Rewriting the Biography: The James SIMS Tract of Land – SOLD!

On Monday, I finally found the land deed for the sale of the James SIMS property in Nicholas County, West Virginia. The land he bought from John JONES in 1800 on Little Elk Creek in what was then Kanawha County.

If another researcher has found it before me then it has been a well-kept secret.

The transcription of the partition suit filed in 1848 seeking to have the court provide for the sale of the 125-acre farm was helpful in naming the children of James SIMS.1 It was found among Virginia Bondurant Johnson’s application papers for membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).

It is not a transcription of the entire proceedings of the chancery case. It has errors. For example:

…James Sims, the father of your orators and oratresses departed this life on the ___day of ___1836 intestate and leaving no widow…

James did not die in 1836. I have since found records proving he died after 12 August 1845 and before 10 March 1846. See my post: Rewriting the Biography: When Did James Sims Die?

The Keys to Open the Door in this Brick Wall

FamilySearch is adding new collections at a faster rate. I’m always checking the catalog to find new material to search through. Nicholas County Order Books for Chancery and Law are online. Unfortunately, Law orders volumes 1-5 (pre-1871) are missing at the courthouse and not in the FamilySearch collection.

There is a general index to law and chancery records for plaintiffs and for defendants for the years 1818-1944. An index can be found in the front or back of each order book. It must be noted that some entries in the order books were indexed under the name of the instrument (Admr., Bill of Sale, Inventory, Bond, etc.) instead of the surname making it difficult to use the index. So as to not miss anything I skimmed through the entries in the order books searching for familiar names during specific time periods.

I found entries which appear to concern the proceedings in the partition suit from 1851 to 1855. If the suit was filed in 1848 why am I not finding entries for 1848-1850? I was not expecting to find records from 1853 to 1855 as, at the end of the transcript of the partition suit, this line was included:

The matter was finally settled in the spring term of court 1853. It sold for $183 and the costs approximated $160, thus leaving about $22.50 to be distributed.

I saved the entries, noting the page number and the FamilySearch link to the image, and will be adding the source citations to my database. I compared the page numbers of the entries I found to the page numbers in the index of the book and of the general index – they match. I did not find any entries which were not in the index.

From the entries, I discovered who the grantor and the grantee were as well as the year the sale of the land owned by the deceased James SIMS was finally recorded.

On the first read-through the entries, I became aware that there must have been a bit of wheeling and dealing going on. Interesting! Now I would love to get my hands on the entire chancery case.

With the names of the grantor and grantee, I was able to locate the deed transferring the land to the new owner on the Nicholas County, West Virginia County Clerk’s website.

I couldn’t keep this wonderful find to myself but I won’t be sharing the records today. I believe I’ve left enough clues. It’s up to you to try and solve this if you want to see the records before I get around to writing about them in depth.

© 2018, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

WOW!! James SIMS Land Tract SOLD!!

  1. Eve Hughes, e-mail dated 13 June 2001. This information was passed to her by another researcher. I am still trying to find the original record from which this transcription was taken.