Back in the Saddle

After three and a half months of wonderful alternative activities, I’m back in the genealogical world. Bear with me, this re-launch post is really a travelogue – if you like cemeteries, you’ll love it. If you like Texas, you’ll also love it. This …

After three and a half months of wonderful alternative activities, I’m back in the genealogical world.  Continue reading “Back in the Saddle”

Family History Library, Take 2 [Scene 2]

Here are the five biggest arenas of discovery and ensuing analysis resulting from my second trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. I make note of them to form a (very public!) post-ProGen-proof-argument-assignment-work plan. That’s …

Here are the five biggest arenas of discovery and ensuing analysis resulting from my second trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.  I make note of them to form a (very public!) post-ProGen-proof-argument-assignment-work plan. That’s due at the end of February and I have to keep my eye on the prize for now.  But I can’t wait to dive into… Continue reading “Family History Library, Take 2 [Scene 2]”

Ancestor Approved

Thanks to my friend and ProGen peer Shelley for passing the Ancestor Approved blog award baton from her blog, A Sense of Family, to Family Epic. And thanks to Leslie Ann of Ancestors Live Here who created the award early in 2010. Recipients are as…

Ancestor_approved

Thanks to my friend and ProGen peer Shelley for passing the Ancestor Approved blog award baton from her blog, A Sense of Family, to Family Epic.  And thanks to Leslie Ann of Ancestors Live Here who created the award early in 2010. 

Recipients are asked to post a list of ten things learned about their ancestors that have been humbling, surprising or enlightening.  It’s a great mental organizing task, one that genealogists embrace – this time of year especially.  Continue reading “Ancestor Approved”

Black and Gold and Purple

Note: This is more of a football post than a genealogy post but it is a family story! Originally written six years ago, I tried to get it published but couldn’t get the attention of either a Pittsburgh or a Baltimore publisher. But now that I have…

Note:  This is more of a football post than a genealogy post but it is a family story!  Originally written six years ago, I tried to get it published but couldn’t get the attention of either a Pittsburgh or a Baltimore publisher.  But now that I have a blog, who needs ’em?  It’s perfect for the run-up to a critical AFC North re-match this weekend. Continue reading “Black and Gold and Purple”

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Mom’s birthday celebrations didn’t typically reach epic proportions like Dad’s. For one thing, her October 4th birthday didn’t lend itself to leisurely summer reunions. And Dad didn’t organize us in quite the same way that Mom quarterbacked his bi…

Mom’s birthday celebrations didn’t typically reach epic proportions like Dad’s.  For one thing, her October 4th birthday didn’t lend itself to leisurely summer reunions.  And Dad didn’t organize us in quite the same way that Mom quarterbacked his birthday every July.  But that seemed to be OK with her. Continue reading “Happy Birthday, Mom!”

Even More on The Will of Robert G. Stephens

Several months ago, I reported on the Will of Robert G. Stephens and the objection to granting of testamentary letters to his son, John J. Stephens, and son-in-law, William J. Ray, filed by daughter Hulda and husband James Alexander Chapman Ruffne…

Several months ago, I reported on the Will of Robert G. Stephens and the objection to granting of testamentary letters to his son, John J.  Stephens, and son-in-law, William J. Ray, filed by daughter Hulda and husband James Alexander Chapman Ruffner, Sr.  Hulda and James alleged that Robert lacked testamentary capacity and signed his will under influence and duress.  And it was clear from the will’s terms that Robert was trying to keep Hulda’s inheritance out of her husband’s hands. You can review that post here.  I shared a research plan to uncover more of the back story of the family wrangling, one element of which was looking at Indiana County (PA) land records.  And, thanks to the Family History Library’s microfilm rental program, I was able to begin that work this week.

Indiana County Will Books document that Hulda and James filed a caveat asking for a court’s investigation on February 8, 1881, then withdrew it on  August 20, 1881.  On the same day –  August 20, 1881 – Hulda alone purchased property in West Indiana Township, Indiana County from John W. Sutton,  “bounded and described as follows, On the north by Church Street on the east by an Alley on the South by an Alley and on the West by Lot of Robert Smith, Being  Sixty feet in front and Extending back One hundred and forty-five feet more or less.” (1)  The terms are similar to the language of her father’s will; she was granted the property for her life, after which it would pass directly to her children.

“…to have and to hold the said Lot of ground during the life of the said Hulda Ruffner and at her death to descend from her to her Children as her heirs forever.  Instead and in place of the legacy as given the presenter and her children by the last  Will and Testament of Robert G. Stephens dec’d about which there has been a controversy which is settled by the Investment of the said Legacy in the purchase of the said Lot of ground hereby conveyed…” (2)

The consideration clause of the deed makes it clear that the purchase price of $1,200 was provided by John J. Stephens and William J. Ray.  In addition, on the same day, Hulda and James signed a quitclaim deed giving up any right to real estate previously conveyed by her father to her sister Amanda and husband, William J. Ray, in exchange for $400.  (3)  In other words, Robert’s executors paid $1,600 to quash the caveat – $400 in cash to James and Hulda and $1,200 in real  property to Hulda alone, an increase of $600 over what was granted her by the will.
 
