|Vol. 1, No. 5||History of Harford and Baltimore Counties||October 1991|
Daniel Webster: "Those who do not look upon themselves as a link connecting the past with the future do not perform their duty to the world".
I found an article in "The Covenant Message" published by The Federation of Covenant People, South Africa that I want to share with you. Vol. 57, No.6 July, 1991- "The Voice of Our Ancestors" by Wulf Soerensen, Translated from the German by John Nugent - Adapted.
It's an excellent article about the past represented as legends. I will quote the beginning and the end here.
"There they hang on the wall: one hundred ninety-six little plaques in oval, gilded frames. And they are still far fewer than they ought to be. All of the upper rows show only white spaces with a name and two dates in each frame.
This is what we have come to, that we must hang our ancestors pictures or vital statistics on the wall in order to give them a faint presence in our sluggish memories.
Ancestors? People today don't even know the birth dates and death dates of their own parents. Of course, they're written down somewhere. It's a wonder if one knows even a little about his grandfather, not to mention his great-grandfather.
As for great-great-grandfather, one doesn't think about him at all; it's as if he'd never existed.
Earlier - much earlier- things were different.
That was before words had become mere merchandise, used to concoct lies, when words were still living; then it wasn't necessary to write everything down.
That was a time when the living flow of blood from son to father, from father to grandfather and great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather still had not been choked off. It had not yet sunk, as it has today, so deep beneath all of the alien spiritual baggage that most of us can no longer hear it's rustle, even in the stillest hour. Once, the whole past lived in the heart of every individual. And from this past the present and the future grew upward like the strong limbs of a healthy tree..................
...................The wisdom of a thousand generations slumbers in you. Waken it, and you have found the key which will open the door to your deepest desire.
Only he who esteems himself is worthy of being a man.
Only he is a man who bears the living past and future in himself, for only he is able to stand above the present moment.
And only he who is master of the present is successful; he alone is fortunate.
Referring to the plat on the back page; Roads are the real heavy lines (but I guess you figured that out already), Property lines are shown with a long line - very short line - long line, Streams are shown as long line - three dots - long line, the outline of the subject land patent is outlined in yellow, interior division lines in green.
The scale is approximately 1" = 1200' and North is indicated by the arrow.
The property lines shown are based on 1988 ownership. If you live in the area you should be able to pick out your property.
In 1704 at the ripe old age of 19 he married Elizabeth __?__. They lived in Charles Co. for 7 years then moved to Prince George's Co., MD. In 1716 at age 31 he patented 1000 Acres of Northeast Baltimore Co., MD and named it "Wheeler's and Clark's Contrivance".
In 1718, he took his wife and 5 children and moved from 'crowded' Prince George's Co. to this property in the wilderness. And 'wilderness' it was - Indians, forts, miles and miles of forested hills and valleys, and a few neighbors.
During his lifetime he patented over 4000 acres in what would eventually become Harford Co. with the names; "Wheeler's and Clark's Contrivance", "The Three Sisters", "Taylor's Neglect", "Benjamin's Beginning", "Maiden's Meadows", "St. Omer's", and "Green Springs".
"The Three Sisters" was patented in 1718 about the time his third daughter (sixth child), Charity, was born - hence the name "The Three Sisters" - you'll have to guess about the meanings behind the other tract names, I haven't researched them yet.
The children of Benjamin and Elizabeth:
"The Three Sisters" "In the forrest, between the drafts of Deer Creek and Winter's Run", was part of the Upper Node Forrest. A wild, wooded area covering Harford, Baltimore and Carroll Counties from the Gunpowder River to "The Barrens"* in Pennsylvania.
Benjamin and Elizabeth never lived on "The Three Sisters". He and she both lived and died on "Wheeler's and Clark's Contrivance".
As their family grew they provided each child with a house (plantation) and servants.
Those of you who live in the area may know exactly where those old plantation houses were. If so I would really like to know.
