September 1, 2010

History of a Property

While cleaning out piles of paper that used to live in my office a few weeks ago, I found the abstract of title for my house. It's a history of transactions for the property, going back to 1900 with a brief stop in 1875. I won't repeat all of it here - lots of it is legalese and contracts - but there are interesting pieces throughout.

November 18, 1875

Mortgage to secure $1000, by Mary E. McKinney and J.M. McKinney, her husband, conveys "the farm and premises which Casper Miller died seized and upon which he resided at the time of his death supposed to contain about one hundred acres of land". Mortgage conveyed to S.B. Korts in 1889.

March 21, 1900

Referee Edward N. Jackson to Stephen B. Korts, $900 highest bid. Conveys "that part of the Casper Miller farm heretofore owned by Mary E. McKinney and Anna D. McDonald jointly.... bounded...on the north by the lands now or formerly owned by Ira Snyder, Jane Snyder, Peter Snyder, and by one Hallett; on the east by lands of the said Peter Snyder to Fall Creek; thence along the center of Fall Creek to the Mill property known as the Sherwood Mill property, later owned by John Perrigo; thence on the west by... Henry J. Freese... Also all that other tract or parcel of land bounded on the north by the Elmira, Cortland & Northern Railroad... Mott J. Robertson... Walter Snyder... Hiram E. Talmadge..."

You can find at least some of these names in this map from the Goodrich Centennial History of Dryden:

West of Varna, 1898.
West of Varna, 1898. (Click to enlarge).

Mrs. J. McKinney is on the opposite side of Fall Creek, but M.J. Robertson is obvious, right next to the cemetery area. I'm guessing the S. Mill with millpond by the railroad near the creek is the Sherwood Mill. (Robertson's house is now the Plantation, I believe, and I'm a few doors west of there.)

April 8, 1903

Stephen B. Korts and Kate L. Korts, his wife, to Caroline Snyder. "Estimated to contain twenty acres of land more or less."

November 24, 1915

Caroline Snyder died intestate (no will) August 11, 1914, alleged will destroyed. One-third interest to her attorney, Charles H. Blood.


Five transactions between Blanche Snyder Lee and Charles H. Blood that eventually leave it with Charles H. Blood.

May 8, 1919

Charles H. Blood to John Edward Watkins, for $1.00 etc, though subject to prior lease and $1900 mortgage Charles H. Blood gave Watkins on May 7, 1919.

July 3, 1922

John Edward Watkins and Bertha Watkins take a $3000 mortgage from Jesse E. Whipple.

September 20, 1928

John Edward Watkins to John Edward Watkins and Bertha I. Watkins, husband and wife, as tenants by the entirety for $1.00 etc. - though "excepting and reserving from this conveyance the properties deeded prior to this deed and the rights of Ray Evans and Emery Baker under executory contracts for land heretofore sold to them by contract; the deeds to be given later."

August 13, 1929

The Watkins grant NYSEG a right-of-way along Dryden Road.

September 7, 1929

The Watkins give the deeds to Emery F. Baker and Hettie Baker. Contracted in 1923, for $1.00 etc.

June 27, 1929

Emery F. Baker and Hettie Baker grant NYSEG a 100-foot right of way further up the hill.

September 10, 1930

Emery F. Baker and Hettie Baker to Arthur Prince, subdivision of lots by the road. This is for the land just east of mine - 16 rods (16.5' in a rod) and 8.5' from Bridle Road to iron stake. "Party of second part agrees to build and maintain at his own cost and proper expense a fence to hold cattle along the southerly line of land herein conveyed to said second party and the parties of the first part reserve the right to removed the wire fencing along said highway."

September 10, 1930

Emery F. Baker and Hettie Baker to Lester Eugene Baker for $1.00 etc. - east from Prince lands, 8 rods frontage, 16 rods 8.5' deep. This is my parcel as it is today.

September 30, 1930

Lester Eugene Baker grants NYSEG a right-of-way along the highway.

May 13, 1932

Lester Eugene Baker adds Thelma Baker, his wife, to the title, "survivor to take the whole."

June 14, 1932

The Bakers take a mortgage for $1319 from Lester J. Lidell.

May 23, 1945

The Bakers sell to Lawrence J. Sickmon and Julia M. Sickmon for $4000.

June 15, 1945

The Sickmons take a mortgage for $2700 from Tompkins County Trust Company.

February 8, 1949

The Sickmons take a mortgage for $1120 for Tompkins County Trust Company.

June 4, 1968

Julia M. Sickmon sells to Ronald L. Volbrecht for $1.00 etc, but Volbrecht also takes a "purchase money mortgage" from Ithaca Savings Bank for $9,675.

March 16, 1976

Ronald L. Volbrecht sells to Marguerite Y. Williams for $1.00, and she takes a mortgage out for $19,600 from Citizens Savings Bank. This one has a map!

Along Dryden Road, 1976.
Along Dryden Road, 1976. (Click to enlarge).

The map looks like an edited version of an older 1959 map, since Route 13 had become Route 366 by then. It tells me, though, that the house number used to be 1178, and that Lloyd Bell, who I'd heard might have built this house, owned the very similar house at 1243 Dryden Road.

November 19, 1999

Tracey Cranston and I buy the house from Marguerite Y. Williams for $63,500. I become sole owner on November 16, 2005.

My understanding (and that of the Tompkins County Assessment Department) has been that the house was built in 1929. I wonder if 1930 is more likely, given the subdivision in September 1930, but maybe they built the house before the subdivision happened.

Most of the time, people think of history as stories of people. Every now and then it's nice to take a step back and look at how something passed through the hands of many people.

Posted by simon at September 1, 2010 12:53 PM in , ,
Note on photos


NYCO said:

It's a lot of fun to go back that far, isn't it? I don't have a history of the title to my house's land, although I suppose I could research it. I recently found an exhaustive 1845 description of the farm that my neighborhood now sits on, so I now know exactly what was grown in whose yard (and why) 150 years ago.

Ronald Volbrecht said:


Actually the name of the person I sold the house to Was Professor Robin Williams. He said the house was for his daughter. I suppose that is who Marguerite is. I was curious to know if the Wonderfully efficient Ashley Stove was still being used? It sat just to the side of the front door in the living room.

Wow! It's great to hear from you.

Marguerite Williams was Robin's wife. I think she's still alive, though Robin pased away a few years ago. I'm not sure why, but her name seemed to be the one on the property they owned when I looked it up.

I'm sorry to report that the wood stove isn't in the livingroom any longer. My then-wife was allergic to wood smoke, and I believe the Williams sold the stove to the tenants who lived there just before we bought the place.

However, our big project for this year or next is installing a woodstove there again. We had the chimney cleaned and inspected this spring, and everything seems ready to go.

It's great to hear from you, and I hope you like what we've done to the place. We also managed to buy 5.46 acres of the forest behind it, extending the place a little.