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.

Mapping the Wilson-Minor Transactions: Mappy Monday

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.  Now I know that today’s parents walk from store to car, and drive home on streets and highways, on top of that land. They too expect to give their sons and daughters a leg up.

**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.

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.