Thursday, March 17, 2011

Watts Collection, documents 1-25

Checklist of documents in the Watts Collection at the Historical Society of Western Virginia, Roanoke, Virginia. To consult these documents, go to and click on “Visit HMWV's Virtual Collection!” The documents can be found by a keyword search, or by catalog number using “Click and Search”.

            Some of the documents in this part of the collection relate to the establishment of the Oaklands plantation by Edward Watts around 1815 to 1817, and to the acquisition of additional land during the first half of the nineteenth century. Several of the documents have dates from the eighteenth century, but they are copies of deeds and other official records, used to establish title to the land. The deposition in #5 indicates that part of the land was claimed as an inheritance from Edward’s father William, who lived in the area in the 1780s and 1790s, but moved to Flat Creek in Bedford County, Virginia. The deed in #15 shows both that Edward purchased land in 1815, and that he already owned land by that date, probably inherited from his father. The indenture in #16 is an agreement by Edward and Elizabeth (Breckinridge) Watts to sell a piece of property in Lynchburg, no doubt because they were planning to move to the new house in Botetourt County.
            A few of the documents seem to relate to the law practice of Edward Watts, notably #20 through #22, regarding debts owed to Washington West. Others relate to debts owed to Edward Watts himself, such as #18 and #19, from William Whiteley & Co, for wheat, rye and corn bought in 1819, and #23 through #25, regarding a debt owed by Benjamin William Sheridan Cabell in Danville, Virginia, which he hoped to settle with a piece of property in Lunenburg County, Virginia.

doc #

September 20, 1748
Fragment of a land record, grant to Mark Evans; part of 1998.26.03

August 5, 1817
Copy of a land agreement between Edward Watts and William McClanahan, by which McClanahan sold to Watts his remaining interest in land bought by William Watts, Edward’s father, from John Breckinridge; the land adjoins holdings of the Evans family

Copy of documents relating to a suit by John Christian Drewidz, of Williamsburg, Virginia, against John Besserer, James Southall, and John Fergusson, to recover a debt; there are several documents, but the record of the case is incomplete. Numerous court officers are named. The name “J. A. Watts” was added belatedly in pencil, and the name “R. Gamble” also appears; the two names link the case to the Watts family, but it is not clear what role they played.

August 12, 1817
Old copy of a land patent to Mark Evans from King George II of England, dated 20 September 1748, for 400 acres in Augusta (later Botetourt and now Roanoke) County, Virginia; mentions the “waters of Roanoak”, Caravie’s (Carvin’s) Creek, and the Barrens

George the second by the Grace of God of Great Britain France and Ireland King Defender of the Faith &c To all to whom these presents shall come Greeting: Know ye that for divers good causes and considerations, but more especially for and in consideration of the sum of Forty shillings of good and lawful money for our aid paid to our receiver General of our revenues in this our Colony and dominion of Virginia, We have Given Granted and Confirmed and by these presents for us our Heirs and Successors do give grant & confirm unto Mark Evans one certain Tract or parcel of land containing Four hundred acres lying and being in the County of Augusta, on the waters of Roanoak at a place called the naked farm and bounded as followeth...

March 1, 1786
Plat and survey of land in Botetourt (now Roanoke) County for William McClanahan; the land adjoins holdings of John Breckinridge, the Evans family, and John Meux, and was assigned to McClanahan by William White. The land lay partly along Peter Evans’ Big Spring Branch (Crystal Spring), flowing into the Roanoke River

Surveyed for Colo William McClenachan 392½ acres of Land by virtue of three Land office treasury warrants, 192½ acres part of a land office treasury warrant assigned him by William White for 292½ acres No 14271 & Dated the 16th September 1782, also 50 acres by a warrant No 6268 & Dated 20th of June 1781, & 150 acres the Residue thereof by a warrant of 279¾ acres No 20122 and Dated the 20th Octo[be]r 1783, Lying in Botetourt County on the waters of Peter Evans' big spring branch, a branch of Roanoak...

