In Search of Your Ancestors?
A column on genealogy by George Farris

May 23, 2008

9. More About Land Records

In the previous column I included an example of using Kentucky land grants and surveys in determining the location of property. Below is a more detailed description contained in a deed for land purchased in Tennessee in 1809 by the same Moses Estes referenced in one of the Kentucky grants who had moved back into Tennessee in about 1801 after spending about 6-8 years in Kentucky.

State of Tennessee - No, 1187 - To all to whom these presents shall come Greetings.

Know ye that in consideration of Military Service performed by John Check to the State of North Carolina Warrant No. 5784 dated the 9th day of December 1797 and entered on the 21st day of June 1808 by No. 1928, there is granted by the said State of Tennessee unto Moses Estes, assignee of the heirs of John Check, a certain tract or parcel of land containing one hundred and sixty acres, part of said warrant, lying in Wilson County in the first District on the waters of Smiths Fork of the Caney Fork, on a small creek called the East Fork of Purtles Creek, Beginning at a sugar tree and ash on John Baker's south boundary line of a tract of one thousand acres, running thence south one hundred and eighty poles to a lyn on George Smiths north boundary line, thence east with said line one hundred and forty two and a fourth poles to a sugar tree, thence north one hundred and eighty poles to a buck on Bakers line, thence west with said line one hundred and forty two and one fourth poles to the Beginning, Surveyed July the 1st 1808, with the hereditaments and appurtinances to have and to hold to the said tract or parcel of land with its appurtinances to the said Moses Estes and his heirs forever. In Witness whereof, John Sevier, Governor of the State of Tennessee, has hereunto set his hand and caused the great seal of the State of Tennessee to be affixed, at Knoxville, on the 29th day of June in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and nine, and the Independence of the United States the thrirty third.

By the Governor:   John Sevier

Since the East Fork of Purtles Creek is pretty short, it's not difficult to determine approximately where this land was located. Another deed issued on the same day to William Estes, brother of Moses Estes, makes it easier to locate. William's land was also a part of the original John Check grant and adjoined Moses' land - but it was in Smith County rather than Wilson County - in a part of Smith County that is now DeKalb County. So the two properties spanned the county line.

Often it is not easy to identify the specific location of property described by the old method of "Metes and Bounds" - that is, physical attributes such as streams or high hills, specific marked trees, and boundaries with neighboring land owners. For instance, in the above deed, it would be rather difficult to locate, 200 years later, the "sugar tree and ash" that marked the beginning point of the survey - or the "lyn" or "line tree" on George Smith's north boundary that marked one corner - or the "buck" (buckeye tree) on Baker's line that marked another corner.

Family Information in Deed Records

Records in deed books may provide useful information regarding a family - especially when it involves property as part of an estate. Following is one example from my own research - involving the same Moses Estes..

Background: In 1815, the Moses Estes referenced in the above 1809 deed in Wilson County, Tennessee, along with his wife, Elizabeth, died while living on that property. In an oral will, Moses designated his brother William, who lived on the adjoining property, as Administrator of his estate. However, William also died (apparently on or near the same day) - and designated Moses to be Administrator of his estate. Another brother, John Estes, lived nearby at the time and agreed to administer both estates. However, within a few months, John moved to Missouri - along with all of his own family as well as the 10 orphaned children of Moses and Elizabeth. He never returned to Tennessee and never completed settlement of the two estates. After John died in Calloway County, Missouri in 1825, his oldest son James Estes became administrator of his estate. But James found that John's estate couldn't be settled without first sorting out the interests of the heirs of Moses Estes. So the Moses Estes estate was handled in the Probate Court of Calloway County, Missouri and was partially settled in 1830. In the meantime, the widow and children of William Estes had remained in Tennessee and continued to live on the land that was adjacent to that of Moses Estes. William's estate was settled in Tennessee only after his children came of age. His land ended up with his oldest son Brackett Estes. It is unclear who had occupied the adjacent Moses Estes land that remained a part of an unsettled estate. It appears, from other documents in Wilson County, that most of the land was mistakenly included in another land grant. In the 1840s, Brackett went to considerable effort to obtain Power of Attorney from all of the living heirs of Moses Estes in order to recover and sell the property for them. During this same period, the father of Moses Estes had died in Warren County, Kentucky - and his estate also went unsettled for many years.

