Monroe County Historical Society - Division of Property Lawsuits Can Be Gold Mines

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Division of Property Lawsuits Can Be Gold Mines

This article was published in the Monroe County Quarterly, Vol. 3, Issue 1, Spring 2006.

By Nancy Stone

When you’re searching for an elusive ancestor, remember to read the legal notices in those old newspapers. You may stumble across several generations of descendants in one document. Follow the money! Family feuds are a great source for genealogists and their lawyers have already done the detective work and established relationships.

Joseph Thompson, of Monroe County, died without a will in 1846. He left a wife, six sons, and two daughters. Nearly a quarter of a century later, May 16, 1867, about 83 acres (on the south side of what is now the junction of Highway 24 and Business Highway 24 near Paris) was sold by the Sheriff on the steps of the Monroe County Court House. The heirs had grown from the original widow and eight children to property divisions as small as 11/112th of the $979 that James S. Graham paid for the land at the auction. For genealogists, once you wade through the legal wordiness, the information included in not only probate, but other court records can be a gold mine.

The original heirs of Joseph Thompson were: Lucy Thompson, widow; sons Samuel, James, Smith, Edward, John and William; and daughters, Nancy and Elizabeth.

Lucy Thompson died in 1864. Of her eight children, only Smith, Samuel, Edward and Nancy survived her.

William Thompson started the division of interests that ended in court. The year after his father’s death, he conveyed his interest in the property in question to his brother John and to Jonathan Troyman who owned adjoining property. He died in 1854, but his brother James had died in 1849, leaving his interest in the property divided between his mother and siblings. William’s share of James’ share was then divided among the surviving heirs of the father. William and James were apparently unmarried.

Nancy Thompson married George Duckworth. They had conveyed their interest in the property from James over to her brother Samuel, who then sold his interest to James S. Graham, as did Edward Thompson.

Smith Thompson had been declared an “insane person” and his guardian and curator, Alpheus Jackson, represented him as a plaintiff.

John, who now had a full share plus partial interest in another that his brother William had transferred to him, died in 1855. His widow, Frances Thompson was the principal named plaintiff in the suit that ultimately forced the sale of the property. John and Frances had four children. Elrena, Mary Jane and David H. died without issue before the suit was filed. Their daughter Martha E. married James R. Jackson and was also a plaintiff.

Elizabeth Thompson had married a Donalson and died before the suit was filed. Her children were Lucy Jane Donalson, Sarah Ann Donalson, Joseph W. Donalson and Matilda F. Donalson. They each claimed 1/4th of their mother’s 1/8th interest.

Lucy Jane Donalson married William Goodnight and died in 1856. She had two children, Edward and William Goodnight. Sarah Ann Donalson married George Norton and died in 1858. Her only child was William Norton. Matilda Donalson married Peter Furhman and with her husband conveyed her undivided 1/4 of the undivided 1/7 interest in the real estate to James S. Graham.

Because William Thompson had conveyed a part of his original interest to Jonathan Troyman, who died without a will in 1855, the Troyman children were also named in this suit. They were: Reuben Troyman; Catherine Searcy, wife of Schuyler B. Searcy; Drucilla Weatherford, widow of Joseph Weatherford; Fanny Bryan, widow of Thomas Bryan; Margaret Farrell, wife of Rufus Farrell; and Mary Million wife of Burrell Million.

This page last edited on 11 Sep 2018.

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