Friday, June 21, 2013

Deeds, Sometimes the Payout is Worth the Tedium!

by Nancy Maliwesky

I received a letter from APHGA researcher Dolores J., regarding her ancestor, Nelson Phineas Pomeroy.  We’ve been puzzling over the parentage of Nelson for a few years now.  From what we’ve learned, Nelson was born 24 Jan 1813 in New York State.  He married Jemima Minerva Hutchinson about 1838 in New York State, and died 3 Feb 1887 in Allen, Dixon County, Nebraska.  

According to an affidavit dated 18 Sep 1820 in the Revolutionary War pension of Phineas Pomeroy of Union, Broome County, New York, Nelson an “adopted son aged 7 years old” was living with Phineas and his wife Rebecca.  Phineas identified himself in this affidavit as 65 years old, and his wife as 62 years old.

Nelson and his family are found in Woodhull, Steuben County, New York according to the 1840 U.S. Federal Census.  He is also enumerated there on 23 Aug 1850.  On 22 Jun 1860, he is enumerated with his family in Avon, Rock County, Wisconsin.  On 4 Jun 1880 he is enumerated with his wife in Springbank, Dixon County, Nebraska.  On 9 Jun 1885 he is enumerated in Midway Borough, Spring Bank Precinct, Dixon County, Nebraska in the Nebraska State Census.  He was buried in the Eastview Cemetery in Allen, Dixon County, Nebraska.

We first looked at Phineas and Rebecca Pomeroy’s sons as being most likely the father of Nelson.  William, the eldest son, born 29 Jan 1781 in Hancock, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, married Polly Yeomans 16 Jan 1817 in Campbellstown, Steuben County, New York.  While William is certainly old enough to have been the father of Nelson, we have no indication that he married prior to his marriage to Polly.  Reuben Pomeroy, Phineas and Rebecca’s second son, was born 10 Jan 1783 and married Esther Bradley about 1805 in Genoa, Cayuga County, New York.  He died 20 Jul 1812 in King Ferry, Cayuga County, New York.  While Nelson may be the son of Reuben, we have found no evidence to connect them.  Reuben’s widow Esther married as her second husband Darius Adams, had two children that we know of and died 22 Sep 1817 in King Ferry. 

James Pomeroy, the third son of Phineas and Rebecca, was born 30 Apr 1787 and little is known of him.  He was enumerated as head of household in Union, Broome County, New York in the 1820 U.S. Federal Census, where he is also found in 1830.  James is the only male listed in the household.  There are five free white females in the household between the ages of 5 and 20, according to the 1830 Census.  We assume that these young women are James’ daughters.  James is certainly old enough to be Nelson’s father, and he is living in the same town that his father lived in, but if this were the case, why would James send his only son to live with his father when he had his own farm to run.  In Phineas’ Revolutionary War pension application he states that he is infirm.  Perhaps James sent Nelson to live with his father and mother to help them with their farm.  But why would Phineas state that Nelson was an adopted son if Nelson’s parents were still alive?

Phineas Pomeroy, Jr., the youngest son of Phineas and Rebecca, was born 19 Apr 1792 in Connecticut.  There are several conflicting records regarding Phineas’ wife or wives.  Some sources identify one wife, Catherine Goldsmith, whom he married about 1820.  At least nine children are associated with this marriage, the oldest, Grove Pomeroy, was born about 1821 in New York.  Was Phineas married prior to his marriage to Catherine, and did his first wife die young, after giving birth to a son, Nelson?  Could this explain why Nelson was identified as the adopted son of Phineas’ parents?  Phineas, Jr., is enumerated in Woodhull, Steuben County, New York according to the 1830 US Federal Census.  Nelson was found in Woodhull in 1840, so this might suggest a father/son relationship. 

Dolores, in her letter dated 10 June 2013 states “Recently I came across a clue, but have no proof, that Nelson’s father is JAMES POMEROY, born 20 April 1787 (sic) NY Died 28 April 1850 Broom co Poor House.  He was overseer of the poor in Broom co and also in the war of 1812.” Dolores asks whether we have any further information regarding James and his wife, do we know his wife’s name, and might she have died before 1820.  Dolores also asked if we knew where James was buried.

