JS, , , , William Miller, and Phebe Scott Miller, Deed for property in , Geauga Co., OH, to , 8 July 1838. Featured version copied 27 Oct. 1838 in Geauga County Deed Record, vol. 26, pp. 491–492; handwriting of ; signed by JS, , , , William Miller, and Phebe Scott Miller; witnessed by ; certified by ; Geauga County Archives and Records Center, Chardon, OH.
The deed appears in Geauga County Deed Record, volume 26. The volume contains 320 leaves as well as front and back flyleaves measuring 15⅝ × 10 inches (40 × 10 cm). At an unknown time, the original leather cover and spine were covered with cream canvas and maroon leather corners. Four false raised bands demarcate five panels on the spine. The volume has a construction similar to other contemporaneous records housed at the Geauga County Archives and Records Center. The bound volume measures 16½ × 10¾ × 3 inches (42 × 27 × 8 cm). The volume contains deeds recorded from 22 May to 20 December 1838. Each deed record is written in ink.
This volume was in the possession of the Geauga County, Ohio, Recorder’s Office from its creation until 1996, when it was transferred to the newly organized Geauga County Archives and Records Center.
On 8 July 1838, JS and several others signed a deed in , Missouri, transferring their rights to a tract of land in , Ohio. This 239-acre property, located in the southwest corner of Kirtland Township, was purchased from and Sarah French on 5 October 1836 by JS and , and , and , and William and Phebe Scott Miller. Also on 5 October, the group signed a mortgage agreement to pay the Frenches $1,000 annually for thirteen years, starting in April 1838, with a fourteenth and final payment due in 1851 for a smaller sum, which may have represented a portion of the interest. During fall 1836, JS individually and jointly purchased a substantial amount of land throughout the Kirtland area. The 5 October 1836 transaction with the Frenches and one with and Elizabeth Russell on 10 October 1836 amounted to over 371 acres and were the largest land purchases JS was involved in while residing in Kirtland. In April 1837, JS and Emma Smith signed a deed giving , apparently acting as an for JS, their right to the land jointly purchased from the Frenches.
On 5 February, created a deed to sell land to , the younger brother of . Because Marks did not own the land—rather, he only held the rights he had acquired from JS and —this deed was a deed rather than a standard warranty deed. In return for the land, Samuel F. Whitney provided Marks with “thirteen thousand dollars . . . paid in hand in obligations against Joseph Smith Jr” and others. These obligations were likely the promissory notes that JS and the other purchasers gave to and Sarah French in October 1836. Since promissory notes were transferable, Whitney may have purchased them from the Frenches or received them as payment in another transaction. The 5 February 1838 quitclaim deed transferring the land to Samuel F. Whitney only provided him with the property rights that Marks held, not the rights of each of the original purchasers.
Under the 8 July quitclaim deed, JS and , and , and William and Phebe Miller—all of the original purchasers other than and —transferred their interest in the land to . William Smith had turned over several pieces of land to before moving to in early 1838 and may have given Marks a quitclaim deed for his portion of the property in exchange for land in Missouri. The 8 July deed indicates that as part of the transaction, Whitney had agreed to pay $3,000, likely to Marks, for the right to the land. The deed identifies the sellers as “Joseph Smith Jr. & Others” and “Joseph Smith Jr. & Firm,” suggesting that JS was considered the leader of the sale.
The content of revelations JS dictated on 8 July may have contributed to the of this deed on the same day. One of the revelations regarded the donation of surplus property and may have influenced JS and other newly settled in to discharge their land for the good of the church. Another 8 July revelation, which instructed and to “settle up their businss speedily” and “let the properties of be turned out for debt,” also likely encouraged JS to execute the deed. By signing the deed and confirming the sale of the land to , JS aided Marks in selling Kirtland property and providing funds to settle outstanding debts.
After the Smiths and Millers signed the deed on 8 July, judge certified the deed and the release of the wives’ dower rights. The next day , clerk for the Caldwell County court, certified Phelps’s authority by signing and sealing the document. The deed was then taken to , probably by , who had been instructed to return to Kirtland and manage church and business affairs there on behalf of the . In Kirtland the deed was given to , who brought it to , the Geauga County recorder in , Ohio. Cowles copied the deed into a Geauga County record book in October 1838. The original deed has not been located; the version featured here is the Geauga County record of the deed.
This was the second substantial land transaction between church leaders and the Frenches. In the first transaction, in 1833, church leaders purchased a large tract of land commonly referred to as the French farm; the KirtlandHouse of the Lord was built on a section of this tract. (See Historical Introduction to Minutes, 23 Mar. 1833–A.)
William Miller was born in Avon, New York, in 1814. He married Phebe Scott in May 1834 and was baptized into the church on 28 October 1834. He first bought land in Kirtland in November 1834, and he and Phebe moved there in fall 1835. They may have been involved in the 5 October 1836 transaction to help finance the purchase. William may also have been expected to act as an overseer since he owned land in an adjacent lot. (“Miller, William,” in Jenson, LDS Biographical Encyclopedia, 1:481–482; Geauga Co., OH, Deed Record, 1795–1921, vol. 19, pp. 178–179, 1 Nov. 1834, microfilm 20,238, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL.)
Jenson, Andrew. Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia: A Compilation of Biographical Sketches of Prominent Men and Women in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 4 vols. Salt Lake City: Andrew Jenson History Co., 1901–1936.
