Bartering for Black Gold : amanuensis Monday

The unlined paper was folded in half, then in half again.  The resulting seven by three inch rectangle bore no identifying notation.   I have reread the Wilson-Minor Land transactions (see post 1, post 2, and post 3) several times since first spreading this undated agreement out on my work table.  The deep brown ink now yields a message which I understand.

John P. Minor purchased 350 acres on Simpsons Creek, Harrison County, (West) Virginia from James P. Wilson and wife Rowena on October 25, 1841 (post 2).  This letter appears to be laying out the terms of payment for an adjacent tract– the 223 acres on Simpsons Creek, Harrison County, (West) Virginia sold to John P. Minor by James P. Wilson and wife Rowena on April 1, 1842 (post 3).

–the said Miner bonds himself to pay for the said land at thirteen dollars per acre in the following payments one thousand dollars in current bank paper of Virginia on or before the first of April next (*1) also one bay horse at eighty dollars down and the balance till paid at three hundred dollars per year and the P. Wilson agrees to let the horse be included in the second yearly payment .  Both parties bind themselves their heirs to comply and said Wilson further agrees to make a good deed when called on and the P Miner is to execute his notes for said land.  Wilson is to make a general warrantee (sic) deed clear of all encumberances (sic) except the coal bank in testimony hereof the parties bind them selves their heirs  this 26th of Oct 1841.

Jas. P. Wilson
John P. Miner

PS  the land mentioned in this contract is to be used as the land bought in a former contract Miner is to have Wilsons interest in D. D. Wilsons coal bank on the hill P. Miner is to allow P Wilson the privilege of passing through his land to his the p Wilsons land lying above for all family purposes so wilson to keep up the gaps and not injure P Miner.

How interesting that this land is to be purchased with two forms of stored value–bank notes backed by the state of Virginia and a bay horse.  There was no national currency in 1841, and a hodgepodge of financial mechanisms and payment systems filled the vacuum. I am tempted to digress into the whole interplay of banking, bartering and currency issues of our antebellum nation, but I fear that that subject deserves its own blog–or several blog posts, at the very least.

It is also interesting to note the lack of convention in both spelling and punctuation. Though it makes for some tough reading, I believe by staying true to the original author I convey the message and provide a little clue about the  mental landscape in which our ancestors lived.

(*1)   1 April 1842.

Black Gold In The Bank–amanuensis monday

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

Rowena 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

You Paid HOW Much?: amanuensis monday

The mottled paper, the size of a place-mat, is folded in half, then half again, then half again.  Carefully penned on its outer face is a succinct description of the document’s contents:


In 1841 John P Minor paid $5250, lawful money of Virginia, for 350 acres of land in Harrison County, (West) Virginia.  According to the website Measuring Worth this sum was the equivalent of 133,000 lawful 2009 dollars.  But consider this.  As measured by the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita index, this sum is the equivalent of $2.5 million dollars.  Not many folks in 1841 or 2009 could afford to pay that much money for 350 acres, and this measure of worth gives us a clue that John P. Minor was not only a man of means, but also a man of some considerable economic power.  James P. Wilson and his wife Rowena were all the richer for JP’s interest in their land.

THIS INDENTURE made this 19th day of October in the year of our Lord Eighteen hundred and forty-one, between James P. Wilson 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 five thousand two-hundred and fifty dollars lawful money of Virginia, to them in hand paid, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledge have granted, bargained, sold, aliened, en???? released and confirmed and by these presents do grant, bargain, sell alien, enf???off, release and confirm unto the said John P. Miner his heirs and assigns forever all that certain tract or piece of Land with its appurtenances lying and being in the said County of Harrison on Simpsons Creek, and Bounded as follows, to wit Beginning at an Ash and Dogwood corner to the original survey made for William Lowther, and running thence N34 1/2*E25 1/2 poles to a stone (bearing S69*E 16 Links from a chesnut (sic) oak) Thence Leaving the original line N62*W76 1/4 poles to a Stone, Thence S48 W25 poles crossing Limestone Run three times to a stone.  Thence down said run S42 1/3 W62 poles crossing said run Seven times to a Stone by a Stump thence S241/2W14 poles crossing said run to a Hickory on the westerly bank thereof.Thence S34 1/2 W29 1/2 poles crossing said run twice to a Limestone.  Thence S40 1/2 W 15 poles to a Hickory.  Thence S 64*W27 poles crossing said run to a whiteoak (sic) Thence S28 1/2 W 12 poles to a Pin oak. S 20 W36 4/10 poles to a stump.  S 62 3/4 W17 poles to a stump.  N 62* W11 poles and 4 links to a stone, S 70 3/4 W 10 poles to a Stake, (crossing said run twice) near said Creek, Thence up the same S10 W24 poles crossing said run, near its mouth to a Sugar tree, one of the original corners of said Lowther Survey, also a corner to land belonging to Salomon Holland, thence with two of said Hollands lines N 81* E 22 poles.  Thence S 28E 76 poles to a Stake on the Bank of said Simpsons Creek.  Thence up the same with the meanders thereof N 76 1/2 E 61 poles .  S 76 E 18 1/2 poles, crossing a drain, S 52 E 15 poles crossing Stouts Run, S 25 E 22 1/2 poles, S 5* E 16 poles.  S 8 1/2 W 29 poles, S 4 E 7 poles to a water Beech at teh mouth of a small drain, Thence leaving said Creek S 69 E 21 1/2 poles to a stake, S 79 E 26 poles to a n Ash and Dogwood, Thence N 57 1/2 E 94 poles to a Stake by a road, thence N 31 W 24 1/4 poles to a Black Walnut and dead white oak, corner to ladn belonging to Aaron Lodge, Thence with two of his Lines N 1/4 E 75 poles crossing said Stouts run to a Hickory Thence N 7 1/3 W 170 poles to the Beginning containing three hundred and fifty acres.  To have and to hold the above described tract or piece of Land with the appurtenances to the said John P. Miner his heirs and assigns to and for the only proper use and behoof of the said John P. Miner his heirs and assigns forever: And the said James P. Wilson and Rowena his wife for themselves their heirs do hereby covenant to and with the said John P. Miner his heirs and assigns that they will forever warrant and defend the above described tract or piece of Land to the said John P. Miner his heirs and assigns froever against all persons and claims whatsoever.  In Testimony whereof the aforesaid James P. Wilson and Rowena his wife have hereunto set their hands and seals the day and year first above written.

Joseph Winter and Benjamin Stout, Justices of the Peace in the County of Harrison, Virginia witnessed the sellers’ signatures on the 19th day of October 1841.

Thus John P. Minor, of Greene County, Pennsylvania, acquired this parcel, known in my family as the “Lowther Land”, that would later be deeded to his two eldest boys, Abia and Robert Minor.  Why was the fifty year old cattle dealer interested in this particular tract of land?  Further documents reveal some answers; stay tuned.