San Luis Obispo County, California

The Carpenter's Index

San Luis Obispo County Genealogical Society


In December of 2004, during a visit to the San Luis Obispo County Historical Society, I learned of the existence of an Index called the "Carpenter's Index". This index is comprised of at least 5 very large leather bound books, that date to about 1860.

The Carpenter's Index is thought to contain a record of all the Land Transactions [Deeds] completed in the County from it's inception to about 1905. While the County Clerk's Office has an index that may replicate the Carpenter's Index, we do not know for sure that the information is the same or that it is available.

In April of 2005, I was given the first book of the Carpenter's Index to transcribe. The Carpenter’s Index Transcription Project was originally begun by several teams of readers and transcribers. Excel was used as the vehicle for transcription. Unforeseen circumstances prevailed and the task of finishing the first Book fell to Phoebe Adams and Martha A Graham, it was completed on December 4, 2006.

In Appreciation:

My deepest thanks to Ron Clarke and Luther Bertrando of the San Luis Obispo County Historical Society for getting the books for us. My sincere thanks to all of those members of the San Luis Obispo County Genealogical Society who participated: Phoebe Adams, Judith Andreson, Janet Crabaugh, Julie George, Ron & Terri Miller, Jean Smith, Judi Southcott, Shirley J Tharaldsen and Rosemary Thorne.

 About the Books and the Abstraction Process

Each Book has two sections: The first section of each book is indexed using the Grantor's Name as the guideline. The second section is indexed using the Grantee as the guideline.

Each Section of each Book is approximately 335 pages - a total of 670 pages per book. Each page contains 80 lines. The information contained in the first section in the form of columns is: Grantor, Grantee, Date, Book, Page, Abstract # and Description. The information contained in the second section has the Grantor and Grantee reversed.

Two Columns were added to the database to facilitate searches: A year column was created to allow a “Year Sort”, this will allow the Researcher to look at a block of years without dealing with 11,238 lines of text. A column was added to indicate the Book and Section, ie: B1S1=Book One, Section One.

The cursive is beautiful, the ink and paper has survived 140 years. We do not have the names of the persons who diligently and painstakingly entered the information. From the different styles of writing we know that at least 3 people worked on the first book.

We developed a system to use when we could not determine a letter or number. For Example:  S?ith, Jan? D . Each ? represents a letter of the alphabet that could not be determined. We did not guess at what the writer was trying to convey. There are entries that do not have a date or year: These are represented by Aug ?? 1870 or ???? where the 4 question marks indicate 4 numbers.

Not all entries have all information, if there is no description of the land, it is because it was not entered by the original transcriber. The same applies for the numbers in the Abstract Column. The land descriptions are “as is”


A bit of History

Here is a brief biography of Irene Jane Felts Carpenter, it is thought that the Carpenter’s Index is named for her Husband, Halsey Hiram Carpenter.

Irene Jane Carpenter

One of California's native daughters, Irene Jane Carpenter, was born at Cambria on November 3, 1871. She not only successfully managed her various business properties and investments since her husband's death in 1928, but had taken a prominent place in the com­munity's upbuilding for many years past. Much of this county's fame as a beauty center is directly responsible to women like Mrs. Carpenter, for she had long been interested in horticulture and had one of the county's most beautiful garden spots at her Pismo Beach home where she specialized in the cultivation of gladiolas and begonias. She also had in her home a private collection of many early historical scenes taken in San Luis Obispo and Pismo Beach, along with early school pictures taken since 1880.

Her father, James Monroe Felts, born at Tuscoloosa, Alabama, February 27, 1843, came to California with his parents in 1852 when he was 9 years of age. The family settled in Sacramento and after completing his education there, James Monroe Felts taught school for a time in Solo County. He came to Cambria in 1870, where he was married to Cecelia Jane Blunt on December 28, 1870. For 4 years following he marriage, James Monroe Felts taught school at Cambria. In 1874 he moved his family to San Luis Obispo and was elected County School Superintendent. For eight years he held this position and continued with his teaching. In 1882 he was elected County Assessor, remaining in this office for two consecutive terms of four years each, then turning his attention to the management of his own real estate business in the county. Mrs. Felts nee Blount was born in Missouri in 1853 and came across the plains with her parents while still a small child. This family also settled in Sacramento County for four years. Then followed a period of six years which were spent in San Francisco. The family established its home in San Luis Obispo County in 1868.

Irene Jane Felts attended the public schools of San Luis Obispo and later took a business training course there. On April 4, 1900, her marriage to Halsey Hiram Carpenter took place at Martinez, California.

