Monday, August 24, 2015
Elijah West (1722-1798) Connecticut, New York, and Vermont
Compiled by Joy Ikelman, August 2015. Disclaimers apply.
Elijah West (1722-1798)
Connecticut, New York, and Vermont
Thomas West (1630/1631-1720) m. Phebe Waters
- Benjamin West (1665-1733) m. Hannah Shadduck
- Benjamin West, Jr. (1696-after 1739) m. Mehitable Bailey
- Elijah West (1722-1798) m. (1) unknown; (2) Hannah Thurber
Early Years of Elijah West
Elijah West was born 23 Aug 1722 in Middletown, Middlesex County, Connecticut.  He was baptized on 23 Sep 1722 at Middletown First Congregational Church. 
Elijah was the son of Benjamin West, Jr. and Mehitable (or Mehitabel) Bailey. His grandparents were Benjamin West, Sr. and Hannah Shadduck. His great-grandparents were Thomas West and Phoebe Waters of Essex County, Massachusetts.  Elijah West grew up in what is today called East Hampton, Middlesex County, Connecticut, south of Lake Pocotopaug. 
Elijah had eight known siblings: Moses West (1720-1794), Hannah West (b. 1724/1725), Benjamin West (b. 1728), Israel West (bapt. 1730), Abigail West (bapt. 1732), John West (bapt. 1734), David West (1736-1822), and Aaron West (1739-possibly 1757). 
In 1752, when he was 30 years old, Elijah and his wife (her name is unknown) had their first child, Benajah. Family tradition says Benajah was born and died in New Lebanon, Columbia County, New York. However, in 1752 New Lebanon did not exist. Columbia County did not exist. This area was comprised of “the Canaan settlements” within the Van Rensselaer Manor.  Perhaps Elijah West leased land there before he moved to the Beekman Patent in Dutchess County, New York.
Manors and Patents. Beginning in 1686, large land grants were given to a few (wealthy) individuals to encourage settlement. The goal was to cultivate land, create economic benefits, and expand territory against the French in Canada.  These land grants—known as patents or manors—were named for the primary owner, or partnerships.
Most of the land was leased to farmers. The tenant paid a yearly rent of crops, livestock, and/or labor. By improving the property with dwellings, outbuildings, and successful cultivation, the tenant was able to trade up. Eventually he might be able to buy land of his own—outside of the patent or manor.
During most of the 1700s, Columbia and Dutchess counties were part of Albany County, New York. This area was settled “in the south by immigrants from Massachusetts and Connecticut, and the northern part by Dutch settlers.”  The greatest number of New England settlers came into the Dutchess County area between 1740 and 1755.  Elijah West was probably one of those settlers, as was his second cousin William West.
William West. William West (1717-1804) moved from Windsor, Hartford County, Connecticut to New York—into the same geographical regions as Elijah. William West leased land in at least three patents. In 1740, he farmed in the Loonenburg Patent of (today’s) Greene County. His first three children were baptized in at Zion Lutheran Church in Athens, New York.  In 1752, their last child, David, was born in Upper Amenia, New York,  which was in the Great Nine Partners Patent of Dutchess County. In 1804, William West died in Hillsdale, New York. This was located within the Van Rensselaer Manor.
The Will of William West, dated 30 Apr 1789, states: “. . . The other children to receive their portions as stated from the value of the dwelling and adjacent lands (the messuage) of my tenement.”  West Family genealogist Beatrice West Seitz says, “This last statement confirms the fact that William was a tenant farmer on the Van Rensselaer estates.” 
Beekman Patent, Dutchess County, New York (1758-1774)
On 1 May 1758, Elijah West began leasing land in Beekman Patent in the southeastern portion of Dutchess County. The land was 41 acres within Lot #4.  He was 36 years old.
Fortunately for us, there is a record of rents from 1 May 1759 that include Elijah West’s 40 acres. His yearly rent was six bushels of wheat (marked as not paid as of May 1, 1759), four fowls (usually meaning “fat hens”), and two days of riding.  “Riding” referred to use of the renter’s labor for any projects that might be needed by the landlord. 
