[APG Public List] Years in citations

eshown at comcast.net eshown at comcast.net
Fri Nov 6 21:11:12 MST 2009

What a fantastic case you uncovered, Judy!  Most genealogists would give an
eyetooth to find a 1909 court case that supplied documents and kinships back
to 1796.  I've found a nice crop of these in parts of the Louisiana
Territory and the Old Northwest, stemming from a somewhat similar but yet
different situation. (Briefly: When the U.S. acquired those regions and
eventually set up land offices, land holders had to submit proofs of title
and have their "claims" adjudicated by the U.S., after which the U.S.
resurveyed all the lands. Many people ended up with insufficient acres when
their parcels butted up against neighbors, and the U.S. issued script for
the difference. About 1900, attorneys and land speculators in D.C. began
contacting attorneys out in the boondocks, asking them to reopen
probate/succession proceedings for all the long-dead original-patentees
whose script was still outstanding. The script was then sold by the
attorneys to the speculators, who cashed them in for vast tracts of virgin
land, and the heirs of the original patentees would get a few cents each.
The process, however, did create wonderful genealogical records similar to
those you describe for your West Virginia case.)

Regarding your roughed-out citation, if I'm interpreting it correctly, the
EE format would cite it this way:

    1. Monongalia County, WV, Circuit Court Chancery Order Book 17:116-118,
[name of document], 20 June 1904; original copy in Asa L. Cole's Ex'r. vs.
Nimrod Cole et al., chancery case file [no. ____] (October Term 1909),
County Clerk's Office, Morgantown, WV.

(Here, I'm also *presuming* that the records are held by the County Clerk
and have not been moved to, say, the local or state library.)


-----Original Message-----
From: apgpubliclist-bounces at apgen.org
[mailto:apgpubliclist-bounces at apgen.org] On Behalf Of Judy
Sent: Friday, November 06, 2009 11:09 AM
Subject: Re: [APG Public List] Years in citations

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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