My niece, Rachel, and I went on an epic research trip in Virginia in July. We hit 5 courthouses, untold cemeteries, tromped around all sorts of weed filled fields and made a local unhappy when we photographed a deer head suspended from a telephone pole. (That’s a different story.)
We photocopied and photographed countless documents. Each courthouse had their own rules as to what the methodology was.
Amherst County Courthouse proved to be the most frustrating. Most volumes were in bound books that did not allow you to pull individual pages out of the book, and the powers that be said that we had to take pictures, no photocopying. Not all of our pictures turned out great, but that is what that is. Looking at the state of some of the volumes, you can guess why.
One goodie I found was a deed where Mary Elizabeth Gillespie’s heirs sold their share of the property to W.P. Gillespie. Transcription:
to } Deed
W.P. GillaspieTax 50COriginal delivered
to grantee Jany
13, 1896This deed made the 4th day of September 1893 between Jeremiah Gillaspie
James R Gillapsie and Amira Gillaspie his wife Geo C Gillaspie Wm H Gillaspie
and Elizabeth Gillaspie his wife, and Hattie Gillaspie heirs of Mary Elizabeth
Gillaspie decd of the first part and W.P. Gillaspie of the second part.
Witnesseth. That for and in consideration of the sum of one hundred and
seventy five (175) dollars in hand paid, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged
the said parties of the first part do grant and convey with general warranty
to the said W.P. Gillispie all the their right, title and interest in and to a certain
tract or parcel of land lying and being in the County of Amherst in the
State of Virginia, adjoining the lands of Wm L Davis and others and contain-
ing fifty nine (59) acres it being the same land conveyed to the said Mary E
Gillespie by deed from R. N. Ellis Trustee as to fifty six (56) acres said deed
bearing date on the 23d day of April 1878 and recorded on the 20th day of
May 1878, together with three (3) acres conveyed to said Mary E Gillispie by
deed from Alfred Byas dated on the 19th day of January 1878 and recorded
May 20th 1878 which several deeds are recorded in the Clerks office of Amherst
County Court in Deed Book LL page 167 to which Deeds reference is hereby
and for a more particular description of said lands with its metes and
bounds. The said parties of the first part do covenant that they
have a perfect right to coney said land, that they have done no act to
encumber the same, that the said grantee shall have quiet and peaceable
possession of the same and that they will execute such further assurances
as may be legally required of them to make this deed sure and complete
Witness the following signatures and seals.
Jeremiah (his x mark) Gillespie (seal)
Jas. R. Gillispie (seal)
Almira Gillespie (seal)
G. C. Gillispie (seal)
William (his x mark) H Gillispie(seal)
Elizabeth Gillaspie (seal)State of Virginia
County of Bedford } to wit:
I B M Page a Notary Public in and for the
County aforesaid in the said State do certify that Jeremiah Gillispie, Jas. R.
Gillispie, Geo C. Gillispie, Wm H Gillispie and Elizabeth Gillispie his wife whose
name are signed to the foregoing writing bearing date on the 4th day of September
1893 have each acknowledged the same before me in my County aforesaid.
Given under my hand this 7th day of September 1893.
B.M. Page N.P.Bedford County, to wit:
I B.M. Page a Notary Public in and for the County aforesaid
in the State of Virginia do certify that Almira Gillispie the wife of James
R. Gillapsie whose name is signed to the foregoing writing bearing date on
the 4th day of September 1893 has acknowledged that same before me me in my
Given under my hand this 23d day of September 1893.
B. M. Page, N.P.
In the Clerks Office of the County Court of Amherst County, November 10th 1893,
This deed was this day received in said office and upon the annexed certificate of
acknowledgement admitted to records.
Teste: Wm. Sandidge, Clerk 2
OK. This has some truly awesome stuff in it.
- Mary died before September 4, 1893. Jeremiah died after that. (I have yet to find a will or probate documents for either of them.)
- Why did Mary own the land? Why was it deed to her from R. N. Ellis Trustee in 1878? And why the other three acres from Alfred Byas? Both of those were recorded on May 20, 1878. Was there something important about that date? What about Jeremiah?
- Why can’t my ancestors pick a spelling of Gillespie? They seemed to like Gillispie and Gillaspie here. I know Wyatt Paul (the aforementioned W.P.) settled on Gillespie.
- Neither Jeremiah or William H signed their names, instead they made their mark. Evidence that they could not write.
- W.P, Wyatt Paul, is also the legal heir of Mary. Why isn’t that mentioned here?
- Why didn’t Hattie (Harriet) sign this document? Why wasn’t her acknowledgement notarized?
- Did we manage to pull a copy of the deeds from Deed Book LL, page 167? (I’m still organizing.)
- The good news is that this deed lists all of the people I expect to be listed with their appropriate spouses. The only other child that Mary and Jeremiah had, Sarah, died in 1865.
- Update the timelines of Wyatt Paul and Jeremiah and Mary Elizabeth Gillespie. Need a nice abstract.
- Look to see if we pulled the deeds from Book LL, page 167. Transcribe and post.
- Look for other deeds related to this one. Wyatt Paul marries Laura Cecile Donald in February 1894 in Rockbridge County and eventually settled in Lexington. When did they sell the land?
- What about Harriet and her involvement with the land?
- Is there a legal situation where Mary would own the land and her husband wouldn’t in 1878?
- Everyone was notarized in Bedford County, Virginia, including Jeremiah. Need to look for wills, probate and other documents there.
When I did my house history I found minor children had been left the land and their aunt was holding it for them. When they came of age they gave it to another uncle. Without the help of one of their ancestors (on ancestry.com) and the paper trail I would never have figured it out. We puzzled over that uncle’s gift for quite a while until we found him married to the deceased mother’s sister. They had no children and had raised one of the daughters after the mother’s death. We’re pretty sure their father owed that uncle money, too.
Very interesting. And proves the point you have to keep following the paper trail. Thanks for sharing!
A belated thought on your interesting post. One reason known heirs may be absent from one instrument is where they sold their interest to another person or another heir before the large group deed was made. Sometimes the property was still encumbered by a dower “courtesy” when the first interest or interests were sold, and the larger-group conveyance was made after death of a spouse or after the spouse had formally relinquished their interest (such as in an agreement for maintenance).
Heirs may also live at a distance and be required to go through their nearest Court of Record to write, record, and make a certified copy of acknowledgment to be sent to the Court having jurisdiction over the physical property. This can be a hassle and did cost money for the scrivener, recordation, etc., not to mention the logistics of getting the documentation to the home Court. Not to mention that the requisite Court could be at appreciable distance and Justices (or the Clerk, if allowable) not always available — I don’t have the impression that the Court had to be “in session” for the procedure to take place, but at least one Justice did have to certify the position and authority of whichever official recorded such acknowledgments. Depending on time and place, such distant heirs could be thousands of miles distant.
Your questions are all good, especially homing in on whether there were a reason the instrument by the bulk of the heirs was made at that particular time.