Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Tuesday's Tip - Expand your dates

When we are looking for records pertaining to an ancestor, we are tempted to start with his/her birthdate and end our search when he/she died.  If you stop there, you may be missing important clues.

As an example, I will use a land record filed in Fairfield County, Ohio in 1887 -

Fairfield County Ohio Deed book 60 p440-1 (from FamilySearch)

The story is this (all the below details can be found in this single land record) -

Esau Johnston (my 4th great-grandfather) purchased a tract of land from a John Davis on 1 May 1813.  This was a portion of land that had been patented to Mr. Davis in 1810 and was intended to be 80 acres of the Northwest 1/2 of the Southwest 1/4 of Section 2 Township 16 Range 17.  Instead it was misrecorded as the Southeast 1/2 of the southwest 1/4 of above section.

Esau and his family continued to live on this land until his death on 17 December 1852 when the land passed to his wife and surviving children in his will.

Those children are named as: John, William, Frederick, David, Edward, Samuel, George W., Hannah, Nancy married to Jesse Katon, Ann M. married to John Paden and Mary married to William T. Neely.

The son George W. Johnston died in Fairfield County on 24 March 1860 leaving his widowed mother Katy and brothers and sisters as his only heirs.

Katy died on 8 July 1861 in Fairfield County.

By 1862 the remaining children - Nancy Katon, Ann M. Paden, Mary Neely, David, Samuel, John, William, Frederick and Hannah Johnston all conveyed their interest in the land to their brother Edward Johnston.  

Each time the land was transferred the same erroneous description was entered.

The remaining landowner, Edward Johnston died in Fairfield County on 19 March 1886 leaving widow Matilda and children Henry E., Joseph J. and Sarah C.

The 1887 land record is essentially a quit claim from David Y. Davis (heir of John Davis) to Edward's widow Matilda Johnston and their children Henry (with wife Nancy), Joseph (with wife Margaret) and Sarah (wife of Charles Splice) to correct the erroneous entry made in 1813.

This record, made 35 years after my ancestor's death, contains a wealth of information about his children and some grandchildren including names of spouses and a few death dates.  If I had stopped my search in 1852, I may not have found these details.

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