Thursday, July 21, 2011

Robert Patterson - 740 acres VA

Robert Patterson of Linville Creek, VA

The makeup of Robert Patterson’s land holdings in Augusta Co VA during the mid 18th century appears to have been sorted out at long last. For years, many researchers have attempted to sift the maize of records concerning the Robert Patterson who lived along Linville Creek, a few miles west or northwest of Harrisonburg, VA. This Robert Patterson migrated from Sussex Co DE to the Shenandoah Valley around 1738 while in his late 20's or early 30's. Eventually, he moved to York Co SC where he died in 1775.

"This Robert Patterson?" you might ask.

The first issue was to sort out the many Robert Pattersons who lived in old Augusta Co VA. There were two older, contemporary Robert Pattersons. It doesn’t help that both Roberts had sons and daughters by the same names (Thomas, Robert, Mary, etc), and even had dealings with neighbors and relatives by the same last names (Stewarts, Browns, Ralstons). Ultimately, it comes down to the specific location, and the individuals who lived THERE. This Robert Patterson was the only one of that name to live at the head of a branch of Linville Creek. In 1764, this Robert obtained a land patent for 265 acres on Linville Creek. This was the only land we knew of for many years... until recently.

Secondly, it has simply taken years to soak in all the records, such as land entries, patents, deeds, court records, etc. And not all deeds were recorded, throwing another monkey wrench into the works. A close friend and distant cousin, Harald Reksten, has worked tirelessly over the last few years scanning microfilm rolls for all these records in all related counties (Orange, Augusta, Rockingham). Without Harald's work, we'd still be stuck for sure.

And yet another issue is the fact that many land entries (first step leading to a land patent – the VA term for land grant) were listed with one number of acres, while the subsequent patent may have been for a different number of acres. Furthermore, the patent was not obtained in many cases for 20 or 30 years after the land entry.

Such were the cases with our 
Robert Patterson. Thankfully, he made his mark with an "R" - as opposed to an "X" - and that certainly has helped identify him in more than one case. It seems old Robert ended up with three separate tracts of land over the years he lived in VA. All were next to each other, and all were located on Linville Creek. There may be another record or two yet to find that can pinpoint specific dates of some of the transactions involving these three tracts, but enough details have been found to identify the tracts and the subsequent disposition of those lands.

The 740 Acre Man

Robert and his wife Sarah sold their Sussex Co DE land (106 acres) in March of 1738 as they prepared to follow their relatives and friends to the Shenandoah Valley of VA. Robert’s first land transaction on the new frontier was a Land Entry for 230 acres on 15 Nov (no year, but believed to be 1739), in Orange Co VA. Augusta Co had already been formed but did not have its own county seat until 1745, so most of the land transactions and court cases involving this region were still facilitated under the old Orange Co. For whatever reason, many of these presumed 1739 land entries were repeated between June of 1740 and June of 1741. Once again, Robert Patterson recorded a Land Entry for 230 acres in Orange Co VA, this time on 12 Nov 1740. I shall refer to this as “Tract 1”.

“Tract 2” was first recorded as a survey for 75 acres adjacent to Robert Patterson’s first tract. This survey was completed on 12 Feb 1755, and was described as being on the south side of his own land. More details on this tract momentarily.

“Tract 3” contained 400 acres originally patented to Robert Rolestone (Ralston). Ralston recorded his land entry in 1755, although his land patent wasn't recorded until 1768. We know from an 1825 deed, that this 400 acre tract was sold by Ralston to Robert Patterson, who in turn sold it to Henry Ewing and Robert Cravens (Jr) in 1774. So Robert Patterson bought the land no earlier than 1768 and then sold it by 1774.

Here's where it gets interesting. In 1781, a man by the name of John Brown recorded a deed for 75 acres (Tract 2 above) and was described as the "assignee of Robert Patterson". In other words, Robert Patterson assigned Tract 2 to John Brown, sometime before 1781. Since Patterson died in 1775, and moved to SC in the 1760's, we can safely assume it was in the 1760's when the assignment took place. More importantly, this 1781 deed described the 75 acres as being on the south side of Robert Patterson's "patent land".

