As any parent knows, shooing kids into adulthood requires a balancing of priorities. While securing one’s own home and finances, you also strive to secure a promising future for your children. We pay for health insurance, cover education costs, loan cash for car payments, and extend a bit of mad money whenever possible–as long as we don’t leave ourselves bankrupt and unable to manage our dotage. John Pearson (Pierson) Minor and his wife, Isabela McClelland, were no exceptions. These parents accomplished this tricky balancing act by serving as their family’s private bankers, lending money and holding the mortgages on land in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Illinois, Iowa, and Ohio. For cattle dealers and farmers in the first half of the 19th century, securing land was the ticket to securing a child’s good future; the means by which a young man/woman could become a self-sufficient, productive member of society. And through the 1850s, many states tied white male suffrage to land ownership.
This transcription begins a cascade of posts in which I will share the notes, mortgages and letters that record the helping hand extended to John’s eldest children, Robert and Abia, the two boys by his first marriage to Hannah McClelland.
The Unexecuted Deed For “Wilson Land” in Harrison County, Virginia–1849
This Indenture made this ________day of _______in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred forty nine between John P. Minor and Isabella his wife of the county of Greene and state of Pennsylvania of the one part and Abia and Robert Minor (*1) of the county of Harrison and state of Virginia of the other part Witnesseth that the John P. Minor and Isabella his wife for and in consideration of their share of a tract of land will,d to them the said Abia and Robert Minor by Robert McClelland deceased the land being valued at twenty four hundred dollars the receipt whereof is hereby acknoleged (sic) do hereby grant bargain sell convey and confirm unto the said Abia and Robert Minor their heirs and assigns for ever all that tract or parcel of land situate lying and being in the county of Harrison in the state of Virginia and bounded as follows Beginning at a hickory one of the original corners and running thence North seven and one third degrees east twenty and one fourth poles to a stake (bearing north twenty degrees East twelve links from a white oak) thence leaving the original line North sixty seven and an half degrees West one hundred and forty eight and one fourth poles to a stake at a fence thence along said fence South twenty and three fourth degrees West Ninety poles to a stake thence South Twenty five and an half degrees West fifty four poles to a stake on the bank of Simpsons Creek thence up said creek with the meanderings thereof North seventy six and an half degrees East forty eight poles South seventy six degrees East eighteen and an half poles crossing a drain South fifty two degrees East fifteen poles crossing Stouts run South twenty five degrees East twenty two and an half poles South five degrees East sixteen poles South eight and an half degrees West twenty nine poles South four degrees East seven poles to a water beech thenceleaving said Creek South sixty ninedegrees East twenty one and one half poles to a stake South seventy nine East twenty six holes to an Ash and Dogwood corner to land of Benjamin Stouts heirs thence North fifty seven and an half degrees East ninety four poles to a stake by the road thence North thirty one degrees West twenty four and an half poles to a Black Walnut and dead white oak thence with one of Aaron Lodges lines North one fourth degrees East seventy five poles crossing said Stouts run to the beginning containing one hundred sixty acres Being a part of a tract of land of three hundred and fifty acres conveyed by James P Wilson and wife to the said John P Minor, together with all and singular the appurtenances thereunto belonging or in any appertaining To have and to hold the above described premises unto the said Abia and Robert Minor their heirs and assigns forever and the said John P Minor and Isabella his wife the aforesaid premises unto the said Abia and Robert Minor their heirs and assigns against the claim or claims of all and every person whomsoever do and will warrant and forever defend by these presents In Witness whereof the said John P Minor and Isabella his wife of the first part have hereunto set their hands and seals the day and year above written.
1) John P Minor and Hannah McClelland were married in Greene County, Pennsylvania in 1815. Abia Minor was born 3 July 1816 and Robert was born 11 April 1817. Hannah died the 28 April 1817, presumably from childbirth complications. John married Isabella later that same year, 24 September 1817.