Benjamin was 56 years old and very sick on Sept. 15, 1741 when he deeded away all his land to his 8 children.
"The Three Sisters" was divided to the 4 of his children that lived there:
His other tracts were split among the other 4 children.
He had no property left the evening of Friday, 15 Sept. 1741. The next day he made out his will and within 2 months he was dead.
I have this overwhelming desire to tell you about the Wheeler heirs disposition of "The Three Sisters" ........ and I'm going to .......... but, you'll need a seat belt for this one.
Look again at the map on the last page. Try to fix it's location in the County firmly in your mind. It's a big hunk of ground. In the center of the outline and near the top is the village of Cooptown. At the bottom is new Route #23 - the East West Highway - close to the intersection of High Point Road and near the subdivision called High Point Estates.
Mary (Wheeler) Few owned the top piece, Elizabeth (Wheeler) Thomas the next, Jane (Wheeler) Butterworth the next and Benjamin Wheeler Jr. the bottom (us guys are always last - but he had the biggest piece).
MARY and WILLIAM FEW
Mary was unmarried and living on her 'plantation' in 1741 when she got her 200 acres from her father. She married William Few 2 years later. Their 6 children: Benjamin, James, William, Elizabeth, Hannah, and Ignatius were born there.
They sold out to Greenbury Dorsey in 1753. Five years later finds Mary and William in North Carolina.
Greenbury immediately sold 100 acres to William Oldham and 100 acres to his nephew John Howard Dorsey of Cecil County. Within the year John bought William Oldham's 100 acres - by 1754 John Hammond Dorsey owned Mary and William Few's 200 acres.
But, it doesn't stop there - oh no, no, no - it's not going to be that simple folks.
John Hammond Dorsey mortgaged the property to John Buchannan of London, England in 1768 and died intestate (without a will) 6 years later. The court awarded his land to his eldest son John Hammond Dorsey who sold the 200 acres to Thomas Blaney in 1779 but the deed was never recorded. To confuse things even further he sold the exact same 200 acres to his cousin John Howard Cromwell.
Thomas Blaney died in 1785, intestate, and the land passed to his wife Mary who was then in possession and occupancy of the whole 200 acres.
In the trial that followed (oh yeah, I forgot to tell you - the mortgagor, John Buchannan had died and his executors brought suit against Dorsey - did I mention that the mortgage still hadn't been paid - a small oversight - I'm sorry) Mary told the court that her husband found out about the double sale so he gave half of the purchase money to Dorsey and the other half to Cromwell. She said her husband did not know about the unpaid mortgage.
The court must have bought her story because she became the proud and sole owner of Mary (Wheeler) Fell's 200 acres in 1786.
Mary (Wheeler) Few died in 1789 near Hillsboro, North Carolina.
ELIZABETH and DAVID THOMAS
In Feb. 1732 Elizabeth Wheeler married David Thomas. He was a widower with two children; David and Hannah. They were living on Elizabeth's 'plantation' when she got her 200 acres in 1741.
In 1742 they bought an adjoining 100 acres from her sister and brother-in-law Jane and Isaac Butterworth (see below). They had two children: Elizabeth and Mary. By 1745 they were divorced.
Still living at the 'plantation' she married Henry Green and had two more children; Leonard and Ann.
In 1768 she sold her 300 acres to her son David Thomas (son of David).
She died in 1777, her husband, Henry Green died 1797.
JANE and ISAAC BUTTERWORTH
Jane and Isaac were living on their 'plantation' on "The Three Sisters"before it was deeded to her. She had married Isaac in 1728. All of their 6 children: Mary, Elizabeth, Isaac, Benjamin, Charity and Jane were born there.
They sold the 'plantation' in two pieces in 1742, just a year after they formally owned it, ..... the northern 100 acres to her sister and brother-in-law, Elizabeth and David Thomas and the lower 100 acres to brother Benjamin.
