William CLONCH’s Estate – and It Gets More Complicated

After finding the land records I transcribed in my previous posts: The Estate of William Clonch (1807-1863) of Mason County, West Virginia and The Estate of William Clonch (1807-1863) of Mason County, West Virginia – Part 2 I wanted to know when William CLONCH (1807-1863) bought the 148 acres tract and who the grantor had been.

Searching the Land Deed Index

In the land deed index for grantor and grantee, I could not find an entry for my 3rd great-grandfather William CLONCH even with different spellings of the name, i.e. CLAUNCH, CLOUNCH. Neither his father Dennis CLAUNCH nor his mother Nancy BEASLEY owned land per the deed books. Neither left a will conveying land to William and/or to of his siblings: Elizabeth, John, and Sarah.

► Was it possible William CLONCH did not legally own land when he made his last will and testament on 17 January 1863?1
► If he didn’t own land, how could he will his land to Mary DOSS and her DOSS children?
► How could his heirs later convey land as a group to three of the DOSS siblings, also known as CLONCH, in 1892 allowing it to remain in the family?

A Tract of Land Containing 148 Acres

Once I had the deeds concerning the heirs of William CLONCH transcribed and written up, I took a closer look at two deeds I found for my 2nd great-grandfather Alexander CLONCH, also known as Alexander DOSS. The first land deed was dated 27 June 1866, over three years after the death of William CLONCH. Alexander was the grantee of a tract of land containing 148 acres.2 In 1885 Alexander was the grantor and sold the same piece of land to Mary DOSS and all of her DOSS children named in the will of William CLONCH.3

William CLONCH lived with Mary DOSS from sometime before 1840 until his death in 1863. They were not married. Eight children were born between 1840 and 1855 during the years William and Mary were together. William left a last will and testament naming Mary DOSS and her seven living children as his heirs. These children later went by the CLONCH surname. DNA results show descendants of these children carry Clonch/Claunch and Doss DNA.

The 148 acres sold in 1885 had similar call lines as the three tracts of land which were sold in April 1892 by the heirs of William CLONCH.4 I had been able to plot two of the tracts but the third had a problem call and I could not plot it. I thought by plotting the three tracts I would be able to put the pieces together to form the original 148 acres.

Was it only a coincidence William’s and Alex’s lands contained the same amount of acreage?

The 1866 Land Deed

Reading and transcribing the land deeds of Alexander CLONCH brought to light some thought-provoking information. The grantor of the land sold in 1866 was a group of persons, children and their spouses of the deceased Richard GERNON, who were being represented by their attorney’s representatives through a power of attorney.

This deed made on the 27th day of June A.D. 1866 between John Jaques Richard Gernon and Claire Paule Anna Gernon his wife (born Davies) Joseph Edward Gernon and Catherine Tolsey Gernon his wife (born Toussat) Louis Loreal & Emilie Antoinette Loreal his wife late Reneufoe daughter of Jeane E. Reneufoe who was daughter of Richard Gernon deceased; Jean Louis Culon and Emilie Culon his wife late Gernon, daughter of the said Gernon (Richard) deceased by Edward Naret their attorney in fact who is substituted as such by Power of Attorney from John Keating & William V. Keating dated 27th April 1850 of the first part and Alexander Clonch of Mason County and State of West Virginia of the other part witnesseth: that in consideration of One hundred & eighty Eight dollars to him in hand paid the said Edward Naret attorney in fact as aforesaid doth grant unto the said Alexander Clonch The following tract of land Situate in the County of Mason and State of West Virginia being part of a large Survey Known as the Gernon Tract below the Great Kanawha bounded as follows: Beginning at a Small white oak corder to a Survey of 91 acres (Clarks) Thence with Beal’s line S 5° E crossing Bryants fork at 71 poles, 124 poles to an ash Tree on a South hill side. Thence leaving Beals S 63° E 120 poles to a Stake on a run bottom Dogwood and Hickory pointers. Thence N 34 1/2° E crossing the right hand fork of Bryans Run at 6 poles & the left hand fork of the same at 26 poles, 116 poles in all to a small white oak N 44° W 52 P to a white oak. Thence N 17° W 84 poles to a stone in Patterson’s line, Thence with his line S 65° W 94 poles to a small white oak corner to Clarks 91 acres. Thence with a line of the same N 85° W 33 poles to the beginning containing One hundred & forty eight acres be the same more or less. To have & to hold The Said Tract of land to him The said Alexander Clonch his heirs & assigns forever & The said Grantors by their attorney in fact as aforesaid do covenant with the said Alexander Clonch that they will warrant generally the land & premises hereby conveyed.
Witness the following Signature & Seals
……………………………………..John Jaques Richard Gernon seal
……………………………………..Claire Paule Anna Gernon seal
……………………………………..Joseph Edward Gernon seal
……………………………………..Catherine Tolsey Gernon seal
……………………………………..Louis Loreal seal
……………………………………..Emilie Antoinette Loreial seal
……………………………………..Jean Lewis Culon seal
……………………………………..Emilie Culon seal
……………………………………..by Edward Naret Their attorney in fact

