Sep 222013


FRO – no, I’m not talking about a stylish do from the 60s – FRO in this context is a new document type: FOR REFERENCE ONLY which has recently been created at the Hancock County Registry of Deeds, here in Ellsworth, Maine. The thing that makes this worth talking about is why.

If you ever have done any lands records research, you’ll understand how wonderful it is to find an old survey plan and most especially when the very plan is cited in the deed that you’re reading only because of the similar researching occasions, and much more often than not, of never finding that plan. Sadly, more survey plans have ended up being lost and forgotten through neglect, poor stewardship or worse; through their overt destruction by heirs and family members only wishing to be rid of them.

Now, for the first time in Hancock County, and possibly in the state of Maine, there will be a searchable online repository to the survey records from surveyors that have left the face of the Earth thanks in no small part to the efforts of the Hancock County Commissioners, the Hancock County Registrar of Deeds, Ms. Julie Curtis and the county’s software vendor, Property Info. Without their participation and cooperation the Hancock County Survey Archive would never have been realized.

These are the early days, just the beginning for the HCSA. However, it will only be able to flourish through the work of volunteers who will receive, process, separate, unfold, unroll and flatten these old documents in preparation for their scanning, indexing and final storage in the Hancock County Survey Archive – all done in close coordination with the Registrar. If you would like to volunteer to help work on building the HCSA, please drop me a line at with HCSA support in the subject line.

Once indexed, the public will have free access to these records. Searches of the FRO documents will be like any other indexed land record in the system. Here’s a quick introduction video on how it will work:


See Related articles:

Where Do You Want Your Surveying Records to Go When You Die? (PSM – October 2000)

The Dodge Papers – Online

 Posted by on September 22, 2013 at 9:19 am