The Turcks – Catskill to Palmyra, 1828

The Peter and Rachael (Gay) Turck family in Wayne Co. deeds (part 1)

This post will make more sense if you read our previous Monday: Map Day! post first. And then grab a hot beverage and settle in for some quality time with old legal documents

If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you may have noticed that I usually like to gather various bits of evidence, think about them for a bit—”behind the scenes,” so to speak—and then present them to you as a coherent (I hope!) narrative that sheds light on some aspect of the history of the Clark House, its inhabitants or their community. For years, I’ve wanted to do that with the story of the Peter and Rachael (Gay) Turck family and their migration to Wayne County, New York in the late 1820s, but we have very few records of the family from this period.

In order to make an accurate timeline of the Turcks’ years near the Erie Canal, I need to—finally—wade through the few records that do exist: land deeds recorded in Vol. 12 of the Wayne County, New York, deed books. The legal prose in these deeds is often so thick and convoluted that it’s hard to just skim them and find the useful bits. So since I need to transcribe, read, and interpret a number of handwritten deeds anyway, I thought I’d share the process with you, here on the blog. Today will be the first of several posts featuring transcriptions of the old deeds. Once we’ve transcribed them, we’ll sort through each and see what we can find out about the Turcks’ lives in the eight years before they came to the Wisconsin Territory.

The Challenge

Here’s the first page of today’s deed. Peter Turck’s contract (“indenture”) to purchase land begins about a third of the way down the page, just below the horizontal double-line:

Turck, Peter, indenture to purchase land, dated April 21, 1828, Wayne County, New York, Deed Books, Vol. 12, page 266,, “United States, New York Land Records, 1630-1975,” database with images, New York, Wayne, Deeds 1832-1834, vol 12-13, image 140 of 664. Deed concludes on following page, image 141 of 664, originally p. 267. Click to open larger image in new window.

What’s it say?

The good news is that this Wayne County courthouse clerk has a neat and legible scribal hand, and there are only a few hard-to-read words. Ready? Here’s the transcription:

This Indenture, made the twenty first day of April in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and twenty eight between Ellera Potter + Catharine Potter his wife, of the town of Marion in the county of Wayne, of the first part; and Peter Turck of Catskill in the county of Greene of the second part, witnesseth, that the said parties of the first part, for and in consideration of the sum of one thousand four hundred and seventy five dollars, to them in hand paid by the said party of the second part, the receipt whereof is hereby confessed and acknowledged, have granted, bargained, sold, aliened, remised, released and conveyed; and by these presents do grant, bargain, sell, alien, remise, release and convey unto the said party of the second part, and to his heirs and assigns forever, all that certain tract or parcel of land, situate in the town of Palmyra, in the county of Wayne and State of New York, bounded as follows, on the north by lands owned by Grandier Gardner Hix, on the west also by lands owned by the said Gardner Hicks on the south by lands owned by Isaac Durfee, deceased, and Marcus Cole, on the east by lands owned by the heirs of Job Durfee, deceased, and the land of Levi Hicks containing seventy six acres, as the same was conveyed to the said party of the first part by the agent of the Pultney Estate. Together with all and singular the hereditaments and appurtenances thereunto belonging or in anywise appertaining, and the reversion and reversions, remainder and remainders, rents, issues, and profits thereof; and all the estate, right, title, interest, claim and demand whatsoever, of the said party of the first part, either in law or equity, of, in and to the above bargained premises with the said hereditaments and appurtenances; to have and to hold the said premises above described to the said party of the second part, his heirs and assigns, to the sole and only proper use, benefit and behoof of the said party of the second part, his heirs and assigns forever. And the said Ellera Potter for himself, his heirs, executors and administrators, doth covenant, grant, bargain and agree to and with the said party of the second part, his heirs and assigns, that at the time of the ensealing and delivery of these presents, he is well seized of the premises above conveyed as of a good, sure, perfect, absolute and indefeasible estate of inheritance in the law in fee simple; and that the above bargained premises in the quiet and peaceable possession of the said party of the second part, his heirs and assigns, against all and singular every person or