December 6, 1792
Indenture, or deed, between John Neeley and Susanna his wife and James Neeley and Catherine his wife of the one part, and Peter Evans of the other part, for sale of property in Botetourt (formerly Augusta, later Roanoke) County; some missing parts in 1998.26.01.a. The purpose of this document appears to be to clear the title of the three tracts of land described, each of 400 acres. They had been granted to Mark Evans by patent in 1748. On the death of Mark Evans, his eldest son Daniel Evans inherited the property, and in 1751 sold it to Peter Evans, whose kinship is not specified but who must have been a younger son or brother of Mark Evans. However, Daniel Evans's two daughters, Susanna and Catherine, were coparceners, which is to say, they shared in the inheritance. As a result, they had a legal claim to the property, but in this document of 1792 they in effect confirm their father's sale. The two sisters had both married men named Neeley (the spelling varies), who also therefore shared the claim. John and James Neeley may have been brothers, but that is not specified here.

January 18, 1802
Land grant to Peter Dierly (or Deyerle), printed form filled in by hand, signed by Governor James Monroe of Virginia; the land was along the Roanoke River in Montgomery County, Virginia, adjoining the Fort Lewis tract and the land of James Smith.

James Monroe was governor of Virginia 1799-1802

April 30, 1806
Copy of a deposition by Daniel McNeill in a lawsuit over land by John Breckenridge against Mark Evans and others; like 1998.26.03, this document attempts to settle disputed claims over land along the Roanoke River in present Roanoke County, Virginia, and known as “The Barrens”. Among the claimants and surveyors mentioned are William Carvin, John Poag, William Preston, Francis Smith, the heirs of William Watts, Daniel Evans, Peter Evans, James Neelley, Robert Breckenridge, John Neilley and his wife Susanna Evans, and James Neilley and his wife Catherine Evans.

after 1847
Draft of an argument in a land title suit, probably in the handwriting of William Watts, involving Nathaniel Burwell, his wife Lucy Carter, other members of the Burwell family and many other people; eight pages are missing at the beginning, and an unknown number at the end; it is therefore difficult to make much sense of the issues; mentions Dropmore, the home of the Burwell family in Roanoke County, Virginia.

between 1818 and 1859
Description of a tract of land bought by Elijah McClanahan from John Bower, prepared for Edward Watts; the land was situated near the point where the Great Road between Lynchburg and Salem, Virginia, crossed Lick Run; other landowners mentioned include Jeremiah Whitten, Leoroy Jeams, and William Rowland.

August 30, 1816
Land survey and plat by William Anderson, surveyor of Botetourt County, Virginia, concerning land tracts disputed by Jonathan Evans and Samuel Paffly; there was an overlap between the tract inherited by Evans from the original 1748 grant to Mark Evans, and a tract sold by William McClanahan to Paffly.

Plat showing the land disputed by Jonathan Evans and Samuel Paffly

October 13, 1825
Indenture or deed between George Eskridge, marshal of the Superior Court of Chancery in Staunton, Virginia, and Edward Watts, conveying land lying in Botetourt (now Roanoke) County, Virginia, along the Great Road between Lynchburg and Salem, Virginia; the land was sold by order of the court to settle a claim of John Campbell in a suit against Allen Taylor and Nathaniel Burwell, administrators of Andrew Lewis, deceased, his widow and heirs (this was not General Andrew Lewis, nor his son).

October 8, 1827
Indenture between Samuel Lewis of Kanawha County, Virginia (now West Virginia), and Edward Watts, for the sale of land in Botetourt County, Virginia, by Lewis to Watts; Samuel Lewis was one of the heirs of Andrew Lewis, cited in 1998.26.09.

about May 6, 1834
Account statement of J. R. Richardson with George Hancock for the repayment of bonds and interest

August 1-2, 1820
Court ordered division of property in Botetourt County, Virginia, among the heirs of Andrew Lewis. The text of this document is contained in 1998.26.12, 1998.26.31 and 1998.26.32. The first, #12, is incomplete, lacking the plat at the beginning, and its final part is a separate document, 1998.26.33. It is a copy, made after 1838, of the original document of 1820. The third copy, #32, has some additional information at the end. There are trivial differences in the texts.
            The division was carried out by William Anderson, Edmund Pate, and George Ground (whose names appear in #33). The heirs of Andrew Lewis were his widow Jane (McClanahan) Lewis, his daughter Sarah (or Sally) Nealy (Lewis) Wood and her husband James S. Wood; his children John Lewis, William Lewis, Patsy Lewis, Samuel Lewis, Emeline Lewis, Eliza Lewis, and Jane Anne Lewis. The land lay between the Great Road between Lynchburg and Salem, Virginia, and Lick Run (here called Mill Branch), in Botetourt (now Roanoke) County, Virginia. The property included a mill. It adjoined the land of Edward Watts, who eventually acquired it.