This road was laid out in 1761.
9 March 1761 . . . Laid out the following Roads; Beginning at the West side of the dwelling house of Robert Miller Running Northerly through the land of said Miller on the West side of his barn to a white ash sapling Standing on the Line Between said Miller and the Land of Robert Kaswell, thence Northerly through the said Kaswell’s land to the land of Elijah West thence North East about six Rood thence Northerly to the Land of Nehemiah Merritt thence North East through the land of said Merritt to the Old Bridge thence over the Brook by a Northerly course to and over the Bridge over the Mill Dam to the Contrey Road. 
In 1764, West rented more land—this time in Lot 8.  He built an inn (with a tavern) on this land. He continued to farm in Lot 4. In 1770, a court document referred to Elijah West’s inn. The judge ordered two teenagers to “. . . keep the peace and be of good Behaviour towards the King and all his Liege People, and especially towards Elijah West and his family of Pauling’s Precinct in said County, Inn Keeper.”  Pauling’s Precinct was created from Beekman’s Precinct in 1764.  Catherine Pauling was the daughter of Henry Beekman. “Pauling” eventually was re-spelled “Pawling.”
Charter Member of Charlotte Township
In 1762, Elijah West and about 60 other people were proclaimed charter members of Charlotte Township in the New Hampshire Grants.  Today this is Charlotte, Chittendon County, Vermont. West’s neighbors—Nehemiah Merritt and Robert Caswell—were also listed, as were many others from Beekman Patent. Other townships were chartered at the same time. It was an opportunity for individuals to finally work toward land ownership. However, in 1764, a royal order declared that the lands belonged to the Province of New York and not to New Hampshire. In 1770, the various grants were declared invalid by the New York Supreme Court. The grantees had to return their charters.  None of the original grantees settled in Charlotte. No permanent settlement occurred there until 1784. 
Children of Elijah West and His First Wife
The known children of Elijah West and his first wife (name unknown) were: Benajah West (b. 1752); David West (b. 1758); Elisha West (b. ca 1760); Mary West (b. before 1774); and, Abigail West (b. before 1774). For more information see The Children of Elijah West on this blog site.
Ledger of Daniel Merritt’s General Store
There were several general stores in the Beekman Patent neighborhoods. Seven Wests are recorded in the ledger of Daniel Merritt’s store, dated 1771.  The Wests are listed in this order: “Mary West, Elijah West, Delight West, Aaron West, Clement West and wife Sarah, and Benajah West.” Mary could be (1) the wife of Elijah West; (2) the daughter of Elijah West; (3) the daughter of Clement and Sarah West; or, (4) from a different West family. It is highly likely that Clement West was a part of Family Group #20—descended from Francis West and Susannah Soule. Delight West is unknown, and Aaron West is unknown.
Windsor, Windsor County, Vermont (1774-1798)
In 1774, Elijah West was age 52, and probably a widower. He moved to Windsor, Windsor County, Vermont.  He left his children behind in Dutchess County. Benajah was 22, David was 16, Elisha was about 13, and Mary and Abigail were possibly 10 or younger. His new wife was Hannah Thurber Nichols. She was 25 years old.  In May 1775, Daniel Merritt took over the lease of Elijah West’s farm on Lot 4 in Dutchess County.  Nehemiah Merritt eventually managed rent payments for the farm on Lot 8.  He had been Elijah West’s neighbor.
Hannah Thurber Nichols West
Hannah was the widow of Josiah Bennett Nichols of Windsor, VT. She was born in Portsmouth, Newport County, Rhode Island on 30 Apr 1750. She was the daughter of Benjamin Thurber and Elizabeth Hallett. 
Her family moved to Nova Scotia in about 1763. In 1766, she married Josiah Nichols. Hannah was 16. The legal bond for the first marriage was recorded in the Hants County, Nova Scotia records. Paperwork was drawn up on 17 May 1766 so that “Josiah Bennet Nichols Batchelor & Hannah Thurber Spinster may lawfully solemnize marriage together in the same afterwards remain & continue for Man & Wife according to the Laws in that behalf provided.”  They had one child, Samuel Nichols. Hannah left Samuel in Nova Scotia when she moved to Vermont after the death of her husband. 
