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Searching for Sylvanus TRAVIS at the Steuben Co., NY Courthouse


Thought I'd give you an update on what little I found today on my trip down to Bath, NY (county seat for Steuben County). It was a beautiful day to make the trip but I spent almost all days indoors at first the historical society (not much help) and then the County Clerk's office (the best stuff) and then the Surrogate's office.

Liber 3, pp364-5: February 19, 1805- "Sylvenus Travis (note spelling, also when this property was sold (see below) this "Sylvanus' wife was called "Hannah" so it's our Sylvanus) of the town of Ovid, county of Seneca purchased for $375 one-half of lot no. 43 in the sixth town of the first range of towns in the Massachusetts or Boston Preemption purchase so called, in the state of New York, containing one hundred and twenty five acres equal and undivided" (I've paraphrased in a few spots here). On the map they had in the county clerk's office, this was somewhere near where McGregor's winery is. The land was purchased from Stephen & Jemima Hopkins. It was witnessed by Daniel Snett (sp?), STEPHEN TRAVIS (most likely this Sylvenus' son and our ancestor), and Abraham Snell the 2nd. A subsequent statement by STEPHEN TRAVIS said that Stephen and Jemima Hopkins did sign the deed. A subsequent statement by SOLOMON WIXON stated that he knew Stephen Travis (we think Stephen Travis may be Solomon's wife's nephew) and believes him to be a subscribing witness to the within instrument (recorded January 22, 1806). It does seem a little strange that Stephen could be a witness to his own father's purchase of property (not exactly arm's length).

Liber 10, pp 215-216: December 11, 1811- (but not recorded until 1820 (9 years later!) at which time Sylvanus and Hannah Travis were described as being "of the town of Ovid, County of Seneca"). sold to John Stewart for $375 (same price paid for it 5 years earlier)  "all of one half of lot no 43 in the sixth town in the first range of towns... containing 125 acres."

Based on the above two deeds, I think our Sylvanus (Sylvenus) bought this plot of land, for whatever purpose, but never moved there and sold it after owning it for 5 years. Remember that in the Ovid Census of 1820 there are two heads of families named Sylvanus Travis (presumably our (b 1747) Sylvanus and the other (b 1755) Sylvanus Travis.)

Liber 12, p354: April 22, 1823- Benjamin C Kelly (our Sylvanus' son-in-law) "of Tyrone" bought for $400 land in township #5 in the first range of townships part of lot #2 in great lot #57. Unfortunately the Steuben County Clerk's office in Bath had maps for townships 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 in the "first range of townships" but not #5. Clerk wasn't sure where I could go to get that information (I might try our publisher friend in Ovid).

Liber 13, p281: September 3, 1824 - Silvanus Travis of Tyrone of County of Steuben (here's a real guess on my part... I think this is our Sylvanus) purchased from William, Samuel, and Susan Lobdell for $1,800 150 acres if land in Tyrone lot #3 and the south part of lot #2 in great lot #51 in township #5 in the first range of townships in the county of Steuben. (This is in the same area for which we don't have a map. However, Tyrone is the area east of Wanetta lake, north of the Farm Sanctuary. To make matters more interesting, when Schulyer County was created in 1854, Tyrone became part of it and was no longer part of Steuben county.

January 1825, Hannah Randall Travis dies and is buried in the Solomon Wixon cemetery (across Wanetta Lake from Tyrone) per cemetery stone.

Steuben Census of 1825 for Tyrone lists the household of Silvenus Travis as having 2 males, 2 females, 0 subject to military duty and 2 voters. On the same page of the census, 6 households away, Benjamin C Kelly is listed as having 4 males, 2 females, 1 subject to militia duty, and 1 eligible to vote.

Thus, it appears that a Silvenus Travis was  living in Tyrone (no deeds were recorded that he bought any property so he must have been renting or squatting). If Sylvanus and Hannah were 2 of the people (as of January 1st, if that is the way they ran the census) in the household, who were the other 2 (might have been servants or hired hands). However, read on...

Liber 14, p195:
July 9, 1825 - For $1 Sylvanus bought the same land from Elizabeth Lobdell, wife of William Lobdell of Palmyra, late of Tyrone. I read this as, for some reason, the William Lobdell's separated and this just cleared up any possible cloud over the title upon sale.

OK, so why did a 77 year old man with his 74 year old wife who, by the way, was on the brink of death, buy this land in September of 1824?

Liber 18, p 156: August 25, 1825 - Silvanus Travis of Tyrone sold to "Silvanus Travis Junior (!) of the same place" for $1,000 "lot #3 and so much of the south part of lot #2 in great lot #51 in township #5 in the first range of Townships of the County of Steuben as will make the quantity of one hundred and fifty acres of land." Note that there is no mention of a wife listed as a sellor (wives are  listed in selling but not in buying). This would be consistent with our Sylvanus' wife passing away earlier in the year.

It seems that he bought it to sell (at a discount) to his son ("junior"). Also, the "head of household" listed in the 1825 census could have been "junior" and mom and dad were living with him and his wife.

December 1828 our Sylvanus Travis dies and is buried in the Solomon Wixon cemetery, next to his wife, Hannah

Subsequently, "junior" decides to start selling this land, piece-by-piece...

Liber 22, p439: April 18, 1833- Benjamin C Kelly ("junior's" brother-in-law if my supposition, above, is correct) bought from Silvanus Travis and Tamasen Travis, his wife for $244.27 in Tyrone lots # 2 and #3 in Great lot #51 in township #5 in the first range of the county of Steuben..." what follows is a surveyor's description and a summary statement saying that it is a little over 17 acres (out of the 150 acres "junior" had at that time.) Note that "junior" has dropped the "junior" in legal dealings.

Subsequent recordings show further sales of the property. I didn't follow it any further than this.

I did note that James Cleveland (another son-in-law of Sylvanus and Hannah) did some land dealings in this timeframe but they were in the Cohocton section of Steuben county.

Along another front:

In the Surrogate's office there were no wills listed for Sylvanus (or any similar spellings) Travis in this timeframe.

Solomon Wixon did leave a will leaving property ot his wife Mary (Randall Wixon) and his 8 sons and 3 daughters. Nothing more to be gleaned from that, I think.

However, later on there was a James Travis who died in 1869 saying he was 49 at the time (implies birth in 1820, too late for our Sylvanus and Hannah but might be a grandson) living in the Fremont section of Steuben County. The will mentions a wife, Sally M. Travis, sons Leroy, SYLVENUS, & Edward, and daughter Permelia.

Also, in the "History of Schulyer County", which was in the Steuben County Historical Society, it lists Civil War dead as...

Company A - Daniel Travis died Dec 31, 1862
Company C - Timothy Travis killed July 3, 1863 (I would guess this was at Gettysburg)
Company A - Sylvanus Travis killed Nov 23, 1863 ("junior" would probably have been too old, about 60 or more, but possibly not)

That's all I could get so far but I think we made a little progress.