The State of West (sic, Virginia missing)
Putnam County ss Before me Allen J. Holstein a Justice of the Peace in & for the said County of Putnam appraisal

the within named John Jaques Richard Gernon and Clair Paule Ann Gernon his wife Joseph Edward Gernon and Catherine Tolsey Gernon his wife, Amelie Antoinett Loreal & Louis Loreal her husband, Emilie Culon & Jean Louis Culon her husband by Edward Naret their within named Attorney in fact & acknowledged the signing and Sealing of the within conveyance to be their voluntary act & Deed.
In witness Whereof I have signed my name and affixed my seal this 27th day of June A. D. 1866.
……………………………………..A. J. Holstein J.P. seal

West Virginia Mason County Recorders Office December 3rd 1866 The annexed Deed with U.S. Internal Revenue Stamp thereon for fifty cents was this day exhibited in said office and together with the Certificate thereon admitted to Record.
……………………………………..James H. Holloway

The Gernon Tract

As seen in the above deed, the land was part of a larger survey known as the Gernon Tract. I checked the index again to see if others had been granted land from this tract.

The first mention of the Gernon Tract was found in a deed dated 1821. The deed is a history lesson in itself. It mentions acts of Congress which allowed direct taxes to be collected from landowners.

On 9 January 1815 Congress passed “an act to provide additional revenues for defraying the expenses of government and maintaining the public credit, by laying a direct tax upon the United States, and to provide for assessing and collecting the same.”5 On 5 March 1816, this was repealed by Congress reverting back to an act passed in 1813.6 Both of these acts are mentioned in the 1821 deed.

Taxes were due on the Gernon Tract and the whereabouts of the owner were unknown. In fact, the tax collector did not mention the name of the owner, Richard GERNON, in the 1821 deed. Under an act of Congress to lay and collect a direct tax (July 14, 1798), before the collector could sell the land for non-payment of tax, he was required to advertise a copy of the list of lands and the statement of the amount due for the tax along with the notification to pay in sixty days. The tax due on the Gernon property was advertised in the Richmond Enquirer. John L. MERTENS of Hanover County paid the tax and acquired the three tracts of land containing 4,375 acres, 1,500 acres, and 200 acres for a total of 6,075 acres.7

In 1823 MERTENS sold the land back to the owner who had been delinquent on his tax payments, Richard GERNON, formerly a U.S. citizen living in Philadelphia, now residing in Paris, France. Was GERNON’s non-residence in America the reason he did not pay his taxes?

As later deeds were consulted, I learned the tract was being reduced by surveys as pieces were sold, apparently, to the persons who had been living on and working the land. The original tract situated (per 1834 deed) in Mason County originally containing twenty one thousand five hundred Acres, Patented to Richard Smyth assignee of Henry Banks the Sixth day of December one thousand Seven hundred and Ninety four & conveyed by the said Patentee to the above named Richard Gernon, by deed dated 29 August 1795 Recorded in the clerks office of the General Court of Virginia at Richmond 16 Novr. 1795. 

