Generation VI: Epaphroditus & Temperance Penley
Never more are the knowledge and wisdom of Jerry Penley missed more than when dealing with the land deeds and surveys in Scott County. All twelve of Epp and Tempie's children are documented as born in Russell/Scott County, Virginia, beginning with daughter Jane in 1805. However, Epp's first documented purchase of land took place in 1817. Where did Epp and his wife Temperance live before 1817? Uncle Joshua Penley was a documented Scott County tax payer by 1799, but his first documented land purchase was not until 1806. Where did Joshua Penley live until 1806?
During the Revolution and the renegade Indian attacks against settlers that lasted until Chief Benge's death in 1792, occupation of frontier homes was sporadic and dangerous. Fraudulent land dealers sold "deeds" on land they did not own. Some settlers bought land directly from the Indians, only to have the sale negated by government. Wealthy land speculators bought up thousands of acres of legitimate land deeds from the government, often including homesteads of people who had purchased bogus deeds or had not yet paid fees to have their land surveyed and recorded.
It has become the thesis of this research that Epp's father, Thomas Penley established a homestead in Washington/Russell/Scott County by 1782. See the smudged 1782 Washington County Personal Property Tax List. No other tax entry, deed or survey has been found prior to 1799. Penleys were there. They were tithable. They were taxed. They had wives and children, cattle and horses, but no recorded land deed has been found until 1806 for Joshua, 1810 for Joshua's son, John, and 1817 for Epp.
Penley researchers have long assumed that Epp was raised by Uncle Joshua after the death of his father, Thomas Penley, but no proof exists that Epp lived with Joshua. Jane Penley, the firstborn child of Epp and Temperance Penley, was born in 1805 in Russell/Scott County. Their second child was also born in Russell/Scott County, in 1806. Epp is listed as tithable and head of his own household by 1810, he is listed separately, not included as tithable under Joshua’s name. He married Temperance by 1804, and had a growing family including seven children by 1820. No recorded land deed has been found before his 1817 purchase.
When Joshua Penley died intestate in 1814, it took many years to settle his estate which was not fully settled until 1829 just before his son John left for Kentucky. In 1816, there was a land transaction in which Joshua Penley's land was sold. That transaction requires further investigation. After that sale, John Penley was hauled into court and forced to post a $1,000 bond on the settlement of Joshua’s estate (per the late Jerry Penley at PenjaccPhoto.com). Why would Joshua’s only heir in Scott County be forced to post such a large bond AFTER sale of THIRTY acres of land that was not even valued near the amount of the bond? At the average going price of only two dollars per acre, Joshua's only known land would have sold for about $60.
The Mystery of Epp’s First Land:
Shortly after the sale of Joshua’s 30 acres in 1816 by his son John, Epaphroditus Penley bought his first land in his own name for 200 dollars in hard cash, no mortgage attached. It is believed here that this rare cash purchase was possible because of a settlement that Epp received from John Penley for assets in Joshua’s possession. John Penley would have needed to settle up with his cousin Epp if some of Joshua's assets had belonged to Epp’s father, our Thomas Penley.
It is believed that the bond and controversy surrounding Joshua’s estate were due to the fact that the court was aware that there were additional heirs or assets that had never been transferred to Joshua’s name, or property in Joshua’s possession that was not legally Joshua’s.
Why was John Penley not released from his court ordered bond until 1829 if Joshua's only property was the 30 acres that John sold in 1816? Why was Joshua's estate settled in Russell County when Joshua's only known property was clearly in Scott County? Joshua's death could have occurred just before the creation of Scott County, but that does not explain the $1,000 bond on a $60 estate, or the SIXTEEN years required to settle Joshua's estate.
It is the thesis of this research that Joshua's estate was complicated by additional land owned by his brother Thomas, held in trust by Joshua for Thomas' orphaned son Epp. If Epp owned no land until 1817, how did a squatter or renter suddenly achieve $200 "cash in hand" to buy property from Samuel Lane? Without property from which to derive income, how did Epp accumulate $200?
*Epp’s First Land:Shortly after the sale of Joshua’s 30 acres in 1817 by his son John, Epaphroditus Penley bought his first land in his own name for 200 dollars in hard cash, no mortgage attached. It is believed here that this rare cash purchase was possible because of a settlement that Epp received from John Penley for assets in Joshua’s possession. John would have no need to settle up with his cousin if some of the assets had not belonged to Epp’s father, our Thomas Penley.
Joshua Penley's Only Known Land Deed:
Although Uncle Joshua Penley appeared on the Russell County Personal Property Tax list beginning in 1799, his first recorded purchase of land (30 acres on the north side of Copper Creek) is not recorded until 1806. Joshua's land was bounded by the land owned by Reuban Mathews and Uriah Prewit.
