1777 Philadelphia Vellum Indenture - Signatures of Revolutionary War Patriots
This is an original vellum deed partition dated February 27, 1777 with the signatures of two Revolutionary War patriots and soldiers. This deed of partition was written in the first year of the new Supreme executive Council of Pennsylvania and is executed to divide the property among different people - usually among the family members. A partition is a division of a property held jointly by several persons, so that each person gets a share and becomes the owner of the share allotted to him. Samuel Runkle (yeoman) and Arnold Van Fossen (carpenter) for a parcel of land in Norriton, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania.The first patriot was John Ord, Justice for the Lower Delaware Ward who was elected a justice of the city on February 14, 1777 at the statehouse under the new Constitution when the new Supreme Executive Council was formed. He went on to be a Presiding Justice of the County Court of Quarter Sessions from 1777 through 1780 and as such signed, and certified, the signatures of each new patriot when they took the Oath of Allegiance. He was also one of the administrators of the Continental Congress Lottery to support the Continental currency. He was a true patriot and put his life on the line as a member of the new State of Pennsylvania government.The second is William Shannon (1752-1794) who gained fame by becoming late in 1778, the Commissary and Quarter-Master General of the Western Department for the troops of General George Rogers Clark with his term ending in 1783. There are two William Shannons from Pennsylvania listed as being part of the Continental Army during the revolution. The William Shannon who signed this deed had two family members listed in the deed as landholders that bordered the land spoken of in this transaction. They were John Shannon (1746-1787) and George Shannon (1759-1840). This family relationship connects William Shannon, Quarter-Master for the Western Department to this deed. While Quarter-Master, William bought land in Virginia on April 18, 1778, visited what is now Kentucky on June 24, 1778 and sold some land in Pennsylvania on October 14, 1778. After the war he settled in Kentucky and lived there until his death in 1794.It is 17" x 28", so not a huge vellum deed.
Land deeds like this one are sometimes the only information available to us about life during the 18th and early 19th centuries. From this type of document, we learn where people lived, their status in life, the amount of land they owned, who their neighbors were, and the names of their wives and children. Many times a child or wife's name will appear in these deeds that has been omitted from the genealogical records of our ancestors. To find the true story of your ancestors, land deeds and other contemporaneous documents are the most important documents to use.