Mapping My Ancestors: An Update to the Wilson-Minor Transactions

Have you ever wondered  if anybody ever reads what you have so passionately researched and diligently recorded?  Just as I despair that my family storytelling has NO audience, I got a comment, followed by a description, followed by an email with PHOTOGRAPHS.  This post was originally published two years ago, and today, because of curious reader, I have additional descriptions of land purchased 170 years ago by John Pearson Minor.  

Drawn on thin paper discolored to a light blue, the survey map described a distinct parcel of land with corners marked by Black Oak, Water Beech, Limestones, fence posts, stakes, and Hickories.  Lines connected the corners and were labeled with surveying code–S37 W 151/2 poles and the like.  Unnamed squiggly lines posed as small streams crossing the land, emptying into an unnamed creek boundary. Lines cut the map into pieces; within one rectangle was the name A. Minor, within another the name R. Minor.  The outside bore a cryptic “plot of Virginia land 575.”

Five hundred and seventy-five was the amount of land that John P. Minor purchased from James P. Wilson in 1841 and 1842.  As I reread those deeds I traced my finger along the lines of this map, and with great excitement realized that I did indeed have a map which depicted the Minor land acquisition of 1841 and 1842 in Harrison County, (West) Virginia!

Five Hundred Seventy-five Acres along Simpsons Creek

With that confirmed I could with great certainty know that the bigger stream indicated Simpson’s Creek, and the smaller streams were Limestone Run and Stout’s Run.  However, I still didn’t know when this map was created or where this parcel of land was on a current map.

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

The 1849 document transferring a piece of this property to Abia and Robert Minor was never executed.  It was as if the boys had given John P. some reason to pause before deeding title. BUT the document gives a surveyor’s description of the considered transaction, and that plot is only the piece labeled R. Minor in this map–a clue that this map was created sometime AFTER 1849.  Other documents related to this land include John P. Minor deeding the tract of land labeled here A. Minor to Abia Minor in 1854. Therefore, I conclude that my surveyor’s map was created sometime between the years 1849 and 1854.

The when of the map was closer to being settled at this point, however I was left no closer to understanding where these 575 acres were located. For that I consulted  the Federal Census data hoping to track the residences of the young men.  My hunch was rewarded with an interesting trail.

1840                          Abia has a child and wife in Greene County, PA
Robert is not listed anywhere
1850                          Can’t find either Abia or Robert
1860                        Abia is in Moultrie County,Illinois
Robert is in Harrison County, Virginia
1870                         Abia is in Moultrie County, Illinois
Robert is in Harrison County, West Virginia
1880                        Abia is in Harper County, Kansas
Robert is in Harrison County, West Virginia

If Robert was on that land so long then searching for a map of that 1860-1880 era might yield some clues.

At Historic Map Works I did indeed find such a map–An Atlas of West Virginia, published by D. J. Lake and Company in 1886.   This map labeled not just towns and streams, but homes and businesses. I found Robert Minor’s name by a square that sat on a small stream, presumably Stout’s Run, that emptied into Simpson’s Creek north of Bridgeport.  Limestone Run had been renamed Barnet’s Run by 1886.  With these facts I could look at a Google map with new eyes and locate the ‘Plot Virginia Land 575′.

Limestone Run was renamed Barnet’s Run by 1886, and the farms were covered by interstate and malls by 1986.

A mystery is solved, and leaves me with mixed emotions.  Now I know where my ancestor once walked; where, finding coal and water and good land for farming, John P. Minor expected to give his sons a great leg up in life.

Phillip Wilson stopped by my blog, and read through this post, recognizing immediately that he grew up on Robert Minor’s farm.  His parents, Robert and Helen Wilson, purchased the land in 1962.  Their home, built around 1940, sat close to the “cellar house”, the basement of the original home.  Phillip played for hours down by the creek while his mother kept a watchful eye from the patio, til they paved paradise and put up an exit ramp. 

Robert Minor Farm, photo from Philip Wilson 3.2.2013

Robert Minor Farm, photo from Philip Wilson 3.2.2013

Robert Minor Farm, photo from Philip Wilson 3.2.2013

Robert Minor Farm, photo from Philip Wilson 3.2.2013

**With sixteen passes of the Flip Pal I had successfully scanned the map before me and stitched it together into a seamless jpeg file with the built in Stitch Tool.  Flip Pal. LOVE. IT.  Check it out here.

Are You My Cousin? : The Legacy of Migrating Minors

How many of us stand on the hopes and dreams of the pioneering Minors?  With yesterday’s publishing of the 1872 letter between brothers Samuel and John, I am reasonably certain that I have many unmet cousins in the Midlands and West Coast states of America.

Collating the data from the letter, a Thomas Minor Society register, and Federal and state census reports from 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880, I can track one piece of the Minor Migration.

Somewhere, out there, beneath the waning gibbous moon, I have cousins in Iowa, Illinois and Oregon.  If you are one of the migrated Minors, I hope you will leave a message, continuing the conversation begun almost 140 years ago between brothers Samuel and John.

“Write soon.”

