Mortgage Foreclosure Books: New-to-Me Resource

Recently, I was browsing through the FamilySearch catalog for items pertaining to Washington County, Maine. It’s certainly not the first time I’ve looked at entries for Washington County, but, for whatever reason, it’s the first time I noticed an entry in the land and property category.

Mortgage Foreclosures 1840-1899; Index 1840-1912 was first microfilmed in 1956, but I have no idea when it was digitized.

I have come across a handful of foreclosures mentioned in land deeds, usually when the sheriff or bank sold foreclosed land. However, until now, I don’t ever remember coming across a volume containing only deeds on foreclosed real estate.

Since there was an index, I decided to browse, looking for family names, like Adams, Carlisle, Coleman, Hicks, Stewart/Stuart and Tarbox, which go back to my 3X great grandparents who lived in Washington County, Maine in the 19th century.

The Panic of 1873, during which times many banks failed and businesses went bankrupt, had a continued effect on many through the rest of the decade and into the 1880s.

There were no entries for Coleman or Hicks who belonged to my family. There were several entries for collateral lines for Adams, Carlisle and Stuart. Only Volumes a, B and C are digitized in the FamilySearch catalog:

Adams, Lowell to John Barker, D:343
Adams, T. Calvin to the Calais Savings Bank, 5 February 1879, land in Calais, B:481
Carlisle, Abraham to William Conley, 8 August 1876, land in Charlotte, B:385
Carlisle, Abraham to Enoch Harvey, 5 August 1884, land in Charlotte, C:77
Stuart, Nancy G. to Martha Rose, land in Meddybemps, D:206

There was a single entry for persons in my direct line and it was for George Rogers Tarbox, my 3X great grandfather. He was an active businessman, involved in many transactions. His foreclosure predated the Panic of 1873 by two decades, but an earlier recession took place in 1856, followed by the Crash of 1857.

George’s foreclosure was dated 23 October 1856 and also named his business partner, Charles Newton. The land was at the head of Mill Pond, which is located a few miles southwest of the city of Calais, near the town of Cooper. The image isn’t sharp for this entry. It isn’t evident from the land description was the purpose of ownership was for the businessmen. They had borrowed $6,000 in 1854 to be repaid in equal installments at 12, 18 and 24 months.

At the bottom of the page is a note that the clerk recording this entry copied it from the Calais Advertiser newspaper dated 23 October 1856. It appears that this county clerk had some extra time on his hands!

My Adams ancestors were boat builders who, according to census records, seemed more likely to rent homes in Calais rather than buying a house. Perhaps they wanted to have hard cash on hand for their business.

Have you ever come across deed volumes that held only foreclosure entries? I found it interesting that this handful of entries happened during periods of major economic crises. The foreclosures pointed directly to the social and economic context of ancestral lives.

2 thoughts on “Mortgage Foreclosure Books: New-to-Me Resource”

  1. I have not seen these types of books. I wonder if it’s a New England thing. Your post also makes a good point to know the various economic downturns that may help us understand our ancestor’s motivations when selling land or moving to a new location.

  2. I’m in Florida, and I haven’t seen any such books. I did have a chance to gently page through the oldest existing land record in my home county, Clay County, Florida. It was fascinating, and I was honored to have that opportunity.

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