2) The above transcription is the first brush stroke in our understanding of a land transaction between John P. and Isabella Minor and their eldest children, Abia and Robert. Future transcriptions will paint a rich picture of how John and Isabella came to own the land in (West) Virginia and how the boys assumed title to it.
The Minor Papers, private collection.
The Thomas Minor Society, the descendants of Clement Minor, ancestral number 1312.
Challenge 1: Did your family have any New Year’s traditions? How was the New Year celebrated during your childhood? Have you kept these traditions in the present day?
I don’t remember much about New Year’s celebrations of my childhood. Our family of six got together with the D family of five, swapping out which home hosted the gathering. We ate Brunswick Stew and played in the basement. Was that New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day? Meh.
The only celebration that really stands out was a party I hosted on New Year’s Eve, 1969. A gaggle of eighth grade girls giggled and talked from the sleeping bags scattered on the den’s concrete pad floor. The black and white television probably showed footage of the Times Square countdown, and we probably had snacks from the kitchen just steps away. I don’t remember.
I don’t remember any conversation–but this.
Hugging a pillow tight, Humpy said, “Just think, in ten years, we won’t know each other. We won’t know where each other lives. We won’t know each other’s secrets or boyfriends or jobs. It is now 1970, and in 1980 we won’t know each other!”
The future suddenly cast a shadow into our small, snug party. We could feel its tug, its scattering hand. Someone started to cry. And we hugged each other, mourning all the losses we would have to live in the new decade. Gradually sleep overtook our eyes, clouding our vision of the future. From that brief moment, I was changed; the human capacity to imagine a future–without current companions–was awakened. It was the dawning of adulthood that dawning of 1970.
The holidays created pockets of time, which I filled with genealogical searches! Naturally. My key word selection had a high yield rate and I felt as if I had spotted a rainbow, found the ladder to climb it, and then slid to its end where the jackpot of gold awaited my discovery! So much wonderful keystone information; my family tree had an entire new branch substantiated back to 1850!! Hurray!
I noticed at the bottom of the Find A Grave page that the author had left an email address. I copied and pasted it into my google mail template, paused and wondered, “Just why am I bugging this person?” For starters, I want to thank him for 1) doing all this research and 2) for taking the time to write it up and post it. I pressed send, and had but a short time to wait before a new message showed up in my inbox. Thinking that only the Mail Demon responds that fast I held little expectation for the mail, but lo! and behold! The address was current and the recipient was grateful that I was grateful, AND offered more research than I ever imagined. The branch of the family had been documented back to the immigrant for five families!!!!! Holy COW!
Thus, my tip of the day is this:
When you stumble upon a great source of family information, take the time to contact the author.
Yes, 8 of 10 addresses will beckon only the mail demon, but that leaves 2 addresses that will be current. Chances are that those authors are family history buffs as eager to collect connections as you are, and everyone likes to be thanked for their work. A win-win, in my book: more information is shared, more connections are verified, a wider support network is made. As in so much of life, we family historians stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us, and the mountains of data that they have collected. Practicing the
lost art of gratitude serves to remind us of this fact: We are all in this together.
Oh, promises, promises, my kind of promises, can lead to joy and hope and love! ~burt bacharach
52 Weeks to Better Genealogy has had some great questions and tasks and the last one for 2010 is no exception.
Think about the goals you want to accomplish next year and write them down. What research steps do you want to take? What records would you like to find? Think about the brick walls you’d like knocked down. What things haven’t you done yet and why not?
Goals for the New Year are just camouflaged resolutions. Resolutions are just promises linked to plans linked to schedules linked to incentives linked to more promises. Normally this is an anxiety-producing exercise: so much to do and so little time to do it!!!! If I can only channel my inner Burt, this exercise might just be some fun. So here it goes!
My list of 2011 promises for joy, hope and love of family history:
I promise to make three genealogical fieldtrips. FIELDTRIP!!! YAY!
- A road trip to Allegany County, New York, to explore Whitesville, Rushford and Alfred–towns in which my great-great grandparents Ira and Serena Sayles lived and taught.