Robert Patterson patented 265 acres on 27 June 1764. It was most likely around this time, or within a year or two, that Patterson assigned Tract 2 to Brown, as Patterson and others moved to what is now York Co SC. We also know that Patterson was living on the 75 acre tract according to the 1764 patent which said "adjacent to land Patterson already lives on."

It's interesting that when Tract 2 was surveyed in 1755 it did describe Robert's other land (Tract 1) being north of the 75 acres, but it wasn't refered to as "patent land", as in the 1781 John Brown deed. But that's because he didn't bother to get a patent for it until 1764. We also can deduce that Tract 1 "grew" from 230 acres to 265 acres in the 25 years that transpired between the Land Entry and the Land Patent. It was not uncommon for patents and grants to differ somewhat from the original Land Entry.

We know that Tract 2 was disposed of in the manner described as "assigned to", in this case, John Brown. We know this is our Robert Patterson since in 1758, he and John Brown, plus another man named Joseph Bryan, were the appraisers for the estate of Benjamin Copeland who had died a few years prior. In their appraisal record, Robert Patterson made his mark "R", while John Brown made his mark "J". Joseph Bryan signed his own name. So we see there was already some history between our Robert Patterson and John Brown. Some will find it interesting that the third appraiser, Joseph Bryan, was the father-in-law of the famous Daniel Boone.

We know that Tract 3 was sold in 1774 to Ewing and Cravens. My theory is that Robert's son, James Patterson, was living on Tract 3 for several years until 1774. In fact, in 1767, James Patterson was a chain carrier for Robert Cravens Jr in SC where the Patterson clan had moved (Clarks Fork of Bullocks Creek). Turns out, Robert Cravens never lived in SC, but his brother William Cravens did, most likely on his brother's land. This was very near other relatives such as Thomas Patterson and Nathaniel Harrison. It seems that William Cravens and Thomas Patterson married sisters of said Harrison. It should also be noted that Nathaniel Harrison was one of the witnesses to old Robert Patterson's will in 1775 in York Co SC. Thomas Patterson was Robert's son (and my ancestor). And, Robert Cravens Jr was married to Esther Harrison, the niece of Robert Patterson.

Apparently some wheeling and dealing took place in 1773 and 1774. William Cravens and Thomas Patterson both moved back to Augusta Co VA in 1773 (based on deeds and court records in VA). Robert Cravens sold his SC land to James Patterson early in 1774, which was the same time that Robert Patterson sold his VA land (Tract 3) to Robert Cravens (and Henry Ewing). It appears to me that some sort of land swap occured, most likely. Unfortunately, Robert Patterson's son James died shortly after this 1774 deed, so the SC land sold by Cravens to James Patterson devolved to James' father, Robert Patterson. (kudos to Harald Reksten for finding the deeds reflecting this)

So what happened to Tract 1? The 265 acre patent was still in Patterson's possession at the time of his death in 1775. He left his "Virginia claims" to his sons Robert (Jr) and Peter. In 1787, Robert Jr and Peter Patterson sold Tract 1 to John Ewing Jr, son of Henry Ewing. Therefore the majority of Robert Patterson's land ended up in the Ewing family.

So it seems that 
Robert Patterson possessed a total of 740 acres on Linville Creek. Tract 1 was 265 acres, although entered in 1739/1740 as 230. Tract 2 was 75 acres, and Tract 3 was another 400. It should be noted that Robert Patterson lived on Tract 2 (75 acres) during the latter years of his stay in VA.


It appears that we now have a grasp of all the lands possessed by Robert Patterson of Linville Creek VA, as well as the disposition of those lands in later years. The same can be said for the land he possessed in DE prior to migrating to the Shenandoah. Perhaps one day we'll be so lucky in regards to his SC land.

Wes Patterson (with Harald Reksten)

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