Tax / Deed Puzzle

Have you ever had a clue from one document that should lead you to another document, but it doesn’t? That’s my case with my James Crawford research in the early 1800s.

For background, my ancestor, James Crawford, married Sally Duggins in Garrard County, Kentucky in 1799. By 1811 he is living in Preble County, Ohio. In Ohio, his land entry is as a tenant in common with William Sellers. William Sellers married Sarah Crawford in 1796 in Lincoln County, KY. The consent for Sarah Crawford’s marriage was granted by Rebakah Crawford with James Crawford and James Sellers as witnesses. In 1793, a James Crawford obtained a bond to marry Martha Knight in Lincoln County, Kentucky. James and Martha owned land in Preble County, Ohio next to James and Sally Crawford.

While the obvious conclusion would be that all three families migrated from Garrard/Lincoln county Kentucky to Preble County, Kentucky, they likely took a detour. In 1821, James and Martha sell land in Barren County, Kentucky.

This Indenture made the eleventh day of December in the year of our Lord
one thousand eight hundred and twenty one between James Crawford of the
county of Preble state of Ohio of the one part and John Moorehead
of Barren County Kentucky state of the other part and
witnesseth that the said James Crawford for and in consideration
of the sum of two hundred dollars recents to the said James Craw
ford in hand paid the receipt of which is hereby acknowledge
have granted bargained aliened conveyed & confirmed & by these presents
do grant bargain sell alien convey and confirm unto the said John
Moorhead his heirs & assigns forever a certain tract of land containing
two hundred acres of the county of Barren & State of Kentucky on
the waters of Marrawbone

page 2
In testimony whereof, the said James Crawford & Martha his wife has
hereunto set their hands and seal the day and year first above written
James Crawford
Martha (her mark) Crawford
Sealed and Delivered
in the presence of us
David Williamson
Nathan D Sellers

Kentucky, Barren County. Deeds. Film #7899153. James Crawford to Alexander Moorehead, 11 Dec 1821; J: 1-2; digital images, Family Search : viewed online January 2019.

While owning land in a county did not necessarily mean that the individual resided in the county, a search of the tax lists for Barren County, Kentucky has a James Crawford with 200 acres on the Marrowbone in 1800. By 1802, those tax lists show a Crawford James (small) [jr] and a Crawford James (big) Senr. James Crawford Senr is listed as owning 200 acres on the Marrowbones. A William Sellers is also found on the 1802 tax lists. By 1803, these tax lists show that Crafford James Jr owns 50 acres of land on the Marrowbone.

Since the Preble County, Ohio tax lists also uses the “Jr” designation for one of the James Crawfords, I think my James Crawford may also have lived in Barren County, KY along with James Crawford and William Sellers. Since I’ve established that James Jr in Preble county is my James Crawford, my theory is that the James Jr owning 50 acres of land on the Marrowbone is my James Crawford. However, I need to find the deed for the sale of the land on the Marrowbone.

And that’s where I’m puzzled! I can’t find such a deed in Barren County.

Since the tax lists indicate that the 50 acres on the Marrowbone were originally granted to Abner Dooley, I’ve tried tracking his land. Abner Dooley has land entered in Green County, Kentucky for 200 acres on the Marrowbone.

No. 735 We do hereby certify that Abner Dooley is entitled to 200 acres
of 2nd rage land by virtue of his having improved the same agreeably
to an act of the Assembly entitled “Al act for encouraging & granting
relief to settlers” & located as follows In Green County on the Dividing
ridge between the head of Marrowbone and the head of the Middle Fork
of Little Barren Beginning in the head of a hollow on the Marrowbone
waters at a linen tree marked AD & SC running to the cardinal points
for quantity includued the improvement near the west side of
the survey.

Kentucky, Green County. Land entry books, 1780-1898, 1908, 1918. Film #1877097 DGS 8272154. Abner Dooley, 14 Dec 1798; page 117 (image 99); digitized images, FamilySearch : viewed online 13 November 2022.

Searching for Abner Dooley deeds, I found one in Barren County, Kentucky from 1806 where Abner sells land to Michael Branstetter. The land description in this deed includes the following

Beginning at a lynn tree marked AD and SC

The tax records support this transfer of land. In 1806 Abner Dooley is shown with 197 acres on the L Barren. Then, in 1807, Michal Branstetter has 197 acres on L Barren that was originally entered by Ab Dooley.

If I go back to 1803, Abner Dooley is shown with two parcels of land: 200 acres on the L Barren and 50 acres on the Marrowbone.

Then, in 1804, Abner Dooley no longer has the 50 acres on the Marrowbone.

Looking at the 1803 tax list again, James Crawford Jr is listed with the 50 acres of land on the Marrowbone while another James Crawford is listed directly above with a total of 450 acres: 200 on the L Barren, 200 on Spring Creek and 50 on the Marrowbone.

Based on this tax list analysis, I am missing several deeds:

  • Abner Dooley’s land sale for 50 acres on the Marrowbone sometime after 1803
  • James Crawford’s purchase of 50 acres on the Marrowbone
  • Deeds for the sale of two different 50 acre parcels of land on the Marrowbone by James Crawford
  • James Crawford sale of 200 acres of land on Spring Creek (possibly in Cumberland county)

5 thoughts on “Tax / Deed Puzzle

    1. mcphilbrick

      I’ve been researching the early surveys and grants but have yet to find something that might match the information from the tax documents. I likely need to learn more about Kentucky land! I may also need to reach out to Dooley family researchers to see whether any of them can help.

    1. mcphilbrick

      So far, I haven’t found mention of the land in the estate papers — but I’m not giving up. I need to search for the stepsons in the various counties to see whether he transferred the land to them. Unfortunately, the county where the deed may have been recorded lost a lot of their early land records. Thus, I need to learn more about how to get around that hurdle.

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