Tuesday, August 15, 2017
In the process of a homestead application, it was necessary to have at least two people to testify that the applicant had lived on the land. Jerry Conerly was one of the witnesses to verify that Jack Gatlin was a homesteader. At the time of his testimony, he was a 50 year old farmer. His birth year would have been 1837. He states that Jack Gatlin was his son-in-law. Jerry Conerly lived on his land for 12 years and Jack lived about a mile away. Tom Magee and Gail Brumfield are Jack Gatlin’s neighbors who live about a half a mile away.
Jerry states that he has known Jack for about 18 years living in various places in Pike County. Jack Gatlin was 34 years old in 1887 at the time of his testimony therefore Jerry Conerly knew him since he was 16 years old.
Jerry Conerly states that Jack is a self-employed farmer with no boarding place on the land. He describes the homestead as pine land, timber and farming. The timber on the land has been used only for fencing and farming purposes. Jerry states that he has “been on the land a number of times too many to remember.”
In Question # 21 State in detail the character of the improvements; what they consist of, and when they were made; the value of each distinct improvement, fully describing the same; also weather they were made by the claimant or by some other person.
Jerry’s testimony gives a detailed description of Jack’s family house. The ”Dwelling house , a boxed house of one room with a gallery, with 3 doors and 2 windows, a dirt chimney, a kitchen” On the homestead, there also was a “ log house with one door dirt chimney, a smoke house built with logs; a chicken house made of logs and split pickets; log corn crib with double slabs and a loft overhead; 3 log cotton houses; they were built at different times during the seven years by the claimant, but do not know when each house was built. He has fences and cleared lands. They are valued as follows: Dwelling house worth about $35 ($871.21 in 2017), kitchen worth about 10 dollars ($248.94 in 2017), smoke house $10 ($248.94 in 2017), chicken house $5 ($124.97 in 2017), corn crib, stables worth about $30($746.81 in 2017) , cotton house about $30 ($746.81 in 2017)."
In Question #23 and 24 inquires about the estimated value of the land and how long the claimant has lived on the land. Jack Gatlin and his family have occupied the land since March, 1879. “The land is worth $300 and never been offered for sale that I (Jerry) know of.”
Jerry states he believes that the family resides on the land and “by seeing him there and at work, and seeing his family there I know he has been living there.
Jerry Conerly signs his testimony with an X.
----The Tree Gardener
Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Jack Gatlin homestead testimony
In the testimony of the homestead claimant, there are a series of questions. These records often have interviews of the homesteader and neighbors providing written oral history and on a timeline.
Jack Gatlin at the time of his homestead testimony was 34 years old in July 16, 1887. His post office address was Walker's Bridge. As a native born citizen, he never filed a prior homestead. He describes the land as ordinary pine land with pine trees and farming.
He made the homestead entry July 1, 1880 and he built a house in March, 1879. He made improvements with about $100 which is the equivalent of $2,353.57 in 2017. He states that he has lived nowhere else.
Question #19 Where have you voted since establishing residence on this land, and where did you last vote and how long have you voted there? Ans. I voted in Holmesville & have always voted there. He states that he was only absent from the land to attend church, visit neighbors and the town on business. His family at that time was a wife and six children.
Jack was asked did he and his family live in the house during the winter after filing with a reply of they did.
In questions # 28 to 30 he provided an account of all his material assets which included the house, furniture, farm implements and livestock. He had a box house was 20 x 27 (540 square feet) with another box house, several out houses, smoke house, corn crib for a total value of $610.00 which is the equivalent of $15,185.04 in 2017.
Questions #33-35 Jack planted crops for seven seasons consisting of corn, cotton and peas. During the first season, he cultivated 8 acres, 9 acres the second season and continued to increase until he had planted 40 acres. I suspect that this detailed inventory was made by the county clerk so they could levy taxes.
In questions 38- 44 Jack states he pays his taxes in Magnolia, Mississippi and there are no other improvements for tax assessments and he alone made the homestead entry not to benefit anyone else.
I really enjoy reading the homestead records from the Bureau of Land Management. The testimony provide original account of the the life of the individual. There is a discrepancy in Jack Gatlin birthday. He was 34 years old in 1887 making his birth year 1853. In the 1900 Pike county, Mississippi Federal Census his birth date is recorded as September, 1881. Jack Gatlin was a productive farmer with a family who utilized his voting franchise and paid taxes.
--- The Tree Gardener