Sailing card for the clipper ship California, depicting scenes from the California gold rush.

How to Research Mining Claims

Sailing card for the clipper ship California, depicting scenes from the California gold rush.
Sailing card for the clipper ship California, depicting scenes from the California gold rush.

This special article is published to help our readers conduct research into mining claims for themselves. First of all, when researching mining claims, you practically need to do it in person. I would strongly suggest that you also call in advance to the County Recorder to inquire exactly what records they have available. There are six different volumes of records which mining claims are recorded. The following is an outline:

Notice of Location / Mining Claims

If you can locate these books, then you have literally struck it rich! But this is also a big “IF.” Some counties have retained these records, others have discarded them, and then again, some have donated them to institutions. If you cannot find them, ask the Recorder where they might be, and also if they have a storage area, which many recorders do have. It could be in storage somewhere collecting dust, and most Recorders may not even be aware of those records.

What this book contains:

  • Notice of Location of Claims
  • Bill of Sales of Mining Claims
  • Consolidation of Mining Claims
  • Laws of the Mining District
  • Minutes of the Miners Meeting of the District

Mining Claims

This is the standard recorded volume of Mining Claims, still in use today, and it also includes proof of labor notices. In certain counties you may be confronted with two sets of volumes: one for Placer claims; and the other for Quartz claims.

Water Rights

You know that your ancestor had a mining claim, but you cannot find it in the conventional Mining Claims book, cited above. Then, you need to check Water Rights. In a number of cases, a Water Right & Mining Claim were recorded as one, as Water Rights were being claimed to be used in the mining operations.

Bill of Sales & Agreements

Numerous mining claims were sold, prior to having obtained a patent to the property, and this is where you will find that document.


If you were lucky enough that your relation did quite well with a mining claim, in due to course of time, then, that person would have done the necessary work to obtain title to the property from the government. Each county has a set of their own Patent books, as well as in Sacramento (for California that is).

Grantor / Grantee (Deeds)

If your miner has successfully made it through the Patent process, then all subsequent transactions are recorded in the Deed Books for title purposes. If you are still having problems in locating a Deed, check the old County Assessment Records, to see if the person actually owned a Mining Claim, and if they did it should appear on the Tax Rolls.
There are other records you may want to examine at a later date, such as Court records, because there was a lot of litigation that occurred over boundary claims and water rights. 

Also, Articles of Incorporation are a good source, as the early miners found it necessary to incorporate in order to sell stock to develop their mines.

I hope this helps and good luck! Tim Purdy, Susanville, CA.

1 thought on “How to Research Mining Claims”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Scroll to Top