Saturday, June 14, 2014

Henry Vanmatre's Will

The story of my 7th-great-grandfather Henry Vanmatre (also spelled Vanmetre or Vanmeter) is a long one, and his name is mentioned in several historical accounts from the opening of the Pennsylvania wilderness in the mid to late 1700s. During his life, Henry was a pioneer, land owner, justice of the peace and a well-known leader in Washington and Greene Counties, Pennsylvania. There are differences of opinion on the identity of his parents, and how he is descended from the prominent Van Meteren family who arrived in America in 1662. I am going to proceed slowly through available records, starting with the will of Henry Vanmatre.

Henry's will can be found in the FamilySearch Pennsylvania Probate Records, 1683-1994 for Greene County, Wills 1796-1862, Volume 1-3 (beginning with Image 53 of 615). For readability purposes I have divided this into several screen shots and I am including a transcription below.
Will of Henry Vanmatre, deceased}
In the name of God amen, I Henry Vanmatre of the County of Greene in the State of Pennsylvania, being in good health at the present and of sound mind and memory, well knowing the certainty of life, do make declare and publish this my last Will and Testament viz after my death it is my desire that my body be decently buried at the discretion of my friends, and my soul I commit to Almighty God who gave it. As to my worldly affairs it is my will and desire in the first place that all my just debts to be lawfully paid, and remaining part of my estate to be divided among my Wife and Children in the following order viz

In the first place I give and bequeath to my beloved wife Martha, all my household furniture and cash, together with one third part of all my personal estate after my debts are fully paid, and the third part of the profits of my real estate during her natural life in line of her dower.

Item 2nd. To my grandsons Joab and Henry Vanmatre sons of Joseph Vanmatre, I will and bequeath five pounds each in cash to be paid to their father in trust for them until they arrive severally to the age of twenty-one years.

Item 3rd. To my eldest son Joseph Vanmatre, I will and bequeath five shillings in cash in addition to the plantation I have already given him.

Item 4th. To my eight daughters namely Sarah, Alice, Rachel, Elizabeth, Phebe, Rebekah, Martha and Mary, I will and bequeath each of them five shillings lawful money in addition to what I have already given them.

Item 5th. To my second son Jesse Vanmatre I do devise one hundred and ninety acres of land in fee simple to be taken off the east side of the same plantation on which I live as follows Beginning at a white oak corner by land of Daniel Moredock deceased marked HV running south nineteen degrees west perches to a sand stone in my Meadow marked HV thence south twenty four degrees east twenty four perches to a white oak thence south forty degrees east seventy nine perches to a white oak thence south twenty perches to a white oak, thence south thirty six degrees east nineteen perches to a post, thence south twenty one degrees west twentynine perches to a post on the original line, thence with said line to the place of Begining to include all of the improvements and and now in possession of said son Jesse.

Item 6th. To my son Absolom Vanmatre I do devise two hundred and thirty four acres of land in fee simple it being the residue in the place I now live on.

Item 7th. To my son Henry Vanmatre Jr. I do devise in confirmation of a deed of conveyance already given him by me for two hundred and fifty acres of land situate lying and being in Kanahwa County in the State of Virginia it being part of a larger tract land which my son Abraham [note - this is an error, it should be Absolom] and myself purchased of Isaac Robertson.

Item 8th. To my son John Vanmatre I do devise in fee the residue of my claim adjoining the land mentioned in the last devise purchased by myself and son Absolom of Isaac Robertson containing by survey two hundred and fifty acres Begining at a stake green poplar and white oak running south ten degrees west two hundred and twenty seven perches to a Spanish oak corner marked HV on Peter Hoge's line, thence south seventy degrees east with said Hoge's line to a stake and stone marked HV on the west side and AVS on the east side by land of Anthony Vansickles thence with said land north twenty seven degrees east two hundred and forty six perches to a stone marked HV on the western side and AVS on the eastern side thence down Francis Watkins line to the place of Begining provided nevertheless that if it shall so happens that the said John Vanmatre shall die without lawful issue then in that case I devise that the last mentioned tract of land containing two hundred and fifty acres to my grand son William Thomas in fee simple.

Item 9th. To my said grandson William Thomas I will and bequeath one horse, one breeding mair, two cows and one set of plow irons and geers, six sheep, and bed and bedding, and also it is my will and desire that he shall have an equal divide with the other legatees in my personal estate all to have and to share and share alike. I do also appoint my son Jesse Vanmatre and my son in law Charles Swan my Executors of this my last Will and Testament. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal the twentieth day of April in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and one. Note the word divide underlined the other legatees araised before signed.

Henry Vanmatre {seal}

Signed sealed published pronounced and declared in the presence of John Heaton, Robert Cather, William Meetkerke, Thomas Hughes.

Greene County} On the tenth day of February in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and three before me John Boreman Register for the probate of Wills and granting letters of administration in and for the said county personally came Robert Cather and Thomas Hughes Esquires two of the subscribing witnesses to the foregoing and annexed instrument of writing and on their solemn Oaths did dispose and say that they were present and saw and heard Henry Vanmatre the testator within named, sign, seal, publish, pronounce and declare the same as last Will and testament, and that at the time of doing thereof, he was of sound and disposing mind, memory and understanding, to the best of their knowledge, observation and belief, and further sayeth out.

Sworn and subscribed the day above written before me, John Boreman, Register} Robert Cather, Thos. Hughes.

Registered the 10th of February 1803, and letters testamentary granted to Jesse Vanmatre and Charles Swan, Executors, the same day.

I will have analysis on this in a subsequent post, but it is clear this is a very valuable document to have available. It lists Henry's wife as Martha, all his children and the location of his land. It also lists his neighbors and refers back to earlier purchases in Kanawha County (present day West Virginia).    

1 comment:

  1. In terms of names and relationships in wills, this one seems to be almost perfect because he named all this children as son or daughter. If the daughters were married, he neglected to mention their married names. Of course I didn't go through it with a fine-toothed comb....


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