- A visit to Washington, DC where I will lose myself in the National Archives and Library of Congress and the Smithsonian for more records on the Sayles.
- Another road trip to Boydton, Virginia, to locate the Dodson Cemetery and to access Mecklenburg County deeds, probate documents and wills for the Sayles and Dodsons.
I promise to attend the Writer’s Workshop in Jackson, Wyoming and visit my brother and his wife on the side.
I promise to pass my Ancestor Approved Award forward, creating a list of 10 things I have learned while being my family’s Teller and awarding the AAA to 10 more genealogy blogs that have great content.
I promise to roll in technology like my dogs roll in fresh grass, becoming proficient in PollDaddy, Snag It, WordPress, Footnote, and anything else that strikes me as being super cool and relevant to creating digital and print family stories.
I promise to make an editorial calendar for my blog!!!
I promise to keep annotating and cataloging the incredible mother lode of primary documents I am privileged to care for.
I promise to finish my Civil War Course, David Blight lectures downloaded from Open Yale Courses.
I promise to sketch out the stories of how the Sayles and the Dodsons, the Stricklands and the Minors were intertwined by the events of the Civil War and its aftermath.
That’s TEN great goals, two hands full of promises, all of which I look forward to keeping!
A Merry Christmas on this eleventh day of my Minor Postcard Advent Calendar! I am so pleased to find among my collection a fine example of a glittered embossed postcard by P. Sander Company. Oh, how I wish I knew the ins and outs of scanning to capture three dimensions, for the publishers of this era worked hard to enhance their cards, simply and cheaply, with embossing–raised areas of the painting that create depth! In this 1906 card the red-breasted songsters are heavily embossed atop a snow-covered fence that is less heavily embossed, quickly drawing your eye to the artist’s main subject. The holly and snow are not only embossed but glittered, giving the impression that the sun may be peaking out between snow bearing clouds. In the silver embossed background, a riverside town sits in the muffled, snowy silence. Such a beautiful card! A hand delivered Merry Christmas to four year old Donald Minor from May M.
I do believe, I do believe, I do believe. Like the Cowardly Lion, I do believe that I have the heart to stare straight at what has left me motionless–physically and mentally. In this case I don’t have to kill any wicked witch; goodness reigns in my house. But I do have the dreaded satchel of family scraps–a history trove any other genealogist would LOVE to have. Loose letters, receipts, documents, and notes have been carefully stored and read by others. But there is no table of contents, no annotated who’s who. The satchel’s connections and stories are mine to retrieve.
A prepared space makes for a prepared mind.
Looping through my head this motto coaxes me to take the time to get everything ready before I dive into the wonderfulness of 19th century ink. Selecting a small bundle I set it at one end of my dining room table which, with its leaves in, has become a 26 square foot work space. The east side of the table is laid with my computer, notebook, acid free sheet protectors, label tape, pencils, printer/scanner, and digital camera. The west side of the re-purposed dining surface is ready to receive the work.
I draw a deep breath of patience and begin.
My time on Footnote.com has taught me to annotate names, dates, places, and type of document before attempting to qualify a connection to other known facts, stories or events. If I have a buzz train–a series of aha!s–roaring through my mind I stop the annotating and write it all down in my notebook. At the bottom of that page I leave space to create some good working questions, the kind that a science teacher would like, the kind that will clarify a pattern, explain some event or challenge an assumption.
Back to my item, I prepare a sheet protector by affixing an index finger-sized piece of labeling tape to the upper right corner. The date is written in the upper right hand corner of that empty white space, with any place names underneath. People names go in the left hand corner, on top of my declaration of Will, Bill of Sale, Deed, Letter, Receipt or Other. The item is slipped into the sleeve and placed in chronological order on the open, west side of the table.