The original deed book page 266 ends here. The contract continues at the top of the following page 267 (click here for page image):

persons lawfully claiming or to claim the whole of any part thereof, [t]he said Ellera Potter will forever warrant and defend. In witness whereof, the parties of the first part have hereunto set their hands and seals the day and year first above written.
Ellera Potter {seal}
Catherine /her X mark/ Potter {seal}
Signed, sealed and delivered }
in the presence of Th. P Baldwin}
Theron R. Strong, as to Catharine Potter}
State of New York}
Wayne County} ss: I, Thomas P. Baldwin, a commissioner in and for said county under act of 19 April 1823, do certify that on this 21 day of April 1828 personally appeared before me the within grantor Ellera Potter, to me known as the same person described in and who executed the within deed, and who acknowledged he had executed + delivered the same for the purposes therin mentioned. Th. P. Baldwin
Wayne, ss: On this 29th. December 1832, came before me Catherine Potter, wife of Ellera Potter mentioned in the within Deed, and known to me as one of the grantors therein described, and acknowledged that she had executed the same freely, without fear, threat or compulsion from her said husband.
Th. P. Baldwin, Judge
Wayne County Courts

A true copy, recorded January 1st, 1833 at 12 O’Clock M. /s/ Cullen Foster Dep Clerk

 What’s it mean?

  • On April 21, 1828, Peter Turck of Catskill, Greene county, New York, bought land in Palmyra Township, Wayne County, New York
  • Turck’s purchase included 76 acres of land and everything on it (hereditaments and appurtenances) including—presumably—a house, and perhaps a barn and so forth, but no buildings are specified in the deed
  • He paid $1,475.00—cash in hand—to the sellers, Ellera Potter and his wife Catherine Potter
  • This must have been very desirable land, whether because of its proximity to the Erie Canal and the rapidly growing village of Palmyra, its value as productive farm land, or both. In any case, Turck paid just over $19.41 per acre for his parcel, while farther west, newly opened federal lands were available for only $1.25 per acre.

Where was Turck’s new land?

Peter’s new land was in Palmyra Township, Wayne County. Click here for an overview of Wayne County, and an 1829 map of the area. Unlike the new federal lands in the west, legal land descriptions in older states, such as New York, were not based on the towns, ranges and meridians of the Rectangular Survey System, but on the older method of citing neighboring parcels and their owners. Peter Turck’s new parcel was bounded on the:

  • North side, by land of Gardner Hix [=Hicks]
  • West side, by more land of Gardner Hicks
  • South side, by lands of Isaac Durfee and Marcus Cole
  • East side, by lands of the heirs of Job Durfee (deceased) and Levi Hicks

In a future post, I’ll share some Wayne County maps from the 1850s that mark land owner’s names and locations, some 15 to 20 years after the Turcks left for Wisconsin. We’ll see if we can use those maps to locate this 1828 Turck property more precisely.

What new things do we learn about Peter Turck?

This deed records the buyer as Peter Turck, “of Catskill, Greene county.” So Peter and, we assume, his wife Rachael, and their children Mary (b. 1821), Joseph R. (b. 1823), Adamy/Adama (b. 1825) and baby Elizabeth (born February 22, 1828), were still in Catskill as late as April 21, 1828. Since Rachael was not an official party to this April 21, 1828, Wayne county purchase, it seems reasonable to think that she remained at home in Catskill with the children while Peter traveled to the Town of Marion, Wayne County, to purchase their new land. Presumably, the family moved to Palmyra Township sometime after April 21.

Peter Turck celebrated his thirtieth birthday on March 11, 1828. He had been married about eight or nine years, was the father of four children, and yet he already had substantial capital set aside—almost $1,500 in cash—to move west and buy new land.

Looking ahead

I have not been able to find Peter Turck on the 1820 federal census. I’ve always assumed he was still living with relatives, friends or, perhaps, an employer. But by the time he was 30, Peter had substantial cash savings, enough to purchase 76 acres in booming Palmyra Township. Where did his money come from? Did he own land back in Greene county? If so, did he sell that land, and how much did he earn by selling it before migrating to Palmyra?

In upcoming posts, we’ll look for possible Turck land purchases and sales in Greene county. Also, the deed indexes in Wayne County show that Peter—and Rachael—Turck made several more land purchases and sales in Wayne County between 1828 and 1836 or so. We’ll find and decipher those deeds and see what light those transactions can bring to the Turck family’s life near the Erie Canal, before their move to Mequon.

And, of course, there’ll be a few surprises.

Be well, Stay safe.