What else did I learn about on the cruise?

I just discovered this draft of a posting.  I am posting it now because there are some links you might find interesting and this is “clean up” day at my house.

I learned a lot about land records!  I already thought I was pretty familiar with them but Mark Lowe certainly understands the farmer and the issue of land far better than I.  Mark gave three presentations all related to the issue of land and occupation.  His first presentation was about the relationship between the occupation of making whiskey (considered a reasonable occupation in the middle states (TN, KY) up until Prohibition) and land ownership.  He traced the cluster migration from the southern PA/NJ four county area to the a few counties in those middle states.  He covered Ag censuses, something I have found very valuable and the Homestead Act  which is not so valuable to me except for my SD kin, which is a remote relationship.

He also discussed that even if your ancestor did not own land he might show up in the Deed Books with a “chattel mortgage”.  I was unfamiliar with these until I visited Stephenson Co IL recently and saw them on the books.  These are mortgages to buy things other than land, perhaps a herd of cattle or a large piece of machinery.  So, his recommendation was to always look in the Deed Books (note: I looked there for my elusive Freidrick Eilers and he is not there.).

A source he recommended that I have not used as much as I should is the NUCMC site (http://www.loc.gov/coll/nucmc), which indexes manuscript collections.  You might find your family papers somewhere other than where you might expect them!  He also made special note of The Core Historical Literature of Agriculture site (http://chla.library.cornell.edu/)  I have not looked at this site but it is on my “to do” list.

One thing he stressed was the importance of tax lists/assessment books and poll taxes.  I have not used these extensively; I did not check out Stephenson Co’s tax books for my Eilers.  I will check with the county and see what they have.

I did get a chance to ask him a few questions about some particular land issues associated with my ancestors:

Q: John Bode sells property to wife, Antje, in the early 1860’s on one day and then she sells it to a nephew the next day.  Why?

A: Probably to avoid a tax of some kind.

Q: Eda Berg (1st married name) shows up on an indenture (as seller) after her marriage to Eilers.  Does this indicate that Eilers was dead by the time of the sale?

A: No.  Probably just expedient for the sake of the children who are still named Berg and who are named on the Indenture.  By using her Berg name, it clarifies the right she had to sell the land since her husband, Siben, was dead.

All three were good sessions, even if I do not have any whiskey runners in “The Fam”.  (note:  in a probate record of one of my Swedish families, the largest valued item was the still!)

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting:  was checking out my blog site and found this still in draft form.  Decided to publish anyway. went to yoga.


One comment on “What else did I learn about on the cruise?

  1. Thanks for sharing! I never miss a Mark Lowe lecture. 🙂

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