Bidwell Lore – Dispossession of Stockbridge Mohican Land by the Ball Family, Part X

Welcome to Bidwell Lore number 124! This week we continue with our story of Isaac Ball and the dispossession of Mohican land around Stockbridge, written by Rick Wilcox. 

Dispossession of Stockbridge Mohican Land by the Ball Family 1772-1781, Part IX
Isaac Ball (1744-1784)
Rick Wilcox 2022

We will begin this edition with one more deed related to Joseph Shauquethqueat and Isaac Ball and then move on to some more probate documents discovered during my research.

Below is a transcription of a Deed from 1781 followed by a scan of the original.
Joseph Shauquethqueat to Isaac Ball, Book 16, Pages 118 and 119, Berkshire Middle Registry of Deeds:

Know All Men by these Presents that we Joseph Shauquethquot & David Naunauneekanuck Indians of Stockbridge in the County of Berkshire for & in consideration of the sum of seventy pounds Lawful Silver Money to us & Benjamin Waunchnauweet our Brother since did in part paid before the ensealing hereof by Isaac Ball of said Stockbridge, the receipt whereof we do hereby acknowledge ourselves therewith contented & paid, has given, granted & do by these presents give, grant, sell, bargain, aliene, convey, confirm unto Isaac Ball of said Stockbridge to himself his heirs & assigns forever, a certain parcel or tract of land lying & being in Stockbridge a foresaid, containing one hundred acres which is part of a tract of Land, bounded thus, Beginning at a Witch Hazel & Staddle Mark Standing on the West bank of the Housatonnuck River, thence West 9 degrees North 133 Rods to a stake & stake & stones set at the Southwest corner of Elihu Miles Lot, thence South 9 degrees: West 23 rods to a Beech Tree, thence South 25 degrees West 99 Rods 9 links to a stake & stones, thence East 31 degrees South 26 rods to a large pine tree Standing on the Westerly of said River, thence running by said River to the bounds first began.[1] TO HAVE AND TO HOLD the above granted & Bargained premises to him the said Isaac his heirs & assigns forever & further said Joseph & David do by these presents for ourselves our executors & administrators Covenant with him the said Isaac his heirs and assigns, that before & until the ensealing hereof we are lawfully seized and possessed of the above granted Bargained premises in our own Right in for Simple, with at the same is free of all encumbrances whatever. & that we will warrant secure & defend the same to him the said Isaac his heirs & assigns forever against the Lawful Claims & Demands of all persons whatsoever. In witness whereof we have heretofore set our Hands & seals this 28th Day of May A.D. 1781.
Signed, sealed & Delivered in presence of Moses Charles, Samuel Hatch
Joseph Shauquethquot & seal, David Naunauneekanuck & seal
Berkshire SS Stockbridge September 27, 1781. Personally appeared the above named Joseph Shauquethquot & David Naunauneekanuck signed sealed to this instrument & acknowledged the same to be their free act & deed before me William Goodrich Justice Peace
January 13, 1784 Recd & Recorded from the original by Moses Hopkins, Reg.

A scan of page 118 of Book 16 in the Berkshire Middle Registry of deeds. White paper that contains cursive writing in black ink
A scan of page 119 of Book 16 in the Berkshire Middle Registry of deeds. White paper that contains cursive writing in black ink

The above deeds are the transcriptions made by a clerk at the Registry of Deeds, the reason each deed shares space with other deeds and documents. Paper was not to be wasted. Still, they give you a flavor of the recording process and in the deeds above the writing style of the recording clerk. Legible handwriting was second to how quickly they could copy the deed to be recorded. Fortunately, the legal language is largely the same from deed to deed so at times, even if the handwriting was horrible, I knew the underlying language and was able to continue the transcription.

On this journey to the State Archives, the Registry of Deeds, and the Town of Stockbridge records, the only other likely source for additional information was the probate court. Although no will appears to have been filed when Isaac Ball died in 1784, the court appointed three men – Stephen Nash, Nehemiah Ide, and Elihu Mighels [3] – to take an inventory of his estate and report back to the court. The result was not only a document setup like a death inventory, but also an accounting of debt and money owed. Unfortunately, most of the documents were written on legal-size paper and won’t fit on my $99.00 printer scanner. I will place one or two documents from the probate court in the mix. I had originally hoped to see what the land value was after Isaac’s death to see if the change in price reflected a fair “deal” for the Mohicans three years later. I later realized that price did not matter. The land was sold because the members of the tribe, and the tribe collectively, were using land to pay off debt because it was the only commodity they had, given their inability to break into the English and then the American economic system. It took barely 50 years to dispossess the Mohicans of the original 23,040 acres of land they were granted. Isaac Ball’s death inventory indicated he was in possession of 120 acres at his death. The state gave him permission to own 196 acres. He had a deed for 100 acres.

The below image shows only the front side of the document.

Berkshire Probate Court Records for Isaac Ball 1784
Commonwealth of Massachusetts} Berkshire SS
To Stephen Nash Nehemiah Ide & Elihu Mighels all of Stockbridge in the County afores’d Greeting
You are hereby appointed & impowered to take an inventory of, And (According to your best skill & judgment truly & justly to apprize in Lawful Money of this State) all the Estate Thereof Isaac Ball late of Stockbridge Dec’d Died Seized in the afores’d County & you are to make Return of this Warrant with your doings thereon, unto the Probate Office in the same County as Soon as Conveniently may be
Given under my hand this fourth Day of May AD 1784
Timothy Edwards J Probate

[obverse side]
Warrant of Appraisal on Estate of Isaac Bal May 4. AD 1784
Probate Office Jany 1785
Stephen Nash Elihu Migels and Nehemiah Ide 
The appraisers sworn according to Law
Before Timothy Edwards JP

Image of a letter written by Timothy Edwards in May 1784. Letter is on white paper and written in cursive in black ink.
Next week we will delve a little deeper into the inventory of the Isaac Ball Estate

1. Plot number 217 on the complied map of Indian Town or Stockbridge. The land contains the Norman Rockwell Museum. Joseph Shauquethquot to Isaac Ball, Book 16, Page 118, 119 (1781).
2.  The Governor and State legislature approved the sale of 196 acres to Isaac and Jonathan Ball.
3. Also spelled Miles.