Monday, August 24, 2015

. . . But There Still Are Questions

Having found a way to place William Ijams of Fairfield County, Ohio, squarely in the midst of several genealogies of descendants of colonial Maryland families, I still have one puzzle I haven't yet been able to solve. It isn't, incidentally, the type of stuff brick wall quandaries are made of, but it still has me set back a bit. Mostly, I'm puzzled because this is not the type of document detail one would find in early 1800s land records in the United States.

If you recall, it was William Ijams' daughter Sarah who started me on this quest to piece together two families—that of William and the Ijams relatives, and the other of the man from Missouri territory, John Jay Jackson, whom Sarah met and married, some time between 1816 and 1818.

Somewhere back in all the papers included in John Jay Jackson's War of 1812 pension file was a volley of correspondence about some land that he was entitled, by virtue of his service, to claim—but hadn't. That was followed by his change of mind and decision that he did want to obtain that land, after all. Apparently, a long search was made for the missing documents that would yield him his due—but only once the papers were presented. At long last, something must have been uncovered, for one document mentions that John Jackson was, after all, entitled to his Arkansas.

I'm not sure what that twist in the story signified. By this time, John Jackson had long been settled in Perry County, Ohio—else I wouldn't have been researching a long line of Perry County ancestors whose endogamous legacy has had me chasing people who turn out to be their own cousins.

In the midst of all this (at least to me) confusion, I thought one way to check for property records was to search the surname in the register of land patents at the Bureau of Land Management. While "John Jackson" produced the anticipated overload of search results, since I was already in the neighborhood, I thought I'd also see what could be found under the name Ijams. After all, the Ijams family from Maryland evidently found their way to the Ohio frontier, as well. This was my chance to see who, exactly, had laid claim to property there.

In the midst of the usual form letters, I found this one curiosity: a record for land in Perry County, Ohio. The pre-printed form, including the hand-written entries, read:
Exd. and Sent 20 May, JAMES MADISON Monroe, President of the United States of America, to all to whom these presents shall come, greeting: Know ye that Sarah Ijams of Fairfield County OHIO, having deposited in the General Land Office, a Certificate of the Register of the Land Office at Zanesville, whereby it appears that full payment has been made for the northeast quarter of section Four of township Thirteen in range Fourteen of the lands directed to be sold at Zanesville by the Act of Congress, entitled "An Act providing for the sale of the lands of the United States in the Territory north-west of the Ohio, and above the mouth of Kentucky river," and of the Acts amendatory of the same: There is granted, by the United States, unto the said Sarah Ijams the Quarter lot or section of land above described: To have and to hold the said Quarter lot or section of land, with the appurtenances, unto said Sarah Ijams, her heirs and assigns forever.

The document was dated May 13, 1817—an uncommonly early date for land grants to women. I found that somewhat unusual.

I remembered that Sarah and her sisters had been willed land by their father, who had recently died. Wondering if that were somehow a formality that the daughters needed to settle, I double checked the location of the parcel to be sold, according to William Ijams' will, but the description of the location didn't match—not only were the parcel numbers off, but the land wasn't even in the same county. Besides, wouldn't an executor have taken care of such details? This was back in the era when women's names weren't so much as mentioned in the will—let alone in independent land transactions.

Granted, whether this is our Sarah Ijams, I have yet to determine. Given the number of Ijams men settled in the area, there might be a possibility that this was a different person. Still, it took me by surprise to discover any woman named in a land deal such as this.

Perhaps this will just have to remain one of those unanswered mysteries, but it certainly reminds me to always be prepared to be confronted with the unexpected in our research.


  1. Another interesting piece of the puzzle. Is there a way to determine if she actually lived there later on?

    1. I'm going to have to get up to speed in terminology for land holdings of that era to do so, Wendy. The trouble is not only to determine where that property was, exactly, but to figure out whether the coordinates given in the William Ijams will were changed, once the land from Fairfield County became part of Perry County. It's my guess that they likely lived there--in Perry County--but I'd really have to check the county's land records to be sure.

  2. Replies
    1. Yeah...of all people in these two families--Jackson and Ijams--I sure wasn't expecting to find the title to property turning up in a woman's name.

  3. My mom's grandfather's family lived on/near the Kentucky River for generations. Maybe they knew Sarah?

    1. It's mind-boggling to think of the possibilities. Of course, we'll never know. But it could have been...


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