Samuel Blunston was authorized to provide Licenses to would be land owners in the area west of the Susquehanna River. When William Penn died in 1718, his descendants were not sure they had authority to issue Land Patents or other deeds. In addition, William Penn really did not have a treaty with the Indians to do so, either. So for a long time the Land Office was closed. However, in the 1730's the Penns gave Samuel Blunston authority to issue land deeds in the form of Licenses. These were called "Blunston Licenses". They were really promissory notes to issue a proper deed whenever they were able to do so legally. A list of such Licenses has been found at Harrisburg, and is presented in the document linked here. Significantly, there were no Helm/Helms, etc. licenses. There were Shelby and Polk licenses however. Both of those families were ultimately in North Carolina, later.
The area involved was in York and Lancaster Counties, Pennsylvania which were formed in 1718, and Adams and Franklin Counties in 1736, Dauphin County in 1749. Blunston formed Hellam TWP in 1732. (No Helms have been found in that location.) Hellam is one of the English spellings for Helms, as is Hallam. Locals called it “Helms Town”. Maybe that merits more than a passing interest. Individuals with those Hallam/Hellam name spelling were found in the LDS IGI files, on a timely basis-and listed together with Helm/Helme. The significance is that some land was made available available in 1736-37, and was utilized by some who would show up in North Carolina later. If the Helms ancestors were in Pennsylvania in that time period, there were few places for them to go. The head of the Land office was reported to have said that no large acreage plot could be found East of the Susquehanna. The existing open Pennsylvania lands East of the Susquehanna and South of Blue Mountain were filled, except for newly opened upper Bucks County and west of the Lancaster County area, involving Blunston.
A further complication was that Maryland authorities were issuing land documents in the disputed area below the 40th parallel, and West of the Susquehanna, and attempting to enforce those rights with a troop of Sheriffs Deputies. I have read an article which indicated that the late-comers--those who could not get land patents after 1718, often built houses on other peoples’ grants, helped them a while, and moved on. Maybe Helms came into PA in that period, found those difficulties, and went on South to NC in 1747.
Or, they may have been in Darby about 1715-30 with some Broomes, from where they went West/South. Gerald's friend Ernest Broome said he found them in Bucks County records, at Harrisburg Court House. Ernest reported that when he went back to further study the item, it had been torn out of the record book. We checked the Bucks County land transactions at the Pennsylvania Archives, but did not find anything useful except more on the Thomas Helms farm which is mentioned in one Buck’s County History as being sold about that time. We checked the records for that sale and found it to have been sold by the daughters of a Thomas Helling. In that area Helling is often reported as Helm. However, that is not relevant as the sale shows his true descendants. That item may have been the item Ernest Broome had found.
Records for persons having Helm(?) spelled names along with Polk and Shelby names have been found in the Conococheague Valley. This valley extends from Hagerstown, Maryland up into Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Polk records have been found near Carlisle, Pennsylvania having moved there from the Eastern Shore of Maryland. So far, no direct connection with our North Carolina Helms has been made.
This area of Maryland and Pennsylvania was the scene of fierce frontier Indian fighting in the 1742-1755 time frame. This time period is the same as the supposed Helms trek South (in 1747). They or their parents may well have been caught-up in the fighting, the Shelby family was directly involved in skirmishes with the Indians. Thousands of settlers perished as a result of these Indian attacks. Shelby, especially Evan Shelby, acquired large land holdings there because many farms had been deserted.
The point of this section is that the area has been searched for traces of Helms but none have been found, so far. A search of Franklin Co., Pa, records is pending.
Below is the file index, as we currently have it, on the licenses, but it is not to be considered a complete listing:
OF BLUNSTON LICENSES LET FOR LAND
DRAFT, FOR STUDY ONLY
The table below provides the source of the Blunston Licence's derived from the files of Harold Polk on Evan Shelby, one of the licensees, as will be seen in the list. The Blunston License list is available in the Pennsylvania State Land Office (Dept. of Internal affairs) in the capitol, Harrisburg, PA, Page 7 of "Blunston's License Book " office # 64) an old manuscript volume with 24 leaves, each written on both sides. At the top of page one, bearing the date 11 day of January 1733, appears this note: "A record of Licenses Granted to Sundry Persons to Settle and take up land on the West side of Susquehanna River by virtue of a commission from the Hon. Thomas Penn Esq. To Samuel Blunston of Lancaster County". After that note, comes 280 names with data about the land allotted to each. To the best of our ability we have transcribed that list, and it is provided below:
A separate file exists of brief descriptions of these Licenses, with some locations mentioned and the Acreage. Dates are also given in obscure ways, not always shown clearly, but are for a narrow time period about 1733-36. Some of the INDEX items were not readily found and the spellings, page numbers, etc have been derived from comparing both the INDEX and the individual listings. The pages of the listing and the Index are sometimes tattered and torn, obscuring some data. There may be individual records which are not in the Index and Index items for which an individual listing is not present. Some land was never occupied. It is possible that some of the index was not copied from the microfilm or was not readable as some of the material was in poor condition.