An 1860s letter from Abia Minor to his father, John P. Minor: Amanuensis Monday

ABIA MINOR was a resident of Moultrie County, Illinois when he wrote this letter to his father, my great-great-grandfather, JOHN PEARSON MINOR of Greene County, Pennsylvania.

It is an undated description of the winter weather–I have yet 160 rods along my fence that was 30 feet wide and was between four and five feet deep(with snow) but it has settled down to about 3 feet–and reports about his children’s plans.  His eldest boy, John, is of age (b. 1839?) and wants to be doing for himself talks of going away this spring.  

Abia talks about his farming plans and how he want(s) to put a corn crop for I think we will raise good crops next year and I am trying to make some more fence so I can keep some stock without so mutch (sic) trouble in winter; before discussing arrangements for the mailing of daughter Isabel’s saddle and some much coveted flannel for himself.  You said you would send her saddle and some flannel for me a warmth that would be quite a present to me for sutch (sic) flannel is hard to get here and if you send it box them in a light box and send them from any point on the railroad or if any one was comeing out you could put them in a trunk and they can bring them through for nothing.  But, he continues, if his father wants to send them by railroad direct them to

Abia Minor

Mattoon

Coles County, Illinois 

and take a receipt from the station agent for them and send it to me by mail.  

Abia then requests his mothers likeness which you can have taken and send it in a letter and Isabel says you have yours taken on horseback I wish you would send me a copy of it it can be taken on paper or leather and sent in a letter.  

Abia Minor closes his letter with salutations to his brothers and sisters, a plea for letters from them and a pledge to answer back.

I remain yours Truly     Abia Minor

Forever Young–a letter to Abia Minor, 1837: Amanuensis Monday

The four by three inch paper appeared to be just one more scrap of Minor business.  Unfolded, the 1837 ink revealed a delightful conversation  between one Phineas R—- and my great-great grandfather’s eldest brother, twenty-two year old Abia Minor. *

Eaton Ohio, June 12th 1837

Respected Sir

I received your letters dated as afforesaid. It gave me a great deal of satisfaction. By golly I want if possible to give you a dis?nphon of the past and present times. For Instance….I am now setting here at a great Large Desk with my Noggin pretty darned well tumbled up, I tell you about matters and things.  But says i, heres what ear stands it. I now stick my penn in the ink stand, lean back in my chair, touch back my hair and study something, that I think will be pretty darned good to you. I suppose you want the truth, do ya? AYE (but I’m not so shure that you get it)

As I walked out the udder evening I went through a tolerable thick spatch of bushes and hiked my self up on a darned big stump and was setting there a studdying about old times   Behold, the first thing I new my pockets troused over and all were full of these helish big piss ants a going there dep?h, by Golly. So I began to jump Gim Crow, thats a considerable of a fact(there is a great many pis ants this year) Well now, what next my something I have no doubt.  Girls is plenty and Gentlemen is plenty . ——-is plenty. Candles scarce. Consider some are beautiful.  Some is ugly, some is large of mere size, some small but the most pretty best of all.

 But although some of mine has got the Fidgets their like a real old hip and go, constant mare.  But I think if you had put a Little stirrups of Spirtentine in your Horses (ass) and a little in yours you would both rode off in a tolerable fast canter. You would both fell big like Martin Van devil our most Honerable and not verry well respected President at this time (he’s going the hole hog, by Golly) with a Tump___hop___step___& fall.

Both you and Benjamin Evans must quit this practice of going a courting until you have some notion of marrying.

 Boys, how fast can you run.  The young men of this place is celibrated for running.  We can run a 1/4 mile in 55 seconds and repeat, that a considerable of a fact. Don’t doubt for pity sake.  This is one evenings employment I’ll try it —- tomorrow.

This is 13th day of June I will try to give a few more whats on Politicks. Lerigion Ave or the free Masons on the 24 of June walks at Richmond Ia (Iowa?) all thats in the state, I suppose. They will have a great time. I wish you was here, by Devil. I think that we would have lots of fun.  Oh, I’ll  tell you we have thespians in this town.  Such performing you never in your life. Some will come on the stage half scared to depth while others is fiercing for it.  I don’t .  Now anything else at present to write till I git an answer from you. You must write wright off. You told me to scratch of a letter some how. I think that I have —–well.  Oh. I want you to something about Mr. Van Buren, Good or Bad whither you are opposed to him or not. For my part I think they are a —?– to the middle regimes of Damnation.

With these words I remain yours   Phineas R p——–

_________________________________________________________________

* I left the spellings as I found them, but I have introduced current standard punctuation.  Otherwise the letter would have been two very long sentences.  Ha!

A Minor Detail: Amanuensis Monday

I threw off two quilts and a down comforter this morning, and leapt to my feet.  Hurriedly I dressed into chore clothes and padded stockinged-footed downstairs to make coffee.  The dogs sleepily rose from their beds to gather their morning pats before groggily making their way outside for the day’s first potty trip.  The damp March air filled my lungs with both the early smells of earth’s warming and of clouds holding snow.  We in northeastern Pennsylvania still sit on the edge of spring, with wintry conditions hovering.  I whistled the dogs back inside.  They listened impatiently as the kibble clinked into their bowls, paused in their down positions before being released with my “Rise and shine” command.  As Cappy, Fly and Luci wolfed down their breakfast my coffee steeped; finally I pushed the plunger of the French Press, and poured a mug of strong, bold brew lightened with a generous slug of cream.  The house was empty and still, NPR talking in the background, the computer screen an eerie glow in the dawn lit kitchen just waiting to transmit the bits and bytes from my trans-Atlantic children.

