An Unusual Source to Find a Deed

Timeline courtesy of INGenweb.org

What do you do when you’ve looked for a deed in all the usual places – county property appraisers office, FamilySearch.org or other online database of deed records, and even probate files but you come up with nothing? I was fortunate to find deed records in an unlikely place and you just might find this useful…

What do you do when you’ve looked for a deed in all the usual places – county property appraisers office, FamilySearch.org or other online databases, and even probate files but you come up with nothing? I was fortunate to find deed records in an unlikely place and you just might find this useful.

I wanted to locate a deed record for my John Duer (1801-1885) because I was trying to discover which wife might be named on it.  John married Mary “Jane” Morrison (1804-1866) on 29 July 1827 in Trumbull County, Ohio.  The couple would go on to have 11 children together and relocate first to Killbuck, Holmes County, Ohio by 1840 and then to Liberty, Mercer County, Ohio by July 1860 when they are found together living two residences away from one of their married daughters, Maria Duer Kuhn. 

The census does not state if the residence was owned or rented.  The couple owned property both jointly and separately when in Holmes County.  I’m not exactly sure when they relocated but the last deed of sale I find for them in Holmes was 27 April 1854.  

I began to look in Mercer County, Ohio for deeds between 1853 (when they sold another piece of land in Holmes-I figured they may have relocated then but couldn’t sell the other lot they owned until the following year) and 1864 when I knew John had remarried.  I tried all the usual places but came up with nothing. The property appraiser site found no John Duer.  The site doesn’t say how far back the records go but one of the options for age of buildings is 1800.  I then looked for old deed books at the various online genealogy sites and found nothing for Mercer County, Ohio.  I even tried the Familysearch.org image search that I blogged about two weeks ago but came up with a big zero.

Sometime after July 1860 and before 11 December 1864 John and Jane split up and John remarried widow Margaret Ann Martz Searight.  They had a child together, Charles Edward, born in February 1866.

Since emigrating from Germany, Margaret lived first in Hardin County, Ohio but relocated to Adams County, Indiana, perhaps after her husband, George Washington Searight died 8 April 1863.  John and Margaret, after their marriage, lived together in Adams County, Indiana.

My next search was for property in Adams County, Indiana as I knew, from John’s will made in August 1884, that he was leaving Margaret the property.  That meant she had not been a co-owner. He possibly bought the land prior to their wedding or for some other unknown reason, decided to buy land separately from his second wife as he had done in Hardin County, Ohio with his first wife.

His will states, in the case of Margaret predeceasing him, the property would go to some of his children (why he selected only 3 children in his will I do not understand.  He names the two children he had with Margaret and one of his children, Angeline, he had with Jane. Angeline had married and was living in Adams, Indiana.  What is odd is two of his sons, John B. and James William, were also living in Adams. Why he excluded them from his will I hypothesized in my last blog, Missing Tombstones.)

The Adams County, Indiana property assessor’s office website is not very user friendly and I got lost in the clicking. I eventually found that “NEW! Electronic Records” were available but there is no link to where.  Trying to click on what appears to be a link stating “Adams County is now ready to electronically record all your documents through e-recording.” also didn’t work.  In small print, there is a note that the records are from 1990 to present.  Oh well!

I continued to click and thought maybe “History” would be helpful but it was just a few facts about the 12 townships in the county. Under “Residents,” I decided to click on “Genealogy.”  I was taken to INGenWeb for Adams County.  I was so excited to find a search box so I entered “Duer” and found 59 items.

At this point I had to decide, did I want to derail my search for a deed, which I figured wouldn’t be placed here, or just get more info about the Duer’s who had lived in Adams County.  I decided to stay focused but to do a new search for “John Duer” hoping that it would eliminate all of the other Duers except for John’s son, John B., known to also be living in Adams.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the search results were for 53 items. 

What immediately caught my eye on the first page (10 items show per page) was “Estate of David Tressler2 – 1862.xls.”  Who was David Tressler – certainly no one in my tree and how/why was John Duer associated with him?  Intriguing!

The image (above) was a timeline followed by scanned documents of David Tressler’s estate from 1862.  Using the Find trick (hold down the Ctrl and F keys and type in the box) I quickly found that John made a deed to purchase Tressler’s real estate on 8 September 1862.  Yippee!  So John had purchased the property IN HIS NAME ONLY prior to his marriage with Margaret which explains why she was not on the deed.  This also tells me that either he and Jane were having marital problems/separated/divorced by this time since Jane was also not a co-owner. 