It is necessary to follow-up on this DRAFT INDEX by checking off the individual listings and developing a list of variant records in both, if any. Some items were marked "No Survey" or "Deceased", etc. and will be redlined later.
Initially we were primarily interested in the Polk and Shelby items in the first list below. Besides this Blunston and Thomas Penn information, copies of sections of the Index to the Cumberland County Land Records for a later period have been obtained. This paper does not deal with this later information.
We did find Polk listings and through the land records,
we will be able to obtain descriptions and plots of their places.
Hopefully, we will be able to determine their neighbors and such,
as well as their timing, as the Polks like the Helms did go South.
They appeared in NC in time to marry into the second generation of
Helms in NC. So far we have not found any sign of any Helms. There
were Craig families in the land records which will be discussed later.
|Bougher, Martin||23||And Oswald Hosteller?|
|Buchanon, Robert 4||4||.|
|Carthey , Alexander||4||.|
|Cox, John, Junior||17||.|
|Ebert, Hans Michael||11||.|
|Fremond, Henry & James||10||.|
|Given, Samuel||11, 4||.|
|Gopet/Goset , John||19||.|
|H...., Corden||6||Not found|
|H...., Francis||7||Not found|
|Hamilton, James 28||28||.|
|Harris, John||5, 6||.|
|Hopewell for minister||.||There was a Hopewell Church above Carlisle|
|Hunter, John||11||Not in index|
|Husey, John||7||Not found|
|Huston, David 18||18||.|
|I...., Arthur 7||.||Not found|
|Killough,||5||Page 5 missing|
|Killough, David||10, 16||.|
|Killough, John & David||22||.|
|Loghlin, James & sons||27||.|
|McCormab\ck, John||4, 2||.|
|McCowan, John||3, 2||.|
|McMullen, Wm & Hugh||2||Not found|
|McSwain, Neil||19, 22||.|
|Morison, Samuel||18||Page Not found|
|for use of Minister||2||.|
|Napier, Ralph||Page torn|
|Nichols, Edward||.||Page torn|
|Nisvel, Allin||.||Page torn|
|Pap, John||2, 17|
|Papmore, John, Junior||15|
|Papmore, William||14, 15|
|Parker, John||1, 16|
|Paterson, James||13, 28|
|Patten, James & Wm||3|
|Poe , Thomas, Junior||9||.|
|Polk, James||26||On the Middle Branch of the Conococheague Crk|
|Price, Aaron, Junior||12||.|
|Priest, David||5, 12||.|
|Rankin, James 21||21||.|
|Rankin, John 24||24||.|
|Ralfton, William (?) 22||22||.|
|Ralfton, Andrew 22||22||.|
|Ratelif, Samuel 26||26||.|
|Reid, Aron 26||26||.|
|Reynolds, John 23||23||.|
|Rhoddy, Alexander 22||22||.|
|Robinson, William 23||23||.|
|Rudduck, William 17||17||.|
|Rutherford, James 8||8||.|
|Rutherford, John 8||8||.|
|Rutherford, Robert 8||8||.|
|S...., James||10||Not found|
|Shelby, Evan||20, 24||at Walnut Point and at Rocki Spring|
|Subby, John||.||Not found|
|Thompson, John||16||The minister|
|William, Lewis &Thos David||.||May be misplaced in the Index|
|Wilsonsover, S.||30||Numbers of 30 or more are from the Thomas Penn list.|
|Worley, Francis, Jr.||33||.|
|end of Blunston list.|
on page 30 of this Proprietorís papers the following was found: "Whereas
sundry Germans and other persons settled within the Manor of Springehbury(sp).........on
land on the west side of the River Susquehanna, Thomas Penn in 1736
listed the persons granted permission to survey land there". There
is a tattered and torn Index of these grants, and pages 30 through 34
of a seeming continuation of the Blunston Licenses, but Blunston was
not the signer, Thomas Penn was. I believe that most if not all
of these were Germans. The place is obscure, in that there is no such
present place on available maps. This material is of poor quality;
but, by moving from the index to the separate listings some sense was
made of it. This second list is for the record. I do not see anything
in the table for us in the research of the HELMS brothers.
|Lather, F rederick||32||.|
|Additional information may be provided at a later date. Initially names are our chief concern.|
|New August 2000|