Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Finding Abner Hartley in the Homestead Records

Solomon Hartley (1775-1815), my 4th great grandfather, had three sons: George Hartley (my ancestor, 1805-1880), William Hartley (1807-1874), and Abner Hartley (1813-1890).

During the late 1820's and early 1830's Solomon's three sons moved out west from Philadelphia to Cincinnati.  Abner married Sarah Frazer/Frazee in 1836 in Cincinnati and appeared in the Cincinnati directory as a chair maker (like his brother William) until 1843.  By 1860 he and his family had settled in Jersey County, Illinois (across the river from St. Louis, Missouri), and was working as a wagon maker.

I think this was about the time that George Hartley lost touch with his brother Abner Hartley. George's descendants figured that Abner died somewhere in Illinois, date unknown.  When I first started tracing my ancestors using Ancestry.com I was determined to find out what became of Abner and his family.  I found that Abner was still in Jersey County, Illinois in 1880, but then died in Broken Bow, Custer, Nebraska on 22 August 1890.  What had drawn him there?  I think the opportunity to purchase new land via the Homestead Act of 1862.

Homestead records, specifically Nebraska Homestead records (the database is available on Fold3.com and now on Ancestry.com), show Abner Hartley commenced living in Cliff Township, Custer, Nebraska on 15 September 1884.  His son, Abner "Ner" Hartley, immediately moved in with him.
[First page of the official form.  Note Abner's signature, always a nice touch to see their signatures! from the Fold3.com version of the Land Entry Case Files: Homestead Final Certificates.]

In December he paid for the land:
[Copy of receipt, from Fold3.com, Land Entry Case Files: Homestead Final Certificates.]

Abner and Ner appear living together the following year on the Nebraska 1885 Census.  Abner's married daughter, Mary (Hartley) Myers, was living next door.
[Abner Hartley and family in Nebraska, 1885.  National Archives and Records Administration; Nebraska State Census; Year: 1885; Series/Record Group: M352; County: Custer; Township: Cliff; Page: 4]

Like any detailed application, the Nebraska Homestead Records can provide great information for the lucky researcher who has ancestors who were part of this westward movement.  For example, here are some excerpts from Abner's interview on his 2 November 1889 claim for his land.  It gives some nice insight on what his life was like:
Ques. 28.--Describe fully the house on this claim, giving value thereof; also describe fully all other implements thereon of whatever kind, giving the value of each and total value of all implements.
Ans. sod 14 x 18, with additions 12 x 14, --2 rooms, board floor, 3 doors, 3 (or 8??) windows, large sod roof, $150. Cellar 10 x 20, $30. Stable sod 14 x 30, $75. Chicken house 10 x 20, $25. Cistern 12 feet deep, $25. Fram corn crib 12 x 8, $25. Pig pen 10 ft. square $10. 125 fruit trees, $100. 50 forest trees, $10. Fencing $20. 34 a.(acres?)plowed $68, 34 a. backset $68.
Total $655

Ques. 29.--What farm implements do you own and use on this claim? State kind and number, and how long you have owned the same.
Ans. do not own any except one plow, and too old, have hire most /any work done.

Quest. 30.--What domestic animals and live stock do you own and keep on this claim? State kind and number of each kind.
Ans. 100 chickens.

Ques. 31.--State what articles of furniture of every kind you keep and use in your residence on this claim, and how long you have had them there.
Ans. Cooking stove & utensils, table, chairs, cubboard(sp), bed & bedding 'cubbard(sp)". Owned them from 4 to 5 years.

Ques. 33.--How many seasons have you raised crops on this land, and what kind of crops have you raised each season?
Ans. five seasons, corn, vegetable, barley

Ques. 34.--How many acres have you put in crops each year, and how much did you raise? State the amount in bushels of each kind.
85 (year) - 4 a. corn 200 bu. 1 a. garden.
86 - 10 a. corn 500 bu. 2 a. garden & potatoes
87 - 10 a. corn 600 bu. 2 a. garden & potatoes
88 - 12 a. corn 650 bu. 3 a. vegetables & potatoes, 3 a. oats, 50 bu. 2 a. barley 20 bu.
89 - 8 1/2 a. in barley & oats, 300 bu., 1 a. potatoes, 1 a. vegetables.

Ques. 35.--Have you the land in crop this year, or is it prepared for cropping the coming season? How much of the land is so cropped or prepared?
Ans. Have 11 a. in corn, haven't gathered it yet.

This is his affidavit of publication that is in his file:
[Includes the newspaper clipping of his claim.  Land Entry Records for Nebraska, compiled 1857 - 1908 State: Nebraska Land Office: North Platte Township: 17 North Range: 23 West Section: 15 Applicant Surname: Hartley Applicant Given Name: Abner Final Certificate Number: 2237 Final Certificate Date: 02-Nov-1889 Range West: 23 Township North: 17]

Unfortunately his application was approved on 19 March 1891, seven months after he died:
[Note the date his claim was approved.  Land Entry Case Files: Homestead Final Certificates. Textual records. Record Group 49: Records of the Bureau of Land Management. The National Archives at Washington, D.C. Land Entry Case Files of the Broken Bow Land Office, Broken Bow, NE: Homestead Final Certificates, 1890–1908. NARA microfilm M1915. Record Group 49: Records of the Bureau of Land Management. The National Archives at Washington, D.C.]

Roberta "Bobbi" King (via Fold3.com) wrote a great breakdown of the types of information that might be found in the Nebraska Homestead Records.  It is worth reading!

© 2014 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

1 comment:

  1. I am looking up the history of my house that we purchased this year. I have been told it was originally called the Hartley House. So I am digging around - My house is in Jerseyville, Illinois - still Digging
    Deb barnyardkidz@yahoo.com