Know All Men By These Presents

On Friday March 1st, I trekked up to North Haverhill, NH to the Grafton County Register of Deeds to see if Simon Gilman owned land in Alexandria, NH. After finding his daughter Harriet’s obituary recently that said they moved to Shrewsbury, VT from Alexandria, I had to see if, in fact, he owned land there. It was close to a two-hour drive from my home on the briskly cold, sunny and cloudless day. North Haverhill is an unincorporated community within the town of Haverhill with a westerly border on the Connecticut River. Across the river lies the town of Newbury, VT. The area is primarily rural farmland and probably isn’t too much different than it was when my maternal great grandmother’s family was living there in the last thirty years or so of the nineteenth century.

I had a sense of optimism as I got out of my car in the parking lot of the Register of Deeds and felt that I would find a trace of Simon Gilman in the town of Alexandria, NH. That was my hope anyway. In a strange way the smell of cow poop in the air and the phoebe I heard (or was it a chickadee mimicking a phoebe?) seemed to confirm that I would find something. I paused in the parking lot to gather the energy of the moment and get in my proverbial time machine to go back to Alexandria, NH in the first quarter of the nineteenth century.

After a brief tutorial on how to search old deeds on the computer I found and opened the grantee index. If Simon owned land in the county then he would show up in this book as having made a purchase. I closed my eyes, prayed to the genealogy gods and my ancestors and reverently opened the index.

If Simon is anywhere at the Register of Deeds it is in the Grafton County Grantee Index 1773-1850, E-G

Here’s what I found …

Gilman, Simon is grantee (buyer), David Atwood, Jr is grantor (seller), town is Alexandria.

He did own land in Alexandria!

The deeds in Grafton County, NH from 1960 forward are accessible online, but prior to 1960 they are only available on-site on their local computer system. I plugged the book and page numbers into the computer and found the land deed. The gravity of this moment was immense. I found a moment that had been lost to time here in the archives! It took me a minute to read the deed because, yeah, I cried. Only a true family historian would understand.

D. Atwood Jr
to
Simon Gilman

I had found Simon’s and Abigail’s life lease of a parcel of land in Shrewsbury, VT online. Well, I did only after I found it in the book located at the Shrewsbury town clerk’s office! Vermont is one of three states (the other two being Connecticut and Rhode Island) that keep their land deeds on the town level. All the rest of the states, including New Hampshire, are kept on the county level.

I love being able to actually visit repositories that are not online because there is inevitably a tidbit of information that feeds my research in them. Visiting an archive gives me the feeling of being a real researcher. It’s the extra step beyond the relative passivity of clicking to accept documents to my tree within Ancestry.com. Besides, at some point, in order to break through a brick wall, every serious researcher will need to get off the couch, take a shower, put on something other than sweatpants and drive to an historical society, town clerk’s office, or a register of deeds to look for, and hopefully find, what they need to further their research.

Here is my transcription of the deed

[Grafton Co. Bk9057 P356][1]

D. Atwood Jr
to
Simon Gilman

Know all men by these presents that I David Atwood Junr of Alexandria in the County of Grafton and State of New Hampshire Gentleman for and in consideration of the sum of seventy eight dollars and twenty five cents to me in hand before the delivery hereof well and truly paid by Simon Gilman of Guilford in the County of Strafford and State aforesaid husbandman the receipt whereof I do hereby acknowledge have given granted bargained sold and by the presents do give grant bargain sell alien enfeoff convey and confirm unto the said Simon Gilman his heirs and assigns forever a certain piece of land lying in Alexandria in the County of Grafton and State of New Hampshire aforesaid it being one undivided half of the lot of land numbered sixty nine in the first division quantity and quality be the same more or less it being the same which I purchased of Col. McMurphey and Col. Lewis and the same which McMurphey purchased at Moses Simonds vendee Reference being had to the sale thereof ~~ To have and to hold the said granted premises with all the privileges and appurtenances to the same belonging to him the said Simon Gilman and his heirs and assigns to his and their only proper use and benefit forever And I the said David Atwood and my heirs Executors and administrators do hereby covenant grant and agree to and with the said Simon Gilman and his heirs and assigns, that until the delivery hereof I am the lawful owner of the said premises and am seized and possessed thereof in my own right in fee simple and have ful power and lawful authority to grant and convey the same in manner aforesaid. that the said premises are free and clear of all and every incumbrance whatsoever and that I and my heirs executors and the said Simon Gilman and his heirs and assigns or persons whomsoever. ~ In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this twenty ninth day of Oct in the year of our Lord one thousand eight Hundred and twelve ——-
David Atwood {seal}

in presence of us —
Deborah Taylor } State of New Hampshire
Wm Pattee — } Grafton fs. Personally appearing the above named David Atwood Jr and acknowledged the foregoing instrument to be his voluntary act and deed before me —

Wm Pattee Justice of the Peace

Grafton fs Feby 23, 1813 Recd recorded & examd

Attest Ephm Kingsbury Regr

This deed is proof that Simon Gilman lived in Gilford (spelled Guilford in the deed), NH. Originally I suspected that Simon had lived in Gilmanton, NH based on his son John’s death record. I have since learned that Gilmanton used to be a lot larger than what it is now and encompassed the current towns and villages of Belmont, Gilford, and Gunstock. It pays to talk to town clerks! They know stuff! It also pays to talk to the towns’ land use people. They have historical maps or know repositories where maps exist. This is how I learned the location of the parcel of land that Simon owned in Gilford. I found that land deed a year ago this month.