They moved to "John and Isaac's Lott" not too far away - land of the Butterworth family. Both Jane and Isaac died there. Isaac in 1746 at age 42 and Jane in 1770 at age 65, after a second marriage to Lawrence Clark.
She had a life estate in "John and Isaac's Lott" and at her death her son Benjamin of Bedford Co. VA, sold it to his aunt and uncle, Henry and Elizabeth (Wheeler) Green.
Benjamin was also married and living on his 'plantation' when it was deeded to him in 1741. I am sure that both of his wives and all 9 children lived there.
Children of Benjamin and: (first) Elizabeth (Clement); Benedict, Jacob, Thomas, Ann, Elizabeth, Jane and Mary, (second) Rebecca (Miles) Beavan, widow; Leonard and Sarah.
He bought 100 acres from his sister and brother-in-law, Jane and Isaac in 1743.
In 1753 he patented an adjoining tract of escheat** land named "Frenches Bedford", renamed it "Wheeler's Security" and had the Surveyor resurvey his 500 acre part of "The Three Sisters".
He died in 1769 leaving a will in which his sons divide up all his property and his wife gets a life estate.
In 1771 his widow, Rebecca moved to Prince George's Co. and rented her part of the tract to John Huff for 25 pounds sterling per year. Then sold it to Charles Beaven, her brother, in 1786.
There is quite a bit more to this Wheeler family. As they are traced around America you see them become integral parts of the political and economic growth of every state in which they settle. A great family.
"The Barrens", created by the Indians out of the great forests. They burned the same several hundred acre area every year, in the Fall. The new growth in the following Spring attracted game and made hunting easier. Over the years the lack of a root system allowed the topsoil to erode away. Today only small stunted trees grow there. The smoke from burning made the 'hazy' days of Fall which came to be called 'Indian Summer'.
There are two 'Barrens' close to Harford County. The one that we speak of here is in York County, Pennsylvania. Another is located in Baltimore County - 'Soldier's Delight', Owings Mills.
"Escheat": land is previously rented or leased property which has reverted to the Lords Baltimore because of lapses in leases, lack of heirs or qualified claimants, or abandonment.
Need the marriage date and place for Robert FINLEY and Mary CRAIG, ca. 1780.
Need information on James FINLEY married ca. 1729 to Sarah HARRISON. Also information on James FINLEY married Sarah Jane BARKLEY ca. 1759, Cecil or Baltimore Counties, MD.
Hunting for anyone anywhere who has any info on the surname KILCREASE.
Searching for the parents of Letitia RICHARDSON who married Adam McCLUNG, who on 7 Sept. 1782 applied to purchase 136 acres of confiscated British property in Balto. Co., MD adjoining "Richardson's Purchase".
Need information on Solomon BROWN and Solomon BROWN Jr. of Harford Co., MD buried in Bethel Presbyterian Cemetery, Jarrettsville, MD.
Hunting for information on Ruth BRICE born about 1763 on the ocean of Irish parents m. about 1783 to Alexander CULBERTSON somewhere between MD and PA. Ch. Robert, Thomas, John, Sarah, Ruth, Alexander.
Seeking ancestors of Jacob SHORB, d. abt. 1821 Fredrick Co., MD wife Elizabeth FINK. Son Conrad b. c1792 m. Catherine FORNEY 13 Apr. 1818, Taneytown Carroll Co., MD Brother John, sister Alice.
Seeking any information on ELLIOTT families in Mine Run Hundred, My Lady's Manor area of Baltimore Co., MD before 1800.
