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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The Mobley connection…

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This is most likely a picture of William Buchanan and Margaret Mobley.

A while back in my research I was investigating the parents of Jane Buchanan, because while much research was done on the Buchanan line and I could fill it out pretty well, I didn’t have much on her mother’s side in my files. Even my grandfather’s research records gave her short shrift, all I could find in his records was her first name Margaret.

Through time and much effort I have been able to flesh out Margaret’s origins. Origins of which bring a more prominent role of Quakers into the family and, as I knew would happen sooner or later, slavery.

When I started my research on Margaret I did have a good starting point because her birth name is found on her daughter Jane’s death registration. Using that information as a guide I found Margaret’s death registration, along with her husband’s on the same page, in the records. Thankfully her parent’s names were also recorded in the death record, which doesn’t happened all the time. They were listed as William and Sarah Mabley, (which should have been Mobley).

The search for William and Sarah Mobley led me to Monroe County, Ohio where a marriage registration is found for William Mobley and Sarah Millison in 1825. This record seemed the most likely and fits in with the approximated 1833 birth year for Margaret. I was pretty confident that this line runs true and so continued my research following this trail’s bread crumbs.

As I ventured further and further down the rabbit hole of the Mobley line I eventually ended up in Maryland. It was at this point that I immediately knew I wasn’t going to like what I was going to find. You see once your research takes you certain parts of the country in certain periods of time, slavery is going to rear it’s ugly head, and it did.

There are a few publications and websites dedicated to the Mobley surname to be found out in the world, so I have been able to fill in lots of blanks pretty well regarding the first few generations in America. Some sources are still suspect, which is to be expected. (An unfortunate habit of many early genealogy surname history books is their tendency to spend several chapters talking about the family crest, or how the surname is somehow of ‘upper crust’ descent. All very silly and pretentious, and these Mobley histories are no exception.)

It is believed that the earliest Mobley documented with confidence is John Mobley, jr. who was most likely born in England and emigrated in the latter part of the 1600s to America, settling in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. The surname in England was generally known as Moberly or various other iterations.

John was born about 1658, possibly in Cheshire, England. When he was about 30 years old he married Ann Biggers on the 21st of Oct 1686, in Maryland. Together they had five boys. The youngest boy, Thomas, was our ancestor. He was born on 18 Jan 1698  in All Hallow’s Parish, as were all the other children.

John was a planter, and living in Maryland his main crop was tobacco. Not surprisingly his main labor force was slaves and possibly indentured servants, although we have no record of such. Besides, indenture was so 1600s, enslaving Africans was all the rage now.

In the early days of Africans being involuntarily brought to Maryland, they could actually work off their indenture and become free. Apparently this annoyed the rich white folks to no end, so in 1664 an act was passed in the Maryland Assembly that once a slave always a slave, and any child of a slave automatically became a slave when born, and could expect the same treatment. To make matters even more depressing, in 1753 they passed another assinine law, this one forbade owners from manumitting their slaves at all. So even if they wanted to free a slave they couldn’t.

Several years before Thomas died he had made out a deed of gift for his younger children.

deed_moblythos_slavestochildren
The boxes area in the image says “One Negro boy named Ben to my beloved son Levin Mobberly”, Levin is our ancestor, who had William, who had Margaret.

Here is a transcription of the relevant parts of the document:

.”..hereby grant unto my beloved children, Dorcus Mobberly, Levin Mobberly, Mary Mobberly and William Mobberly, at the day of their marriage, or at my death. Viz. one negro girl named Dinah, and her increase to my beloved daughter Dorcus Mobberly, one negro boy named Ben to my beloved son Levin Mobberly. One negro girl named Hagar and her increase to my beloved daughter Mary Mobberly and one negro girl named Jane and her increase to my beloved son William Mobberly. If in case either of the said negroes die before received, I then give the boy Jack to make good the loss if either of these my children die before they receive the said negroes, the whole to be equally divided amongst them remaining and if all die to one, then my son John Mobberly to have half the negroes if more then one living. To have and to hold the said negroes, unto the above children their heirs and assigned to his and her and their own proper use for ever…”

I made a promise to myself that when I did run into the issue of slavery in our family, which I knew I would, there would be no glossing over the issue, and in the best way I know how  I will try to give voice to those persons whom my ancestors owned like cattle. So here I give their names: Dinah, Ben, Hagar, Jane and Jack.