The land deeds for the Gernon Tract are a genealogical find for those interested in the family of Richard GERNON and his wife Antoinette GAUSE whose name was mentioned in the 1834 deed.8 I was intrigued when I found his wife’s maiden name was GAUSE as, after separating from William CLONCH, his ex-wife Ann Eliza HILL married a man named Andrew J. GAUSE, later seen as GAUZE. It was one of her GAUZE descendants’ fault I’ve been writing about the land deeds since my post, I No Longer Need that Lookup, Folks!

Following the Land Records

As I perused each of the land records for Gernon land being sold, I found the descriptions of the land changing as the land was being divided up into lots. New proprietors of the adjoining land were mentioned. Also, lots adjoining the land would be described as land on which certain persons lived – not land owned by that person. Later the individuals living on the land were found buying the lot. For example, in 1861 John SHELINE bought a tract of land comprising 442 acres which had been surveyed in 1856 by John J. POLSEY:

Beginning at a small ash corner made for Wm Clonch on Beale’s line; Thence with Beals line S 5° E 83 poles to two black oaks on the west side of the hill, Thence S 35 1/2° W 24 poles to a white oak, Thence with the Gratz line S 50° E crossing the Road fork of Horselick Branch at 214 poles, 272 poles in all to a Stake & pointer corner to the Madden Survey, Thence with a line of the same N 61° E 168 poles to a poplar, Thence leaving the Madden Tract N 28° W 420 poles to a Stake Corner to Patterson, Thence with his line S 65° W 53 poles to a Stone Corner to Clounch, Thence with the lines run for Clounch S 17° E 84 poles to a white oak S 44° E 52 poles to a white oak, S 34 1/2° W 116 poles to a Stake and run Bottom, Thence N 63° W 120 poles to the beginning, containing 442 acres more or less.9

It would appear that William CLONCH was living on land which had been surveyed for him as late as 1856. At the time of his death, he was likely expecting to buy the land but the deeds had not been drawn up and recorded.

The 1885 Land Deed

In 1885 Alexander Clonch and his wife Tobitha deeded land to his mother Mary DOSS and ALL of her DOSS children, including himself. There is no mention in the following deed that Alexander CLONCH is the same person as Alexander DOSS but the deeds discussed in the previous posts show the sons of William CLONCH went by CLONCH and DOSS.

In the margin:
Delivered to C. W. Messick May 2nd ’85

This Deed made this 9th day of April 1885 between Alexander Clonch and Tobitha Clonch his wife of the County of Mason and State of West Virginia of the first part and Mary Doss, John Wm Doss, Alexander Doss, Lavinia N. Doss, Betsy Jane Doss, Thomas E. Doss, Joel Doss, and Charles H. Doss, of the second part. Witnesseth: That the said parties of the first part for and in consideration of the sum of Two Hundred Dollars ($200.°°) the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged Do grant unto the parties of the second part, all that certain tract or parcel of land situate lying and being in the County of Mason and State of West Virginia and in the District of Clendenin bounded and described as follows, To wit: Beginning at a small white oak corner to a survey of 91 acres (Clark’s) Thence with Beal’s line S 5° E crossing Bryants fork at 71 poles, 124 poles to an ash tree on a south hill side, thence leaving Beal’s S 63° E 120 poles to a stake in a run bottom dogwood and hickory pointers, thence N 34 1/2° E crossing the right hand fork of Bryants run at 6 poles and the left hand fork of the same at 26 poles 116 poles in all to a small white oak N 44° W 52 poles to a white oak then N 17° W 84 poles to a stone in Patterson’s line, thence with his line, S 65° W 94 poles to a small white oak corner to Clark’s 91 acres, thence with a line of the same N 85° W 33 poles to the beginning containing One hundred and forty eight acres, be the same more or less, being the same tract or parcel of land conveyed to the said Alexander Clonch by John Jaques Richard Gernon, and others by deed dated the 27th day of June 1866, and duly of record in the Mason County Court Clerk’s Office in Deed Book No. 20 folio 256 & 7. To have and to hold to the said Mary Doss for and during her natural life and at her death to the said John W. Doss, Alexander Doss, Lavinia N. Doss, Betsy Jane Doss, Thomas E. Doss, Joel Doss and Charles H. Doss and their heirs

and assigns forever, and the said parties of the first part do hereby covenant with the parties of the second part, that they will warrant generally the property hereby conveyed.
Witness the following signatures and seals.
Test John R. Dabucy
……………………………………..Alexander Clonch Seal
……………………………………..Tobitha Clonch x her mark Seal