Hannah had a millinery shop in Windsor, VT, located near Elijah West’s tavern. Her son-in-law Allen Hayes eventually moved his business into this location. 
Children of Elijah and Hannah West
The known children of Elijah West and his second wife, Hannah Thurber Nichols West were: Susannah West (b. 1774); Elizabeth West (b. 1776); Sophia West (b. 1778); and, Lewis R. Morris West (b. ca. 1788). For more information see The Children of Elijah West on this blog site.
Controversial Land Deed
Note: A transcription of the court documents may be found after the Reference section of this article.
On 8 Dec 1775, Watts Hubbard  of Windsor, Vermont, deeded land to Elijah West. The purchase was listed in the names of Elijah’s children, in this order: Benajah West, David West, Elisha West, Mary West, and Abigail West.  This arrangement was possibly to keep the land from being seized by Loyalists. Two years later, in 1777, Elijah West was running an inn/tavern he built on his land.
In 1782, the deed was copied into the official Windsor town records without Elijah’s knowledge. In 1785, the deed was called into question. Elijah petitioned the court to remove the deed from official records. He believed that the deed would prevent him from supporting his current family, since it was in his original children’s names.
Elijah West had lost track of his first five children, and didn’t know if they were alive.  In fact, he didn’t even include his daughter Abigail on his petition. The children of his first wife were never told about this deed. Elijah West was a lawyer  as well as in innkeeper and knew how to sway the court with his wording. He also had friends in the court. A committee was assigned to review the matter.  The court ruled in his favor:
Be it enacted, &c, that the record of said deed, as entered on the first book for recording deeds, in said town of Windsor, in the tenth and eleventh pages of said book, dated February 22, 1782, be and the same is hereby declared to be, void, and the same shall not be received or admitted, in any court of law, as evidence of such deed of which it appears by said record to be a transcript. 
It took six years (20 Oct 1791) for the land to be re-conveyed to Elijah West by his children. His legal fees were about £100. 
The Old Constitution House
On 2 July 1777, State delegates met at Elijah West’s tavern and drafted Vermont’s first Constitution. The Shopper newspaper (2012) summarized this event:
In early July 1777, delegates to the Windsor Convention adopted Vermont’s constitution literally “amidst a baptism of thunder, lightning, and rain.” News of the Hubbardton Battle and withdrawal from Mount Independence and Fort Ticonderoga reached Windsor just when the constitutional delegates had adjourned for the day at Elijah West’s tavern. The group almost immediately disbanded, but a sudden thunderstorm delayed them long enough so that the constitution could be voted on and accepted. West’s tavern became known as the Old Constitution House and is now a state-owned historic site. 
Early legislative sessions were also held there. He was reimbursed for his expenses. In 1786, a State of Vermont document says: “Resolved that the Treasurer be and he is hereby directed to pay Mr. Elijah West of Windsor for the use of his room, firewood, etc., for the use of Council this Session, the sum of one pound out of the hard Money Taxes.”  This specific notation was during the time of the Windsor Court Riots, when troops were called to quell the unrest of settlers against proprietors holding questionable land charters.  West provided food and liquor to the troops. 
Historically, the inn had the reputation as “the welcome resort of weary travelers, brave patriots, valiant soldiers and distinguished statesman.”  Today, the Old Constitution House is called “The Birthplace of Vermont.” In addition to being a Vermont State Historic Site, it is also on the National Register of Historic Places.
In 1785, Elijah West’s name appeared on a document with the title, “A Tax of three pence half penny on the pound, made on the list for the year 1785, for the purpose of schools in the several school districts in said town, agreeable to vote of said town, passed March 7, 1786.” He was grouped with those in the “East Parish” of Windsor.  His name also appeared on a petition to build and repair bridges (14 Oct 1786)  and a petition for a toll bridge over the Connecticut River between Windsor and Cornish, New Hampshire (16 Oct 1795). 