How different was the dawn for my great-great-great-grandmother, Isabelle McClelland Minor.  When Isabelle was my age, she had five grown kids, married with children of their own; and five kids still living at home, the youngest just 11 years old.  Her wake up time would not have been so peaceful or languid, and her breakfast chores would certainly have required more effort than pouring kibble into a bowl.  On the morning in 1855 that she and John P finally gave the Harrison County, Virginia land over to eldest son Abia Minor, Isabelle probably finished a bunch of chores by the time light broke over the farm in Greene County, Pennsylvania.  Hopefully the May air was sweet with the smells of a first cut of hay and with the endless song of birds waking to feed nestlings.  Did Isabelle feel satisfied to be off the farm for the day?  How much say did she have about this transaction?  Was she pleased to make this provision for her eldest boy’s family?

The land on which Abia Minor farmed from the mid-1840s through the 1850s.

Abia Minor, for his part, had lived on the Harrison County farm since at least 1845, and had six children by 1853, the year he lost his wife, Elizabeth.  He had remarried, taking Hannah Ballard as his wife, only four months before his parents went to James Cree and Alexander Stephenson to draw up this document.  At almost forty years of age, Abia must have felt that this Minor detail was long overdue.

This Indenture made the Eleventh day of May in the year of our Lord one thousand Eight Hundred and fifty five Between John P Minor of Green County and State of Pennsylvania and Isabel His wife of the one part and Abiah Minor of Harrison County and State of Virginia of the other part Witnesseth that the said John P Minor and Isabel his wife for and in consideration of his share of a tract of Land willed to him the said Abiah Minor by Robert Mc Clelland deceased it being valued at twelve Hundred dollars the receipt whereof is hereby acknoledged (sic) and for other reasons and in Liew of Legacy*¹ do Hereby grant bargain sell convey and confirm unto the said Abiah Minor his heirs and assignee for Ever all that tract or parcel of Land situate lying and being in the County of Harison (sic) in the State of Virginia and bounded as follows Beginning at a Shugartree (sic) and of the original Corners of the Lowther Survey also a Corner to Land belonging to Solomon Holland thense (sic) by Lands of Said Holland North 81 E 22 perches to a corner thense (sic) south by Land of Same 28 E 76 perches to a corner on the creek thense (sic) up said creek 13 ¼ perches to a corner thense (sic) North 25 ½ E54 perches to a post on the division line between Abia Minor and Robert Minor thense (sic) North 20 ¾ E 90 perches to a stake on said line thense (sic) by the same Course 66½ perches to a Stone near to a whiteoak thense (sic) on a Northern direction to a stone on the original Line 162 ½ perches thense (sic)  South 27 W 53 ½ perches to a Stone in the old line thense (sic) South 10 West 11 perches and 15 links to a Black oak Near to a Cole (sic) Bank thense (sic) South 16¾ East 96½ perches to a Beech thense (sic) South 8½ West 28¼ to a whiteoak thense (sic) South 12 W26½ perches to a Stake near the mouth of the run*² thense (sic)  S 10 W 24 perches to a sugar tree place of beginning containing one Hundred and sixty acres, it being a part of a sirvey (sic) of Land Deeded to the party of the first part by deeds of James P Wilson bairing (sic)  dates 19th october 1841 and 31st March 1842 and recorded in Book No 29 folio 486 and in deed Book No 29 folio 681 in Harison (sic) county State of Virginia as Shown by the cirtificate (sic) of the Clerk of Said county Referance thereunto being had will more fully appear together with all and singular other the the houses out houses buildings barns stables ways roads waters water courses rights libertys priviledges hereditaments and appertenances whatsoever thereunto belonging or in anywise appertaining  (Except the wright (sic) of a way for the benafit (sic)of the upper or remaining part of the aforesaid Survey to get out to the road.) and the reversion and remainders rents issues and proppert??thereof and also all the Estate right title interest property clause and demand whatsoever of them the said John P Minor and Isabel his wife in law with equity or other wis however of in to or out of the same To have and to hold the said (several words unreadable) containing one hundred and sixty acres hereditaments and premises hereby granted or intended so to be with the appertenances unto the said Abia Minor his heirs and assigns to the only proper use and behoof of the said Abiah Minor his heirs and assigns for ever and the said John P mInor and Isabel his wife do covenant and agree to the said Abiah Minor to warant (sic) and forever defend from all persons Lawfully claims rising under them interest or title to the aforesaid premises In witness whereof the Said John P Minor and Isabel his wife have hereunto set their hands and seals this day and year first above  written.

*¹Abia did not receive any other land or money in the settlement of John P. Minor’s estate.

*² The run mentioned in this document refers to what is known in the 1841 and 1842 documents as Limestone Run, which emptied into Simpsons Creek.