I am currently obsessed with Bennington County, Vermont—in particular the township of Sunderland. My reasons?
- Samuel Payne, my 4 times great-grandfather[i] lived in Sunderland.
- My work in progress fictionalizes Samuel’s time in Sunderland during the Revolutionary War.
- My husband and I travel to New England in October, and Bennington is one of our stops.
As usual, the deeper I dig into an area the more details I uncover. Consequently, I’m deep into smallpox and early inoculation, the Green Mountain Boys, the impact of the Revolutionary War on the area, and the conflict between New York and New Hampshire Colonies over the Grants. A stickler for original sources, I am devouring (slowly—it’s a huge banquet) the town records for Sunderland, Manchester, and Bennington found via FamilySearch Wiki. If you have ancestors from Bennington County, I highly recommended these resources.
When I started searching the Sunderland records (See my first post and second post.), I got so excited by what I found that I neglected the first commandment of research—thoroughly document sources. In this case, I omitted the image number for my information, making it hard to return to it. So, back I went to the Family History Center, the only place I can access these records.
This time while carefully documenting, I also worked through the documents more systematically. The Sunderland records are not chronological, have multiple page numbering systems, and mix ear marks, town minutes, vital records, and land records. They require a page-by-page skim and scan approach. And PRESTO!
I found the record for Samuel Payne’s land purchase in Sunderland, Vermont. As I’ve said too many times, I LOVE LAND RECORDS. You can discover so much. Here is an annotated version of Samuel’s deed[ii] to highlight what one land deed can reveal. Note: (?)=illegible I omitted a large section of legal verification in the interest of clarity, but you can find the complete transcript here. Samuel Payne_s deed for land purchase in SunderlandAn endnote corresponds to each bolded portion of the deed.
“Know all men by these (?) that I Stephen Washburn of Sunderland in the County Albany and Province of New York yoman[iii] for aand in consideration of the sum of Sixty Eight pound[iv] Lawfull money to me is paid By Samuel Payen of Williamstown in the County of Burkshire In the Province of the Massetchuset Bay yoman[v] the Receipt where of I do hereby acknowledge & have given granted Bargained (?) and convey and confirm to him the said Samuel Payen his heirs and assign for Ever all my Right title interest claim and Demand I leave of two Lots of Land lying in Sunderland in County and province of P commonly known by No 14 and 21 and also part of the fifty acre lot No 6[vi] Beginning upon the North end of the Lot No 14 Containing ten acres by the same (?) or side all being of the same Division of fifty acre Lots of Land in P township with a Dwelling House[vii] …THIS SECTION OMITTED.
In witness where of I have here unto set my hand on this Seventeeth Day of September in the year one thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy two[viii] and the twelth year of his Magisty Reign (signed) Stephen Washborn in presence of Gideon Brownson Cornelie Brownson
Sign Sealed and Delivered
The (?) of Fifty acre Lots is (?) between the twenty Seventeeth and Eighteenth Lines
Bennington April 29th 1789 then the within named Stephen Washburn personally appearing acknowledged the within instrument to Be his free act and Deed[ix]
This deed ReceivedMarch 6th 1790 by Abner Hill Town clerk[x]
An analysis of lots (see photos) confirms that Samuel Payne lived at the confluence of Batten Kill and Mill Creek. A town history mentioned that Samuel Payne was the first to run a grist mill near the northwest corner of Sunderland, and I had deduced that he would have lived on Mill Brook. A comparison of the lot map and a map of old Sunderland above shows this well.
One more mystery yet unsolved: when did he sell this land? I was unable to find two deeds referenced in the index in which he sold to an Amos Brownson and an Amos Chipman. I wrote to Sunderland’s clerk for advice and have a few ideas of my own.
Meanwhile, back to the Family History Center—did I say I have a new obsession?
[i] Through my father, Ralph Croy, son of Justus Croy, son of Sarah Angelina Smith Croy, daughter of Sephronia Payne Smith, daughter of Zerah Payne, son of Samuel
[ii] Sunderland Town Records Deeds, Vol 3, 1760-1815; image 323; FamilySearch filmed 8 September 1952 [accessed on-line at Family Research Center, Prather, CA on 24 August 2017]
[iii] The original owner, Stephen Washburn, likely owned the land under New York charter when Sunderland was considered by New York as part of Albany County.
[iv] The land (110 acres) cost 68 pounds in 1772.
[v] Confirms other documents from Williamstown records and town histories putting Samuel Payne in Williamstown before moving to Sunderland.
[vi] Samuel Payen (Payne) purchased lots 14, 21 and part of 6 in Sunderland (and likely because of the dispute the province of the Sunderland land was left with a P, neither New York or New Hampshire.)
[vii] The property he bought already had a dwelling house.
[viii] Samuel bought this land on September 17, 1772.
[ix] Stephen Washburn had to appear when Samuel finally entered his deed in the town records April 29, 1789, likely concerned that his property be acknowledged before Vermont became a state. He also had bought property in Panton, Vermont in 1788 (see this post).
[x] I’ve gotten to know and appreciate Abner Hill quite well as I’ve read the town records including his unique spellings and offhand organization.