Amanuensis Monday: The Joshua Witter Deed

Background on the Witter Deed

I was so delighted to find the Joshua Witter deed at the Cattaraugus County courthouse in Little Valley several years ago. Then I started trying to transcribe it.

Joshua Witter deed, Hinsdale NY

Nonetheless, this 1854 document is an important piece of my Witter family history. It marks the beginning of our connection to Cattaraugus county, New York, where I still have family living today.

The best part of this deed is how neatly it clicks into place with other records I’ve discovered. The 1855 New York State census, for instance, shows the Witter family had been in Hinsdale for only 4 months when the enumeration was taken in June.

Joshua Witter Hinsdale 1855 NYS Census

I’ve also discovered an 1869 property map pinpointing the location of Joshua Witter’s property in Hinsdale. It matches up pretty nicely with a modern Google map of the area…

Exciting stuff! However, as an amateur genealogist, I’m a bit lost in some of the finer details that this deed reveals. Phase two will be to pull out my trusty copy of The Family Tree Problem Solver by Marsha Hoffman Rising and review the chapters on land records.


As a thank-you to my patient and long-suffering blog readers (*grin*) I’m giving away one copy of this helpful reference book. Click here to enter for a chance to win! (Rules: US and District of Columbia residents only; must be 18+ to participate.)


Now, if you’re a Witter cousin here for the “deets on the deed,” you’ll find them below. It’s somewhat of a work-in-progress as there are quite a few illegible words. I think I should be able to fill in some of the holes with a bit of research on the boilerplate language of deeds. In any case, I hope you’ll find this a boon to your research. Enjoy!

William Smith & Wife to Joshua Witter

This Indenture made the eighth day of December in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty four between William Smith and Melinda his wife of the town of Hinsdale Cattaraugus County State of New York of the first part and Joshua Witter of the town of Friendship Allegany County and state of (illegible) of the second (illegible) that the said party of the first part for and in consideration of the sum of one thousand Dollars lawful money of the United States of America (illegible) in hand paid by the said party of the second part the receipt where is hereby confirmed and acknowledged hath granted bargained sold aleined released (illegible) and confirmed and by this presents do grant bargain sell (illegible) release alein and confirm unto the said party of the second part and to his heirs and assigns forever all that certain piece or parcel of Land situate lying and being in the County of Cattaraugus in the State of New York being part or parcel of a certain township which are a map or survey of (illegible) or townships of land in the Western part of the State of New York made of the Holland Land Company by Joseph Ellicott Surveyor is distinguished by township number Two in the third Range of said townships and which said tract of Land on a certain other Map or Survey of said townships into lots made for the said Company by the said Joseph Ellicot is distinguished by the North part of the Lattitude Twenty One in said Township, Bounded North by Lot number Twenty three sixty one chains sixty links East by Lot number thirteen Sixteen chains thirty links South by a line parallel to the first mentioned (illegible) sixty one chains Sixteen links and West by Lot number twenty nine Sixteen chains thirty links Containing One hundred acres. Together with all and singular the (illegible) and (illegible) thereunto belonging or in anywise appertaining and the reversion and reversions, remainder and remanders rents issues and (illegible) thereof, and all the estate right (illegible) and interest that any may claim or demand whatsoever of the said party of the first part either in law or equity of in and to the above (illegible) appurtenances unto the said party of the second part and to his heir and assigns forever. And the said (illegible) with the said party of the second party his heir and assigns that at the time of the unsealing and delivery of these presents they have been well seized if (illegible) above (illegible) as if a good (illegible) perfect absolute and indefeasible estate of what are in the law in per simple and that the above bargain (illegible, illegible) and (illegible, illegible) of the said party of the second part his heir and assigns against all and every person or persons law fully claiming or to claim the whole or any part thereof they will forever Warrant and Defend; In Witness whereof the said party of the first part ha hereunto set our hands and seals the day and year first (illegible, illegible)

Sealed and delivered in presence of

Wm G Todd.

William Smith LS.

Malinda Smith LS.

State of New York

Cattaraugus County. (?) On this Eighth day of December 1854 personally came before me William Smith and Melinda Smith Known to me to be the person described in and (illegible, illegible) the within Deed and acknowledged that they (illegible) the same and the said Malinda on a private examination by me separate and apart from her husband acknowledged that she (illegible) the same freely and without any fear or compulsion of her said husband.

Recorded the 6th day of March AD. 1855 at (illegible) A. M & Ex.
E. H. Southerch Clerk

Wm. G Todd
Justice of the Peace


Source: Cattaraugus County Deeds, 1854-1856, Volumne 37, page 268.
Cattaraugus County Courthouse, 301 Court St, Little Valley, NY 14755. (View an image of the original deed on

According to the Geneabloggers site, “Amanuensis Monday is a daily blogging theme which encourages the family historian to transcribe family letters, journals, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts.” It’s been a while since I participated with in the daily prompts, so I’m happy to have one to offer today!

Thanks for reading!

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