Simon purchased three parcels of land in Gilford/Gilmanton and subsequently sold them. Here are my transcriptions of those deeds he was grantee and grantor on within Gilford/Gilmanton, Strafford County, New Hampshire in order of their transaction dates. The deed for the first parcel of land he purchased from Benjamin Dudley in Gilmanton on 19 Jan 1803 states that Simon lived in “Merideth” which adds credence to my speculation that this Simon Gilman was THE Simon Gilman listed on the 1800 census in Meredith, NH.

Simon purchased a portion of lot number 69 in Alexandria. Here’s a division and lot map of the town of Alexandria I photographed while at the NH Records and Archives in Concord the other day[2]

Division and Lot plan map of Alexandria, NH, 1767.
Detail of above map showing location of Lot 69 in Division 1.

This map exists in the New Hampshire State Papers at the NH Records and Archives in Concord, but the State Papers also exist as a series of PDFs online.

Simon sold his land in Alexandria to James Minot on 7 March 1818[3]

[Grafton Co. Bk9073 P418]

Simon Gilman
to
James Minot

Know all men by these presents that I Simon Gilman of Alexandria in the County of Grafton and State of New Hampshire Yeoman for and in consideration of the sum of one hundred and fifty dollars o me in hand before the delivery hereof well and truly paid by James Minot of Bridgewater in the County aforesaid Gentleman the receipt whereof I do hereby acknowledge have given granted bargained sold and by these presents do give grant bargain sell align enfeof convey and confer in unto the said James Minot his heirs and assigns forever the easterly half of the lot of land numbered  sixty nine in the first division in said Alexandria estimated at seventy five acres be the same more or less ~

To have and to hold he said granted premises with all the privileges and appurtenances to the same belonging to him the said Minot his heirs and assigns o his and their only proper use and benefit forever. And I the said Simon Gilman my heirs executors and administrators do hereby covenant grant and agree to and with the said James Minot and his heirs and assigns that until the delivery hereof I am the lawful owner of the said premises and am seized and possessed thereof in my own right in fee simple and have full power and lawfull authority to grant and convey the same in manner aforesaid that the said premises are free and clear of all and every incumbrance whatsoever, and that I and my heirs executors and administrators shall and will warrant the same to him the said James Minot and his heirs and assigns against the lawful claim and demands of any person or persons whomsoever.
In witness whereof I the said Simon Gilman have hereunto set my hand and seal this seventh day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and eighteen ~

Simon Gilman {seal}

Signed sealed and }
delivered in presence of us }
Joseph Flanders }
John Hale }

Grafton fs State of New Hampshire Bridgewater March 7, 1818 Then the above named Simon Gilman personally appearing acknowledged the above written instrument by him subscribed to be his free act and deed before me Jerahmael Bowers Justice of peace

Grafton fs March 13, 1818 Rec
d recorded & examd
Attest Epph
m Kingsbury Regr

His daughter Harriet’s obituary states that she “moved to Shrewsbury [Vermont] about the year 1825.” According to his bio in the History of Grant County, Wisconsin, William Gillman, Simon’s oldest son, “[w]ent with his parents to Vermont when he was 9 years of age.”[4] If, according to his gravestone,[5] he was born in late August 1804 then he would have been 9 years old ca. 1813. Did they remove to a town in Vermont from Alexandria, NH other than Shrewsbury about 1813 and then move to Shrewsbury ca. 1825? On top of this, according to the 1820 census, Simon and his family are already living in Shrewsbury, VT in 1820. There are definitely timeline inconsistencies here in terms of dates, but in terms of Simon’s journey from Gilford/Gilmanton, NH to Alexandria, NH, and then to Shrewsbury, VT, his land deed trail leaves little doubt.

Footnotes

[1]Grafton County, New Hampshire, Deed Book 9057: 356, David Atwood, Jr. to Simon Gilman, 23 Feb 1813; Register of Deeds Office, North Haverhill.

[2]“Alexandria (Plan of Alexandria, 1767),” map, in New Hampshire State Papers, 15, vol. XXVII.

[3]Grafton County, New Hampshire, Deed Book 9073: 418, Simon Gilman to James Minot, 7 Mar 1818; Register of Deeds Office, North Haverhill.[1]

[4]Consul Willshire Butterfield, History of Grant County, Wisconsin (Chicago: Western Historical Company), accessed March 13, 2019, https://bit.ly/2F9yHiv , 985.

[5]Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 13 March 2019), memorial page for William Gilman (31 Aug 1804–31 Jul 1887), Find A Grave Memorial no. 190435097, citing Prairie Cemetery, Fennimore, Grant County, Wisconsin, USA ; Maintained by CGonthier (contributor 48764012) .

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11 thoughts on “Know All Men By These Presents

  1. Nice work! The mystery of Simon Gilman is becoming less of a mystery. It’s interesting that he owned that land for so short a time. I wonder what motivated him to sell it and move to Vermont.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve got another document I need to transcribe that may shed light on his motivation. Will probably be the subject of my next post. There appears to be a real character involved, too! Also, thinking about checking Windsor County VT land deeds, but may have to go town by town since VT’s deeds of Simon’s era are kept on the town level. That’s good and bad. Good in that many of VT’s older deeds are online and bad because not every VT town is online and guessing the town Simon may have lived in is like playing Whack-A-Mole.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Haha! It’s funny to think that my ancestors might be watching me do my research. The irony of all of this is that I am probably not even biologically related to either Simon or Abigail. No birth record for Augustus and no DNA/ThruLines connections on Ancestry.com, but something in all of this may bring me back to my bio roots, or at least to some understanding of who I am, where I come from socially and culturally, and to a greater sense of wholeness.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I look forward to seeing that post. It’s interesting that both of us are questionable as to being related by blood to Simon. Obviously I have the murky situation with Harold and then there’s Augustus who was born before his parents were married.

        Liked by 2 people

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