After doing my happy dance, I went back to explore the remaining Duer findings on the site.  I was surprised to find another deed record – on 28 June 1860 John Duer purchased from Benjamin Shafer, the estate administrator for John Tressler.  Interestingly, this purchase was made ONE MONTH BEFORE the 1860 census records showing John in Mercer County, Ohio, which borders Adams, Indiana.  Jane’s name was not on that deed, either.  It’s likely the couple was already having problems with their marriage at that time.  The property description matches the property he left Margaret in his will.

So John Duer planned to relocate to the next county over even before he and Jane divorced.  (Yes, it would be wonderful to discover their divorce document but I have been unable to locate it in either county.)  

Of course, every find leads to more questions.  Now I want to know where and when John met Margaret.  Her first husband died supposedly at age 35 but I don’t know where.  I checked to see if he had enlisted in the Civil War but did not find him.  I can’t verify his date of death; he’s not on Find-a-grave/Billion Graves.  The date is unverified and comes from online family trees.  He was last known alive in Dunkirk, Cessna, Hardin, Ohio in 1860. 

My guess is one of Margaret’s sisters or step-sister was living in Adams and as a widow with a young daughter, Margaret moved to be closer to family.   I will have to search them to discover if that theory is correct.

It appears from plat records I also found on INGenWeb that Margaret owned 20 acres of her own land in 1880 in Adams, Indiana.  I don’t know when that land was purchased – before her marriage to John or after.  More research is definitely needed. It’s now clear where John met Margaret; they were property owners in the same neighborhood.

Moral of the blog….when you can’t find what you are looking for check out the local genealogy sites.  Kudos to those at INGenweb.org as they have done a phenomenal job in preserving local records and uploading them for FREE.  I also love how they insert a timeline of the scanned original documents.  I am deeply appreciative of your efforts.

I wanted to locate a deed record for my John Duer (1801-1885) because I was trying to discover which wife might be named on it.  John married Mary “Jane” Morrison (1804-1866) on 29 July 1827 in Trumbull County, Ohio.  The couple would go on to have 11 children together and relocate first to Killbuck, Holmes County, Ohio by 1840 and then to Liberty, Mercer County, Ohio by July 1860 when they are found together living two residences away from one of their married daughters, Maria Duer Kuhn per the census. 

The census does not state if the residence was owned or rented.  The couple owned property both jointly and separately when in Holmes County.  I’m not exactly sure when they relocated but the last deed of sale I find for them in Holmes was 27 April 1854.  

I began to look in Mercer County, Ohio for deeds between 1853 (when they sold another piece of land in Holmes-I figured they may have relocated then but couldn’t sell the other lot they owned until the following year) and 1864 when I knew John had remarried.  I tried all the usual places but came up with nothing. The property appraiser site found no John Duer.  The site doesn’t say how far back the records go but one of the options for age of buildings is 1800.  I then looked for old deed books at the various online genealogy sites and found nothing for Mercer County, Ohio.  I even tried the Familysearch.org image search that I blogged about two weeks ago but came up with a big zero.

Sometime after July 1860 and before 11 December 1864 John and Jane split up and John remarried widow Margaret Ann Martz Searight.  They had a child together, Charles Edward, born in February 1866.

Since emigrating from Germany, Margaret lived first in Hardin County, Ohio but relocated to Adams County, Indiana, perhaps after her husband, George Washington Searight died 8 April 1863.  John and Margaret, after their marriage, lived together in Adams County, Indiana.

My next search was for property in Adams County, Indiana as I knew, from John’s will made in August 1884, that he was leaving Margaret the property.  That meant she had not been a co-owner. He possibly bought the land prior to their wedding or for some other unknown reason, decided to buy land separately from his second wife as he had done in Hardin County, Ohio with his first wife.

His will states, in the case of Margaret predeceasing him, the property would go to some of his children (why he selected only 3 children in his will I do not understand.  He names the two children he had with Margaret and one of his children, Angeline, he had with Jane. Angeline had married and was living in Adams, Indiana.  What is odd is two of his sons, John B. and James William, were also living in Adams. Why he excluded them from his will I hypothesize in my last blog, Missing Tombstones.)

The Adams County, Indiana property assessor’s office website is not very user friendly and I got lost in the clicking. I eventually found that “NEW! Electronic Records” were available but there is no link to where.  Trying to click on what appears to be a link stating “Adams County is now ready to electronically record all your documents through e-recording.” also didn’t work.  In small print, there is a note that the records are from 1990 to present.  Oh well!