Interesting.  But even more interesting is this —  the  property that Hulda purchased in 1881 with the caveat pay-off money had been acquired by James and Hulda in 1874. (4)  It was seized by the county sheriff, H. C. Brown in 1878, and sold to John W. Sutton for $105 to partially satisfy a $1,090 debt judgment (plus $37.92 court costs) secured against James on May 1, 1878 by the previous owner.  (5)  I haven’t yet examined the deed by which James and Hulda acquired the property in 1874, but on its face, it looks as if James defaulted on the purchase price. 

Little wonder now that Hulda’s family did not trust James – he had lost title to the family home and still owed more on the debt.  (6)  A few weeks after the Sheriff’s sale to Sutton, James and Hulda deeded the rest of their property interest to Sutton for $400 – more cash for them, and for him, a clearer title.  (7) As was legally required, Hulda was questioned out of the presence of her husband to establish that she was not pressured into conveying her interest, but one does wonder.  Pretty good return on investment  for Sutton; he acquired the property for a total of $505 and sold it back to Hulda three years later for $1,200.  That wasn’t the only Sheriff’s sale to Sutton; he seemed to make a habit of attending public auctions with cash in hand.

By the time the title of the family home was restored to Hulda in 1881,  the couple already had five children; the youngest was our grandfather, James, Jr. (8)  They relocated in the late 1890s to Westmoreland County (PA) – by that time, they had twelve children.  (9)

I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I predict there will be more records telling more stories about this crowd.

Here’s the only visual I have for this story – my dining room wall!  I’ve hung James and Hulda as far apart as possible (in accordance with later life events.)  He’s in the upper left and she’s on the lower right.

The_gallery

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(1)  Indiana County, Pennsylvania.  Deed Book B-43: 403, John W. Sutton to Hulda Ruffner, 20 August 1881; FHL microfilm 1319650.

(2)  Ibid.

(3)   Indiana County, Pennsylvania.  Deed Book B-43: 404, J. A. C. and Hulda Ruffner to William J. and Amanda Ray, 20 August 1881; FHL microfilm 1319650.

(4)  Indiana County, Pennsylvania.  Deed Book B-39: 176,  Estate of Sarah Works to J. A. C. Ruffner, 22 December 1874; FHL microfilm 1319646.

(5)  Indiana County, Pennsylvania.  Deed Book B-41: 620,  H. C. Brown to John W. Sutton, 7 June 1878; FHL microfilm 1319649.

(6)  The 1880 Federal Census show the family living on Church Street;  it looks as though they remained in residence even though they lost title. 1880 U. S. Census, Indiana County, Pennsylvania, pop. sched., West Indiana, enumeration district (ED) 127, p. 23-B, dwelling 53, family 53, J. A. C. Ruffner; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 September 2010); citing NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 1135. 

(7)  Indiana County, Pennsylvania.  Deed Book B-41: 620,  J. A. C. and Hulda Ruffner to John W. Sutton, 29 June 1878; FHL microfilm 1319649.

(8) 1880 U. S. Census, Indiana Co. Pa., pop. sched., West Indiana, ED 100, p. 23-B, dwell. 53,  fam. 53, J. A. C. Ruffner.  Pennsylvania Department of Health, death certificate no. 40219, James Alexander Chapman Ruffner, Jr. (1951);  Division of Vital Records, New Castle.

(9) 1900 U. S. Census, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, pop. sched., Greensburg Ward 3, enumeration district (ED) 100, p. 4-B, dwelling 84, family 91, J. A. C. Ruffner; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 September 2010); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 1497.

Happy Birthday, Boppa!

Our dad loved his birthday and today just happens to be July 30 – practically a national holiday in the Ruffner household. A fuss was made, particularly after his three daughters geographically scattered and grandchildren arrived. “Boppa’s Birthda…

Our dad loved his birthday and today just happens to be July 30 – practically a national holiday in the Ruffner household.  A fuss was made, particularly after his three daughters geographically scattered and grandchildren arrived.  “Boppa’s Birthday”  was the focal point of the summer.  

His mother started it.  He was an only child, born twelve years into the marriage of his parents – enough said.   Here’s an invitation to the first “formal” party held to honor the occasion – his 4th birthday in 1920.  32 invited friends – and he wasn’t even in school yet!   Continue reading “Happy Birthday, Boppa!”