The 1790 Census shows that Elijah and Hannah had 8 other people living at their house—4 males and 4 females. Two of these males were under 16 years of age, and 2 were more than 16 years old.  We do not know the ages of the females. This exceeds the number of children they were known to have. It is possible that the extra individuals were boarders, or children who died later.
Deaths of Hannah and Elijah West
Hannah West died in 1797. She was buried in Old South Cemetery, Windsor, Windsor County, VT. Her tombstone reads: “Dedicated to the Memory of Mrs. Hannah West, Wife of Mr. Elijah West, Who Departed this Life Oct 13th 1797 in the 48th year of Her age.”  This means she was 47 years old when she died.
Elijah West died in 1798. He was buried in Old South Cemetery, Windsor, Windsor County, VT. His tombstone reads: “Dedicated to the Memory of Mr. Elijah West, Who Departed this Life October 28th 1798, in the 78th year of His age.”  There was a notice in the Columbian Centinal Nov 14, 1798—a Boston, MA newspaper: “West, Elijah, d. in Windsor, aged 78.”  Actually he was 76 years old, and in his 77th year. (He was born in 1722.)
The property of Hannah and Elijah West was to be divided among their children. These were Susan, Elizabeth, Sophia, and Lewis. Lewis was eleven years old. In October 1799, Allen Hayes and Abner Forbes (both were sons-in-law) filed a petition to legally include Lewis (a minor child) in the transactions. 
Petition of Allen Hayes & Abner Forbes Adms of Elijah West, filed Oct 14, 1799
That your Petitioners being Appointed (by the Honble Elijah Robertson, Judge of Probate for the district of Windsor) Administrators on the Estate of Elijah West Late of Windsor deceased—as by the Letters of the Sd Judge bearing dait the 23d day of novemr 1798—may appear, Which estate belongs equally to four heirs, three of which, are of lawfull age to act for them Selves, but that the fourth is a minor of only eleven Years of Age—
--that the Value of Sd Estate consists chiefly in Buildings, much exposed to Accidents by fire & subject to decay—that they now have an offer for the whole of Sd Real estate, which the three eldest of the Sd heirs wish to have us Accept . . . 
In November 1799, a bill was passed in the Vermont House of Representatives to settle the matter:
A bill, passed in the house of Representatives, Entitled “An act to enable Allen Hayes and Abner Forbes to sell and convey all the real estate of Lewis R. Morris West, a minor,” was set up for revision, &c. and being read, Resolved, To concur in passing the same, with this amendment, that the word “two” be erased before the word “thousand,” in the eleventh line of the 2d Section, and insert in lieu thereof the word “three;” and Mr. Jacob requested to inform the house of the reasons for the same. 
References and Additional Notes
1. Lorraine Cook White, editor, 1994-2002: The Lucius Barnes Barbour Collection of Connecticut Town Vital Records, “Middletown Vital Records, 1651-1854,” Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, Maryland, p. 298. Another Elijah West appears in records about the same time. He was born in 1747 in Tolland, Connecticut, about 35 miles away from East Hampton. (“Tolland Vital Records, 1715-1850,” p. 342). He was descended from Francis West and Margery Reeves of Duxbury, Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts. This is West DNA Family Group #19.
2. Connecticut, Church Record Abstracts, 1630-1920, Connecticut State Library, Hartford, Connecticut. Volume 070, Part 2, Middletown First Congregational Church, p. 612.
3. This West line is described on other parts of this West blog site.
4. This was the location of the West family land in Middlesex County. Benjamin and Hannah West settled in the area in 1698.
5. Dates for these children of Benjamin and Mehitable (Bailey) West come from The Barbour Collection and also Connecticut, Church Record Abstracts. The death of Aaron West comes from: Connecticut Historical Society, 1903: “Campaign of 1757,” Collections of the Connecticut Historical Society, Volume IX, The Society, Hartford, Connecticut, p. 185-187.
Mystery Years (through 1758)
6. John L. Brooke, 2010: Columbia Rising: Civil Life on the Upper Hudson from the Revolution to the Age of Jackson, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, p. 174.
7. William P. McDermott, 1986: “Colonial Land Grants in Dutchess County, N.Y.—A Case Study in Settlement,” The Hudson Valley Regional Review, Volume 3, Number 2, September 1986, p. 1-6.
