Home > 000064. Ichabod Mattocks > Western New York Land Transactions, 1804-1824

Western New York Land Transactions, 1804-1824

Source: Karen E. Livsey, Western New York Land Transactions, 1804-1824, Extracted from the Archives of the Holland Land Company (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1991).

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The Holland Land Company – Brief History

The Holland Land Company was a stock corporation formed by six Dutch banking houses. Anxious to make investments in the new country where they had earlier made profitable loans, the banking houses joined together and followed other speculators into the land business. Early purchases included land in central New York and in northwestern Pennsylvania. After negotiations between New York and Massachusetts, lands in western New York became available for purchase. By 1797, when the Seneca Indians ceded most of their lands to the Company, 3.3 million acres in New York, west of the Genesee River, had been purchased by the various banking houses. These separate tracts were combined in the stock corporation and managed by the Holland Land Company office established on the Purchase. To keep accounts separate, these tracts were distinguished by the letters O, P, M, H, and W on maps and in Company correspondence and annual reports. The 3.3 million acres, known as the Genesee, or Holland, Purchase, plus the 40,000 Acre Tract and a twelve-mile strip known as Morris’ Reserve, both east of the Purchase, are the subject of this volume. (For further information on the negotiations and deeds to the Holland Land Company, see Orasmus Turner’s Pioneer History of the Holland Purchase of Western New York, Buffalo, NY: Jewett, Thomas & Co., 1849, pp. 396-415, 646-653; and Paul Evans’ The Holland Land Company, Buffalo, NY: Buffalo Historical Society, 1924, chapter VI. For a detailed look at the Holland Land Company, its origin and its operation, see Wilhelmina C. Pieterse’s Inventory of the Archives of the Holland Land Company 1789-1869, Municipal Printing Office of Amsterdam, 1976, pp. 9-24.)

Joseph ELLICOTT was hired to survey the Holland Purchase and divide it into townships and ranges. The ranges were numbered from 1 to 15, east to west, and were divided into townships numbered from south to north.

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Each township was to be about six miles square depending on the topography of the land. Townships were further divided into lots. Lots were laid out starting with number 1 in the southeast corner of the township and going north, then back to the southern boundary of the township and going north again. In early years, some townships were divided into sections and then lots, but this was not continued throughout the Purchase. (For an explanation of this, see Turner’s Pioneer History, pp. 404-05, or William Wyckoff’s The Developer’s Frontier, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1988, pp. 132-151.)

By late 1800, the survey of the separate large tracts and some townships and ranges was completed and the first land was opened to settlement. This land included only a little over a half-million acres located in the north of the Purchase between the east boundary and the present site of Buffalo. Joseph ELLICOTT was hired as the Resident Agent. He continued as Resident Agent until 1821 when his resignation was requested due to his health. (For a complete look at Joseph ELLICOTT and his influence on the settlement of western New York, see William Chazanof’s Joseph ELLICOTT and the Holland Land Company, Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1970.)

Although the Dutch planned to sell large tracts of land (at least half a township) to other speculators, most land was purchased in small amounts on credit by individual settlers. Settlers “articled” land, signing Articles of Agreement which outlined the terms under which they would purchase their land. The terms varied and were often adjusted by the agent as he saw fit. Generally a down payment was required, interest terms agreed to, and a time limit for payment specified, usually eight to ten years.

Deeds were not given until the account was paid in full. An exception to this occurred during the time that New York State required voters to be landowners. Since few settlers on the Purchase met this requirement and thus had no voice in political matters, deeds were given to some settlers for as much land as they had paid for and

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had cleared. This proved impractical, as the cleared land to be deeded was often in the center of the total articled parcel. This practice was soon stopped, but by this time enough settlers owned land to have a voice in the politics of the area. Settlers who moved their families to their purchase and made improvements were favored by the agents, but they often received articles only after this was accomplished, as they had no cash for a down payment. Some articles are recorded in the Land Tables with as little as 25 cents down. With settlements established, the Company hoped to attract more people to the Purchase. This was important as the Company was in competition with land sellers just to the east of the Purchase as well as in Ontario and Ohio. In the effort to have committed settlers on the Purchase, the agents tended to be lenient in the collection of payments due on accounts if the settler was living and working on his purchase. (For a thorough treatment of the varied terms of contracts and reasons for leniency in collections, see Evans’ The Holland Land Company, chapters 7 and 8.)

