Land records and slavery

I have in my family tree an ancestor by the name of Alexander Clegg. He was possibly born around the 1750s, (using his first child’s birth), and was married to Margaret Farmer or Palmer (online trees are not really in agreement regarding her surname). Their daughter Susannah married Samuel Minor, whose daughter Margret married Alexander Lantz (the Lance mentioned below). This Lantz family is found on the Hays side of the family with Susannah Lantz marrying Edmund Hays. So now you have the background tree.

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The Clegg and Lantz families lived on the border of Pennsylvania and West Virginia at this time, so owned land in both states. Sometimes the same piece of property was also in both states.

Last year’s research at the Family History Library included the goal of finding land records for the Lantz and Clegg families in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Which I did. And recently I began transcribing them.

Here was an interesting entry:

Know all men by these presents that I Alexander Clegg [<–my 7x great grandparent] of Monongalia County, [Virginia at the time, later West Virginia], for and in consideration of the sum of money that I am due and owing Alexander Lance and Margaret his wife [<–my 5x great grandparents] and for the further consideration of one Dollar lawful money of Virginia to me in hand paid the Receipt whereof I do hereby acknowledge, I have freely given, granted, bargained, sold and Delivered unto them the said Alexander Lance and Margaret his wife, all the following property to wit:

one negro woman named (Susanna) and
her two Daughters Ann
and Malin[d]a them and their after increase

upwards of two hundred acres of Land in Monongalia County on Dunkard Creek being the whole tract of Land whereon I now live called Stradlers Town [now known as Pentress],
four head of horses,
eight head of cattle,
and six feather beds and beding
said furniture to the said Beds belonging 

all the aforesaid property to the said Alexander Lance and his wife Margaret for and during their natural lives or the life of the survivor of them, and at the decease of both of them then to go to the children of the said Margaret that she now has or may hereafter have. To have and to Hold all the aforesaid property forever. In witness whereof the said Alexander Clegg doth hereunto set his hand and seal this 29th day of May in the Year of Our Lord One Thousand Eight hundred and Twenty Six.

Signed, Sealed, and Delivered in the presence of us
Wm Thomas  Jacob Lantz  Peter [hisXmark] Yager                                                                               

Alexander Clegg  [SEAL]1

It appears that Alexander Clegg was in debt to his granddaughter Margret and her husband, and figured the best way to pay it off was to give them property, which included three slaves. He must have owed them a lot of money. Or a dowry? Or, maybe he was just giving away part of the estate they would inherit anyway.

Two of the above mentioned African American ladies are later found mentioned in the estate inventory of Alexander Clegg from 1829:

Than is in the said bill charged two Negro girls [Anne & Malinda] amt $230 – not sold at the public vand..[??] but has been since sold by said Lantz to John Brookover for $280 as I have been informed…

So, here is clear evidence that the Shepard side of the family was owning slaves as late as the 1820s. I have to say this was a surprising find.

But, here is something else interesting — in the 1830 federal census for Greene County, Pennsylvania we find Alex and Margaret Lantz living with one FREE female African American child who was less than 10 years old. Was she the daughter of one of the two girls they earlier sold to John Brookover? Or a daughter of the older woman Susanna? I haven’t found out what happened to Susanna, maybe she had died.

Looking further into the land records regarding the Lantz family, in 1812 Alexander Lantz’s brother*, George Lantz, freed three slaves: Esther, who was 26, Jacob, a mulatto child of 11, and Nancy (also called Ann), a mulatto child of 8. Did he free them because they were his children?

Well George’s probate2 clears that up, I think:

probate_lantzgeo_1818PA copy

Jacob is listed in his will as “my yellow boy” which seems to mean his son, who had a half sister Nancy. Jacob was 17 or 18 when he inherited George’s estate. Jacob’s mother is not named, but the probate states she was living with a George Ridge; who we find was a freed slave according to the 1820 federal census for Greene County, Pennsylvania. And, in 1840 an Esther Ridge was living single, with one young child, (George having died/left), both freed slaves. Esther herself probably died about 1844 as there is an estate entry for her in Pennsylvania probate, but no details regarding a will.

George Lantz doesn’t appear to have married or had any legitimate children so was leaving all his property to Jacob whom he appears to accept as his son, or at least his heir. Nancy isn’t acknowledged to be his daughter, which possibly means she wasn’t. There is no reason to believe that he would acknowledge one and not the other. Either way, he must have had some affection for her, because she was to receive some money from the estate when she reached 18.

See the interesting things you can learn from land records.

*George is believed to be Alexander Lantz’s brother because he is the only George Lantz found online who died at the same time as the one in my post, so it is speculation at this time, but, there are a few sources that give it some credibility.  Alex’s Uncle George died at a later date and was married, with lots of kids.


Sources:
1. Land deeds, 1826 Monongalia County, West Virginia, FHL Film #840576; Digital: 8219285vOS10 p350.