By the end of my sortin’ time, I have a timeline of items, a page full of thoughts and more than a few questions. A three ring notebook clicks open and I place the sleeve protected treasures in–most recent items first. I jot the dates of the included items on a clean sheet of paper, followed by questions this session has generated. Slipped into the front plastic protector, my workbook now wears its own unique cover. Tomorrow I repeat this process. When every last paper has its annotated home the reading for connections will begin. Another round of sorting is sure to follow before the collection of documents yields its patterns, explanations and revelations.
I do believe, I do believe, I do believe–that the satchel scraps sorted today will be woven into great family stories, someday.
Challenge 35 I took up 36 hours late, but boy! am I glad I did. Look into the database of the Daughters of the American Revolution–just try it, even if you don’t think you have anybody on that tree of yours with Revolutionary War service experience.
Now, I have been able to track some of the Revolutionary War contributions of a couple of ancestors, but did not know about the Daughters of the American Revolution database. Rather I didn’t think it was free, open to the public, or readily accessible–all perceptions based upon childhood memories of an elitist organization. Put those preconceptions aside, and give me that data!!
I found three ancestors who served as privates in their respective state regiments:
William Rowlett served in Chesterfield County, VA under Captains Benjamin Ward and David Patterson, and Colonel Robert Goode. (He has an 1831 pension application one can access through footnote.com) He married Rebecca Short in 1825, and as an old man fathered Sarah Jane Rowlett, who married James Henry Dodson. My great grandmother Lilly (Rebecca Eulelia Dodson) was one of their daughters.
Israel Sayles served in the Rhode Island regiments under Captains Kimball and Hoppin. He and wife Mercy Whipple had Christopher, who married Martha Brown. They were grandparents to Ira Sayles of New York who married Serena White, had Clifton Duvall, and made a post-Civil War move south to Mecklenburg County, VA, where Clifton eventually married Miss Lilly Dodson.
On my maternal side, Samuel Miner served in New Jersey regiments under Lt. Joseph Schenck and Colonel Jacob Kyser. He was father to Abia Minor who moved to Pennsylvania later to join his uncle, Captain John Miner, who served both with Colonel Zackariah Morgan and as a Justice of the Peace. Samuel was grandfather to John Pierson Minor accumulator of large tracts of land in Greene County, Iowa; and Greene County, Pennsylvania on which Francis then Robert then Donald Minor raised families.
Besides adding revolutionary war service information to my family history the DAR database also has provided illusive dates of birth, marriage and death for many of these men, and their wives.
I urge everyone to give this challenge a try!
April 2010 was Confederate History Month in Virginia, proclaimed so by its Governor, Bob McDonnell. This month-long celebration was to lead these southern citizens to
to reflect upon our Commonwealth’s shared history, to understand the sacrifices of the Confederate leaders, soldiers and citizens during the period of the Civil War, and to recognize how our history has led to our present ….
In this original proclamation Virginians were not urged to reflect on how slavery had contributed to the country’s descent into civil war. In fact Brandon Dorsey, of the Sons Of Confederate Veterans, successful lobbyist for this state action, felt that the civil rights issue of slavery gets too much attention when the Civil War is remembered. You can listen to his comments here, in Michael Martin’s NPR essay “When Slavery Overshadows Confederate History.” National attention and public outcry forced the Governor to concede that he had made a mistake, and the final proclamation contained the clause:
WHEREAS, it is important for all Virginians to understand that the institution of slavery led to this war and was an evil and inhumane practice that deprived people of their God-given inalienable rights and all Virginians are thankful for its permanent eradication from our borders, and the study of this time period should reflect upon and learn from this painful part of our history…
I attribute my current family research and study to the outrage this political episode provoked in me. I realized that I had the documents to interpret this history from a very personal place, and that by writing my family’s story I could contribute to a broader conversation about our country’s racial history. The comments to the article cited above are representative of the beliefs held by various groups and individuals, and many of them not accurately grounded. In taking The Civil War and Reconstruction Era course I am developing my arsenal of facts to counter misconceptions and promote rational discussion.
A discussion that is justifiably overshadowed by slavery.