History

The practice of recording real estate documents is based on English law, which was brought to the New World by the colonists. Public land registrars were appointed in colonial America to keep accurate land records. A system of registration was necessary to prove who first made claims to property.

Map used with permission from the American Geographical Society Library, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries

In 1787, the Northwest Territory was organized by the Continental Congress, paving the way for westward expansion and ultimately Ohio’s statehood in 1803. The Land Ordinance of 1785, however, became the foundation of the American Land System, which led to the orderly survey, sale, and settlement of public lands in the country. The Ordinance established the rectangular survey as the primary means to initially subdivide public lands – with the first public survey being the Seven Ranges. This survey commenced with the Geographer’s Line, a latitude traveling 42 miles west from near East Liverpool, encompassing an area of 84 complete or partial townships in eastern Ohio stretching along the Ohio River culminating near Marietta – including Belmont County. Belmont County was established September 7, 1801, assuming lands from Washington and Jefferson Counties – with the oldest recorded deed in present-day Colerain Township (Barton). Belmont County would ultimately take its present borders in 1813 after ceding lands to Guernsey and Monroe Counties, respectively.

Although the state constitution did not provide for a Recorder’s office, the first state legislature mandated that a Recorder be appointed in each county by the Court of Common Pleas. Sterling Johnston was appointed as the first Recorder in 1804. The position became an elected three-year position in 1829, changed to a two-year term, and has been a four-year term since 1936. Documents were originally transcribed in the office by hand. Typewriters were used starting around 1900 with Photostat introduced in 1958 and Xerox in 1972. All Official Records are scanned today. In recent years, oil and gas exploration in the Marcellus and Utica Shale Formations has led to an increased use of the office’s public records.

Past Recorders

NameTermParty
Mary Catherine Nixon1997 – 2021Democrat
Stanley Simoncic1976 – 1997Democrat
Nick Munas1953 – 1976Democrat
Lawrence W. Purdy1949 – 1953Democrat
W. T. McCort1941 – 1949Democrat
Jesse A. Wilson1933 – 1941Democrat
A. A. Davis1927 – 1933Democrat
K. S. Fisher1925 – 1927Republican
C. Brady Bradfield1919 – 1925Republican
Arthur Stewart1915 – 1919Republican
E. E. Workman1911 – 1915Democrat
Samuel E. Lewis1907 – 1911Republican
John K. McFarland1902 – 1907Republican
A. S. Taylor1896 – 1902Republican
David S. Creamer1893 – 1896Democrat
John M. Beckett1887 – 1893Republican
William S. Hobbs1881 – 1887Republican
James A. Barnes1878 – 1881Republican
Louis G. Wright1878 (3 months)Democrat
James A. Barnes1872 – 1878Republican
William S. Barnes1869 – 1871Democrat
John C. Bolon1866 – 1869Republican
John Bickham1863 – 1866Democrat
Felix Martin? – 1863Democrat
S. M. HoweyDemocrat
George Anderson
M. J. Ward
Robert Giffen
William Faris, Jr.
Peter Tallman
George S. Nagle
William Faris
Sterling Johnston