Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Will of William and Margaret Hoffman

These were the grandparents of S. C. Hoffman, my great-grandfather. They lived most of their lives in Greene County, Illinois, on land about 5 miles southeast of Carrollton. William was the son of Benjamin Hoffman, and Margaret's maiden name was Margaret Goforth.

This document is not actually a Will, but it accomplishes most of what a Will would. I will use a series of posts to show why this document is SO important to tracing our Hoffman roots. A copy can still be found in the Court House in Carrollton, Illinois.

Deed Book S S of Greene County Illinois p. 383-384

Filed June 13, 1870

This indenture made the eleventh day of June in the year of our Lord one thousand and eight hundred and seventy, between William Hoffman and Margaret Hoffman his wife, party of the first part, and William A. Hoffman party of the second part.... the following described parcel of land...: the north half of the northeast quarter and the southeast quarter of the northeast quarter of section one township nine north of range twelve Greene County State of Illinois.

William A. Hoffman (the youngest son) was to inherit the land with the condition that he would ... on the death of the said William and Margaret ... the sum of one hundred dollars to each of the following named persons to wit: John Hoffman, Harriett Witt, Sarah Perry, Eliza Wright, Carolina Gano. Also the like sum of one hundred dollars to the heirs at law of Mary Skeen, and the like sum of one hundred dollars to the heirs of Mariah Jane Davis...

William and Margaret were to retain possession of the land during their 'natural life', after which the son was to proceed with the payments and inherit the land. The reason this is such an important document, is the way in which the son disposed of the land.

After both of the parents died (William in 1871 and Margaret in 1881) William A. Hoffman sold the land to Michael C. McMahon for three thousand dollars. The tricky part was that the 'one hundred dollars' had to be paid to each of his brothers and sisters, or - in 3 cases - their descendants, because theses three children had died before their parents. This had to be done before Mr. McMahon could get a clear title, and these payments had to be documented at the Greene county courthouse.

It took about 7 years for all of this to happen - remember there were no telephones, or email. It was possible to send a letter, but it could only travel as fast a horse!

In my next post I will show what information is in these documents and give an example of one of them.

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