Powers of Attorney for Brackett Estes were recorded in deed books in Warren County, Kentucky and in DeKalb County, Tennessee - dated August 1847. There were separate POAs for the heirs who lived in Missouri and those who lived in Illinois. Below is an excerpt from one of these.

Know all men by these presents that we John Farris, Elizabeth Farris formerly Elizabeth Estes, Lewis Estes, Jeremiah Farris, and Austin Farris of the County of Fulton and State of Illinois have made, constituted and appointed and by these presents do make constitute and appoint Brackett Estes of the County of DeKalb and State of Tennessee our true and lawful attorney for us and in our names and for our use - to ask - demand, sue for monies - and receive all such sum and sums of money, debts, goods, wares and other demands that may be due and owing to us either in Law or equity in the States of Tennessee or Kentucky - giving and granting unto our said attorney by these presents free power and authority within the States of Tennessee and Kentucky in and about the premises to have, use and take all lawful ways and means, in my name for the purpose aforesaid - and upon the receipt of any such debt due or sums of money acquitanances or other sufficient discharge for us and in our names to make and give - and also for us and in our names to institute and prosecute any suit or suits which may be necessary for the recovery of any Lands in the said States of Tennessee and Kentucky - and especially the following described tract of Land situated in the County of Wilson and State of Tennessee on a small creek called The East Fork of Purtles Creek a branch of Smith's Fork of the Caney Fork. Beginning at a sugar tree and ash on John Baker's south boundary line of a tract of one thousand acres - running thence south to a line on George Smith's north boundary line, thence East and North and West according to the calls of a grant made by the State of Tennessee to Moses Estes for one hundred and sixty acres of Land - which grant bears the date September the 27th 1809 - being the place on which the said Moses Estes lived and died ...
At the time that we were attempting to sort out these Estes families, these were important documents for identifying the children of Moses Estes and differentiating them from the children of John Estes with whom they had lived. For my branch of the family, the Jeremiah Farris who signed the above POA was the husband of Rosannah Estes, deceased, one of the children of Moses Estes. Austin Farris was their oldest son and the only child over age 21 at the time of this POA. Rosannah Estes Farris, my, had died in Fulton County, Illinois in 1846. Through the information in these power of attorney documents we were able to track the children of Moses Estes to Callaway County, Missouri - where we found his estate probate records which further documented this family.

A deed recorded in Wilson County, Tennessee dated in August 1855 by Brackett Estes as lawful agent for the heirs of Moses Estes selling the property on Purtles Creek finally settled the Moses Estes estate - 40 years after his death.

I Brackett Estes have this day bargained and sold and do hereby transfer & convey to William A. Garritson & his heirs forever, for the consideration of two thousand dollars to me in hand paid, a tract of land in the State of Tennessee, Wilson County & district No. 13 containing by estimation one hundred and sixty acres be the same more or less & bounded as follows - Beginning at a sugar tree & ash thence south 180 poles to a lyn on Leanard Fites north boundary line thence east to a stake thence north 180 poles to a stake thence west to the beginning on Purtles Creek - it being the same land originally belonging to Moses Estes wherein he lived and died ...
On the same day, Brackett Estes also sold 268 acres of additional land that adjoineed the Moses Estes land to the same William A. Garritson.

In the next column, I'll provide a couple of somewhat simpler examples of deed records that helped provide valuable family information

Previous Columns in this series

1. Beginning your search
2. "Source Data"
3. More About Data Sources
4. Additional Data Sources
5. LDS and Data From Other Countries
6. Census Records
7. Military Records
8. Land Records

© Copyright 2008, Inside Anderson County, All rights reserved.