A Most Interesting Deed – 52 Ancestors theme of Good Deeds.

I have a large number of ‘good deeds’ that my ancestor left behind…deeds for land to be used for schools, cemeteries, and churches. Rather than compile those type of deeds into one story, I want to write about the most interesting deed I have found to date.

It does not concern a direct ancestor, but rather one of my great-grand uncles and his family.

I have been searching for my gg-grandfather’s family for several years. I want to prove that John Gaither was not hatched, found in a cabbage patch, or simply dropped on Earth by aliens. There are two men who I believe are his brothers and I have been researching their families in hope of finding a connection.

I did find a connection, but it proves absolutely nothing.

While searching land records in Alabama, I came across a deed from John’s son, W.M. Gaither, dated 1935. He and his wife, Emma, sold some land to a probable relative (what I am trying to prove) named    R. R. (Richard) Gaither, and his wife, Mary. The deed states, “It is agreed as a part of this conveyance that if Grantees sell said tract herein conveyed, then grantors are to have the right and refusal to purchase same.” In other words, ‘I will sell you this land, but if you decide to sell it at some point in time, you have to give me first chance to buy it back’.

I have seen many deeds that span many years, and I have never seen one with a stipulation like this. Maybe he wanted to keep it in the family, if Richard was a cousin, as I suspect. W.M. passed away a few years later, while Richard still owned the land.

In 1942, R. R. Gaither made good on his promise, and sold the land to W.M.’s son. This deed was also a little different, as Richard and Mary lived in Arkansas, and the deed was recorded in Alabama. Since Richard was 87, I doubt he traveled to Alabama, so the sale was probably conducted via the U.S. mail.

Another curiosity is that although Richard was born in Alabama, he was in Oklahoma in 1910, California in 1920, and back in Oklahoma in 1930 and 1940. I wonder why he would buy land in Alabama, when he was living in Oklahoma. Apparently, he was in Arkansas in 1942. The land he bought was not in his home county, where most of his family still lived, it was in a neighboring county. I have found no evidence that he ever returned to Alabama.

Regardless of the reasoning behind the selling and buying of this piece of land, it is still the most unique record of a deed that I have encountered during my 20 plus years of genealogy research.


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