52 Documents in 52 Weeks #18: Proving Family Lore w/Land Deeds

Sometimes, a record can help prove family lore in only four words. That happened with me. My family history addiction began with wanting to prove or disprove a presidential connection to the Adams family. That was quickly disproved and I moved on to documenting the life of my Loyalist ancestor, John Adams.

After arriving in New Brunswick, Canada in 1783, the Adams group spent about 20 years living in Sunbury and Charlotte Counties. However, there is a small, today uninhabited island in the West Isles off the coast of Maine that is called Adams Island. Family lore said it was named for my family.


Deer Island, left edge and Adams Island, center

Deer Island is a short boat ride off the coast of Maine up near Calais, but is part of Canada.

I found two land deeds that support the idea that my family lived there in the early 1800s and that, eventually, they were recognized as owners of property on the island.

The first deed is dated 13 July 1818 and recorded a land sale from Thomas Farrell to David Butler for property on Deer Island.


“Occupied by John Adams”

For whatever reason, John Adams had left the relative safety and comfort of mainland Canada and headed to the West Isles. There is no mention of Adams Island in this deed, but it does prove that he lived in the islands by the summer of 1818. It also appears from the wording “occupied” that he was a squatter; there are no land deeds that support the idea that he owned this property.

However, on 22 May 1854, John’s grandson, Daniel Adams, recorded another deed in New Brunswick. Here is a transcription of the deed as the photocopy has faded too much through the years:

No. 113 Deed Daniel Adams To John Morrison

Know all Men by These Presents that I Daniel Adams of the Parish of
West Isles in the County of Charlotte and Province of New
Brunswick Yeoman for and in consideration of the sum of twenty five Pounds of current money to me paid by John Morrison of the same place yeoman the receipt whereof I hereby acknowledge have bargained granted and sold and by these Presents do bargain grant sell release convey and confirm unto the said John Morrison and to his heirs and assigns the following described land and premises situate on Adams Island so called in the Parish aforesaid and butted and bounded as follows to Wit Beginning at the westerly corner of my ___ House and the north westerly beach on said Island thence running easterly by a straight line to an old cellar? about Ten Rods more or less thence easterly by the line of the late Sturges Adams land about Twenty five rods to the Westerly corner of Milking Yard Cove so called and thence by the shore northerly and Westerly to the place of beginning containing about fifteen acres more or less saving and excepting nevertheless out of and from the said described Premises about three fourths of an acre situate at said Milking Yard Cove sold by me to Henery Adams as by reference to my deed of the cause will more fully appear Also one moiety or Undivided half of the Bar and Weir_____ So called at Chatter Point in the north easterly side of said Island Extending to Low Water Mark including the Ledge or Nabble? and I do _______ my heirs executors and administrators covenant and agree to and with the said John Morrison his heirs and Assigns that I am Lawfully seized of the aforedescribed land and premises as a good and ___ible estate of inheritance saving and excepting as aforesaid in fee simple free of allincumbrances and that I will Warrant and defend the same together with all the privileges and appurtances thereunto or in any ___ _____ thereto to him the said John Morrison and to his heirs and assigns against the lawful claims of all Persons In testimony whereof I hereunto subscribe my name and affix my seal with Sarah Ann Adams my wife at Adams Island in West Isles in the County aforesaid this 22nd day of May 1854.

Daniel Adams LS  Sarah Ann Adams LS Attest John McKenny Eliza Ann Heney? Charlotte LS Be it remembered that on this 23rd day of May 1854 Personally appeared Daniel Adams and Sarah Ann Adams and Acknowledged that they executed the above and before written deed For the use and purposes therein named and the said Sarah Ann Adams wife of said Daniel Adams was further examined by me separate And apart from her said husband and acknowledged that the ____ She said freely and voluntarily without any threat fear or compulsion

Before me John McNeill J P — Recd and Regd April 4th 1868

There are no land deeds showing that the Adams men purchased land on Adams Island. However, in the intervening 36 years from 1818, this deed proves that Daniel was living there, as were his uncles, Sturges and Henry, and probably other Adams relatives.

Daniel and Sarah Adams were residents on Deer Island in the 1851 Canadian census. By 1860, they were living in Calais, Maine, where they remained for the rest of their lives.

I would say from these two deeds that it is highly likely that Adams Island was named for my family. There were no other unrelated Adams families living there early on.

Today, the island is uninhabited. Dave and I visited Calais and some of the West Isles in 1981, but were not able to actually set foot on Adams Island.

3 thoughts on “52 Documents in 52 Weeks #18: Proving Family Lore w/Land Deeds”

  1. That’s fantastic! I love land records as well. My question is, how do you know it’s *your* John Adams. I’m not questioning your research; it seems right on, especially given the family lore. I’m asking more for my own family, where we have names like Smith, Williams, and Jackson. There are so many families of them! And all the men are named John or William!!Thanks for letting me vent! 🙂

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