I recently searched land records in not one, but two counties: New York and Dutchess.
New York – 66 John Street
I went back to 66 John Street to get more information about the lot that Mary Coleman Colbert leased. She was quite the fighter. She did not give up on her right to the 15 year lease she had obtained in 1865. The plaintiff, Cornelia Austin, did not give up either and kept appealing decisions that did not go her way. The property was finally sold at auction in late 1877, with Mary’s case still open. The other tenants were apparently paid costs out of the sale. I don’t know what happened with Mary’s costs, but she seems to have been able to stay until the end.
Her grandson, John Grossman, first child of Mary Colbert and George Grossman, was born in his Grandmother’s house in September 1879. Mary’s lease ended on April 1, 1880. A few months later, in June 1880, the family is living in Bronxville, Westchester County.
When they returned to the city they lived at 421 East 12oth Street. Not only was this right in back of their old place, it was the lot that had been leased by Charles Spear, one of the other tenants named in the lawsuit! Curious. Spear gave a description of his house in his testimony, so I’m going back to the Old Records Room to check it out.
I was also able to find that Mary Coleman Colbert’s brother owned a house in Manhattan, also on East 121st Street, but several blocks west. He bought it in 1885, but didn’t move there until 1900. Maybe he rented it out?
Dutchess – 22 Market Street, Poughkeepsie
In New York you usually look up the block and lot number – after all, New York is divided into a grid. In the Dutchess County Clerk Records Room you search using the grantor/grantee books and look for the name. I found what I was looking for quickly and then went straight to the liber to see the deeds. These libers are heavy, and I believe the ones on the bottom row are heavier!
I have to admit the typed deeds are much easier to read, but it was interesting to read the handwritten property description in one deed. The property was transferred in 1835 in Amenia and was a farm. The description went on and on – a very long page with very small handwriting. Here’s how it starts:
…end of a stonewall North of the road and north west of the house of Noah Brown thence south eighty three and one half east twelve chains and nine links to stake and stones thence north ten and one half and five chains and fifty links to stake in the wll thence south…
I gave up at that point.
I looked at another deed (typed). This one was from 1926 for property in the City of Beacon and had an interesting clause. I think it may have been carried over from a previous deed. What do you think?
…Occupants and servants at all times to freely pass and re-pass on foot, or with horses, cattle, beasts of burden, wagons, carts, sleighs, carriages, or other vehicles whatsoever to and fro, over said right of way as above bounded and described..
This did have cars by 1926 and the horses and sleighs were almost a thing of the past. And just how long did people keep cattle in Beacon?