Monday, January 5, 2015

More Discoveries In Deeds

      I wrote awhile ago about  The Things You Find In Land Records. They can be used to find far more than details about property  transactions.  In that particular case I had discovered that in 1825 Grandma Armina Galloway was renting a house for "a kernel of grain per year", the reason why was also contained in the deed.  Recently I made another discovery in a deed.  For years I've been trying to find the death date of my fourth-great-grandfather Silvester Worden.  (He was a literate man, and he spelled his name with an i)  All I knew was that he passed away sometime between the 1840 and 1850 censuses; in the latter census his widow Pelina and their youngest child Ruth were living with Silvester Jr. in South Bristol, NY.  Silvester Sr. was born about 1792, so I figured his death probably occurred closer to 1850.  

     New York did not keep any records of deaths in the time-frame I'm interested in, and I found no stone for Silvester in any online cemetery listing.  Ontario County, of which South Bristol is a part, has a pretty extensive site for tombstones, but no Silvester with a y or an i.  I spoke with the Bristol town historian years ago and no luck there either, so I'd just about resigned myself to not knowing the exact year of his death.  Then I read the deed.

     That document dated November 1848, in which George Worden was purchasing 20 acres of land for $70, started out like any other deed, but then it got interesting.  After the usual legal mumbo-jumbo it went on to describe the tract of land George was buying,

"being part and parcel of the tract of land contracted... the 23rd of Aug. 1834 to Sylvester Worden, father of the said grantee."

      That single sentence tells me so much.  It proves the grantee George Worden was in fact the son of Silvester, (i or y it's the same guy), it tells me that the land was originally contracted to Silvester which means basically that the owner held the mortgage, Sylvester didn't own it outright, and it gives me a big clue that this was the year Silvester died.  If he had been making payments on this land since the summer of 1834 his family wasn't going to just hand it back in 1848.  And it explains why the price was only $70.  The sale coming at the end of 1848, strongly suggests that sometime earlier in that year Silvester passed away and his son George took over the land.

     In another case I was able to narrow the date of death for the mother of Silvester Worden Sr. using a deed.  In 1828 his father, (yet another Silvester) sold a piece of land.  Had Mrs. Worden been living, she would have been privately questioned as to whether she voluntarily agreed to the sale, and her answer would have been recorded in the deed.  Since that did not happen it's a good indication she was not alive at that time.


  1. What a great start to the year Ellie! May you have many more discoveries in 2015!