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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