Part of the reason I took on the Genealogy By the States challenge is because I knew it would force me not only to post something every week, but it would allow me to get in some research time. Only 11 weeks in and I have made some great discoveries that I may never have gotten around to. This week was no different.
I have lots of New York connections so my initial problem was figuring out who or what to tackle. I ultimately decided to explore the New York Land Records, 1630-1975 image collection that was added to FamilySearch a few months ago. What a relief to be able to explore the many counties I needed to search (just for one family!) from the comfort of my home. I cannot begin to tell you how many films I would have had to order just to research this one family, not to mention the other families I have in New York.
Part of the reason so many counties were involved is because this particular family lived in three different areas in New York, and during the times they were in a county, new counties were being formed. Thank goodness for Red Book and the thoroughness of information on county formations and records. And fortunately, I had kept excellent notes on the specific towns and the trail of counties the belonged to and when.
After searching all but one of the applicable counties, I found three deeds that were relevant to my research goal of finding land records for Aaron Webster in known places of residence in New York. Oddly enough, each of the three are the selling of land and I was not able to find the initial purchase for any of them. The good news is I have a better timeline to work with, which will be helpful for continued research on this family.
Below is one of the deeds I found in Jefferson County.1
Click image to see the original on FamilySearch.
Another interesting resource I found was The Balloting Book, and Other Documents Relating to Military Bounty Lands in the State of New York (this was found under Onondaga County). This book lists all of the townships (including those outside Onondaga County) and who was awarded each lot of land. It also lists each person and whether they were actually deeded the land or if they assigned it to someone else. For more information about the Military Tract of Central New York, see the Wikipedia entry for Central New York Military Tract and information put together for the Cayuga County NYGenWeb Project entitled A Summary History of the Military Tract of Central NY.
Even though this resource didn’t really apply to what I was working on (or any of my ancestors, that I’m aware of at this point in time), I thought maybe I could figure out who was awarded Lot 47 in Fabius that Aaron acquired and later sold in 1806. I hoped that I could follow the trail and perhaps find the deed where Aaron purchased the land, thinking perhaps it wasn’t indexed correctly or at all under Aaron as the grantee.
I was able to figure out that Thomas Warner, Lt. was awarded Lot 47 in Fabius and assigned it to Richard Platt. This was verified by the deed index showing the transaction for that land from Thomas Warner to Richard Platt (however, I cannot locate the actual record). Unfortunately, I could not find a record of Richard Platt ever selling that land. On top of that, in the handwritten pages after the book, there are other names listed for Lot 47 in Fabius: William Cooper and Seth Johnson. This was further confirmed by the Awards of the Onondaga Commissioners book. I’ll have to work on this further and see what shakes out.
My focus was on Aaron Webster’s land transactions in New York, but while I was searching the indexes, I also noted other Websters I knew were in the same areas. So now I have a list of other deeds I need to pull and work on in the future. My next step in Aaron’s project will be to transcribe the three deeds I found and adjust my visual timeline accordingly. Those “unknown” gaps of time are getting smaller!!
1. Jefferson, New York, Deed Records, F: 210, Aaron Webster to Roger Read, deed, 21 March 1814; digital images, "New York, Land Records, 1630-1975," FamilySearch (familysearch.org : accessed 20 March 2013).