libraries for people to do research, with some of the records on microfilm. Perhaps more of them are on their computers; I really don't know about that. Might be worth checking into.

I know the landmen do preliminary research into titles and eventually they have their attorneys review this and make certified title opinions. However even these can be faulty as I have found out, so having your own research is helpful. People can always hire their own attorneys to do certified titles. Can be costly of course...

Thanks Nancy,

Your one comment above explains something already... I found a death and heirship affidavit on the Doddridge county records site that you had provided a link for (it's the only thing I found) that had a recording date of 12/21/15... It was for my grandfather and it named the only living direct decedent of his on that side of my family as the person submitting, one that would be in line for part of the inheritance. Based on your comment I am going to conclude that must have been something Antero provided, because his death occurred back in 1962 outside of WV and records would not be with them by default. And even that affidavit has error with a listed year of death of one of his own siblings and it's incorrect by 30+ years actually...

Interestingly, I have been able to find online the obituaries listings for the primary direct members of the inheritance going all the way back to the original rights owner as it was listed in what Antero sent my sister... so I have some names and what I am going to presume are correct dates of passing and who they were survived by that might be in line for inheritance too.

As to the idea of me traveling to Doddridge county and doing the research of the properties myself; that will be highly improbable, at least for the time being... I say that primarily because I do not yet have a good enough understanding of what it is in totality, and the potential value of what I have inherited, or should have been in line to inherit. I would however be interested in hearing from anyone in the area that could recommend a qualified professional that provides a records searching service... someone that can connect the dots not only with property records of that location, and era, but also has the capabilities and knowledge to cross state lines with their searches and link things up to death records, survivors, and inheritance rights. I can say this with relative certainty, there were very likely not many wills involved - at least not in the later parts of this. I even have a strong feeling my own deceased father did not know of this property and inheritance from his father...

Thanks again for the info... I think I started this by going in the right direction, just by joining this site. It's already given me a basic understanding of some things I never had reason to think about.

Kind Regards,



If you email me directly, I will recommend both an abstractor to help with the chain, as well as an attorney in the region, both of which I use frequently.


Jeff, Wilson has a lot of experience here with some good relationships with appropriate professionals. If I needed Doddridge research I'd start by asking Wilson's advice.

Probably true about your father's not realizing the property he had inherited. In the "olden days" there was a lot of selling the farm and retaining mineral rights and moving to Ohio (or elsewhere). If there were no active well thus no royalties, oftentimes the parents would forget about those retained rights, and forget to tell their children to notify the county about updating ownership. Also there was a reluctance to talk with the children about money matters. All this adds up to many surprises for people when the landman comes calling about leasing.

About that affidavit of heirship, I think Antero and other companies locate one heir, from one branch of a family, and that person doesn't know about any more distant relatives so doesn't put them down. I have seen several instances of multiple affidavits for the same person, listing different branches of the family.

Also there are instances of unscrupulous people trying to claim all the inheritance to the detriment of relatives...

This is a big topic but worth figuring out. You are on the right track. Good luck, and enjoy it!

What you write sounds about right, about the "olden days", right down to the move to Ohio part... because from what I can gather that's pretty much what happened and where most everyone ended up; there and PA.

I sent you a friend request as I am finding you to be very knowledgeable, and you and others have been extremely generous in sharing that knowledge not to leave without mention the time, and I appreciate that greatly.

How much information contained in the typical lease proposal can be used to back track with regards property ownership? I am going to assume since there was no well or royalties, there was no taxes assessed on the land or property itself to also help track or take into consideration??

I guess whats got me the most confused is the splitting of the surface and mineral rights... if I am looking in the right area on google maps, this land area doesn't appear to be of the farm land type, it's more rugged mountainous forest type; I suppose if the harvesting of trees was the purpose back then, then it would make sense to be split in that way.

Thanks again!



Back in the day, it was not uncommon to purchase a parcel and recieve the purchase price, from the proceeds of timber sales. At one time, WV was the king of timber.


Glad I can help.

I have heard that story a lot: Grandpa sold the land and moved to Ohio. A lot of going west. My great grandparents moved From Ohio to WV to participate in the oil and gas boom...

I'll try to find a deed where the minerals were retained when surface sold. After oil wells started getting drilled, everybody wanted a part of it.

As you said, maybe it was timber land. There is a lot of timberland owned by Heartwood or other companies, surface only.

Re taxes on property where there is no oil and gas production, but just mineral rights: West Virginia does have a property tax on this type of property. I have read that it is up to the counties if they do it. Ritchie County where my interests are, does tax all mineral rights whether producing or not. I think Doddridge did not until recently. When leased, I think the companies somehow notify the county assessor that the mineral interest has been leased, and gives the names of the owners. But maybe they don't start sending tax bills until there is production (well drilled, produced, gas sold, etc). Not sure about these details.

Re the lease information, often companies (example: Antero) will have the surface district, tax map and parcel and acreage listed on the lease as part of the description of the leased premises. Some older leases just said things like "... bounded on the north by lands of [somebody's name'; on the east by lands of ... " etc. A lot harder to figure that out without knowing who the neighbors were in those days.