By the time Joseph ELLICOTT resigned as Resident Agent, much land had been articled, but the collection of payments was slow. By 1827, ELLICOTT and the General Agent in the Philadelphia office, Paul BUSTI, had been succeeded by David E. EVANS and John J. VAN DER KEMP, who made an effort to collect on outstanding accounts. Payments in cattle, wheat and some other commodities were accepted because of the lack of hard money. Due to compounding of interest and other factors, many accounts owed much more than the value of the land. An effort was made to adjust all those accounts to a reasonable value. Incentives were offered to people to renegotiate their contracts and to pay on them yearly. Many did this but some still believed that the Company would not foreclose, and payments were not made. The Company, still trying to maintain a good image, did not take many defaulters to court. As time went on, and the rumor that the Company was planning to sell the wild lands and the accounts to other land companies spread, more and more people paid on their accounts, and many received deeds before the Company land was sold in 1835. (For

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details of this period, see Evans’ The Holland Land Company, chapters 9-11.)

The Records

Through these years, much correspondence and many records were created and, most importantly, were kept. By 1839 all lands in the Holland Purchase had been sold to domestic speculators. The Batavia office of the Holland Land Company and the sub-agencies were taken over by the domestic land companies which had purchased the lands and accounts. An act of the New York Legislature in 1839 transferred some records, such as deeds, surveys and maps, to the state, but other papers were retained by the Company. The office in Philadelphia remained open until 1856 when the Holland Land Company no longer had any interests in the United States. All papers were then shipped to Amsterdam where they were placed in the custody of the VAN EEGHEN family, one of the member banking houses of the Holland Land Company. They are still owned by the family but are now in the custody of the Municipal Archives of Amsterdam.

Efforts to transfer these papers to a United States repository or to microfilm them have met with roadblocks over the years, mostly due to lack of financing for such a project. In 1964, the archives of the Holland Land Company were transferred to the Municipal Archives of Amsterdam. They were sorted and arranged and an inventory was made in preparation for a microfilming project. In the 1970s Franciska SAFRAN, a librarian at Reed Library, SUNY, College at Fredonia, while researching William PEACOCK, a surveyor and Land Agent for the Holland Land Company, learned of the earlier efforts to microfilm the archives of the Company. After a successful search for funding, Mrs. SAFRAN, now Project Director of the Holland Land Company Manuscript Preservation Project, saw the microfilming of the archives become a reality. The microfilms number 202 rolls and once again bring an important part of the history of western New York and Pennsylvania back home.

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The Project has continued to identify records in the United States important to the history of the Holland Land Company and to microfilm as many of them as possible. The Project is housed at Reed Library, SUNY, College at Fredonia, Fredonia, New York. The microfilm from Amsterdam is the important core of this collection. Copies of these microfilms are also located at the Library of Congress, New York State Library, New York Public Library, and the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. The films are available on interlibrary loan from Reed Library and from the Family History Library through its network of branch libraries. (For more information on the microfilming project, see Franciska Safran’s “The Preservation of the Holland Land Company Records,” New York History, April 1988.)

The Land Tables

Joseph ELLICOTT’s first contract with the Company required that he make annual reports “which shall contain clear and distinct accounts and statements of all Lands within that year by him sold, and how, at what prices, on what Terms and conditions, the sums of money by him received in part payment, the securities given for the deferred payments, and what Lands remain unsold.” (For the entire contract between Joseph ELLICOTT and the Holland Land Company and his correspondence and annual reports, see Reports of Joseph ELLICOTT, 2 vols., edited by Robert Warwick Bingham, Buffalo, NY: Buffalo Historical Society, 1937.) Sent with the annual reports were the Land Tables, which include the accounts as outlined above. These Land Tables were not reproduced in the printed Reports of Joseph ELLICOTT. They are found in the archives of the Holland Land Company in Amsterdam and have been microfilmed as part of the Holland Land Company Manuscript Preservation Project.

