Monday, January 17, 2011

Amanuensis Monday - Insolvency Sale of Land of Alpheus B. Smith

Genea-blogger John Newmark (who writes the excellent TransylvanianDutch blog) started a Monday blog theme many months ago called Amanuensis Monday. What does "amanuensis" mean? John offers this definition:

"A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another."

The subject today is the probate file of Alpheus B. Smith (1798-1840) of Medfield, Norfolk County, Massachusetts.  The papers are in Probate Packet No. 16,776 in the Norfolk County [Mass.] Probate Court records.  The Probate Docket Book (on FHL Microfilm 1,509,414) for this particular packet lists the following records in the probate packet (with volume and page numbers from the Probate Court Clerk's registers):

1840 Feb. 4: Petition for appt. of Admor filed
1840 Feb. 4: Letter etc.(Hinsdale Fisher appointed); 73:239
1840 Feb. 4: Bond filed; 73:240
1840 Feb. 4: Allowance to widow; 73:739
1840 Feb 15: Inventory filed; 73:766
1840 June 2: Petition for Dower Order; 73:712
1840 June 2: Special Guardianship; 73:931
1840 Aug 4: List of claims filed; 73:794
1840 Aug 4: Petition for sale of real estate filed
1840 Aug 4: Sale of real estate, Order and oath; 73:671
1841 May 4: Insolvency represented, Commr; 74:1154
1841 May 4: List of claims filed; 74:998
1841 May 4: Sale of Real Estate, Return; 74:1163
1841 Aug 21: Dower to Widow, Return; 74:1207
1841 Nov. 2: Account of Admor. Filed, last.ret.Dec.4; 74:1006
1841 Dec 4: Account of Admor. Allowed; 74:550
1842 Jan 4: Report of Commr filed; 74:550
1842 Feb 8: Report of Commr accepted; 75:1145
1842 Feb 8: Order to Distribute; 75:1145

Alpheus B. Smith died intestate on 13 January 1840 in Medfield, leaving a widow (Elizabeth Horton (Dill) Smith) and two minor children (Lucretia Townsend Smith and James Alpheus Smith).  Hinsdale Fisher was appointed administrator of the estate.  After taking an inventory and itemizing the just debts and administrator's charges, the court ordered the sale of the real estate on 4 August 1840.  This was done in April 1841, and reported to the Court on 4 May 1841. 
The Sale of Real Estate Return by Administrators affidavit has this information (from the Probate Docket Books, and Record Books (1793-1916) for Norfolk County [Mass.] Probate Court Records, Volume 74, Page 1163, on FHL Microfilm 0,842,818) recorded on 4 May 1841:

Administrators Sale of Real Estate
Will be sold at auction by order of the Court of Probate for the County of Norfolk on Wednesday the 21st day of April next at 3c30m on the Premises all the Real Estate of which Alpheus B. Smith late of Medfield died seized and possessed of (except the widows right of dower consisting of about 16 acres of mowing and pasture lands, adjoining the dwelling house of the deceased. Also the reversion of the widow's dower being the house and barn of the deceased, with about three fourths of an acre of land on which the buildings now stand. Conditions at Sale. Medfield March 30, 1841. Hinsdale Fisher, Adm'r.

Pursuant to a Decree of the Court of Probate holden at Dedham in the County of Norfolk on the first Tuesday of August AD 1840 I ???? upon the time and place mentioned in the foregoing advertisement for the sale of the Real Estate therein described and sold the same at Public Auction on the twenty first day of April AD 1841 as follows to wit: sixteen acres of land situated in Medfield to James H. Dill Esq for $288, the reversion of the Widow's Dower to James H. Dill Esq for 70.00. [Total] $358.00

And I the said Hinsdale Fisher testify and say that the above is a true account of the sale of the real estate of the said Alpheus B. Smith, and that I caused an advertisement of the sale of said real estate of which the above is a copy, to be published three weeks prior successively to the time of sale therein.”

S. Leland Judge of Probate”

This is only one document in the Probate Packet.  The full packets are not available on Family History Library microfilms - only the Clerk's copies recorded in the Probate Court Records are available on microfilm.  All of the papers in this packet are in three volumes, but they are on three different microfilms.  I have many of the papers in the packet, but not all of them.  The next time I go to Salt Lake City, I will find and obtain the rest of them. 

The affidavit transcribed above has several important pieces of information - most interestingly to me, the name of the buyer of the land and of the widow's dower.  Is James H. Dill the father, a brother, or an uncle of Elizabeth Horton (Dill) Smith, the widow of Alpheus B. Smith?  Or is he not related to her?  That seems far-fetched - my guess is that he is a relative.

I now have a description (in other records in this packet) of the land owned by Alpheus B. Smith, and I need to find the deed that granted the land to him, and the deed that sold the land to James H. Dill and any subsequent sale by him.  I will do this at Salt Lake City also since it will involve several microfilms to find all of the records.

Elizabeth H. Smith resided in Medfield until after the 1860 census was taken, and my guess is that James H. Dill quitclaimed the land back to her to live on and she earned some money by renting out a part of the house to boarders. 

No comments: