Family property

Mark and I didn’t set out until mid-afternoon today, and we stopped first at the quilt shop just up the road from our RV campground.  The woman in the shop has lived in both the St Petersburg area of Florida and in Door County, WI, so she was familiar with where we’ve been and where we are going.  It’s a small world!

The sign that caught my attention!

The sign that caught my attention!

Inside the store.  I couldn't resist buying a couple things.

Once inside the store, I couldn’t resist buying a couple things!

Then we took our trusty map of Allegan County and headed to Ganges to find the three sections of property John and Louisa Bell bought and sold.

I have put X's on the three sections of interest.

I have put X’s on the three sections of interest.

Section 33 started at this intersection and I believe it went as far as where 67th Street would have been if there'd been a 67th Street.

Section 33 started at this intersection and I believe it went as far as where 67th Street would have been if there’d been a 67th Street.

John Bell was registered as a farmer and fruit grower.  This looks like an overgrown orchard to me.  Could it be over 100 years old?

John Bell was registered as a farmer and fruit grower. This looks like an overgrown orchard to me. Could it be over 100 years old?

Part of the land was swampy.

Part of the land was swampy.

According to the house address, this farm probably marks the eastern border of the property.

According to the house address, this farm probably marks the eastern border of the property.

Then we drove up to Section 30:

This section has been turned into a nature preserve, which I assume means it looks pretty much like it did when it was in the family.

This section has been turned into a nature preserve, which I assume means it looks pretty much like it did when it was in the family.

Woods and water

Woods and water

There were several beautiful birds including this cardinal.  They probably feel safe here.

There were several beautiful birds including this cardinal. They probably feel safe here.

Open land with cattails

Open land with cattails

Section 5 was quite a bit further north:

One of the deeds described John Bell's property as "Commencing at a red oak on top of the Bank of Michigan Lake..."  We couldn't find the red oak, but this cove is probably pretty close.

One of the deeds described John Bell’s property as “Commencing at a red oak on top of the Bank of Michigan Lake…” We couldn’t find the red oak, but this cove is probably pretty close.

We walked down to the beach and looked north...

We walked down to the beach and looked north…

...and south.

…and south.

This was the stairway down to the beach.

This was the stairway down to the beach.

At the top there were some residences, but most of the area looked like this with a dirt road heading east.

At the top there were some residences, but most of the area looked like this with a dirt road heading east.

As I was checking the deeds for descriptions of the lots, I discovered several interesting things.

  1. Apparently neither John nor Louisa Bell could read or write.  On most of the documents their signatures look suspiciously like the handwriting of the notary public, and on several of them there are X’s with “his mark” written in the middle of their names.
  2. In one instance, John and Louisa sold a piece of property to someone for $1.  There’s got to be a story behind that, especially when nearly everything else was sold for anything from several hundred dollars to $1000 or more.  The one other exception was a piece of property sold to Louisa’s father for $40.  That I can understand, but this person who got some land for $1 is someone whose name I don’t recognize.
  3. The last deed written is dated March 8, 1906.  John died on March 6, 1906 and Louisa had been dead for about eleven months by then.

This last couple days has been so much fun!  I can’t believe how much stuff I was able to learn about the Bells in two days.  This has been my most productive genealogical work to date.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.