8. Franklin Ellis, 1878: History of Columbia County, New York, with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Some of its Prominent Men and Pioneers, Everts and Ensign, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, p. 368.
9. McDermott, p. 16.
10. Beatrice West Seitz, 1971: West, Barker, Hodges; New York to Wisconsin 1836-1846. Self published, Janesville, Wisconsin, p. 3-4, and others. William West, b. 23 Mar 1717 in Windsor, Hartford County, CT was a son of Samuel West, Jr. and Dorothy Eggleston, grandson of Samuel West and Rhoda Meachum, and great-grandson of Thomas West and Phebe Waters. He married Lisa Miller.
11. William S. Pellatreau, 1884: “Athens,” History of Greene County, New York with Biographical Sketches of its Prominent Men, J.B. Beers and Company, New York City, New York, p. 177 and 179.
12. David West, Private, New York Line. Pension certificate No. 14615, Columbia County, New York, 1 June 1833. Hannah West, widow’s pension certificate No. 16464, Yates County, New York, 26 Aug 1836. National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC. Digital images on HeritageQuest.com. Accessed November 2013. The soldier states that he was born in Upper Amenia, Dutchess County, New York.
13. The Will of William West dated 30 April 1789, Book C, page 21, Book of Wills, Columbia County, New York. Cited by Seitz (1971).
14. Seitz, p. 5.
Beekman Patent (1758-1774)
15. Frank J. Doherty, 2005: “Lee to Millington,” Settlers of the Beekman Patent, Dutchess County, New York; An Historical and Genealogical Study of All of the 18th Century Settlers in the Patent, Volume 8, Frank J. Doherty, New England Historic Genealogical Society, Pleasant Valley, New York, p. 758.
16. Doherty, 1990: “Historical Records,” Settlers of the Beekman Patent, Dutchess County, New York, Volume 1, p. 79.
17. Frank J. Doherty, 2004: “Settlers of the Beekman Patent in 18th-Century Dutchess County, New York,” New England Ancestors, Volume 5, Number 2, Spring 2004, New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, p. 17-21.
18. Doherty, 1990: “Historical Records,” Settlers of the Beekman Patent, Dutchess County, New York, Volume 1, p. 352.
19. Doherty, 2003: “Hunter to Leavens,” Settlers of the Beekman Patent, Dutchess County, New York, Volume 7, p. 863.
20. Frank J. Doherty, 1993: “Abbot to Burtch,” Settlers of the Beekman Patent, Dutchess County, New York, Volume 2, p. 572. The teenagers were sons of Increase Billings.
21. A. Judd Northrup, William H. Johnson, and Charles Zebina Lincoln, 1894: The Colonial Laws of New York from the year 1664 to the Revolution, J.B. Lyon, State Printer, Albany, New York, p. 1104.
22. Albert Stillman Batchellor, editor, 1895: The New Hampshire Grants, Being Transcripts of the Charters of Townships and Minor Grants of Lands Made by the Provincial Government of New Hampshire, Within the Present Boundaries of the State of Vermont, from 1749 to 1764, Volume XXVI, Edward N. Pearson, Concord, New Hampshire, p. 87-91.
23. “New Hampshire Grants.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Hampshire_Grants. Accessed July 2015.
24. Abby Maria Hemenway, editor, 1867: The Vermont Historical Gazetteer: A Magazine Embracing the History of Each Town, Civil, Ecclesiastical, Biographical and Military, A.M. Hemenway, Burlington, Vermont, p. 733-734.
Daniel Merritt’s Store Ledger
25. Warren H. Wilson, 1907: Quaker Hill, A Sociological Study, Columbia University, New York, New York, Appendix B. Project Gutenberg Book, 2009; original in Cornell Library. I’ve seen this list reprinted with errors. The Project Gutenberg Book version is correct. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/28223/28223-h/28223-h.htm#APPENDIX_B. Accessed Aug 2015.
26. Family Group #20 results are at: http://web.utk.edu/~corn/westdna/west5.htm#FG20. Clement and Sara West are profiled at: http://www.fourth-millennium.net/family-travels/clement-west.html. Accessed June 2015.
