Monday, July 21, 2014

The Conder Family and Land Deeds.

What can the buying and selling of land tell us about the movements of people? In the case of my family, my parents bought a home when they planned on living there, and sold it when it was time to move. They moved frequently, by almost anyone's standards. But is it appropriate to apply those standards to a family in the late 19th century?

The family in question is one I have researched for some time. I have letters, newspaper accounts, obituaries, and now land deeds. In particular I have two land deeds. One describes the Jim and Malinda Conder selling 160 acres to Thomas Talley in 1898. The deed describes the land only in relation to land owned by Brantley Hudson: Malinda's father-in-law through her first husband. I know the Hudson's owned land on Cane Creek, so I had assumed the Conders were selling  their home on Cane Creek where the massacre occurred. It was smaller than the 300 acres other witnesses said they owned, but I guessed that perhaps they sold it in two separate sales. The fact that it took them 14 years to sell it could also be explained by the fact that no one wanted to buy the land because of its violent history.

Now, however, I have more evidence that casts my assumptions into doubt. The Deed book index for Lewis county indicated that in 1889 Malinda bought some land from James L. Sloan. Last week I was able to get back to the archives to look at the deed itself. Surprise! it was the same 160 acres she sold in 1898. Not surprisingly, this alters how I understand the Conder family's relocation after the shooting.

Sometime after 1884, the family moved. Every version says they would not live in that home after the shooting. But when did they move and to where?

 +In Apr 1889 Malinda (only her name is on the deed) bought 160 acres near Brantley Hudson, with the understanding that Banister Talley could remain on the land for the remainder of 1889.
 +In March 1895 residents in Lewis County say to W. W. Bean that no more Mormons live at Cane Creek.
 +In Nov 1895 Jim & Malinda's daughter, Vicie, married Will Haley and moved to Trace Creek.
 +In 1897 missionaries visited Jim & Malinda Conder in Perry County, 18 miles down river from their old home.
 +In Aug 1898 Jim & Malinda sold their 160 acres near Brantley Hudson to Thomas Talley, while allowing Ruben Mathis to continue removing timber until the end of the year.
 +In 1900 they were living next door to Will & Vicie Haley.
 +In 1911 and 1916 the family was still at Trace Creek when Jim, and then Malinda died. Their daughter Rachel moved in with Will & Vicie Haley.

There are several possible interpretations of these events. Up until now I assumed the two had moved to Perry county and tried to sell their land on Cane Creek because they were not willing to live there. Now I have to question that interpretation. Did they buy the 160 acres for the purpose of living there? Did they rent it out (to Banister Talley and Ruben Mathis) while staying in Perry County? Does owning land mean you lived there? It did for my parents, but it doesn't have to.

What happened to the land where their farm was? I can find no other deed transfers in either Jim or Malinda Conder's name. Did the land not belong to them as previous historians have assumed? I am left with more questions, than answers. But perhaps that is why I am addicted to historical research.

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