[APG Public List] Years in citations

Judy frostfree12 at yahoo.com
Fri Nov 6 10:09:02 MST 2009

Elizabeth wrote >Judy, can you give us specifics to work with?  Aside from needing details to try to draft a citation, I'm also curious about the locale--given the time frame and the fact that it deals with "a small parcel of land." Some such cases in that era were not ordinary cases.<

The locale is Monongalia County, West Virginia, which has a complex geopolitical history.  Because of the circumstances of settlement and issuance of 'first' titles by the Commonwealth of Virginia, quite a few land disputes went on over a long period of time.

My roughout citation is this: 

/Asa L. Cole's Ex'r. vs. Nimrod Cole et al./, Monongalia County, WV Circuit Court Chancery Order Book 17:116-118, 20 June 1904, and "Bill of Complaint," Chancery case file, /Asa L. Cole's Ex'r. vs. Nimrod Cole et al./, filed Oct. Term, 1909.

The facts of the case can be put simply, but the background details are complex.  Asa Cole had been paying taxes on a parcel of about 3-1/4 acres.  His estate executor was not aware of this parcel's being ostensibly owned by Asa until the County School Board sued the estate for unpaid taxes.  Investigation revealed that this was a residue of land that had belonged to Caleb Hurley, but through an error in the principal partition of the land this parcel had not been included in the division [/Reason Liming vs. Columbia Cole, et al./, Monongalia County, WV Circuit Court Chancery Order Book 2:472-4, 10 Sep. 1857].

Provenance of the land was from Caleb Hurley's purchase of about 200 acres in an irregular parcel in December 1796 [/Monongalia County, WV Deeds/ Old Series 1:113]; the will of Caleb Hurley wherein he bequeathed the land to his daughter Eliza after the death of his wife [/Monongalia County, WV Wills/ 1A:8, probated April Term 1834]; the 1857 partition after the death of Eliza.

Eliza, daughter of Caleb Hurley, had married one Hynson Cole 12 Feb 1807 [/Monongalia County, WV Typescript of Marriages/ A:13].  She bore 13 children who lived to adulthood.  Some of them sold their interests in the Hurley land before they could claim actual parcels.  One of the buyers initiated a suit to claim an actual parcel immediately after the death of the widow Hurley.  The case /Reason Liming vs. Columbia Cole, et al./ was revival of the suit begun by Liming in 1853; the Court had determined that the sale to Liming had been a prospective right, rather than a parcel of which the vendor was seized in fact.

Complications include the history of settlement of this area, where actual settlers, prospective settlers and speculators bought land warrants from the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Many marked bounds of the intended acreages.  Subsequent prospective settlers marked their own bounds, and some actual settlers  came onto unoccupied lands that may have been previously claimed in the opinion of the latter.  A Commission was appointed to settle land claims beginning in 1781 (and subsequently issued the Warrants for Survey of given acreages in the 1780s), and different surveyors measured adjacent parcels.  Subsequent settlers detected overlooked parcels between original surveys, and bought original titles to them from the Commonwealth.  Neighbors disputed boundaries.  Uncles took up the land of nephews or in-laws who'd moved away.  The landscape changed with alteration of watercourses, with erosion due to deforestation and with the road-building and mining of the

Here there was none of the tidiness of the surveys of the Military Tracts in New York, nor in the Northwest Territory.  So some of the ancient boundary issues provided occasions for lawsuits entailing extensive historical and genealogical  narratives.  Ancillary to the 1904 case investigation was that one of the Hurley heirs had to show that a parcel he wished to sell did not encroach on the disputed Hurley parcel since it had been bequeathed to him by the will of Hynson Cole as part of Hynson's own land.  The recorded version of this will was a little garbled [Monongalia County, WV Wills 1A:28, probated October Term, 1860]; the original will of Hynson Cole thus landed in the Chancery case file in the matter of /Asa L. Cole's Ex'r. vs. Nimrod Cole et al./.  The recorded version ends with an undated County Clerk's note that the will had been contested but deemed valid by a Grand Jury decision.  I was not able to locate a record of this proceeding.  The
 will does contain two badly written codicils, and the provisions of the will may have been condsidered (by some) to be complicated by Hynson's sale of two parcels of land just two days before his death [/Monongalia County, WV Deeds/ 1:47, 2:126].

As a side note, exploration of these legal matters taught me a solid lesson regarding 'leave no stone unturned.'  Since this Court's docket entries are not cross-indexed by defendant, nor are all parties to the suits in this 1853-1904 period indexed, it was necessary to have explored the land records prior to looking into Court matters to recognize that a suit indexed by the name of plaintiff Reason Liming (one of the purchasers of a Hurley heir's right) could be relevant.

This was particularly the case regarding two of Eliza (Hurley) and Hynson Cole's children.  The captioned defendant, Columbia Cole, was not mentioned by this surname in any deeds, and until I read the Court entries I did not know of the existence of her deceased father -- who also did not appear in the Hurley land deeds and was not mentioned in the will of his father, Hynson Cole.  While one of the items in the 1853 record was appointment of an uncle as guardian /ad litem/ for Columbia, "non-resident of the Commonwealth of Virginia," was a clue to why I had not known of this branch, not until the 1904 proceedings was a residence given that enabled tracking them a little in the records of Henry County, Indiana.  A second bonus was solid documentation in the partition and in the 1904 proceeding of heirs of another daughter, Elizabeth Ann Cole, who had been confused by some with her older sister, Eliza Cole, despite distinct vital records.  Neither
 Elizabeth Ann nor her children had been mentioned in Hynson's will.

But the principal question is - how to cite the actual location, within the  Court records, of the Chancery case file.  Its physical location when I found it was in a series of the old ammo-type metal boxes, labeled by range of Terms of Court, in the basement of the Courthouse, Morgantown, West Virginia.  I think these case files are now being moved to a repository in Pennsylvania, where they can be stored free of mice, silverfish and atmospheric damage.

All help appreciated very much!

Best wishes,


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