Fun with Bembry Deeds

This week, a packet of photocopied Bembry deeds arrived from the North Carolina Archives! I’ve been transcribing them as well as I can–some are more legible than others. Fortunately, this one was quite clearly written. It shows exactly where Miles Bembry’s farm was located in Edgecombe County, NC, just south of the Halifax County line.

The text is below. Here is the area on Google Maps (click to open in a new window and zoom in or out).

Miles’ farm was located in the corner between the east side of Deep Creek and the south side of Indian Branch.

This history of the area is written in the place names. Miles’ land bordered that of the Savages. Savage Mill Run is just nearby.

Mayo Farm road is just to the east–this no doubt led to the farm of John Mayo, father of William Miles Bembry’s wife, Marina.

Just to the west lies Dickens road–Patsy Dickens was the first wife of Thomas Bembry.

Directly up Deep Creek is the small Halifax County town of Scotland Neck. Albin plantation, where Miles worked as an overseer for several years, was located on the north side of this town. Miles probably used the creek to get back and forth to the plantation.

The various deeds show that Miles was fairly well-off and owned quite a bit of land, buying several parcels around 1810 when he moved to Edgecombe County. It is interesting that he chose to sell off his primary acreage in his old age rather than bequeath it to one of his children. Once I get all the deeds figured out, I will post a more complete timeline.

Finally, Miles signed all the deeds with his own signature, not a “X” as many even wealthy people did at that time because they were illiterate. Here’s his signature, just for fun.

miles signature

Edgecombe County,  August Court 1834

The foregoing Deed of Sale was exhibited in open court and proved by the oath of Bryan Barnes one of the subscribing witnesses thereto. Ordered to be recorded.

This Indenture made this the twentieth day of December in the year of our Lord one thousand Eight hundred and thirty between Miles Bembry of the county of Edgecombe and State of North Carolina of the one part and Simmons B Staton of the County and State aforesaid of the other part.

Witnesseth that for and in consideration of the sum of three thousand Dollars in hand paid to the said Miles Bembry or otherwise to be received before the sealing and delivery hereof, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledges and the said Simmons B. Staton therefore acquited and discharged have given, granted, bargained, sold, conveyed and confirmed and by these presents to give, grant, bargain, sell, convey and confirm, unto the said Simmons B Staton his heirs and assigns forever a certain tract or parcel of Land lying in and being in the County of Edgecombe on the East side of Deep Creek and South side of the Indian branch beginning in Deep Creek at the mouth of the Indian Branch running up the various courses of said branch to a pine on the Greenville road in Downing’s line, thence along Downing’s line to a pine in Staton’s line thence along Staton’s line to a pine in Savage’s line to a gum in the run of Deep Creek thence up the various courses of said Creek to the first Station. Containing by estimation seven hundred and thirty acres or the same more or less to have and hols all the above mentioned premises with the appurtenances thereon and belonging unto the said Simmons B Staton his heirs and assigns forever and the said Miles Bembry for himself his heirs, Executor and Administrators doth by these presents covenant and agree to and with the said Simmons B. Staton his heirs and assigns that he will forever warrant and defend the title of the aforesaid Land and premises against all manner of persons whatever that may lawfully claim the same unto the said Simmons B Staton his heirs and assigns forever in testimony whereof the said Miles Bembry have hereunto set hand and seal this day and year above writen.

Miles Bembry (seal)

Signed, Sealed in the presents of us

W.P. Hadley
C.C. Knight


3 thoughts on “Fun with Bembry Deeds

  1. The signature copied above may actually be MIles Brembry’s name as written by a court scribe. Many such original documents, when recorded in the deed book, were returned back to the buyer. If the original document had been marked with the signature, it was written out the exact same way in the deed book by the scribe. If the original document had been marked with an ‘x’, the court scribe would write “x” to give as close a copy to the original document as could be achieved and preserved for the deed book. Having poured over many 200+ deeds and legal documents, I have learned that the signature on the deed book document is more often written in the scribe’s hand, particularly when it is accompanied by a hand-drawn squiggly “seal” next to the signature. If the signature is accompanied by a real seal or stamp, the signature or “x” is most likely the real deal (as in CASE documents, bail documents or, most commonly, sales receipts) Personal deed documents held by the transaction parties are generally “originals.” Most of these that still exist are in private paper collections and are seldom held by county govt .

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Sorry. I was thinking along the same lines when I first started looking through county deed books and realized when I stumbled across a genuine signature, then researched via a federal archivist and he confirmed. Just keep an eye out and don’t give up


        Liked by 1 person

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