Saturday, February 20, 2016

Heir Property - A Tangled Web

It was probably a proud day for Washington Marshall when he scribbled the "x" on the deed. He could now provide for his family on his own ten acres, purchased in rural Copiah County, MS, about 10 miles west of Hazlehurst on 23rd March 1899, from Fred Rembert and his wife Hannah. Fred's father, Richard Rembert, purchased the land from the prominent Millsaps family in 1874.

In 1900, seventy-eight year old Washington was living with his wife Mary, 61, and their children: Willie, 23; Charley, 22; Henry, 21; Dan (my grandfather), 14; Annie, 23; and Alice, 19. Mary had given birth to 14 children, 8 were living. The couple had been married for 45 years. No one in the household could read or write. They were all farming the land.

10 Ac in NW Corner NW 1/4 SW 1/4 - Sec 12 - 9N - 6E
HWY 28

Washington and Mary were still alive in 1910, living with them were three of their children; Annie, Charley and Dan. By 1920, both Wash and Mary were deceased and neither left a will. Living on the land were the same three children from the 1910 census, Charley, Annie, Dan, plus their widowed sister Alice Goodwin. The land was not legally transferred.

Between the 1920 thru 1940 censuses, Charley left to marry Ola Smith Coleman and established a household, helped Ola to raise children from a previous marriage. Dan got himself a wife in 1927, my grandmother Alice Markham. They continued living on the place, added two children. Annie remained single, eventually living with her sister Alice Goodwin who had built a separate house, which she also shared with her daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren. The land was not legally transferred.

Annie Marshall died in 1937, leaving no heirs. Alice Marshall Goodwin died in 1941, leaving several heirs. Dan was the last of Washington's children to reside on the land. He died in 1955. His wife Alice remained until she developed dementia and left to live with a sister in the early 1960s. Dan's wife Alice died in 1966. Dan and Alice's two children are deceased, leaving several heirs. The land was not legally transferred.

Washington and Mary's children were: Collin, Esther, Margaret, Humphrey, Jessie, Willie, George, Annie, Charley, Mary, Henry, Alice and Daniel, leaving countless, unknown heirs.

The acreage remains in the family, unused. The acreage will likely remain heir's property, too costly to pursue unknown heirs to settle small acreage. I suppose one day the land will be sold for taxes when there are no longer heirs who have a memory of its history.

8 comments:

  1. What an interesting history, but how sad that the pride of the purchase and satisfaction of farming their own land will be lost for future generations.

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    1. Time brings about a change. Heirs die and multiply. It cost more to divide ownership than the property is worth.

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  2. It is sad that the pride of the purchase of this land will be lost to future generations.

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    1. Washington Marshall likely would be sad about the situation of his hard earned property.

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  3. I wonder how often this occurred (or perhaps still does) with small pieces of property and many heirs?

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    1. It has occurred often in my family and still does. The vision of the original owner is lost.

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  4. Heirs property was a nightmare for the Emergency Land Fund in the 1970s when they were trying to save black land. All it took was one heir who called for a sale to lose it out of the family forever. And loss for taxes was common for heir property. Very sad.

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    1. It is sad. The person who demands the forced sale doesn't realize he gets very little money until it is too late, and if family members are living on the land, they are forced to move.

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