2. George Lantz probate, 1818; Will Books, 1796-1918, Green County, Pennsylvania. Online digital images 129-130 – Ancestry.com.

3. Ancestry.com 1820 and 1840 Federal Census records Greene County, Pennsylvania.

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Commit murder and get away with it…

There is an ancestor on the Shepard side of our family by the name of Walter Palmer. He was a Puritan born about 1585 in probably, Yetminster, Dorsetshire, England who emigrated to Salem, Massachusetts in June of 1629. When his daughter Grace married Thomas Minor in Massachusetts in 1634, our Palmer surname line ended. (This line of Minors eventually married a Lantz and daughter Susannah Lantz married Edmund Hays.)

Walter has the honor of being the first ancestor I have run across in my tree who commited murder, and got away with it.

stoningtonlandmap
This map shows the locations in Stonington, Connecticut of our ancestors Thomas Minor and Walter Palmer1 where they settled in about 1653.

 

In 1630 a servant by the name of Austen Bratcher was to be punished by whipping, and Walter Palmer, a giant of a man at around 6’4″, was to do the job. Apparently he was quite enthusiastic about his responsibility, so much so, that he killed the man. The charge put forth by the court is stated below:

“the strokes given by Walter Palmer were occasionally the means of death of Austen Bratcher & so to be manslaughter.”

torture-puritan-whipping_1

The court records have no details about why  Austen was being punished, but one wonders if the offense merited such an enthusiastic response. A jury trial was held:

 “Jury called on September 28, 1630 to hold an inquest on the body of Austin Bratcher.” “…that the strokes given by Walter Palmer, were occasionally the means of the death of Austin Bratcher, and so to be manslaughter. Mr. Palmer made his personall appearance this day (October 19, 1630) ; stands bound, hee & his sureties, till the nexte court.” At “a court of assistants, holden att Boston, November 9th 1630” numerous matters were taken up and disposed of, including the trial of Walter Palmer…” “A Jury impannell for the tryall of Walter Palmer, concerning the death of Austin Bratcher…The jury findes Walter Palmer not quilty of manslaughter, whereof hee stoode indicted, & soe the court acquitts him.”

One of the witnesses in the trial was William Chesebrough who happened to be a very good friend of Walter’s. William was a gunsmith who traded in illicit goods, such as guns and rum, with the local indiginous people. (Although, he always vehemently denied any such rumors.) Maybe his testimony persuaded the jurors to acquit his good buddy Walter.

After the trial Walter went on with his life as if he had done nothing wrong. His fellow citizens didn’t hold a little murder against him either, he took the Oath of a Freeman on May 18, 1631 (An oath drawn up by the Pilgrims during the early 17th century meant that the person was an established member of a colony who was not under legal restraint, and vowed to defend the Commonwealth and not to conspire to overthrow the government),2 and continued to be a respected member of the community until he died.

So I guess the world being what it is, as usual, being one of the top dogs in town is all it takes to get off of a murder rap.


Source:
1.http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nyterry/towns/stonington/stoningtonlandmap.pdf
2. https://minerdescent.com/2010/05/13/walter-palmer/
3.General source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Palmer_(Puritan)

Germans everywhere…

Alexander and Margaret (Minor) Lantz headstones in Jacksonburg, West Virginia cemetery.

I bet you thought all our German ancestry came from our John side of the family. Well, surprise, you would be wrong.

Susanna Lantz was born on the 18th of April 1820 in Pennsylvania. She was the daughter of Alexander Lantz and Margaret Minor. At the tender age of 16 she married Edmund Hays in Virginia.

Susanna’s father’s family was all German. Her maternal great-grandparents came to America about 1748 and her paternal great-grandparents arrived about 1747.

Susanna Lantz’s family tree, showing her father’s German heritage.

The Lantz surname is found quite a bit among the Amish in Pennsylvania, I do not know if our Lantz’s were Amish, but if they were, they didn’t stay that way, as later generations didn’t appear to be so inclined.
Alexander’s parents were Johannes(John) Lantz and Barbara Waggoner, which was Wagner in Germany. John served in the revolutionary war, in Capt. Henry Rush’s company of the Bedford County Militia. His name appears as John Lance in the official records.
Alexander’s mother, Barbara, lost her father when she was 7, to what was believed to be a Delaware/Lenai Lenape raiding party. Her father Wilhelm Waggoner, was out in the field when he was caught and scalped. Barbara’s sister Mary, was kidnapped along with her brother Peter. However, Mary was killed by her fiancé during a very inept rescue attempt. Peter disappeared around the Great Lakes area for years, but eventually made it back to his family from Canada and took up shoemaking.
Barbara’s widowed mother, Agnes (Fleisher) Waggoner married again to a Conrad Lutts.
The George Lantz family first settled in Maryland around the Monococy River and then moved to the Shenandoah Valley. This is the first generation of Lantz’s in America. George and his wife Catherine were both born around 1707 in Germany. They had emigrated together along with a few of their children.
This is the only bit of German that I have found so far on the Shepard side of the family, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t more.