Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Family History Writing Challenge-Day 6-Moore Interests in Heir Land

In order for heir land to be sold, each and every heir needs to be identified, and their fraction of interest in the land determined. The more children, grandchildren and great grandchildren an ancestor had, the lesser the fraction of interest they may claim from the heir land. Not only must they be identified and served by the court, they must all agree to sell the land, unless it is confiscated by the government as when Cherry Point USMC base was established at Little Witness community in Havelock, NC.

March 20, 2008. Cousin Letitia, my co-historian on the family reunion committee, had sent me a manila envelop containing a copy of court land document entitled, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff, v. 124.44 ACRES OF LAND, MORE OR LESS, IN TOWNSHIP 5, CRAVEN COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA; EULAH MOORE FRAZIER, et al., Defendants. In the report of the Special Master which followed for Parcels No. 141 and 143, forty-nine descendants had been named as defendants, followed by "et al.," denoting perhaps even more unidentified descendants. The names were known by me. Names representing the lives I had researched, some of whom are now deceased, some I had met at family reunions.

Section three in the report stated that "Parcels 141 and 143 are two separate parcels of land which were condemned together because of an uncertainty concerning the proper dividing line between properties."

While the researcher could not locate any deed of record, it was acknowledged that the community recognized Thomas Moore to have been the owner. From there,  a list of his children provided a framework for extending the branches to living descendants.

Another related case for 118.77 acres of heir land included thirty-two descendants, which was divided into ten sub-parcels. The fractions of interest the descendants held varied between 1/6 to 1/54. For example, one parcel was divided up between four individuals and the heirs of another, their names not yet known, and the interest varying: 11/18, 1/9, 1/9, 1/18, and 1/9. In another parcel, four individuals each had a 1/120 interest, and another eight held a 1/480 interest. The smallest interest was two women's claim of 1/3150. The total amount of money offered by the government was only $115,000.00. (The final claims recorded would calculate to an interest valued at thirty-six dollars and fifty-one cents each.)

From all the many names and relations accounted for in these documents, it it possible to sketch their branches onto the existing family tree.


As I write these facts, I am trying just to get the general information on the page. It is still difficult to see just how this piece will fit in smoothly with the narrative. I've decided to let it rest, and after observing how other authors treat explanations of factual information, I will consider how to approach month or after.

Writing the email to my husband’s siblings would seem like a simple task, one of mere conveyance of information, Your first cousin once removed wants us all to gather at her home following the reunion to go over land records and family history with you. Each sibling had their own take on it, however. The oldest and youngest wished to relinquish their rights to any land…the second born son was interested, but wary of any cost involved. I replied that this meeting had nothing to do with purchasing land, and if there ever was any money involved in a transaction following Hattie’s death, it would be to locate an heir who would choose to voluntarily pay the taxes on the property. No lawyers were necessary…I just wanted to learn more about the family and the pattern of inheritance. I wanted to see the old documents, to touch them…read them…and try to understand how my father-in-law…Hattie’s favorite cousin…might have felt about this.

Several times he had made trips from Erie, Pennsylvania to North Harlowe and New Bern concerning family lands. One such trip was upon the death of his half-sister, Gertrude. She had lived in the city of New Bern when she died, and her estate had gone up for public auction. Chester and his brothers gathered, prepared to pay a sum…however, less than the sum finally paid for the property.

He had also gone south with his sons…the first time with his two oldest boys, the second time with my husband, the third and last son. My brother-in-law remembers sitting in the car while his father entered the house from a rear or side entrance. Every one we have ever spoken to about the subject of family land refers to Mean Uncle Bert…and one cousin who had paid taxes on her father’s portion of the land for many years, referred to him as “the devil himself.”

Word Count: 773
Word Count: 790

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