A warranty deed is one of the most common types of deed. It is used to convey or sell the title of land from one party to another when there is no lien or prior claim to the land. In contrast to a warranty deed, a quitclaim deed releases the owner’s title to, interest in, and claims to a property and conveys these rights to another person. (“Quit Claim,” and “Warranty,” in Bouvier, Law Dictionary, 2:321, 486–487; Greenwood, Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy, 409, 410.)
Bouvier, John. A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States of America, and of the Several States of the American Union; with References to the Civil and Other Systems of Foreign Law. 2 vols. Philadelphia: T. and J. W. Johnson, 1839.
Greenwood, Val D. The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy. 3rd ed. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 2000.
Samuel F. Whitney moved to Kirtland by 1828.a He was not a member of the church and had acted antagonistically toward JS and other church members.b However, after Newel K. Whitney left Kirtland in 1838, Samuel managed Newel’s Kirtland property and business affairs.c
(a“Died in Kirtland,” Deseret News, 26 May 1886, 297; Kirtland Township Trustees’ Minutes and Poll Book, 14 Oct. 1828, 61. bKirtland Township Trustees’ Minutes and Poll Book, 29 Oct. 1831, 82; see also Warrant, 21 Oct. 1833. cNewel K. Whitney, Power of Attorney to Samuel F. Whitney, 7 Nov. 1838; Samuel F. Whitney, Kirtland, OH, to Newel K. Whitney, Nauvoo, IL, 13 Jan. 1843, Newel K. Whitney, Papers, BYU.)
Deseret News. Salt Lake City. 1850–.
Kirtland Township Trustees’ Minutes and Poll Book, 1817–1838. Lake County Historical Society, Painesville, OH.
These promissory notes have not been located, but it was common practice for each of the promissory notes related to a mortgage or other purchase to be created, signed by the debtors, and then provided to the creditor at the time of the transaction. (See Mortgage to Mead, Stafford & Co., 11 July 1837.)
William W. Phelps was appointed a justice of the Caldwell County Court by Governor Lilburn W. Boggs on 4 February 1837. (Lilburn W. Boggs, Commission, Jefferson City, MO, to William W. Phelps, 4 Feb. 1837, William W. Phelps Commissions, CHL.)
To all people to whom these presents shall come Greeting: Know Ye that we Joseph Smith Jr. & his wife his wife Wm Miller, Phebe [Scott] Miller all of State— For the consideration of three thousand dollars to us in hand paid by — received to our full satisfaction of— the State of Ohio Co. of Geauga, township of — do remise release and forever unto the said to his heirs assigns— and to heirs and assigns forever, the following described Tract piece parcel, or Lot of land lying situate in the township of County of Geauga and the State of Ohio being in township number nine in the ninth Range of townships in the so called— being in Co— , being known by the farm deeded by & Sarah French his wife— deeded to Joseph Smith Jr. Wm Miller, which deed being dated the fifth day of October AD. one thousand Eight hundred & thirty six— To have and to hold the above granted and bargained premises with the appurtenances thereof unto him the said his heirs and assigns forever to his and their own proper use and behoof. So that neither they the said Joseph Smith Jr. & Firm nor— heirs nor any other person or persons claiming under them or their administrators or assigns Shall at any time hereafter by any ways or means have claim or demand any right or title to the aforesaid premises or appurtenances or any part thereof, In witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands and seals the Eighth day of July in the year of our Lord One thousand Eight hundred and thirty Eight—
Joseph Smith Jr Seal
Agnes M Smith Seal
William Miller Seal
Phebe Miller Seal
Signed Sealed and delivered in presence of
State of Missouri)
July 8. A.D. 1838—
Personally appeared Joseph Smith Jr. and William Miller who acknowledged that they did sign and seal the foregoing instrument and that the same is their free act and deed I further certify that I did examine the said and Phebe Miller separate and apart from their said husbands and did then and there make known to them the contents of the foregoing instrument and upon that examination they declared that they did voluntarily sign seal and acknowledged the same and that they was still satisfied therewith
This part of the deed released the dower rights the women legally had in the property after the deaths of their husbands. This release of rights required that the wives be questioned without their husbands present to ensure that the women understood the content of the deed and voluntarily accepted it. This procedure was followed in most instances in which a deed involved a married man. (An Act relating to Dower, [26 Jan. 1824], Statutes of Ohio, vol. 2, chap. 591, pp. 1314–1316; see also Mortgage to Peter French, 5 Oct. 1836.)
The Statutes of Ohio and of the Northwestern Territory, Adopted or Enacted from 1788 to 1833 Inclusive: Together with the Ordinance of 1787; the Constitutions of Ohio and of the United States, and Various Public Instruments and Acts of Congress: Illustrated by a Preliminary Sketch of the History of Ohio; Numerous References and Notes, and Copious Indexes. 3 vols. Edited by Salmon P. Chase. Cincinnati: Corey and Fairbank, 1833–1835.
“President Judge” indicates Phelps held the highest judicial position in the county court. (An Act to Establish Courts of Record and Prescribe Their Powers and Duties [7 Mar. 1835], Revised Statutes of the State of Missouri , p. 157, sec. 17.)
The Revised Statutes of the State of Missouri, Revised and Digested by the Eighth General Assembly, During the Years One Thousand Eight Hundred and Thirty-Four, and One Thousand Eight Hundred and Thirty-Five. Together with the Constitutions of Missouri and of the United States. 3rd ed. St. Louis: Chambers and Knapp, 1841.