52 Documents in 52 Weeks #51: P.A. in the Land Deeds

Land deed books contain a variety of records, which, not surprisingly, all pertain to land transactions. One might find deeds of conveyance, mortgages, quit claims and even an occasional will. However, my favorite find in the land deed books are those that record a name, followed by P.A. – power of attorney granted to a relative or friend, giving permission for that designated person to transact legal matters for the “grantor” listed in the index. Most often, the legal matter is a land sale and the grantor is not living close enough to handle the sale process in person.

By now – this is the 51st of 52 documents in the series – you probably realize that I am going to share my favorite power of attorney deed and you are correct!

Martin Miller, P.A. to Philip Williams, 1837
Filed in Franklin County, TN Deed Book

The only document I have ever found proving the father of Martin Miller is this power of attorney filed in Franklin County, Tennessee, although notice that Martin Miller is a resident of Muhlenberg County, Kentucky.

To all who shall see these presents, Greetings, Know ye that for divers good causes and considerations I Martin Miller of the State of Kentucky, and county of Mulingberg have nominated, made, constituted and appointed and by these presents do nominate, make, constitute and appoint, and place in my room and stead, my worthy friend, Phillip Williams of the State of Tennessee, and County of Franklin, my true and lawful atorney, for me, and in my name, place room and stead, to bargain, Sell, Grant and convey with or without general warranty all my part of the land of Jacob Miller deceased, laid off to me by order of the circuit
Court of Franklin county and State of Tennessee (?) part of the Widows dowery with all with all money hereafter (?) from said estate Giving and Granting to my sd. atorney by these presents my full and whole power strength and authority in and in and about the said premises in viz full and ample manner as I myself possess them hereby notifying holding and allowing as firm and Effectual all and whatsoever my said atorney shall lawfully do in and about the premises in Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 13th day of October 1837.

Martin Miller (Seal)

The bottom paragraph is the clerk’s statement noting the recording.

In Martin Miller’s case, the circuit court records include a hand drawn diagram of the sections of land inherited by Jacob’s many children and noting that they were his children.

Sometimes, powers of attorney simply name the person to act in someone’s stead, but usually, unless the person is named as an esquire or lawyer, the person receiving the power of attorney is a close friend or relative, whether by blood or marriage.

Obviously, people didn’t hand over legal rights to passing strangers.

Have you found powers of attorney recorded by your ancestors? What is the most interesting find you made using that discovery?


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