Windsor, Windsor County, Vermont (1774-1798)
27. Sherman Evarts, 1914: “The Vermont Constitution and the Constitution House,” The Vermonter, Volume 19, Number 4, April, 1914, p. 61.
28. Florence Thurber Gargaro, 2009: Descendants of Benjamin Thurber and Elizabeth Hallett, http://www.gargaro.com/thurber/. Accessed July 2014.
29. Frank J. Doherty, 2005: “Lee to Millington,” Settlers of the Beekman Patent, Dutchess County, New York, Volume 8, p. 758.
30. Frank J. Doherty, 2003: “Hunter to Leavens,” Settlers of the Beekman Patent, Dutchess County, New York, Volume 7, p. 863.
Hannah Thurber Nichols West
31. Florence Thurber Gargaro Web site.
32. Hants County, Nova Scotia Registration Year 1766, Book 1700, p. 45, at http://www.novascotiagenealogy.com. Accessed June 2015.
33. Katherine E. Conlin, Wilma Burnham Paronto, and Stella Vitty Henry, 1977: Chronicles of Windsor, 1761-1975, The Countryman Press, Taftsville, Vermont, p. 117. Conlin was the City Clerk of Windsor, and also a historian. She had access to the original Windsor town records.
34. Conlin et al., p. 40.
Controversial Land Deed
35. Both men came from Middletown, CT. Watts Hubbard was the grandson of George Hubbard and Elizabeth Watts who were “First Settlers of Middletown.” West’s grandparents were also First Settlers. http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ctsmfsd/Index.html.
36. William Slade, compiler, 1823: Vermont State Papers: Being a Collection of Records and Documents, Connected with the Assumption and Establishment of Government by the People of Vermont, J. W. Copeland, Middlebury, Vermont, p. 504.
37. Edward A. Hoyt, compiler, 1952: “General Petitions: 1778-1787,” Journals and Proceedings of the General Assembly of the State of Vermont, Volume 8, p. 183.
38. Lewis Cass Aldrich and Frank R. Holmes, editors, 1891: History of Windsor County, Vermont, D. Mason & Co., Syracuse, New York, p. 184. Lawyers in smaller towns (after the Revolutionary War) interacted with the justice of the peace, wrote legal documents, and collected debts and taxes. It was not unusual for a tavern owner to also be a lawyer.
39. E.P. Walton, editor, 1875: Records of the Governor and Council of the State of Vermont, Volume III, J. & J.M. Poland Press, Montpelier, Vermont, p. 86.
40. Slade, p. 504.
41. Conlin et al., p. 17.
Old Constitution House
42. _______, 2012: “1777 Constitution Day at Vermont’s Birthplace,” The Shopper, The Vermont Journal, Ludlow, Vermont, Volume 51, Issue 5, July 4, 2012.
43. Aldrich and Holmes, p. 293-293.
44. Gregory Sanford, 1999: The Rutland Court Riots of 1786, Vermont State Archives report, May 25, 1999, p. 5.
45. Benjamin H. Hall, 1858: History of Eastern Vermont, From Its Earliest Settlement to the Close of the Eighteenth Century, with a Biographical Charter and Appendixes, D. Appleton and Company, New York, New York, p. 551.
46. Hamilton Child, compiler, 1884: Gazetteer and Business Directory of Windsor County, Vermont for 1883-1884, The Journal Office, Syracuse, New York, p. 266-267.
47. Aldrich and Holmes, p. 298.
48. Vermont State Papers. Office of the Secretary of State, Vermont. Internal reference numbers SE-188, Volume 17, p. 215. This is a cataloging system also known as the Nye Index.
49. Vermont State Papers, Volume 19, p. 276.
50. Census of 1790, Windsor, Windsor County, Vermont. Records of the Bureau of the Census, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
Death of Hannah and Elijah
51. Information and pictures are at: http://www.findagrave.com. Accessed Feb 2015.
52. Information and pictures are at: http://www.findagrave.com. Accessed Feb 2015.
53. American Antiquarian Society, America’s Historical Newspapers Database (ongoing). “Deaths, Columbian Centinal, 1784-1840.” 12 Volumes. Index, p. 4084. Index digitized by Ancestry.com for Newspaper Extractions from the Northeast, 1704-1930. Accessed May 2015.