I continued to click and thought maybe “History” would be helpful but it was just a few facts about the 12 townships in the county. Under “Residents,” I decided to click on “Genealogy.”  I was taken to INGenWeb for Adams County.  I was so excited to find a search box so I entered “Duer” and found 59 items.

At this point I had to decide, did I want to derail my search for a deed, which I figured wouldn’t be placed here, or just get more info about the Duer’s who had lived in Adams County.  I decided to stay focused but to do a new search for “John Duer” hoping that it would eliminate all of the other Duers except for John’s son, John B., known to also be living in Adams.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the search results were for 53 items. 

What immediately caught my eye on the first page (10 items show per page) was “Estate of David Tressler2 – 1862.xls.”  Who was David Tressler – certainly no one in my tree and how/why was John Duer associated with him?  Intriguing!

The image (above) was a timeline followed by scanned documents of David Tressler’s estate from 1862.  Using the Find trick (hold down the Ctrl and F keys and type in the box) I quickly found that John made a deed to purchase Tressler’s real estate on 8 September 1862.  Yippee!  So John had purchased the property IN HIS NAME ONLY prior to his marriage with Margaret which explains why she was not on the deed.  This also tells me that either he and Jane were having marital problems/separated/divorced by this time. 

After doing my happy dance, I went back to explore the remaining Duer findings on the site.  I was surprised to find another deed record – on 28 June 1860, John Duer purchased from Benjamin Shafer, the estate administrator for John Tressler.  Interestingly, this purchase was made ONE MONTH BEFORE the 1860 census records showing John in Mercer County, Ohio, which borders Adams, Indiana.  Jane’s name was not on that deed.  It’s likely the couple was already having problems with their marriage at that time.  The property description matches the property he left Margaret in his will.

So John Duer planned to relocate to the next county over even before he and Jane divorced.  (Yes, it would be wonderful to discover their divorce document but I have been unable to locate it in either county.)  

Of course, every find leads to more questions.  Now I want to know where and when John met Margaret.  Her first husband died supposedly at age 35 but I don’t know where.  I checked to see if he had enlisted in the Civil War but did not find him.  I can’t verify his date of death as he’s not on Find-a-grave/Billion Graves.  The date is unverified and comes from online family trees.  He was last known alive in Dunkirk, Cessna, Hardin, Ohio in 1860. 

My guess is one of Margaret’s sisters or step-sister was living in Adams and as a widow with a young daughter, Margaret moved to be closer to family.   I will have to search them to discover if that theory is correct.

It appears from plat records I also found on INGenWeb that Margaret owned 20 acres of her own land in 1880 in Adams, Indiana.  I don’t know when that land was purchased – before her marriage to John or after.  More research is definitely needed.

Moral of the blog….when you can’t find what you are looking for check out the local genealogy sites.  Kudos to those at INGenweb.org as you have done a phenomenal job in preserving local records and uploading them for FREE.  I also love how you insert a timeline of the scanned original documents.  I am deeply appreciative of your efforts.

My Latest DNA Results

Recently, my St. Patrick’s Day Ancestry.com special DNA deal results were returned.  I had tested with Ancestry years ago prior to autosomal’s availability.  When the price for autosomal dropped, I decided to test with two other companies to gain access to their testing population and opted to have my children test with Ancestry.  I decided to purchase the Ancestry test because the price was right ($49.00), I wanted to go back one generation further than my children could do in search for my Morrison and Adams brick wall lines, and I wanted to play with Ancestry’s new DNA feature, Thru Lines, without having to wade through my husband’s side that my children inherited.

I’m pleased to connect with one Morrison and five Adams’ family members.  Although this certainly doesn’t resolve my brick wall it does support the direction I was going in with my research.  I suspected that my Edward Adams was the grandson of Sylvanus Adams of Sussex County, New Jersey but not being able to identify Edward’s father, I couldn’t prove it.  My hunch was due to the interesting male name of Evi.  After Edward died intestate in Perry County, Ohio in 1822, an Evi Adams living in the area served as administrator.  Evi died a few years later and I never was able to find his father, either.  Evi was about the same age as Edward so I surmised that they were either brothers or cousins.  There were several Evi’s in Sylvanus Adams’ lines before and after him so I felt strongly that Edward’s brother/cousin must be related somehow.  DNA seems to be showing that’s correct but I still haven’t found that one document that’s out there somewhere to prove it.

