It can be helpful to look at the history of taxes that were paid on the property you are researching. Often the records will indicate the assessed value and the name of the person paying the taxes, which is usually the property owner. Not only will this give you the names of property owners, but also any significant jump in the assessed value may provide a clue that a structure was built on the property. Keep in mind when looking at property tax records that the taxes were paid based on an assessment in the previous year.

So where do you find these records? A quick Internet search may direct you to the proper records. Sometimes local historical or genealogical societies have microfilmed the records and make them available to the public. If nothing is available online, contact your local city government office. The assessments and collection of taxes may have been done at a local level. If not, this office should be able to direct you to the correct government office.

Do a year by year comparison of the records, writing down the names and amount of taxes paid. If and when you do find an increase in the amount of tax paid, use this as a guide for when the house may have been built. Gather other documentation to confirm the date as it may have taken the assessor’s office a while to catch up with new construction.