John P. Minor, born 1791, was a successful cattle drover in Greene County, Pennsylvania during the 1820s-1850s. His prosperity and traveling afforded him opportunities to diversify his assets to secure both his future and that of his children. The following 1842 deed is a transaction to secure not just some land in Harrison County, (West) Virginia, but the black gold contained within it–coal.
From 1836-1840 geology experts analyzed the Appalachian coal fields of Harrison County and its vicinity. The total product of this region for 1840 was nearly 300,000 tons, used as fuel in Kanawha salt furnaces, factories and homes.(*1) These coal-bearing 223 acres were adjacent to a tract of land John P. Minor purchased the previous year from James P. Wilson.
John Minor appears to have been aware of the growing importance of coal and its subsequent gain in value, making a purchase offer of $2,905.50–the equivalent of a current offer of $1,510,000 . John P. Minor saw black gold in them hills. Ultimately these lands would be shared with John’s two oldest boys, Abia and Robert Minor.
This indenture made this 31st day of March in the year of our Lord one Thousand Eight hundred and forty-two between James P. Wilson (*2) and Rowena his wife of the County of Harrison and State of Virginia of the one part, and John P. Miner of the County of Green and State of Pennsylvania of the other part Witnesseth that the said James P. Wilson and Rowena his wife for and in consideration of the sum of –one thousand and Eighty Dollars Lawful money of Virginia to them in hand paid the receipt where of is hereby acknowledged, and for the further consideration of a Single bill for three hundred dollars payable in the 15th January 1843, a second single bill for two hundred and twenty dollars payable on the 15th January 1844, a third single bill for three hundred dollars payable on the 15th January 1845, a fourth single bill for three hundred Dollars payable on the 15th January 1846, a fifth single bill for three hundred dollars payable on the 15th January 1847, and a sixth single bill for four hundred and five dollars and fifty cents payable on the 15th Januar 1848,all of which single bills bear date the 31st March 1842, Have granted, bargained ,sold aliened, enfoeffed, released and confirmed and by these presents do grant, bargain, sell, alien, enfeoff, release and confirm unto th esaid John P. Miner his heirs and assignes forever an interest which the said Wilson has in a coal Bank in the Hill near Simpsons Creek on the westerly side thereof , and a certain tract of Land with its appurtenances, lying and being in the said county of Harrison on Simpsons Creek and a branch thereof known by the name of Limestone Run and Bounded as follows, to wit, Beginning at a stone (which bears S 69 E 16 Links from a chesnut oak) in Aaron Lodges Line, and corner to 350 acres of Land heretofore conveyed by said Wilson to said Miner and running thence with thirteen lines thereof N 62 W 76 1/4 poles to a stone. S 48* W 25 poles to a stone. S 42 1/3* W 29 1/2 poles to a Limestone, S 40 1/2 W 15 poles to a hickory. S 64* W29 poles to a Stake near a barn post. S 36 * W 27 poles to a white oak. S 28 1/2 W 12 poles to a Pinoak S 20 W 36 4/10 poles to a Stump. S 70 3/4 W 10 poles to a Stake, in Daniel D. Wilsons Line, thence along the same N 12* E 26 1/2 poles to a whiteoak on the Bank of said Simpsons Creek, Thence with two other of said Daniel D. Wilsons Lines N 8 1/2 E 28 1/4 poles to a Beech. N 16 3/4 W 96 1/2 poles to a Black oak. Thence N 10 E 4 poles and 15 Links to a Stone in the Line of land belonging to Joshua Smith, thence with the same N 27 E 108 3/4 poles to a Poplar and Painters. Thence with thru other of said Smiths Lines S 79 E 26 1/2 poles to a white oak, N 23* E 34 1/2 poles to two Chesnut trees. N 68 W 22 poles to a Poplar, Thence n 35 1/2 E 31 1/2 poles to a Beech and two whiteoaks, corner to Land conveyed to Wilson K Shinn, Thence S 49 1/4 E 49 poles to two Dogwoods and a whiteoak, thence N 17 E 31 poles to a whiteoak, thence N 47 E 28 poles to two Gums. Thence on the Dividing Lines S42 E 35 poles so a Sugartree. Thence S 31 1/2 E 141 poles crossing said run to the Beginning Containing two hundred and twenty-three and an half acres. Reserving such interest in a coal Bank as now opened near the road and near the Land of Said Joshua Smith as Solomon Holland alias Daniel D. Wilson may have in the same, and also reserving to the said James P. Wilson the prevaledge of passing through the above discribed Land to and from his Lands on the head of said run without injury to said Miner by Leavings fences and down and otherwise more than what may be accasioned by Travellings to and from the said land. To have and to hold the above described tract of Land Excepting the reservation aforesaid, with the appurtenances to the said John P. Miner his heirs and assignees forever, to and for the only proper use and behoof of the said Miner his heirs and assignees forever, and the said James P Wilson and Rowena his wife for themselves their heirs and do hereby covenant to and with the said John P. Miner his heirs and assignees forever that they will forever warrant and defend the above described tract of Land to the said John P. Miner his heirs and assignees forever, againast all persons and claims whatsoever. In Testimony whereof the aforesaid James P. Wilson and Rowena his wife have herunto set their hands and seals theis day and year first above written, But it is to be understood that a licens is hereby retained on the above described tract of Land to secure the payment of the above recited and mentioned single bills.
James P. Wilson
Matthias Winter and Benjmin Stout, justices of the peace of Harrison County, Virginia certified the document. Eli Marsh, clerk, admitted the deed and certificates to record in Harrison County Court Clerks Office April 1st AD 1842.
* 1. Source: The Semi-Centennial History of West Virginia, by James Callahan, 1913