Our Government Rocks! : Follow Friday

I am in many ways exasperated with the state of our national government with all the picky nonsense, the garrulous quarreling.  LEAD already!

But there is no set of institutions better at creating databases than ours, and lately these civil servants have been digitizing the records and making the database searchable from your home!  The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management–General Land Office website receives this week’s TOP HITS award!

I have the honor of being custodian and researcher for a batch of family documents, many of them related to land transactions in the 1840s-1860s.  Armed with the family surname, Minor, and the county and state mentioned in the document–Moultrie, Illinois in this week’s search–I was able to draw up all of the land warrantees and patentees for the Federal distribution of public lands.  

What an experience to confirm with government documents that my ancestors participated in the westward expansion of our country.  In this case, Abia Minor, son of John Pearson Minor, is assigned the land originally warranted to War of 1812 veterans.   By clicking on the far left hand paper icon I can access the original document.  I can even order a certified copy of this document without leaving the page.  Clicking the details tab on that page gives a second page that succinctly states the specifics of the land now to be in Abia Minor’s name.  

As I reread my satchel stash of transactions between father and son, this newfound government information will enrich my understanding of family dynamics and of government policy impact on those interactions.

Roaring into the Roahrig Past: Wordless Wednesday

Jean George and Eve Gerling Roahrig emigrated from Alsace, France around 1847. Among the family members making this journey was their son Frederick, born in 1827.  He married Elizabeth Lapp, daughter of German immigrants Henry and Magdelena Zimmer Lapp, on 06 April 1849 in Muskingum County, Ohio.  John Roahrig, the eldest of their eleven children was born on 21 September 1849. He married Matilda Klein, daughter of German immigrants Johann Jacob and Catherine Moser Klein, on 19 October 1871 in Muskingum County, Ohio.  They moved to a farm near Plainfield, Coshocton County, Ohio and raised nine children, including my great-grandmother, Kathryn Elizabeth Roahrig Bradford, born 28 February 1883.

Today’s wordless treasures of my great-grandmother’s parents and grandmother were taken in the 1880s, I believe.  Photo detectives, what do you think?

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The photographs and documents of Elizabeth Lapp Roahrig, and John and Matilda Klein Roahrig are shared courtesy of family historian, Doug Kreis.

amanuensis monday: THE OPEN MIND-a conversation with Martin Luther King, Jr., 1957

If we press on with determination, moral courage and wise restraint and calm reasonableness, in a few years we will reach the goal.   I have a great deal of faith in the future and the outcome.  I am not despairing.

Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.





Watch the full episode. See more The Open Mind.

A Martin Luther King, Jr. Legacy

Lift every voice and sing,
‘Til earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on ’til victory is won.
This poem was written by James Weldon Johnson to celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday in February 1900, and performed by 500 students of the Stanton School, a segregated elementary school of which Mr. Johnson was principal.  These were the words heard by the crowd gathered that day to hear Mr. Booker T. Washington.  These were the words later set to music by James Weldon’s brother, John, and sung in African-American churches and events throughout the 1900s.
Though the poem describes the dark history in which these descendants of slaves have lived, it’s aspirational message appeals to all Americans, I believe.  While attending an inaugural celebration for Barack Obama, I had the opportunity to join the assembled crowd in singing this song.  That shared song–of hope that the present had brought us–was a clear legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s work.  Black and white, Christian and Jew, gay and straight, we all sang this beautiful anthem together, connected by a hope that the nation could move into a new day, together.


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, 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.  And through the 1850s, many states tied white male suffrage to land ownership.

This transcription begins 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.

The Unexecuted Deed For “Wilson Land” in Harrison County, Virginia–1849

Library of Congress Map Collection

This Indenture made this ________day of _______in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred forty nine between John P. Minor and Isabella his wife of the county of Greene and state of Pennsylvania of the one part and Abia and Robert Minor (*1) of the county of Harrison and state of Virginia of the other part Witnesseth that the John P. Minor and Isabella his wife for and in consideration of their share of a tract of land will,d to them the said Abia and Robert Minor by Robert McClelland deceased the land being valued at twenty four hundred dollars the receipt whereof is hereby acknoleged (sic) do hereby grant bargain sell convey and confirm 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 Beginning at a hickory one of the original corners and running thence North seven and one third degrees east twenty and one fourth poles to a stake (bearing north twenty degrees East twelve links from a white oak) thence leaving the original line North sixty seven and an half degrees West one hundred and forty eight and one fourth poles to a stake at a fence thence along said fence South twenty and three fourth degrees West Ninety poles to a stake thence South Twenty five and an half degrees West fifty four poles to a stake on the bank of Simpsons Creek thence up said creek with the meanderings thereof North seventy six and an half degrees East forty eight poles South seventy six degrees East eighteen and an half poles crossing a drain South fifty two degrees East fifteen poles crossing Stouts run South twenty five degrees East twenty two and an half poles South five degrees East sixteen poles South eight and an half degrees West twenty nine poles South four degrees East seven poles to a water beech thenceleaving said Creek South sixty ninedegrees East twenty one and one half poles to a stake South seventy nine East twenty six holes to an Ash and Dogwood corner to land of Benjamin Stouts heirs thence North fifty seven and an half degrees East ninety four poles to a stake by the road thence North thirty one degrees West twenty four and an half poles to a Black Walnut and dead white oak thence with one of Aaron Lodges lines North one fourth degrees East seventy five poles crossing said Stouts run to the beginning containing one hundred sixty acres Being a part of a tract of land of three hundred and fifty acres conveyed by James P Wilson and wife to the said John P Minor, together with all and singular the appurtenances thereunto belonging or in any appertaining To have and to hold the above described premises unto the said Abia and Robert Minor their heirs and assigns forever and the said John P Minor and Isabella his wife the aforesaid premises unto the said Abia and Robert Minor their heirs and assigns against the claim or claims of all and every person whomsoever do and will warrant and forever defend by these presents In Witness whereof the said John P Minor and Isabella his wife of the first part have hereunto set their hands and seals the day and year above written.

1) John P Minor and  Hannah McClelland were married in Greene County, Pennsylvania in 1815.  Abia Minor was born 3 July 1816 and Robert was born 11 April 1817.  Hannah died the 28 April 1817, presumably from childbirth complications.  John married Isabella later that same year, 24 September 1817.

2)  The above transcription is the first brush stroke in our understanding of a land transaction between John P. and Isabella Minor and their eldest children, Abia and Robert. Future transcriptions will paint a rich picture of how John and Isabella came to own the land in (West) Virginia and how the boys assumed title to it.


Library of Congress Geography and Map Collection,  David Burr H. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.gmd/g3700m.gct00185.

The Minor Papers, private collection.

The Thomas Minor Society, the descendants of Clement Minor, ancestral number 1312.