Project 150: It’s 1861. Farm On.

Project 150 is a series of Civil War posts that, taken together, will tell the story of my family’s life choices during the years of rebellion.  Sources used for today’s post include privately held family documents, a Wiki article on the election and the Federal 1860 census accessed at ancestry.com.

My great-great-grandparents, F. Marion and Mary Jane Gwynn Minor, woke up each day of 1861 inside a farmhouse on Ceylon Lane.  Each night they tucked their three children, John (age 9), Olfred (age 6) and Sarah (age 3), into bed.  When they attended Goshen Baptist Church in the nearby village of Garard’s Fort, Marion and Mary Jane drove past brother Samuel Minor‘s family home.   Driving to the nearest town, Carmichaels, took the couple past the homes of Marion’s parents, John P. and Isabella McClelland Minor, and his sister, Isabella Minor and Hugh Keenan.  The families were four of the ninety-eight that called Greene Township, Greene County, Pennsylvania home.

Within its sixteen square miles, the township had 134 women housekeeping and keeping all that was in the house – the stories, the children, the meals, the cleaning, the mending, the tending, the healing.  The hills also sheltered 105 farmers and day laborers, 5 shoemakers, 4 carpenters,3 merchants, 2 clerks, 3 seamstresses, 2 millers, 2 stonemasons, 2 stonecutters, 2 washerwomen, a shinglemaker, a chairmaker, a cattle drover, a physician, a blacksmith, and a coal miner.  All but two families were white, and all but twelve residents were born in Pennsylvania.  Most everyone could read and write.  The township’s wealth was concentrated in the hands of the merchants and three farming families: the Lantzes, the Gerards and the clan of John P. and Isabella Minor.  

John Pierson (Pearson) subscribed to the Waynesburg Messenger,  an instrument of the Democratic Party.  Shared among the extended family, the pages were no doubt well thumbed; the articles frequent sources of conversation and debate. Greene County voters had handed the county to the pro-slavery Southern Democrat, John C. Breckinridge, in the 1860 election.  

As the country staggered toward dissolution in 1861, Marion bought twelve head of cattle from Philip Wolf for $140, and another three for $25.  A bit later he purchased one from John Ramer for $24.20. As Abraham Lincoln settled into the White House, F. Marion bought ten more head at $60.  

Throughout the summer of 1861, as volunteers formed companies and regiments and brigades, the Minors of Ceylon Lane farmed on.  Walnut and oak trees were felled for logs, planks and rafters; stable flooring, joists, and sills.  Stables were built, homes repaired; livestock bought, fed and sold.  Into the fall the family farmed.   John P. purchased 50 bushels of coal for $5.  John P. Junior and Olfred probably climbed the hill to the family schoolhouse when they could, and climbed trees to shake out nuts when they were asked. 

As the days folded into long nights, the Minor business of tending children and raising cattle continued to thrive. 

December the 24th 1861

This is to certify that I, Elias Slocum, waid for TB Martin and Dan Shore 42 hed of cattel sold to Pearson Minor the cattel was in a fair condition to when waid.  

                                    Elias Slocum, way master

On December 30, 1861 John P. Minor made one last entry in his business ledger:  Lindsey paid me $487.00.  

Farm on.

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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.”

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.

Touching the Future–A Grandfather’s Bequest: amanuensis monday

[Author’s Note: 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, of Greene County, Pennsylvania 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.  This transcription continues 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.]

In the last post we were introduced to a piece of land in Harrison County, Virginia.  In 1849 John and Isabella were prepared to deed this land to the brothers, Abia (a- bye-ya) and Robert, in exchange for title to land that the boys had inherited from their grandfather, Robert McClelland.  This un-executed deed serves as a keystone document from which we will jump back into time.

Abia and Robert  Became Landowners

A will would be nice, but the 1849 document will have to suffice.  It states that “their share of a tract of land will,d to them the said Abia and Robert Minor by Robert McClelland deceased” is accepted as payment for the “Wilson Land” in Harrison County.  When did they first become landowners?  At the time of their grandfather’s death.  When did Robert McClelland die?  I do have a document to narrow the timeframe.

In the Orphans Court of Green County at June Term 1834

And now June 11th 1834 an notice of the Court grant a Rule upon the heirs and legal Representatives of Robert McClelland deceased to be and appear at an orphans Court when held at Waynesburgh in and for said County on the third Monday of September next and accept or refute the real estate of said decedent at the valuation there of or shuo (show) county why the same shall ???? sold.

The smudge in the lower left corner, when held just right in great light, revealed an embossed Seal of the County Greene.  Inscribed on the note’s exterior were the words–

March Term 1833           Order upon the H????? of Robt McClelland, dec’d

It would appear then from this Orphans Court decree that Robert McClelland died after the court met in 1832 but before the March Term in 1833.  The will must have stipulated that a tract of land be divided among his children, and among grandchildren if the child was deceased.  This grandfather’s bequest secured a bit of future for a 17 year old Abia and 15 year old Robert.  For whatever reason the young men chose to begin adulthood on the Wilson Land, using their inheritance as collateral.

Our next transcription will uncover how John P. Minor acquired the Wilson Land of Harrison County.






Tombstone Tuesday: John Pearson (Pierson) Minor

Veteran, War of 1812
—–John Pearson Minor was born in Middlesex, New Jersey on 7 November 1791.  He moved with his parents, Abia and Margaret Pearson Minor, to Greene County, Pennsylvania in 1796.  The War of 1812 veteran remained in the Whitely Creek area for the duration of his life, serving as a financial lender, land speculator, cattle dealer, and farmer.  He married Hannah McClelland about 1815, and had two children, Abia born 3 July 1816, and  Robert born 11 April 1817.  After her death in 28 April 1817, John married Isabella McClelland  on 24 September 1817,  and together they had 9 children:  Hannah (6 June 1818-?); Mary Ann (19 January 1820-?);   Margaret (5 November 1821- ?);   Rebecca (29 November 1823-5 July 1891);  Samuel Pierson (23 August 1825–27 August 1909);  Francis Marion (23 November 1828–4 August 1913);  Sarah Ellen (10 September 1833–21 October  1862);  Frances Caroline  (9 May 1833–21 October 1862).  Isabella died at home on 14 August 1863.
John P. Minor left the family farm to his son Francis Marion on the condition that he be allowed to remain at the farm for the duration of his life–at no cost. This Minor patriarch died at home on 12 September 1874 and was buried in the cemetery of  John Corbley Baptist Church, Garard’s Fort, Pennsylvania.
 

John Corbley Baptist Church, Garards Fort, Pennsylvania