Thursday, October 30, 2008

Finding Older Generations Through Deeds

Note: Tried to fix the "run-on sentence" structure of this post to no avail. Sorry.

My blog site, Detour Through History, post entitled Ancestors of Carrie (More) Clark, Part 2, featured the Lapeer County, Michigan, Deed below. I'm using it here to demonstrate how a deed can be instrumental in determining familial relationships.

Lapeer Co., MI, Deeds
Liber "F", Page# 163
Recorded: 30 May 1845
Ann Harris
Quit Claim Deed to
Benjamin Harris

Ann Harris of Newberry in the county of Essex, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, widow - to Benjamin Harris of Lapeer Co., Lapeer, Michigan
Witnesses: Josiah Little, J.P., and Margaret L. Colman

With both parties named "Harris" and with it being a Quit Claim deed, chances were very good that there was a familial relationship between Ann Harris and Benjamin Harris. It turned out that Benjamin was the son of Charles Harris and the grandson of Ann (Toppan) Harris.

The biggest clue in the deed tied the "Lapeer" Harris's to those living in Newberry(Newbury), Essex County, Massachusetts. I was then able to search for Ann Harris in the census records. She was found in the 1850 census taken in Essex Co., MA, here. Ann Harris was also found in the 1860* MA census living with basically the same people, notably Daniel & Margaret Colman. Margaret was also a witness to the above deed transaction.

While updating this post, an obituary of Captain Charles Harris of Lapeer County (the oldest child of Ann Harris listed in the "Toppan" book* - see this link for additional information) was found here. It confirms that Charles Harris was born in Newbury, Massachusetts. The source also notes Harris's encounter with the notorious pirate Gibbs. Here's what I found on a pirate named Gibbs. Charles Harris was also the father of Jacob Gardner Harris, whose daughter (Carrie Harris) married into my More family. Lineage information for Carrie can be found here.

Probate information from the Lapeer Legacy periodical provided more evidence of the family relationships in the Charles Harris family (including Benjamin J. Harris named in the deed):

Lapeer Legacy Vol 16, Issue 1, 1998
Probate Rec#00155 1851-1859
HARRIS, Charles
Died: 14 Nov 1855
Executor: Sophia Harris, widow
Heirs: Daniel Thurston C. Harris, son, Jacob G. Harris, son, under 21, Lucretia Jane Harris, Nancy C. Harris; Chas C. Harris, Benj J. Harris, JP. Ann Marin?, dec daughter by 1851
Will Dated 19 Jul 1851
Witnesses: John Gardner & William W. Gardner

Sometimes abstracting the deeds is just the first step to expanding a family tree.

*For those who may not know, many, if not most, libraries allow their patrons to access the HeritageQuest site using their library card number. I use my Escambia Co., FL library access while researching, even though I may be in Michigan. I found Ann Harris in the Toppan book and in the 1860 census using this resource.

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