54. Vermont State Papers, Volume 20, p. 348.
55. Ed Soule Allen, compiler, 1962: General Petitions, 1797-1799, State Papers of Vermont, Volume 11, Vermont Secretary of State, p. 425-426.
56. E.P. Walton, editor, 1876: Records of the Governor and Council of the State of Vermont, Volume IV, J. & J.M. Poland Press, Montpelier, Vermont, p. 250.
The Controversial Land Deed of Elijah West
This petition was written by Elijah West in October 1785:
From the Nullification of a Record of a Deed
To the Hon’ble Gen’l Assembly of the State of Vermont now sitting in Windsor, the Petition of Elijah West of said Windsor, sheweth
That the said Elijah in the Year of our Lord seventeen hundred & seventy five, purchased the Farm on which he now lives of one Watts Hubbard of said Windsor—And being apprehensive that a certain person then connected with your petitioner in trade had a Dishonest design of over-reaching him and taking from him the said farm by fraud your Petitioner, with the Advice of his Neighbors, procured a Deed of said Farm from the Said Watts Hubbard to Benajah, David, Elisha & Mary West, Children of the said Elijah, and lodged the same in the Town Clerk’s office who thro’ mistake recorded the same, and thereby the title vested in the said grantees who were then & still are ignorant of the said Conveyance—and from whom the said Elijah never recd any consideration And the said Grantees are now in different parts of the Country (if living) so that ‘tis impossible for the said Elijah to obtain from them a Re-conveyance—and he is without remedy without the assistance of your Honours—
Your Petitioner would farther represent, that he is now in the decline of Life & has a family of small Children that must be unprovided, or dependent on the uncertain Generosity of those who by mear accidental operation of Law & not for valuable Consideration, or according to the true Intent & meaning of the said Conveyance, have gotten possession of their Birth right—
Wherefore your Petitioner prays that a Committee may be appointed to examine into the Nature of your Petitioner’s request—and that such relief may be granted in the Premises as is according to Enquiry & good Conscience . . . Windsor 18th Oct. 1785, Elijah West
A committee was assigned to review the petition:
Resolved that a Committee be appointed to join a Committee appointed from the General Assembly viz Mr. Olin, Mr. Ward, Mr. Knight, Mr. Wait, and Mr. Blodget, on the Petition of Elijah West, praying for some way to be divised & adopted to Relieve him in the case of a certain Deed of his Estate being given & Recd from Watts Hubbard to Benajah, David, Elisha & Mary West children of the said Elijah, to consider the same, state facts and make Report: Member chosen Mr. Niles.
The ruling was in favor of Elijah West. Note the inclusion of Abigail West’s name. The committee probably examined the original document, as well as the copy in the Windsor Town Clerk’s office. They seem to have found the current (1785) locations of all five adult children.
Whereas, it appears by the testimony of sundry persons, and especially by the testimony of the former town clerk for said town of Windsor, that the record of a certain deed or conveyance of land, made by Watts Hubbard of said Windsor, to Benajah West, of Albany county, and David West, Elisha West, Mary West, and Abiga[i]l West, of Dutchess county, in the (then) province of New York, made and executed on the eighth day of December, Anno Domini, seventeen hundred and seventy-five, was made on the said town book, through mistake, and contrary to the direction and intention of the person having the controul of the same—by reason of which record, it appears that great injury may be done to the persons who have the equitable controul of said deed, unless the same record can be vacated so far as to destroy its operation as evidence in courts of law, of the deed of which it appears to be a transcript;
Which evil to prevent,
Be it enacted, &c, that the record of said deed, as entered on the first book for recording deeds, in said town of Windsor, in the tenth and eleventh pages of said book, dated February 22, 1782, be and the same is hereby declared to be, void, and the same shall not be received or admitted, in any court of law, as evidence of such deed of which it appears by said record to be a transcript.