Dolores goes on to point out that Nelson Phineas Pomeroy named his first son James McBurney Pomeroy.  Is this an indication that his father’s name was James?  Could McBurney be his wife’s maiden name?  When I looked at James Pomeroy in our database, I realized that we have very little information regarding him, so I thought I would look for probate records for James in Broome County, New York.  These records are available for browsing at  While I found some scant probate records for Phineas, James’ father, who died intestate (without a will) I did not find any records for James.  I then decided to look at the New York Land Records for Broome County, New York available through 

I first checked the Grantor/Grantee Indices for 1806-1843.  I found two early land transactions for Phineas Pomeroy.  The first was a deed signed 15 Dec 1796 wherein William Lusk and his wife Sally, of Canaan, Columbia County, New York sold to Phinehas Pomeroy of Canaan land on lot number 167 in Nanticoke Township in Union, Broome County, New York for £128.  This deed was recorded 23 Jan 1807.  The second deed shows Phinehas and Rebeckah Pomeroy of Union, selling land on lot 167 in Nanticoke to William Lusk of Canaan for $545.86.  I found several land transactions for James Pomeroy, both buying and selling property.  Surprisingly, there are also several land transactions for a George Pomeroy.

On 23 Mar 1813, Aaron Allen and his wife Hannah, of Union, Broome County, New York, sold to James Pomeroy, also of Union, for $525, land situated on Chocanut Creek, including a stream of water and a mill.  On 11 Jan 1814, James Pomeroy and wife Betsey of Union, sold to Joseph  and Benjamin Chambers of Union, for $550, one half of a certain sawmill situated on Chocanut Creek along with a stream of water where a mill was located.

On 10 May 1815, William Cafferty and Prudence his wife, of Union, sold to James Pomeroy of Union, for $1,200, lot 108 in Nanticoke.  On 3 Aug 1816, James Pomeroy of Union sold to Reuben Coe of Union for $300, one half of lot 108 in Nanticoke containing a log and lumber yard, along with one half of a dwelling house and saw mill.  This is a very interesting record.  First off, there is no mention of Betsey, James wife.  Had she died?  The reason that wives were listed in deeds where their husbands are selling land, is because the wife had one-third dower rights to any and all property owned by her husband.  In order to have clear title to that land in the future, the wife would have to sign off on the sale of that property.  Secondly, who was Reuben Coe?  Was he related in some way to James?  Why would James sell half of his dwelling house to Reuben?  Was he living in the other half?  

On 25 Sep 1816 Reuben Coe of Union, sold to James Pomeroy of Union for $300, three fourths of the land on lot 108 in Nanticoke Township, on which stood the saw mill and log and lumber yard, and half the dwelling house and sawmill.  Was this just a way of transferring money, or perhaps a short loan of that money, using the property as collateral?

In 1824 there are a series of deeds in which James Pomeroy and George Keeler are buying or selling land on lot 106 in Nanticoke.  In the first deed they are buying the right to build or continue a dam on the property of William Hutchinson.  After this agreement there are several deeds which show George and James sharing property on lot 106 in Nanticoke which includes a saw mill and grist mill.  On 12 Aug 1860 James Pomeroy and Betsey his wife (she’s alive!) of Union, sold to George Keeler of Union “all that part of lot 108 in Nanticoke” where the mills are located for $250.00.

On 4 Apr 1829 James Pomeroy and Betsey his wife, of Union (written in deed as James Pumpelly) sold to James Van Demack of Owego, Tioga County, New York lot 108 in Nanticoke, the “same property conveyed to George Keeler” on 12 Aug 1826.  Did George default on payments?  This is the last deed entry I have been able to find for James Pomeroy in Broome County, New York.  The last record we have for James his enumeration as head of household in Union, in the 1830 U.S. Federal Census.  
Turns out that the George Pomeroy found in the Broome County land records was the son of Quartus and Rachel Pomeroy, and husband of Anne “Nancy” Cooper, daughter of William Cooper.  Anne’s father William had bequeathed to Anne the sum of $50,000 in his will.  William’s estate the transfered of 11 lots of land containing 1,197 acres of property in Chenango, Broome County, valued at $4,788 to Anne Pomeroy as part of her settlement.  The subsequent sale of those 11 lots of land are recorded in the Broome County Deed books.

So, what have we learned about James from reviewing these land records?  First off, his wife’s name was Betsey.  We didn’t know that before this search.  Secondly, it appears that James was a miller.  Thirdly, it appears that he sold his property in 1829.  Another interesting fact learned from reviewing these deeds is that fact that Phineas and Rebecca were living in Canaan, Columbia County, New York prior to moving to Broome County.  I guess it’s time to go look at those deeds!  

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