Fellow historian and friend Bibb Edwards insists he has been dubbed the King of Tangents. By virtue of this post, I would like to nominate myself as the Queen. According to Webster, one definition of tangent is “a completely different line of thought or action.” I would argue it’s simply a brief, unplanned excursion off the focused path which eventually leads back to center—inclusive storytelling.
As I furiously work in my unpaid hours to finish the post about Oliver Armistead, I wander into Delaware Town and then down another path to this quote:
Today’s tangents will become tomorrow’s arcs, and unforeseen connections will tie up your loose ends in a way that will make you want to slap your head and holler at your accidental brilliance. ~Chris Baty
Okay, so not exactly brilliant, but I believe it is worth sharing for my small audience interested in this region’s history.
Most things I discover are serendipitous; that of course, as my eleven year old daughter would explain, is “fancy talk” for it was an accident. So be it. I rarely complete a task because in the process of studying ONE topic, I come across something and completely lose my focus. That’s why it is something I would passionately do if I never earn a cent doing it—which is the status quo.
My true purpose in all of this is to encourage research, transparency and inclusive storytelling. My dreams of writing a novel oceanfront are clearly on hold as I attempt to navigate this project in the evenings and on select weekends where my children would rather hang with their friends than hear Mommy drone on and on about local history in her very limited “free” time.
That said, I’m raising two amazing researchers, knowledge seekers and artists/scientists who hopefully one day will pick up the torch and move forward. My friend Mr Edwards pointed out that the burned records alone could take up an entire career. Agreed—since no one is currently hiring to review those, the best I can offer are free “snippets” designed to document areas of interest for other local history fanatics [end tangent].
Lots 53 Through 60, Delaware Town (1817)
One image I discovered in the burned records is a deed in which William Penn Taylor pays Lucy Adams and Andrew L. Moore (and Ann Moore, his wife) for 8 lots: 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59 and 60 in the Town of Delaware (part of modern West Point). There is a wonderful early history of West Point, VA, Elizabeth Stuart Gray’s “West Point History Begins with the Founding of a Nation” shared by the amazing King William Historical Society which I encourage you to read. Included in that article is a map of early Delaware Town (page 7) based on information from early deeds.
This deed from 1817 is signed, sealed and in the presence of J.B. Richeson, Thomas Moore, B? Catlett, John Hill, Corbin Braxton, Jr., and Christopher Johnson. The lots are described as “containing half an acre more or less.”
In the article referenced above by Elizabeth Gray, she states that
On October 11, 1811, a deed was recorded at the King William County Court House transferring from John Taylor and Lucy, his wife, to their son William Penn Taylor, of Caroline: ‘the land called West Point in the fork of the Pamunkey and Mattapony rivers, purchased by the said Taylor of Carter and Fitzhugh and confirmed by the Richmond Court of Chancery containing 3,027 acres and 31 negroes.’ In 1818 tax returns show that Taylor had purchased the lots held by Braxton, Dickenson, and Adams in Delaware Town. The Braxton house noted by the French map corresponded to the residence of William P. Taylor. In 1820, tax returns show lot owners in Delaware town to be Lucy Adams, Elizabeth Bingham, Ann Bingham, Thos. W. S. Gregory, John J. Otter, Elizabeth Sullivan, and William P. Taylor. Taylor owned 29 lots and one house, valued at $850.
Every document points us in the direction of further research as we seek to tell everyone’s story. The “31” mentioned in the article deserve to be researched, named, celebrated and honored wherever possible. I hope you enjoy this journey through small town history and encourage the next generation to remain engaged in historical research. Make sure they can read cursive writing, know how to use a library. and understand what “invisible history” really looks and sounds like.
This series is designed to highlight answers to a few questions and encourage further dialog. If you are interested in having additional research completed for a particular property, locality, family, or court case, contact Theresa Sirles with REACH Consulting for a custom quote: (804) 843-3495, via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by text at (804) 310-0516. You may also purchase full reports which include copies of all source documents and detailed footnotes. Follow us on Facebook at REACH Consulting, LLC and view snippets of local history at Three Rivers Reflections. Keep calm and do history.