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Reply by Lindsay Fulton, NEHGS Genealogist
Land transfers between family members may have been recorded for a number of reasons. Based on the information that you included in your request, I was unable to ascertain the explanation(s) for multiple deeds to be filed for the Backus and Paine families. Therefore, I turned to the digital database, New York, Land Records, 1630-1975 maintained by www.familysearch.org to locate the original 1799 deed records. After a search of the grantor and grantee indexes in Steuben County, New York, I was unable to locate any deed records (including mortgage records) from 1799. I was, however, able to locate several deed records that were recorded in 1806 between Ebenezer and Sally (Lindsley) Backus and David Paine. I have included very short abstracts of these deed records below (I also attached copies of these records to this email): Vol. III, pg. 411 According to the deed record, Ebenezer Backus and his wife, Sally Backus, sold two tracts of land in Steuben County, New York to David Paine for the sum of 800 dollars. The first tract of land measured 300 acres and was owned by Ebenezer and Sally Backus by virtue of a deed from Eleazer Lindsley, the father of Sally Backus dated 25 June 1792. The second tract of land was part of a 700 acre lot, which was also given by Eleazer Lindsley and measured 100 acres. This land connected to land owned by David Paine. The deed was signed on 13 June 1806 and recorded on 14 June 1806. Vol. III, pg. 413 According to the deed record, Ebenezer Backus and his wife, Sally Backus, sold equal privilege of the water course than ran from the mill seat to the saw mill on the Tioga River to David Paine for the sum of 100 dollars. The deed was signed on 12 November 1805 and recorded on 14 June 1806. Vol. III, pg. 414 According to the deed record, Ebenezer Backus and his wife, Sally Backus, sold land in the 2nd range township in Phelps and Gorhams purchase to David Paine for the sum of 600 dollars. The land measured 300 acres. The deed was signed on 5 September 1805 and recorded on 14 June 1806. Based on the three deed records that I was able to locate, it seems as through Ebenezer Backus owned a significant amount of land in Steuben County, as he was able to sell over 700 acres (total) to his brother-in-law, David Paine. Therefore, it is possible that the 1799 deed record to which you referred in your query was a mortgage record (or promissory) record between the Backus and Paine families. That may explain why the total number of purchased acres equaled 700 acres. I would urge you to reexamine the 1799 deed in an effort to locate any additional information that may be applicable. This may help to make sense of the 1799 land exchange.