The Land Office was first located near Buffalo and then moved to Batavia in 1801. Land was sold beginning in November 1800, although Joseph ELLICOTT did not reach

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the Office until December 1800. The records for the first few years are not included in the Land Tables, which begin with the year 1804. Earlier land transactions are found in other records. Some are in the Amsterdam records and appear in Joseph ELLICOTT’s annual reports. Turner’s Pioneer History does include lists of purchasers for the years 1801 to 1807. Some 1801 and 1802 purchases are included in the printed Reports of Joseph ELLICOTT. Some early contracts do appear in the 1804 Land Tables and some in the later records as they reverted or were divided or renewed.

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The primary use of this book is to associate a name (person) with a location in a given time period. It also functions as an index to the Land Tables in the archives of the Holland Land Company in Amsterdam and in the microfilm of the archives.

These extracts provide only the basic information of name, place, and date, with additional information regarding the type of transaction recorded and a reference to the original source. See the Table of Transactions for further explanation of the types of transactions recorded.

Names are transcribed as recorded in the Land Tables. Abbreviations, such as Wm., have been used only if they were used in the original. The only change is in the use of Jr. instead of Jun. and Sr. instead of Sen. Names connected with an ampersand (&) are included in the same transaction and appear together in the original. Often the same name is spelled differently even on the same page, so use your imagination and look for spelling variants. The handwriting is quite readable but the similarity of L and S made it very difficult to differentiate the two, especially when used as initials in the early years.

The date given is the date of the transaction, in the form of day, month, and year. See the abbreviations list for the abbreviations used for month. The year is 18-, except for the one entry of 99, which is 1799. For notes in which no date was given, the last day of the year is used.

The location within the Purchase is given by the STR column (Section, Township, Range) – 041204 would be Section 4, Township 12, Range 4. Lots within villages are indicated by the first six letters of the village name in the STR column. See the village list for complete names and locations. The few sales in the area known as Morris’ Reserve are indicated by MR in the Section part of STR. A sale in the 40,000 Acre Tract is indicated by

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40MAcr in the STR column. Lot numbers are given to help narrow down the area within the Township. The original often gives a written description of the area of the lot such as the “W 1/2 of M 1/3” (west half of the middle third of lot X). Sometimes the description is given as “Pt.” meaning “part of lot X”. What may seem to be duplicate entries in the extracts are usually separate articles to different parts of the same lot. See the county list for a breakdown of the Townships in the various counties. The list was taken from Turner’s Pioneer History and is accurate as of 1849. Changes in town boundaries have taken place since then, so towns are not included here but are in Turner’s list. Be aware of the county changes during the early time period. A good guide to this is J.H. French’s Gazetteer of the State of New York (1860).

The type of transaction – column D – will give clues to what is taking place. See the Table of Transactions for descriptions. To use this information, keep the following in mind:

If the transaction is the original article (O), the buyer may not be present on the land for some time, if ever.

If there are subsequent receipts (S) for him at the same location, he was probably resident there.

If there are no subsequent receipts,

-He may have paid outright and received a deed, so check the land records in the appropriate county.

-He may still be there, just not paying on the land; look in later records, especially renewed or divided articles.

-He may have abandoned the article or traded for other land later. Look for later original articles or renewed or divided articles.

-He may have sold his article and any improvements to someone else who is now paying on the land, so look for other people paying on land in the same area. You will have to check the microfilm to get the exact description of the part of the lot in question. The new people may also turn up in the “Tables of Articles Renewed or Divided.”

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-He may have died and a widow, son, or son-in-law is paying on the land. Again, look for other people paying on land of the same description or look for the article to be renewed or divided.

Other transactions such as renewals may show that he still wants to purchase the land but has not paid on it and is renewing his article now that the agreed time period is up. At this time there may be other people involved in the renewal. At other times divisions were made. The original purchaser and others divide the land in question and new articles are granted.

