Amanuensis Monday: The Will of James Critchlow (Sr.)

(Transcription is line-by-line and done to the best of my ability. Note: this was edited to correct the typo of the word “dollars” on the bottom of page 2 but all other misspelled words are as they appear to be written in the original.)

James Critchlow (1754-1834)Critchlow Will 1

Critchlow Will 2(Page 1)

In the name of God Amen I James Critchlow of Butler

Township County of Butler and State of Pennsylvania

being weak in Body but of Sound memory and Understand-

ing Praised be to God for the Same and considering

the Ceartainty of Death and the uncertainty of the time

thereof and being desirous to Settle and adjust my

worldly business, and Estate before I am called hence

and be no more, do therefore make and declare this my

last Will and testament in manner following to wit

And first I Commend my Soul to God that gave it

and my Body to the Dust to rest in hope until the

day of final Redemtion resting on the merits and

mediation of Jesus Christ for my Justification

and acceptance before God –

I will that all my Just Debts that Shall by me

owing at my Death together with all my funeral

expenses and all charges touching the proving or

otherwise concerning this my Will That in the first

place be paid out of my personal Estate the residue of what

namely all my Household goods farming utensils livestock

finally all my moveable property chattels go to my [unreadable]

and loving wife and my children David Jane and Elenor

(who is Deaf and Dumb) together with my farm house

Improvements appurtenances & not including in

tracts hereafter Discribed willed to my Sons

James and Archibald, and my wife Mary shall

all the proper rents in income of the aforesaid farm

and moveable property under her direction and

contract during her natural life for her Support

Critchlow Will 3(Page 2)

and the Support and maintainance of the

aforesaid David Jane and Elenor my Deaf and Dumb

Children and it is my will that what remains of

the moveable property and the income of the farm

Shall remain for the Support of the Deaf and Dumb

Children in the hands or under the direction of

guardians chosen by my Said wife in her life and

by the Orphan’s Court and at the Death of the

last surviving of the Said children then the

farm or part of my tract aforesaid so remaining

I will to my two Sons James and Archibald

Giving my Son James the northeast side of my

farm by running a straight line through the lane

that now passes my House and Barn leaving

the lane to my Son James and the Building

attached thereto Also I will to my Son Archibald

the southwest side of my farm.

And to my Son James I will and bequeath fifty

acres of my tracts of land including his improvements

to be divided in the following manner to wit to

Commence in the northwest corner thereby

the west boundary to the creek adjoining William [name unreadable]

or Chew to the line of William Critchlow heirs thence

along Said Land to a [????] lot of land Sold to William

Critchlow in his lifetime by me thence by a straight

(????) giving the improvement to the northeast line

of my tract and to my Son Archibald I will

and bequeath fifth acres Acres bounded on the west

by my Son James on the south by the heirs

of William Critchlow on the east by Chew Land

and on the North by a paralel line with the

partition fence making an [word marked out] oblong

Square to include fifty acres and [blot] [????]

And to my two Daughters Marthan and Mary

I will and bequeath thirty Dollars each to be

Critchlow Will 4(Page 3)

paid them by my two sons James

and Archibald at my wifes

Death James to pay Martha and Archibald

to pay Mary and I make and ordain my

Sons James and Archibald and John Scranton

Executors of this my last Will and testament

In testimony whereof I have set my hand

and Seal this third day of June A.D. 1830

Signed, Sealed and                          his

Acknowledged in             James  X  Critchlow                     (seal)

Presence of                                        mark


John Scranton

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Sentimental Sunday: Rescuing Treasure from the Trash

It was the perfect day for dumpster diving if you’re into that kind of thing, which I’m not, although I was with an experienced diver at the time.

(That would be my husband who had been initiated about 20 years ago when he lost his wallet at a convenience mart while buying gas for the car and snacks for himself and our daughter – who should have been watching him in my absence – while I was out-of-town. I should add that he had not done any dumpster diving since.  At least, not until this episode.)

The winter rain/snow/sleet had paused just long enough for us to take the things we had saved to our recycling center, a long row of dumpsters placed in the parking lot of a local community center. Our goal was to put things into it, not get things out. Really. “Retrieving” is not what comes to mind whenever I think of the 3 R’s in the phrase used to remind us to live green.

As my husband opened the trunk of our car I surveyed the nearest dumpster. It isn’t unusual to make our way down the row before finding one that isn’t filled to capacity. This one was not quite full.

I was surprised, though, at what I encountered. The topmost layer contained papers and books many years past their prime. While moving aside a Britannica volume to make way for our  cardboard I spied the tell-tale spine of a photo album! I couldn’t reach it so my husband obtained it for me.

(He did not physically climb into the dumpster although he would have done so if necessary because I was not leaving that album in there!)

An inspection revealed gorgeous full-size portraits from long ago. The lovely bride and the handsome groom as well as their attendants and families smiled back at us from glossy black and white photographs. This had to be a mistake! Who throws away heirloom portraits?

Well, someone might but I don’t. I’m the person who grieves while seated beneath the portraits hanging beside me whenever I eat at a Cracker Barrel because there are families who have forgotten the identities of their forebears and what were once-beloved portraits find themselves being sold at flea markets. And anyone who enters our home knows that there is more than the usual reason why our family room is called that. It literally is adorned with framed pictures of our ancestors upon its shelves and walls. Okay, so I am a sentimental fool when it comes to heirloom portraits. This was what convinced me to make an effort to locate a living relative of the nuptial couple.

This sounds like a simple decision made without debate, but it wasn’t. We weighed our options carefully before putting other people’s castoffs into our car. Are there laws against pulling stuff out of recycling dumpsters? Did the person who discarded this no longer want it? If so, would they be angry at me for tracking them down? What if we found ourselves in the middle of a family feud because this album was a casualty of a probate war? Also, there were no names or dates in the album so how could we find relatives if we couldn’t even identify the people in it?

That last problem was soon remedied. With us still standing on the outside of the dumpster,  further diving revealed a manila folder containing more photographs, the proofs from the wedding album, and a notation giving the date of the wedding which occurred while World War 2 was still in progress! A couple of names were written on one side of the folder so now there was enough information for thorough research.

I began researching these names and dates just like I would if I had suddenly discovered information for my own family tree. What I uncovered was a two-person obituary for both individuals whose names were listed on the folder. It contained the names of several children and grandchildren, the name of the funeral home, and the date of death. I searched for the children’s contact information and discovered that most of them were not locals. I decided to call the funeral home that had handled the arrangements to see if they could advise me. Even though several months had passed since the deaths they remembered the family.

The funeral director gave my contact information to one of the surviving children who then called me. We arranged to meet to transfer these beloved heirlooms. These children lost both their father and mother and had arranged to meet in the spring to deal with their parents’ home and its contents. The wedding album had accidentally been taken to the dumpster. After months of grief followed by the emotionally and physically draining work of clearing their parents’ possessions, it made my sentimental heart happy that at least they had their parents’ wedding album back as a keepsake once again.

wedding albumAlthough I have no plans to make dumpster diving a regular activity, I am very happy to relate that this past endeavor was a successful one, as was the one almost 20 years ago when my husband found his wallet among the various oil cans and candy wrappers next to the gas station/convenience store.

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