Sunday, September 8, 2019

How Close Did my Ancestors Live to Each Other

Have you ever wondered how close your ancestors may have lived to each other? I found a land document that answered that question for me about the Benjamin and Warner lines.

When I am back East visiting family I always want to spend some time at the Suffolk County Land Records Department in Riverhead, New York. I am constantly amazed at some of the things I am finding in a location that many choose not to explore. A while back I discovered the Archives room in the Land Records office. The ledgers here are the fist record books dating back to the early 1700s, I believe. These ledgers and are not out on public display in the regular land deed section, I am guessing, due to their age. Ledgers from this time period need to be specifically requested and if the pages are not in sleeve protectors then you must use gloves to touch and turn the pages. When I was there in May I was waiting for the Archivist, Sharon Pullen, and stopped to look at several of the display cases that were there. I am usually in such a hurry to get copies of the records I am looking for and get on with my day that I rarely take the time to look at what is on display figuring it doesn’t relate to me anyway. This time was different…

The display case had to do with Unacknowledged Deeds.

(photo unacknowledged deeds)

Unacknowledged Deeds as stated in the display case are deeds that do “not contain a notary’s acknowledgement of the signature”. That’s interesting and I had never thought to verify that there was a notary’s signature on the documents I have found. Good information to have as a genealogist. I continued to look at the documents in the case and found the following:

(click on image to enlarge)


Know all men by these presents that I Nathan Benjamin of the Town of Riverhead in the County of Suffolk and state of New York for and in Consideration of the sum of twelve hundred and fifty dollars to me in hand paid by John Benjamin of the town County of Suffolk and state aforesaid John Benjamin and I for my self and heirs executors and administrators do bargain and sell unto John Benj his heirs executors administrations and assigns for ever a sertain tract or parcel of land situate and lying in the town of riverhead County of Suffolk and state of New York and bounded as follows _ beginning at the North East corner of the land Called listcums place thence running westerly by the land of James Warner unto the land of Benjamin Edwards thence running easterly through the middle of the pond by that land of Benjamin Edwards until it strikes into the middle road thence Easterly by the middle road unto the highway that leads from Richard Albertsons mill to the north road thence northerly by said highway as far a the north end of James Hullses land lying the west side of the highway thence running easterly by the land of James Hulls twenty five rods thence running southerly by the land of James hulls unto the land of James Terry or middle of the pond thence easterly by the land of James terry unto the land of William Horton thence running northerly by the land of William Horton as far as a hedge fence North end of the first cleared lot Northward of the uncleared land thence westerly by the said hedge fence the north end the said cleared lot unto the North west corner thence westerly from the Corner a strait corse to the northeast Corner of theaforesaid listum place or place of beginning which closes the farm which is by Estimation one hundred and thirty acres be the same more of less To have and to hold the above written premises with all the privileges and appertainances there unto belonging on in any wise appertaining and I the said Nathan Benjamin for myself my heirs executors and administrators do warrant and defend the above written premaces to be clean and free from all lawful claim or Claims whatever from all person or persons whomsoever Unto the said John Benjamin his heirs executors administrators and assigns forever in witness whereof I have here unto set my hand and seal this first day of April in the year of our lord one thousand eight hundred and seventeen Signed Sealed and delivered in presents of
Nathan Benjamin                                                                                 Nathan Benjamin
Daniel Benjamin

Some background on my paternal ancestors and some interesting connections that I was able to draw: 

  • There were at least 3-4 generations of men named ‘Nathan’ Benjamin.
  • Nathan Benjamin I married Deborah Clark, my 6th great-grandparents.
  • Nathan Benjamin II (1733-1805) married Jemima Aldrich, my 5th great grandparents.
  • Nathan Benjamin III (1760-1838) married Joanna Swezey, my 4th great-grandparents and parents of Jemima Benjamin who is my 3rd great-grandmother.
  • The ‘Nathan Benjamin’ must be referring to my 4th great-grandfather Nathan Benjamin III who is the only one that was living at the time this document was written.
  • Were the Nathan and Daniel Benjamin that signed as witnesses the sons of Nathan Benjamin III? I believe so.
  • James Warner (1762-1803) is my 4th great grandfather. In 1817 James had passed away but his wife Anna/Glorianna Edwards was still living.
  • James and Ana’s son Daniel Warner (my 3rd great-grandfather) had been married about 5 years at the time this document was written to Jemima Benjamin. (They married about 1812). 
  • Daniel had a brother named James Warner, Jr. (1786-1853) who married Huldah Wells in 1817. This must be the James Warner owner of the property referenced in the above document.
  • I have yet to find any documents showing James Warner Sr’s original purchase of land in the Baiting Hollow area, so, I do not know the exact location of his land. Land deeds such as this one confirm the general area the family lived and the fact that land was owned. Perhaps some of the land referenced was land James Jr. received or purchased from his father James Warner Sr?

This would mean that my 3rd great aunt and uncle, James Jr and Huldah Warner and my 4th great-grandparents Nathan & Joanna Benjamin owned adjoining property in 1817.

The ‘Terry’ and ‘Edwards’ names are also ancestral Surnames from this area. I’ll need to do additional research to see if Benjamin Edwards and James Terry who are property owners referenced are also ‘family’.

It’s amazing how one document can locate several ancestral lines in the same location at a particular point in time. One of the many reasons I enjoying looking for property deeds, acknowledged or unacknowledged. Remember to also take the time to look at display cases that are right in front of you. You’ll never know what treasures you might find and the translation was already done for me!

If you have any corrections, additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,


  1. I certainly haven’t looked at enough deeds in my research. A few here and there. Thanks for the information about unacknowledged deeds. Good stuff!

    1. Thank-you Diane! I so enjoy researching land deeds. So much to learn from them. I am glad you found the information about unacknowledged deeds useful. Until I came across it I didn't think twice about looking for the Notary information.