Joshua's son John Penley purchased 50 acres of land in 1810 from Samuel Estep on Big Moccasin Creek. John Penley's 1810 purchase was bounded by the land of Corbin Lane, James Davison (Davidson), Joseph Jeffries, David Gillum, and Thomas Prosise (or Price). (Russell Co, Va, Deed Book 4-334). According to Jerry Penley, John Penley sold this 50 acres in 1822 to Abraham Lane.
Samuel and Marah Lane sold Epp Penley 100 acres in 1817 for $200 "cash in hand". Epp's land was bounded by Samuel Estepp and Shadrack Estepp, and was part of the original James Davison land grant of 13, 352 acres. Davison's land grant was bounded by Corbin Lane's land deed, and Estepp married a Lane daughter.
From the information found to date, it appears that Epp's 100 acre purchase in 1817 was in the same general area as his cousin John Penley's 1810 purchase of fifty acres, as they both shared a boundary with Corbin Lane. However, Epp's land is cited as located on the waters of Copper Creek, but John's 1810 purchase was cited as located on Big Moccasin Creek.
There is an interesting sentence at the end of the 1817 deed in which Epp is released from "the reversion or reversing remainder and remainders and rents and issues thereof and all the States right title and Interest". Esteemed genealogist Jerry Penley proposed that this clause may have indicated that Epp Penley had been renting this same land from Samuel Lane prior to the purchase. Perhaps Epp rented land from Samuel Lane after Joshua's land was sold, while waiting on cousin John Penley to deliver his part of the proceeds.
The full text of Epp's 1817 deed is published below.
In 1829, John Penley was deeded 72 acres on the south side of Copper Creek which appears to be in the area known as Copper Creek Knobs. It is rather curious that John received this deed as the final settlement of Joshua's estate and release from his bond was being processed.
This deed does not list a seller or previous owner, no sale price is indicated, no payment to the State or any individual is stated. Unlike other deeds in this era, no previous surveys are referenced. In fact, this deed is not categorized as a purchase. It appears to be the legal recording of the survey and deed for land already in John Penley's possession, very possibly land that was part of his father Joshua's estate.
This 1829 deed may well represent land that had belonged first to Thomas Penley, then his brother, Joshua Penley, and finally transferred legally to John Penley in 1829. This deed could be the answer to the recurring question of where Joshua, John, and Epp lived before Joshua's first known purchase of land in 1806. Joshua appeared on the Russell County Tax List in 1799, but was not documented as buying land until 1806. This land could have been originally owned by Thomas Penley.
Russell County land transactions are extensively recorded from 1786 until 1814 at the Russell County website. (http://www.rootsweb.com/~varussel/deeds/index.html), but no record of this tract is found there. The absence of any purchase transaction records on this deed may indicate that it was granted or purchased by a Penley before 1786, or after 1814, but the settlement of Joshua Penley's estate in Russell County instead of Scott County points to an earlier transaction.
In WITNESS WHEREOF, the said John Floyd, Esquire Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, hath hereunto set his Hand, and caused the lesser Seal of the said Commonwealth to be affixed, at Richmond, on the twentieth day of May in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty and of the Commonwealth the fifty-fourth. John Floyd (signature)"
The only unclear part of the above property description is the reference to Peter cave (??) spring branch waters. In northern Scott County there is a Peters Branch that connects to Obey Creek, which then connects at the northern bank of Copper Creek. A Peters Hollow is located northwest of Gate City along state highway 936, but closer to Little Moccasin Creek than Copper Creek. See the Scott County map for the approximate location of this deed. Research indicates several salt petre caves in Scott County, but no exact location has been found. Again, Jerry Penley could probably have pointed to this exact location, but we lost Jerry in 2006.
Shortly after the 1830 Census, John and Rebecca (Lane) Penley moved to Kentucky. Jerry Penley provided a transcript which indicates that John Penley's 1829 land deed was purchased by one David Nelson, and then sold by Nelson to Epp Penley in 1837.
On the 20th day of May, 1837, Ep bought land from David Nelson:
At this point, it appears that in 1829, John Penley recorded a deed in his name for 86 acres inherited from his father Joshua when Joshua's estate was settled. On November 10, 1830, John sold this same land to David Nelson for $550. On May 20, 1837, Epaphroditus Penley apparently bought the same 86 acres from David Nelson for $200. If this is a correct summary, in 1837, Epp bought the land that had been part of Joshua's estate, and it may well have been the land that was originally owned by Thomas Penley, Epp's father.
Further research is required to obtain original documents for verification of this data.