November 28, 1834
Indenture or deed between William Lewis and his wife Jane (Tosh) Lewis, and Edward Watts, for a sale of land in Botetourt (now Roanoke) County, Virginia, to Watts. This land was one share of the division described in 1998.26.12

This Indenture made and entered into on this the 28th day of November in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty four between William Lewis and Jane his wife of the county of Botetourt and state of Virginia on the one part and Edward Watts of the same county and state on the other part, Witnesseth that the said William Lewis and...

November 30, 1837
Indenture or deed between Jeremiah Whitten and his wife Susan M. (Jones) Whitten, and Edward Watts, for a sale of land in Botetourt (now Roanoke) County, Virginia, to Watts. This land was part of the division described in 1998.26.12, which the Whittens had bought.

October 12, 1815
Extract of a deed between William L. Adams and wife, and Edward Watts, for a sale of land in Botetourt (now Roanoke) County, Virginia, to Watts. This land included the greater part of Round Hill and lay along Evans Spring Branch (Lick Run), and shared a boundary line with the Noffsinger family; it had been the home of Adams and his wife. This document is a copy made probably between 1865 and 1883, and certified by Thomas J. Godwin.

July 11, 1817
Indenture or deed between Edward Watts and his wife Elizabeth (Breckinridge) Watts, and Samuel J. Harrison, for a sale of property in Lynchburg, Virginia, to Harrison; the Wattses had acquired the property from John Lynch in 1811.

December 6, 1817
Account statement of Dr William Steptoe with Dr William Wardlaw, of Richmond, Virginia, and receipt for amount collected by Edward Watts

Memorandum and assignment for payment of a debt owed by William Whiteley & Co to Edward Watts, dated 1819, for wheat, rye, and corn; the debt is paid by the assignment of a note from Abner Whitten

November 25, 1819
Note for a debt owed by William Whiteley & Co to Edward Watts

January 16, 1819
Note for a debt owed by George Sinkler, David Palmer and Isaac St Clair to Washington West, witnessed by John Stoner and William Deaton; payment is receipted by Moses F. Cook

January 16, 1819
Note for a debt owed by George Sinkler, David Palmer and Isaac St Clair to Washington West, witnessed by John Stoner and William Deaton

January 15, 1819
Memorandum of an agreement between Washington West, by Moses F. Cook, his attorney, and George St Clair and David Palmer, regarding a sale of property by West; part of the land is claimed by George Lemmon, and provision is made should he sue and win. The agreeent was witnessed by John Stoner and William Deaton.

September 13, 1819
Letter from Benjamin William Sheridan Cabell in Danville, Virginia, to Edward Watts in Lynchburg, Virginia, regarding a debt; he acknowledges responsibility but asks for more time, offering as surety a property in Lynchburg

Humiliating as it is to me to use such language, I deem it my duty to do so, to place the whole ground before you. And I conclude by the solemn declaration, that while I live, I will devote every means within the compass of my power to the payt of my debts, till they are utterly discharged. I am Respectfully, yr obt st [your obedient servant], Benj. W. S. Cabell

March 31, 1819
Letter from Benjamin William Sheridan Cabell in Danville, Virginia, to Edward Watts, near Fincastle in Botetourt County, Virginia, regarding a debt, and offering a piece of property on Beaver Pond Creek in Lunenburg County to settle it; the land came to Cabell from his wife, Sarah Eppes (Doswell) Cabell

Address page, with charges, stamp, and hole made by the wax seal.
[address] Edward Watts Esq / near Fincastle / Bottetourt / care of / James S. Wright Esq / Lynchburg
[return address] Danville Va / April 3d
[postal charges] 12½ / 6 / 18½
[postal stamp] LYNCHG VA APR 13
[seal on red wax, and hole made by its removal]

April 15, 1821
Letter from Benjamin William Sheridan Cabell in Campbell County, Virginia, to Edward Watts, at Fincastle, Virginia, requesting an immediate reply to 1998.26.24

More documents to follow.

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