Wednesday, September 18, 2013


My quest for knowledge about a farm where my mother spent at least six years of her early life is coming together, slowly but surely. Finding old land and probate records has been exciting.

My great-grandfather, Jonathan Albertus Irion was born November 11, 1856 in Fayette County, Ohio. Cordelia Floyd Mallow was born April 29, 1853 in Ross County, Ohio. They were married January 11, 1888 in Ross County, Ohio. Jonathan and Cordelia Irion had a daughter named Sarah Florence Irion, (known as Florence) born in Fayette County, Ohio, September 14, 1891. Sarah Florence Irion married William LeRoy Porter (known as Roy, born May 28, 1885 in Greenfield, Ohio) on September 21, 1912 and lived in Fayette County, Ohio.

Jonathan Albertus Irion died July 28, 1928 and at the time of his death he owned a farm (128.81 acres) in Perry Township, Fayette County, Ohio now known as 6117 State Route 41 South between New Martinsburg Road and Miami Trace Road. (As shown on the plat of 1913 above next to the survey number 661 in the center.)

My grandmother, Florence and her brother William J. Irion were the only two living children at the time of Jonathan's death. They inherited the property in equal shares by record of the Fayette County Probate Court as Administrators of Jonathan's estate. According to the estate records, Jonathan died owing approximately $1,800 and his worth was stated as $250; therefore, the land was order to be sold by Probate Judge S. A. Murry to pay said debts.

The land was appraised in October 1928 for $11,610, according to records. My grandparents (Florence and Roy) purchased the farm from the estate on October 16, 1928 for the appraised value through a loan from The Washington Savings Bank in Fayette County.

Then came Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929, the day the stock market crashed causing the start of The Great Depression (Herbert Hoover was President at the time). According to a history site I read, farmers were usually safe from the severe effects of a depression because they could at least feed themselves. Unfortunately, during the Great Depression, the Great Plains were hit hard with both a drought and horrendous dust storms, creating what became known as the Dust Bowl.

Years and years of overgrazing combined with the effects of a drought caused the grass to disappear. With just topsoil exposed, high winds picked up the loose dirt and whirled it for miles. The dust storms destroyed everything in their paths, leaving farmers without their crops.

Small farmers were hit especially hard. These small farmers were usually already in debt, borrowing money for seed and paying it back when their crops came in. When the dust storms damaged the crops, not only could the small farmer not feed himself and his family, he could not pay back his debt. Banks would then foreclose on the small farms and the farmer's family would be both homeless and unemployed.

My grandparents were affected by the drought and depression. According to Probate records, the property was conveyed to the Trustees of the Liquidating Trust of The Washington Savings Bank on August 29, 1934.

The next record of conveyance for that land, which was held by the bank for three years, was on February 19, 1937 to William and Florence Hook. What are the odds that William and Florence Porter were the owners, then the bank became the owner, then sold the property to William and Florence Hook?

I personally find it incredible! According to my grandmother, after the sale of the farm, they moved to the city and my grandfather became a real estate broker here. My next effort will be to contact the Board of Realtors (or similar agency) in Columbus to find out how far back their records go to learn what year my grandfather got his real estate broker's license. The quest for knowledge continues!

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