State of West Virginia Mason County. ss:
I D. S. Van Matre a Notary Public in and for the County and State aforesaid do certify that Alexander Clonch whose name is signed to the writing above bearing date of the 9th day of April 1885 had this day acknowledged the same before me in my said County. Given under my hand this 9th day of April 1885.
……………………………………..D. S. Van Matre
…………………………………………………..Notary Public

State of West Virginia, Mason County ss:
I John R. Dabucy a Justice of the Peace in and for the County and State aforesaid, do certify that Tobitha Clonch the wife of Alexander Clonch whose names are signed to the writing above bearing date on the 9th day of April 1885 personally appeared before me in the County aforesaid and being examined by me privily and apart from her husband and having the said writing fully explained to her she the said Tabitha Clonch acknowledged the said writing to be her act and declared that she had willingly executed the same and does not wish to retract it. Given under my hand this 13th day of April 1885.
……………………………………..John R. Dabucy J.P.

West Virginia, Mason County Court Clerk’s Office April 14th 1885. This Deed was this day presented in my office and thereupon, together with the certificates thereto annexed, is admitted to Record.
……………………………………..J P R B Smith Clerk

What I Learned While Doing the Research

I think it’s possible my 3rd great-grandfather William CLONCH was living on the land for several decades before he died in 1863 and he intended to pass it on to his DOSS children and their mother Mary E. “Polly” DOSS. In 1860 when the census was enumerated his Value of Estate Owned was $444 for Value of Real Estate and $120 for Value of Personal Estate. Why would he have real estate valued when he did not legally own it? I am not aware of the practices of the time. Did William CLONCH have the land he was living on and working surveyed? And did he consider it his land after the survey? I checked the index to surveys and his name was not listed.

While searching the deeds index I found my great-great-grandfather Alexander CLONCH (1842-1910) obtained land in 1866 and sold the same in 1885. It was interesting to find Alex owned land in Mason County, West Virginia, from 1866 until 1885. The sale of the land fit into the time period when he was known to be moving to Fayette County as well as applying for his Civil War pension.

From the above, would you also say the land Alexander CLONCH bought in 1866 and sold to his mother and siblings in 1885 was the same piece of land William CLONCH lived on during his later years and willed to Mary DOSS and her children? Or do I have to do more work and plot all of the lots from the Gernon tract and fit the pieces of the land puzzle together to prove the three lots sold by the heirs in 1892 were the land Alexander bought in 1866 and sold in 1885?

Genealogy Sketch

Name: Alexander CLONCH
Parents: William CLONCH and Mary E. “Polly” DOSS
Spouse: Tabitha Ann “Tobitha” COOLEY
Parents of Spouse: John COOLEY and Sarah Ann TREADWAY
Whereabouts: Mason and Fayette, West Virginia
Relationship to Cathy Meder-Dempsey: 2nd great-grandfather