Thomas’s son Levin moved his family to Ohio between 1810 and 1820 at which time they can be found living in Belmont County. One good thing I can say about Levin is that in the 1800 census there is no notation that his family owned slaves, so either he sold them to family or others, or freed them, and whether his lack of slaves in the census is due to economics or personal belief I do not know. I am just glad that at this point on, in our Moberly line, the owning of slaves has ceased.

A note of interest regarding Thomas Mobley/Mobberly, you can see that he left his mark of a pretty capital “T” as his signature on the deed of gift document. This indicates that he was not a formally educated man. He could probably read, but most likely didn’t write.

The family doesn’t appear to have invented any wondrous devices, written any novels, or left any big impact on history. They were tobacco farmers, owned slaves, were born, had children, died. When the country was opening up the next generation started to spread out heading south and west. Where we find Margaret, first in Ohio and then finally settling in West Virginia. It is here that she left her legacy to her four children: Jane, Rebecca, Ebenezer, and Sarah Buchanan.
moblytree

 

Elizabeth George lost sister no more…

This is the second time that land records have helped me finesse my family tree.

Sometime last year as I was transcribing GEORGE family land records into my database, I ran across a very interesting one:

Catharine Booker
Int in 78 acres – Sancho to
William C. Ash

This Indenture made this 23rd day of June in the year 1868 between Catharine Booker of the County of Wetzel in the State of West Virginia of the first part and William C. Ash of the County of Tyler & State aforesaid of the Second part. Witnesseth that for and in consideration of the sum of fifteen dollars the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, the said party of the first part, as an heir at Law of William George deceased in and to a tract of land lying and being in the County of Tyler aforesaid, situated on the waters of Sancho creek and being principally in the occupancy of the said party of the second part and being the same land heretofore charged to the estate of the said William George deceased on the commissioners land books of said county of Tyler as 78 acres the interest of said party of the first part which is intended to be hereby conveyed being the undivided one twenty eight part of said tract of seventy acres which said party of the first part derived as one of the children and heirs of Elizabeth Booker deceased, who was one of the children and heirs of the said William George died, and the Said party of the first part doth hereby covenant that she will warrant generally the property hereby conveyed. Witness the following signature and seal

Catharine [herXmark] Booker [seal] 

So in June of 1868, Catherine Booker, a child/heir of Elizabeth Booker, is selling land she inherited from Elizabeth, deceased, who was a child/heir of William George, deceased.

All of the online trees I have seen in my GEORGE family research have no mention of a daughter Elizabeth. Which tells me that these folks have not done their research properly. And because they hadn’t done their land record research, look what they missed!

So, Catherine is a previously unknown grandchild of William and Margaret George. It is doubtful that when William died he was giving land to nieces and nephews, he had at least 4 children and 4 times as many grandchildren that were around to inherit.

Elizabeth, the child of William and Margaret, appears to have married a man named Booker, (possibly a Henry) and she died sometime before her father, William George. Because of the date of birth of Catherine, which is speculated to be about 1820, from a Wetzel County, 1870 census record (although, admittedly, it is not confirmed that this census record is the correct Catherine; it seems likely as she is the only one living in Wetzel County close to the place and time of the land deed record, dated 1868) the date of birth of Elizabeth has to be 1805 or earlier. As the birth years for the children of William and Margaret are all in the very latter part of the 1700s, Elizabeth’s probable birth estimation would fit the time period.

So far the only record I have of the existence of Elizabeth is this land record. A sad state of affairs for many of my female relatives of old.

 

Source:
Land deed filed in Tyler County, West Virginia,  V2P371 [FHL film 855,954].

More fun with land records…

On my several trips to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City in the last few years, the collections that I seem to spend a lot of time going through are the land records. Most deeds are pretty run of the mill, but sometimes you find a few gems.

I have posted a few examples of great land records from various surname searches in previous posts, and today I thought I would share another one.

This particular deed regards Thomas Stockpole’s estate. When Thomas died in 1886 in Wetzel County, West Virginia he left a wife and at least 13 adult children to divide his property. Because of the nature of metes and bounds, boundary lines are usually all crazy-wonky, this very wonkiness made it necessary, in this case, for the land agents to redraw the property so everyone could have a better idea of the layout, and to better define Lydia’s dower property (property given by law by a deceased husband to his widow, for her lifetime).

What makes this deed particularly interesting for me, is that this is the only one I have found where the property is drawn out. I still don’t know its exact location on a map, but at least I have a better idea of what the property looked like. What is also cool is that the stables and homestead are marked on the deed.

Boundaries drawn out on deed to determine Lydia's dower property location.
Boundaries drawn out on deed to determine Lydia’s dower property location.