The Ref-Page column refers to the original and its copy on the microfilm. The three-digit reference number is the Inventory Item Number assigned to each item in the archives of the Holland Land Company. Each Land Table folder or volume has an Inventory Item Number and each has page numbers. The folder for 1804-06 consists of loose papers with three separate paginations, one for each year. An asterisk (*) indicates a page in the second pagination and the symbol # indicates a page in the third pagination. Occasionally some pages are unnumbered. These are indicated by a and b, a being the first unnumbered page following a numbered page, b being the second unnumbered page.

The original Land Tables are grouped by Tract letter within each year. Within these, the transactions are recorded in Township and Range order. The “Original Articles” and the “Subsequent Receipts Tables” are the largest and usually are first. The other tables follow with transactions grouped by Tract letter and then by Township and Range. This order is maintained in the book, so it is possible to check the same land description from year to year within the book since the same Townships and Ranges are listed together.

Be sure to check the dates to see who else articled land on the same day as the person you are following. Or see who else paid on land on the same day. Friends, neighbors and relatives often travelled together.

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O Table of Original Articles or Deeds. First purchasers of land. Some settlers paid for their land immediately and received a deed. These are included in the Table of Original Articles. Most purchasers received an Article of Agreement with a time limit for payment.
P This indicates an original article listed again in a later Table, usually a Table of Explanation (Articles Divided) or a Table of Renewed Articles. The original article will be renewed or divided in the Table showing to whom and for what land new articles were issued.
S Table of Subsequent Receipts: This includes all payments received on accounts after the original article was executed.

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W Table of Articles Renewed. After the time was up purchasers could renew their articles for an additional time period but usually at a higher purchase price. It is in this table that new and additional purchasers show up for the same land as was previously articled. The original article is listed (indicated with a P in this book) and then the new articles are listed (W).

[page 31]
William BURLINGHAME 19De06 1,3,5 071002 O 487-0012
[page 46]
William BURLINGHAME 19De06 1,3,5 071002 O 488-0036
Abel BURLINGHAME 28Se07 7,9 071002 O 488-0036
[page 66]
Wanton BURLINGIM 01Mr11 6 071002 O 489-0017
Ichabod MATTOCKS 11My11 6 071002 O 489-0017 [Wyoming County]
[page 111]
Wanton BURLINGAME 12De14 6 071002 S 492-0033
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William BURLLINGGAME 13My15 15 001402 O 493-0029
[page 129]
Ricketson BURLINGAME 06No14 21 000406 O 493-0043
[page 134]
Wanton BURLINGAME 01Mr15 6 071002 S 493-0065
Charles L. IMUS 22Apr15 9 111002 S 493-0065
Wonton BURLINGAME 22Apr15 6 071002 S 493-0065
[page 170]
Wanton BURLINGAME 08Oc16 18 000801 W 494-0093
William BURLINGAME 19De06 1,3,5 071002 P 494-0096
William BURLINGAME 19De06 1,3,5 071002 P 494-0096
[page 171]
Wanton BURLINGAME 20De16 1,3,5 071002 W 494-0097
[page 177]
William BURLINGHAM 18Jun17 22 000601 O 495-0016
Hopkins BURLINGHAM, Jr. 18Jun17 22 000601 O 495-0016
Ressell BURLINGAME 05Jy17 57 000602 O 495-0016
Russell BURLINGAME 05Jy17 57 000602 O 495-0017
[page 179]
Wanton BURLINGAME 19Mr17 18 000801 S 495-0026
[page 190]
Abel BURLINGIM 28Se07 7,9 071002 P 495-0077
Ephraim BURLINGIM 29Se17 7,9 071002 W 495-0078
[page 197]
Ricketson BURLINGAME 13No16 62 000406 O 496-0015
[page 226]
Ichabod MATTOCKS 11My11 6 071002 P 497-0065
[page 227]
Ichabod MATTOCKS 12My19 6 071002 W 497-0066
[page 243]
John MATTOCKS 26Ap19 63 000315 O 498-0027 [Orleans County]
[page 308]
Ichabod MATTOCKS 22Se23 6 071002 S 501-0022
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Wanton BURLINGAME 08Oc16 18 000801 P 501-0028
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