It all started as I was going through things in the attic, doing the "50 Year Purge", trying to get years of files, folders, and contents of forgotten boxes under control. While going through a folder with my father's name on it, I found several things I remembered my mother giving to me years ago, but then I find a surprise. There, in the folder, along with my dad's military papers and a few old newspaper clippings was an envelope marked in my handwriting "An old deed". Inside that envelope I found this brittle, stained sheet of paper, apparently a document to record the sale of land by Solomon Kemp to a Michael G..... in 1842.
|Sale Receipt for Solomon Kemp, 1842|
I also found a second, smaller envelope, this one labeled in my mother's writing, "Old deed with seal attached". When I carefully opened the envelope, this is what I found.
|Deed to Georgia Land Lottery Draw for Joshua Stephens, 1832|
With a quick glance, I realized that I was looking at pieces of an original deed or document relating to a draw from the 1832 Georgia Land Lottery. And I knew I needed to learn as much as I could about these documents and the people involved. And I needed to come up with a research plan for gathering information about these documents beyond the obvious reading of the words on those pieces of paper.
In years past, someone had tried to tape together the fragile pieces of the Stevens document. Today, the fragments are almost too brittle to touch, so I tried to handle them with as gently as possible. After photographing the two documents, I felt the next step was to transcribe them. Having the transcriptions gave me sheets of paper that were much easier to read, papers I didn't need to be concerned about getting stains, spills, or anything else to cause further damage to the original documents.
So, here I am about 24 hours later, actually starting to learn a little about Joshua Stevens. Here is what I have come across thus far.
- Step one, check in my Family Tree Maker software for a Joshua Stevens. I did not have that exact name among ancestors or relatives. I have one Stevens male, no given name, who married into my mother's side of the family in the late 1770s according to the Massachusetts Town and Vital Records found on Ancestry.com, but I doubted if he would have been part of the 1832 Georgia Land Lottery. Other Stevens family members were from a marriage into my father's side of the family in 1899, so I am ruling out an established Stevens connection for the present time.
- I've decided to start a separate tree in Family Tree Maker for Joshua Stevens. This way whenever I come across anything noteworthy, I have a place to record it.
- My first entry, beyond his name, was to record the Property fact that he drew Lot 946 in the Fifteenth District of the Second Section of Cherokee County, Georgia.
- Next I added that at the time of the draw, he was a resident of Madison County, Georgia.
- Both my family and my husband's had members who had been involved in the Georgia Land Lottery of 1832. My first research was to look at James F Smith's fabulous book, The Cherokee Land Lottery, Containing a Numerical List of the Names of the Fortunate Drawers in Said Lottery, With an Engraved Map of Each District. This treasure is available to view through both HathiTrust and The Internet Archive or abstracted on Ancestry.com.
- Imagine my surprise when I learned there was NO map for the Fifteenth District, Second Section of the drawing, NO list in number of draw order for the lottery winners! This was due to the fact that this district, along with some others, was considered to be a "Gold District". No gold was promised on the land, just the feeling that there "might" be gold there. Information for lottery winners for Gold Districts turned out to be in another book, one I haven't been able to find available online.
- Thanks to www.worldcat.org I've found that copies of Alphabetical Index to Georgia's 1832 Gold Lottery were available at several libraries around metro Atlanta, so heading to one of them and finding the book is on my To-Do List on a future trip to Georgia.
- I located a Joshua Stephens living in Madison County, Georgia, in the 1830 census and also in the 1820 Madison County census. No success, however, in locating a Joshua Stephens anywhere in Georgia in 1840 ... yet
- The Georgia Virtual Vault presents a number of digitized resources, the originals of which are housed at the Georgia Archives. One resource is their database of "Georgia Colonial and Headright Plan Index, 1735-1866". If Joshua Stephens was in Madison County Georgia in the early 1800s, there was a good chance that he had received land as a settler moving into the area. Through this database, I learned that Joshua Stephens had received several grants totalling over 700 acres in Madison County so he was already an established land holder at the time of the Cherokee Land Lottery.
- Next stop was FamilySearch.org where I looked through their collection of "Georgia, Headright and Bounty Documents, 1783-1909". This time I had the actual digitized documents to read including:
- a survey request to lay off 30 acres for Joshua in Oglethorpe County, Georgia, in 1797
- Land Warrant #21 that gave Joshua 300 acres in Madison County, Georgia, in 1813 and
- Land Warrant #174 that gave Joshua 450 acres in Madison County, Georgia, in 1826
- My next research steps will be to find out what happened to Joshua Stephens after 1832. This means checking resources such as
- FindAGrave, BillionGraves, WikiTree to find a possible death date
- Wills and Probate records on Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org to perhaps learn what happened to his land after his death
- Fold3.com to see if Joshua had any military service that might have been the catalyst for acquiring his various land grants
- Look for website, etc. where I can locate lot 946 on a present day map. This might help me have a clue as to who may have lived there.
Now for my Georgia To-Do List
- Visit a metro Atlanta library, get a copy of Alphabetical Index to Georgia's 1832 Gold Lottery, and learn more about Joshua's fortunate draw.
- Check in Cherokee County Georgia to learn who later bought the land from Joshua Stephens and try to trace the land's ownership into the Perkinson family.
- After I finally figure out why I even have these things, I want to contact county or state archives to see if an Archive or local history center might be a more fitting home for this interesting old document, especially as I am not aware on any Cherokee Lottery Land still owned by our Perkinson family.
As for the 1842 document signed by Solomon Kemp, that will have to wait for another research spurt. Looks like I have enough to keep me busy, out of trouble (and the attic), and even writing a few more blog posts for quite a while.