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.

The Minor Papers, private collection.

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

Amanuensis Monday: A Letter Home

Abia Minor Writes Home, 1872

Sulivan Moultrie Co Ills

June 25th 1872

Dear Father I Received your kind letter dated the 5th June in reply I will Say we are all as well as usual The last I heard from Jacksonville Harriet was improving. *(1)  I would have answered sooner But I was starting to Chicago with Some Sheep I Sold them for five cents they weghed 104 lbs Made me some money they cost me about 2 1/2 cts I have about 200 Sheep on hands my pastures is good about knee high Timothy When up I saw the Burt district *(2) and no one can discribe it nor can they discribe the improvements going on it look like anything But a City The Buildings going up are mutch better then the Old Ones We have a fine prospect for corn and oats wheat will be light grass is fine Stock is low cattle from 3 to 5 cents hogs 3 cts corn 38 cts If I could get a good lot of Sheep I would come to Pittsburg But they are hard to get what I mean by good ones are some that will weigh 120 oz upwards.  I would like to hear from you often You will find endorsed my note with Mother Millers name Dated Back to the time you got the interest from Tompkins *(3) with these lines I reamain yours as ever Abia Minor.

*(1) Harriet is Abia’s second wife.  Why she was a patient at Illinois Central Hospital for the Insane, Jacksonville, Illinois, is unknown.

*(2) Abia Minor, eldest son of John Pearson Minor and first wife Hannah McClelland, was a farmer taking his stock to Chicago.  On this trip he witnessed the recovery efforts that followed the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 started, as a the folksong would have it, by ol’ Mrs. O’Leary’s cow.  It raged from October 8 until extinguished by heavy rainfall on October 10.  Seventeen thousand buildings of Old Chicago were destroyed,  and 90,000 people were left homeless. Three hundred people lost their lives.

*(3)  John P Minor lent money to relatives and friends, charging up to 10% interest.  Each act was recorded with a note which detailed the loan and its terms.  This references one such transaction.

Amanuensis Monday: Article of Agreement

Today’s transcription comes from my Minor Treasure Box and sheds light on the characters introduced in last week’s Letter from Asa Minor to John P. Minor.

The musty yellowed paper has been folded in half, then in half, then in half again.  With gloves on I gently unfold the 3″ by 4″ packet; on one panel is the notation

Article of Agreement between Asa Minor of Warren County Ohio and John Pl Minor of the State of Pennsylvania

(A tmc? copy of the Original)

I unfold the document again and read some spidery script as being a record of payments, conveniently kept on the outside of the agreement.  I unfold this record one more time to read an agreement complete with ink smudges and crossed out words. Other words were inserted between lines and into small spaces as the parties hashed out these terms:

This Agreement made and concluded upon this 25th day of May Eighteen hundred and thirty five by and between Asa Minor of Warren County Ohio, of the one part and John P Minor of the State of Pennsylvania of the other part, both children and heirs at Law of Abia Minor late of Warren County Ohio deceased. Witnesseth, that for and in consideration of the sum of five hundred dollars good and lawful money of the United States to be paid to the said John P Minor, his heirs, executors or administrators by the said Asa Minor, his heirs, executors or administrators, in five years from the first day of January next, at the rate of six per cent per annum from the first of ??? next that then and in that case the full sum of five hundred dollars, with the interest  aforesaid, being paid by the said Asa as aforesaid, to the said P Minor as a aforesaid, he the said John in consideration of the said payment having been made as aforesaid, doth hereby covenant and agree for him self, his heirs, executors and administrators to and with the said Asa his heirs executors, and administrators to convey deed in fee simple to the said Asa his heirs, and assigns forever, all the right title , interest estate property, claim or demand whether in possession or remainder in Law Equity of the Real Estate (the Personal Estate excepted) which he is, or may be entitled to, as one of the children and heirs at Law of the said Abia Minor deceased, including the reversion of that portion of the said Real Estate which has been set off to the Widow of the deceased, after her decease.  In Witness whereof the parties do hereby set their hands and seals at Warren County Ohio this 25th day of May 1835 the interlincations and er????? being made .

Both Asa Minor and John P Minor set their signatures to this document, complete with hand-drawn seals.  The agreement was witnessed by James Thompson, R.M. Rofs and Thomas R Rofs.

Folding the agreement once more, I find the record of Asa’s payments to John P. Minor:

April the 4th 1836 paid on the within $50.09

november second 1837 paid $100

january the first 1838 paid $ 100 forty three dollars

This discovery adds definition to last weeks’ transcription.  In fact I believe that the $100 payment recorded for 2 November 1837 is the money mentioned in Asa’s letter.  The Panic of 1837 did not interfere with this family transaction, at least not until 1839.  I will be curious to see if any further payments were made, or if somewhere in my Treasure Box there is a deed for this land.