The Annotation — The Expense Account of Two 1830s Cattle Drovers

Yesterday’s transcription, The Expense Account of Two 1830s Cattle Drovers, offered a fascinating glimpse into the partnership between my great to the third grandfather, John P. Minor, and Lot Lantz.  As with my checkbook today, I reviewed the ledger’s figures with a scattered focus.  Does all of this accounting add up?  Meh!  Close enough!

The real family dirt was in the places named: Bull Town; William Brown’s farm in Preston County, Virginia; Caremont Tavern.  Where did these fellas travel?  How did they get the cattle from point A to point B?  Where was point A?

Both John P. Minor and Lot Lantz were residents of Greene County, in the far southwest corner of Pennsylvania; their names and place of residence appear in multiple federal censuses and several family papers housed in my Minor Satchel File.  Bull Town is in what is now known as Braxton County, West Virginia and Preston County is just to the north and east of Braxton County. What connected southwest Pennsylvania and mid-state (West) Virginia in 1832?


Mail routes.


From the collection of David Rumsey Historical Maps

Every map I have located for the first half of the nineteenth century includes the southwest corner of Pennsylvania in the map of Virginia.  The water ways, rail roads and roads connected the western counties of Virginia to Pennsylvania forming strong economic and cultural ties for many decades.

The Monogehela River and its tributary, the Cheat River, may have been one means of traveling into Preston County.  Or perhaps Minor and Lantz drove cattle down the one horse sulkey road from Waynesburg, Pennsylvania to Morgantown, (West) Virginia to Kingswood, Preston County, (West) Virginia.

At Kingswood the two drovers could have traveled on the Three Fork Road, the day’s interstate highway.  That 2 horse stage coach road would take the men and their cattle through Bridgeport to Clarksburg, Harrison County, (West) Virginia. From that point smaller roads, just one horse sulkey wide, would connect the businessmen with markets in Bull Town.

Travel through the mountains of western Virginia must have been arduous.  I am still trying to wrap my brain around the concept of driving 22 head of cattle or 145 head of cattle along roads shared with mail coaches, farmers and peddlers.  Did they use dogs to help move their merchandise along? Where did they stop to water and feed their cattle?  How long was the average drive?

Cattle drovers were often men of substance in their communities, helping farmers move their animals to distant markets.  John P. Minor was just one of these businessmen, and I am grateful that his descendants have kept the details of his transactions.

Amanuensis Monday: The Expense Account of Two 1830’s Cattle Drovers

A hearty thank you to John Newmark at Transylvanian Dutch, creator of Amanuensis Monday, for the gentle nudge to keep transcribing those family documents.

The yellowed paper was creased and worn, but the 179 year old ink was as black as the note I penned last week to my daughter.

20th of September 1832
John P Minor has Money on hand
of the 2nd drove————————————————————–$2118.50
out of this sum we owe to Bank
       now ———————————————————$800.00 
      To Wm Gray————————————————-$103.00
      To Coburn —————————————————$74.00 
      To Brown } Sandy Creek ——————————–$485.00
………………………………………………………………………..$1462.00  $1462.00

Minor shoes and whip $243…
and a settlement with D South may change the
matter a little there items to  ?  hereafter.  
Lot Lantz (signature)
John P Minor (signature)
 A note in the margin was added on 21st September 1832 declaring the debts paid. 
The author turned the paper upside down to further document his accounting:
Sale of 145 hed (sic) cattle to Rogers
2nd drove 10th Sept 1832 for—————————$2125.00
3 sold on the road———————————————-45.00
1 ditto ————————————————————13.00
2 ditto sold that were left out of the first drove and 2 left again and drove which equals the 2 first————————————————21.00
money counted $2118.50
had when started—20.00
money owe to bank————————————$800
To Brown————————————————–485
To Wm Gray———————————————-103
To Coburn————————————————-74
The settling up of affairs was continued on the back of the document:
Preston County V_a  at Wm Browns
September 27th 1832
     This day the within amount has been examined and settled and the partner shift money on hands stands thus. John P. Minor pays Wm Gray $3 and has fifty three dollars and 43 1/2 cents Lot Lantz has five hundred dollars. 
Lot Lantz (signature)
John P Minor (signature)
15th of October 1832 at Cases tavern in the Evening out of the above $500 Lot Lantz has paid for cattle at and near Bull Town 22 head and expense in all ——$190.62 1/2
Paid bills up untill this evening including all expenc since at Bull Town and to Walter Lurees paid by L Lantz—————————————————-$19.06 1/4
$209.68 3/4  taken from the above $500———leaves…………….$209.68 3/4
Lot Lantz indebted———————————————————-290.31 3/4
at Caremont taven John P Minor put into the expence funds the above $53.43 3/4 and Lot Lantz has put in to the expence funds $40.31 1/4 cents which leaves Lantz indebted $250.00
and Minor is square on this paper 
Lot Lantz (signature)
John P Minor (signature)*
*The signature of John P Minor is consistent with the handwriting of the name within the document, leading this researcher to conclude that the author of The Expence Account of Two Cattle Drovers is none other than John P. Minor. 

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


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

The Old Minor Home Farm: Those Places Thursday

My mother and three siblings pose here on the dining room steps with their mother, Kerma Minor.  The white painted-brick farmhouse was surrounded by 330 acres of rolling hills studded by her daddy’s prized cows.  This was my mother’s home, Ceylon Lane, Greene Township, Greene County, Pennsylvania–where the Donald Minor family weathered the Depression and World War II.  Home on the home farm that her daddy had inherited from his daddy, Robert Minor, who had been bequeathed the home farm by his dad. Francis Marion Minor had in turn received the 330 acres from his father, John Pearson Minor, as per item 7 in his will of 28 February 1867:

I give, devise and bequeath unto my son, Francis Marion, his heirs and assigns the tract of land whereon he and I reside, known as the Myers farm, containing three hundred and twenty nine acres more or less…

Just when, I have wondered, did the former Myers farm become my family’s home farm.  Last week I unearthed a document in the Minor Papers that provides an important clue.

An article of Agreement made and concluded between James McFarland of Cumberland Township (housejoiner) and John P. Minor of Green Township both of Green County Pennsylvania on the twenty second of February eighteen hundred and thirty one as follows

John P. Minor was to purchase and supply all the materials for the project, and furnish board and lodging to James McFarland for the duration of the project.  In addition Mr. McFarland would receive $300 upon the satisfactory conclusion of all work.

For his part, James McFarland was to

complete the joiner work of the brick house formerly occupied by Jacob Myers.

The agreement stipulates that he was then to finish the floors and petition three rooms off on each floor

according to the construction of the said house.

Mr. McFarland was also charged with making cupboards, and sashes for the upstairs window, and casing and fixing off all the windows in the whole house.

and run up two pair of stairs in the dwelling house ….a pair of stairs to be run up outside on the porch and a drysink on the inside byside of chimney  the doors to be taken down and the facings new and then hung and mantle peaces and cheer boards and wash boards and all other things necessary to complete the building is to be done by said McFarland.

The house described bears a striking resemblance to the house my mother described as her childhood home.  For now, til new evidence surfaces to contradict me, I believe that the brick house, formerly occupied by Jacob Myers, was handsomely renovated by one James McFarland in 1831, and subsequently occupied by generations of John P. Minor descendants.

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!