Some surnames cleared through this office in the past year:
ANDERSON, ARTHUR, BARKLEY, BOND, BOSLEY, BREIDENBAUGH, BRICE, BROWN, BULL, BUTLER, BURGAN, CAIRNES, CARNS, CLARK, COLGATE, COX, CRAIG, DAY, DEETS, DORNEY, DOWNS, DURHAM, ELLEDGE, ENGLAND, EVERETT, FINK, FINLEY, FISHER, GLADDEN, GORSUCH, GRAFTON, GRUPPY, HASH, HENDERSON, HITCHCOCK, HOGG, JOHNSON, JONES, KEY, KILCREASE, McCASKEY, McCLUNG, McGREW, MATTHEWS, MEWSHAW, MIDDLEDITCH, NORRIS, POTEET, RAMPLEY, RICHARDSON, RUST, ST.CLAIR, SAUERS, SCARBOROUGH, SCOTT, SMITH, STANDIFORD, STINGLE, STREET, STRAWBRIDGE, TATE, THOMAS, THORNBOROUGH, VARNEY, WARD, WATTS, WHEELER, WILLIAMS, WHITAKER, WRIGHT.
If you are working on any of the above or if you wish to have a list of the names you are working on printed here please let me know.
With 30 years experience in the Courthouses of MD (especially Harford Co.) most of my comments will concern them. However, in every county of each state these records are available, sometimes under different names - Equity records in PA are known as Prothonotary Records.
Courthouses are not scary places. In fact they are a great places (unless you're on trial). They are the repository of most of the legal paperwork for the whole county. And, unless shipped to the Local, State or National Archives you will find them all under one roof.
You can expect to find - Land Records, Probate Records, Equity Records, Marriage Licenses, Criminal Court Cases, Court Minutes, County Commissioners Minutes and Business Licenses.
You will need to know when your County became a County. Harford County was established in 1774. Prior to that date it was part of Baltimore County. Therefore, the records concerning pre 1774 Harford Co. and it's inhabitants will be found among the records of Baltimore Co. This 'parent-child' relationship exists in all 50 States.
You will also need to know if and where your County retains it's old records. There are no guidelines for most Counties concerning the donation of their old records to a Local, State or National Archives. Most give them to an archival agency because they need the space. Because of this lack of guidelines you will find a great disparity in available records from County to County.
The originals of the Howard Co. Land Records are at Annapolis but there are microfilm copies at the Courthouse in Ellicott City.
Harford Co. still retains it's original Land Records, however, copies can be found at the State Archives in Annapolis.
Baltimore Co. gave all it's originals to the State and keeps no copies.
It's a good idea to call your local Clerk of the Court to find out what records exist, if they have been donated, and where they are.
LAND RECORDS - 1774 - Present
Harford County has all it's original Land Records in the Courthouse in Bel Air with copies at the Maryland State Archives in Annapolis. They are completely indexed.
They oncern the transfer of land, manumissions (the freeing of slaves), sales or gifts of personal property, mortgages, bonds of individuals to County or State, agreements and Land Commissions (the re-establishment of property corners through Governmental intervention).
From a genealogical standpoint Land Records are a treasure trove of information. They give name, date and place of residence for the buyers (grantees) and sellers (grantors). In some cases you'll find the names and place of residence of relatives. There are spouse's names and Equity case dates and numbers, as well as the description and location of the land being transferred. You have to read the deeds from beginning to the very end.
EQUITY 1803 - Present
Equity Records concern law suits and trials in which real estate is divided to heirs or creditors. They can also concern divorces, guardianships, adoptions, injunctions.
Harford County still has the originals. They have not been copied. They are indexed but the indexes do not show all the people involved in the case. A look at the actual case will bring to light the names of relatives and friends. They are stored in the basement of the Courthouse in two forms; 1). the original papers, and 2). transcribed books which are easier to read and understand than the originals.
Don't be afraid to ask for help. The people that work there are friendly and willing to show you where and how indexes and records are stored. Don't expect them to do the digging though. That's not fair, it's your job.
We'll continue with the rest of the Courthouse records in the next issue.
Make check or money order payable to E.C. Smith, Inc. Mail name, address (and check) to E.C. Smith, Inc. 3818 Belmont Drive, Jarrettsville, MD 21084
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