Born at Rockbridge, Richland County, Wisconsin, on April 18, 1870 Mr. Carpenter moved to Kansas as a youth and in 1887 came to Califor­nia with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Emory W. Carpenter. The family settled in San Luis Obispo and 2 years later, in 1889,  Halsey Hiram Carpenter then 19 years of age, became a clerk in the Abstract and Title Company. Ultimately he became owner of this concern. In 1898 Halsey Hiram Carpenter was elected County Tax Collector. After serving one year in this office, he was elected County Clerk. He retired from the latter office in 1911 and until his death, Sept. 16, 1928, spent his full time in the management of his own property and the Abstract Title Company. No children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Carpenter.

Mrs. Carpenter continued very active in the business life of San Luis Obispo. She was elected director of the Obispo Oil Company and President of the Brookshire Oil Company, both companies having producing wells in Kern County. A charter member of the Native Daughters of California, she was also a member of the Monday Club of San Luis Obispo. Throughout her lifetime spent in the county, Mrs. Carpenter freely contributed her own time and service to all worthwhile civic programs of the county and was a zealous booster for her home State.

Biography contributed by: Rosemary Thorne

 About the Online Databases

There are three databases that have been created from the Original Database Transcription.

Both the Grantor and Grantee columns were sorted alphabetically to produce two databases. A third sort was initiated using the “Year” column and the Grantor to produce a  Year / Grantor Alpha database.

Fully searchable pdf databases were then created from the individual sorted Excel spreadsheets. The Grantor and Grantee pdf databases were then split according to each letter of the alphabet.

Thus, each Grantor and Grantee database is broken down to facilitate easier searches, the end of each alpha letter slightly overlaps the next letter.  The Year/Grantor database is broken down to blocks of 10 years each with the exception of 1870, 1880 & 1890, These three sets of years are huge, so they are broken down to 5 year blocks. Any information that was not dated is included with the 1900-1905 block.

A word about searching the databases.  Be creative in your searches, there are a lot of different spellings for the same name, this is particularly true with the Hispanic, Swiss-Italian, Prussian, Danish and Swedish Surnames.

You will need Adobe Acrobat to access the files, if you do not have it you can download it free from here.

Disclaimer: We have done the very best we can to accurately transcribe the information. The original deeds plus indexes for Land Records can be found at the SLO County Clerk's Office. Contact the San Luis Obispo County Clerk's Office for more information.


Each Alpha Letter is linked to a fully searchable pdf file. Data from these pages can be viewed, printed or downloaded for research.

Grantor Database

A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H - I, J - K, L, M, N - O, P - Q, R, S, T-U-V, W - Z

Grantee Database

A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H - I, J - K, L, M, N - O, P - Q, R, S, T-U-V, W - Z

Year - Grantor Database

1807-1860, 1860-1869, 1870-1875, 1875-1880, 1880-1885, 1885-1890, 1890-1895, 1895-1900, 1900-1905 [Includes Undated Files]

San Luis Obispo County Land Grants

This site has indexes and flow charts for 10 Mexican Land Grants

Miscellaneous Deed Indexes

In the 1960's Laura McAnallen of the San Luis Obispo County Genealogical Society abstracted and created Deed Indexes.

Here is the explanation that introduced the process in Society Bulletins, they were printed in several issues:

"These records were copied by Laura McAnallen. The Indices to deeds and the Deed Books are in the County Recorder's Office. There are five columns in the Indices. Grantor [Seller], Grantee [Biuer] Date of Deed [date on which the transaction was recorded], Book [Deed book in which the Deed may be found, and Page [page on which the Deed begins. There also are Grantee-Grantor Indices."

Unfortunately, this project was never finished.  While going through old Society publications, I found an additional set of typed Indices. There are some entries that were not included in the typed lists that were published in the Bulletins.  In the interest of making the information available to researchers, they have been converted to pdf files and uploaded. The links below are to the uploaded pdf files.

Deed Book A [1842 - 1876] ~ Deed Book B [1874-1879] ~ Addenda [1842-1876]


San Luis Obispo County

Transcribed  by Barbara Erden

The Information available:
Mortgagors                                Mortgagees   
Date of Transaction,  Book, Page Number 
The Actual Mortgage Records are not available.
The Index is being shared as Information Only.
This data does confirm the presence of the persons in
San Luis Obispo County at a particular time.

The data that Barbara transcribed has been compiled into one Document of 57 pages. This Document is a fully searchable pdf file.

Site Updated: 20 October 2015

This Site belongs to the San Luis Obispo County Genealogical Society

Rights Reserved: 2015