Although I’m pleased with the results I can understand how people who are new to genealogy and DNA give up after getting their results.  I know that the ethnic percents are only as valid as the pool used to compare findings.  In Ancestry’s case, I’m 51% German.  I don’t know how that’s possible since I would have gotten half of my DNA from my mom, who was full blooded Croatian and half from my dad, who was a mix of German, Irish, English, Welsh and Scotts.  Ancestry shows me with NO Irish, English Welsh or Scotts.  According to Ancestry, I’m only 4% French.  23andMe had me as all French and no German. 

I not only understand the pools from which the sample was compared differed, but the history of the areas.  My dad’s people were from the Palatinate, the German-French area that experienced bloodshed for years and went back and forth between the two countries. So, am I French or German?  I realize I’m a mix of both and I’m fine with that.  If I didn’t understand how this works, though, I would be totally confused. 

Recently Ancestry got into trouble with their latest DNA commercial.  I believe their well loved commercial about the man trading his lederhosen in for a kilt should have been an eye opener.  I’m thinking that man needs to test elsewhere to get a fuller picture of his ancestry. 

Amazing Info Found – The Net As a Beginning Tool

Life has returned to semi-normal after the recent hurricanes. By semi, I mean the county still hasn’t collected the debris, milk and gas aren’t available everywhere and several parks remain closed due to damage. When our power was out for several days, I limited my internet usage to conserve my cell phone battery. It wasn’t until I went to clean my spam filter for my website, Genealogyatheart, that I discovered a message from a distant cousin. He had discovered my site and our connection through our great grandfather by simply Googling the last name.
I replied to his comment and he included one of his nieces on our messages. Between the 3 of us, family puzzles began to be solved quickly. In the past week, I discovered that my paternal grandparents had hosted a small family reunion at their farm in the 1960’s. My parent’s divorce was finalized by that time so my mom knew nothing of the event. Without my cousins input, I wouldn’t have known about it, either.
That got my brain going about unidentified people on an old movie I had inherited from my father. Hubby and I have had all our 8 mm films and VHS tapes professionally saved to a DVD. (Side note: If you think your VHS tapes aren’t so old they need to be saved, think again. The oldest VHS tape from 1984 was fading away while some of the 1950 movies looked as good as new). The DVD contains still photos of some of the movies so hubby took those of the mystery people, along with another CD we had made of all the old family photos we had scanned years ago, and sent them off to both cousins for help in identifying these unknown folks.
We’re fairly certain that the picture above is of my grandmother, Lola, and her older brother, Stanley. Why? I have the photo and they have the photo. They are descended from Stanley and it was in their box of photos of his family. My step mother had placed all the old photos in one box so I was never sure who any of my unlabeled people were. Were they a Leininger, Landfair, Kuhn, Kable, Kettering, Bollenbacher, Adams or Duer? I had tried the old Google Picassa facial recognition feature and it helped somewhat but I didn’t have enough identified photos to have it match effectively.
These cousins sent me a few other photos electronically over the past week to see if it would help but Picassa is no longer supported by Google and it kept freezing so no answers there! I’m hopeful they’ll be able to match some of the photos on the CD to photos in their box so at least we can categorize by surname.
The cousin who initially contacted me stated their tale is that the family originated from Ireland and not Bavaria as my line recalled. I tend to believe them for several reasons. I’ve had another family member misidentified’s country of origin as Germany instead of being born in the U.S. Maria Duer Kuhn’s death certificate states she was born in Germany but she was born in Ohio. Her son was the informant. Her husband was the one born in Germany. It seems like my Great British ancestors assumed the German culture of those they married in Ohio. Additional support for their story is that my DNA has a much higher likelihood of Great Britain then it does of German. Further, Landfair is not a German surname. When I questioned that years ago I was told that it probably had been changed from Lamphere. Could be but no proof of that was ever discovered.
One of the cousins also has a copy of my great grandfather’s funeral program which she will send me. I’ve blogged about him previously – he’s the gentleman who “accidentally fell from a platform” and there was a followup investigation a few months after his death resulting in additional paperwork after the death certificate. The lesson there was make sure you get the complete records you request.
This gets me to the point of today’s blog – there remains A LOT of additional information about your ancestors out there – in attics, basements and the brains of the living who recall the unrecorded stories past down. The internet can help you get to those that hold the key you need but alone, the internet is not enough. Reach out to long lost family and you just might discover the info you seek. Happy Hunting!