1. Alexander CLONCH
2. Rebecca Jane CLONCH
3. Myrtle Hazel ROOP
4. Fred Roosevelt DEMPSEY
5. Cathy Meder-Dempsey

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

  1.  “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971” (database with images), FamilySearch (digital images of originals housed at local county courthouse in West Virginia), FHL Film #567420, Item 2; DGS 4715359; Mason Will book, v. 01A 1833-1875, image 104 of 165, page 166-167. Last will and testament of William Clonch. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-18256-40179-14?cc=1909099&wc=10916722 : accessed 12 January 2019). 
  2. “Mason County (West Virginia), County Clerk, Deed books, 1803-1901” (database with images), FamilySearch (Microfilm of original records at the Mason County Courthouse), Film 567257, DGS 8292937, Deed book, v. 20-21 1866-1868, image 163 of 694, folio 256+257. 1866 Land Deed Gernon to Clonch. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSRQ-DSRL-9?i=162&cat=76718 : accessed 12 January 2019). 
  3. Ibid., Film 567360, DGS 8292992, Deed book, v. 38-39 1883-1885, image 563 of 706, Folio 359 and 360. 1885 Land Sale Clonch to Doss. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSR7-CWGT-B?i=562&cat=76718 : accessed 4 February 2019). 
  4. See the previous post here
  5. The Library of Congress > Law Library > Research & Reports > Legal Reports > Statutes at Large > 13th Congress > pdf > page 164. ( http://loc.gov/law//help/statutes-at-large/13th-congress/c13.pdf : accessed  5 February 2019). 
  6. Ibid., 1th Congress > pdf > page 255. (https://www.loc.gov/law/help/statutes-at-large/14th-congress/c14.pdf : accessed 5 February 2019). 
  7. Mason County Deed Books. Film 567248, DGS 7896952, Deed book, v. D-E 1815-1823, image 469+470 of 568, Folio 362 thru 364. 1821 Land Deed between William D. Taylor and John L. Mertens.   (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CS4F-N9S7-4?i=468&cat=76718 : accessed 6 February 2019) 
  8.  Ibid., Film 567250, DGS 8292932, Deed book, v. H, 9 1830-1837, image 439 of 628, Folio 332 and 333. 1834 Land Deed Heirs of Gernon to Charles Beale. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSRQ-D9PK-F?i=438&cat=76718 : accessed 5 February 2019) 
  9. Ibid., Film 567255, DGS 8285409, Deed book, v. 16-17 1852-1863, images 592-593 of 725, folio 381-383. 1861 Land Deed Gernon et al to John Sheline. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CS51-236?i=591&cat=76718 : accessed 5 February 2019) 

Author: Cathy Meder-Dempsey

When I’m not doing genealogy and blogging, I spend time riding my racing bike with my husband through the wonderful Luxembourg countryside.

20 thoughts on “William CLONCH’s Estate – and It Gets More Complicated”

    1. Tax records (land tax assessments and personal property tax) still have the little key over the camera icon. 😦 No idea if mortgage records are available. I did check the WV Property Viewer and found a 76.5 acres lot owned by a Patterson couple. In the middle of this lot is a one acre square classified as exempt from property tax and used as a cemetery and owned by Clonch Cemetary. I think it very likely this is the location of the land. Thank you, Cathy. Your question had me searching again and finding a resource I did not know was available.


  1. I truly admire your ability to wade through those land records. I could never do it—the details would just send my head spinning! As for your question, is it possible that William took the land by adverse possession? Under property law if you take possession of land openly for a set number of years (apparently ten in WV, at least under current law) and live on it openly and/or improve it (build a house or use it for farming, for example), the law can deem you the owner. https://statelaws.findlaw.com/west-virginia-law/west-virginia-adverse-possession-laws.html

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are amazing, Amy. Thanks so much for looking this up and including the link. After replying to Cathy’s question above (she is also a Cathy Dempsey but no relationship to me) I found the most amazing site, West Virginia Property Viewer.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome. My legal training should come in handy occasionally! I am sure there is more information out there about West Virginia during that period. What I don’t know is whether there would have been some way of recording a claim to adverse possession.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. There appears to be a FHC in Luxembourg according to their Wiki. I’ve never been there. Actually the address is different than the last time I looked it up. They are only open on Fridays from 5.30 pm to 7.00 pm but this needs to be confirmed as hours change. Thanks for the suggestion, Linda.


    1. Thank you, Luanne. I never thought I would get to this point. DNA analysis, as well as BMD and census records, keep me busy especially since I am trying to do citations (for records found in the past 25 years).


  2. A lot of this research and questions mirrors similar research/questions I’m doing/have for the Kirks (especially in West Virginia before it was West), so I’m very curious to hear about answers you uncover. I’m also interested in learning more about how you’re using the WV Property Viewer site for historical property. I’m toying with the page now, but wonder how you’re making it work for your research.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I knew you would ask. I’m working on a post in relation to this one research question and the viewer. I’m seeing more possibilities but won’t be going into detail on them. I might mention a few things I noticed which would be helpful on the site. Thanks, Michael.


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