Thursday, July 1, 2010

Of Dolphins and Leather Binding

I spent today back in Iowa County with several classmates. We traced deeds backwards to identify the owners and residents of some of our properties. It took me and Alex several hours to trace the ownership of the Cothren house but we did it! And the winners of the historic names contest? "Thomas T. and Melva Dolphin." This aquatically-named couple owned the house from 1958 to 1969. But we traced the deed back to Judge Cothren's widow who died in 1895. While our classmates toiled away on some much more challenging deed traces (way to hang in there guys!), Alex and I went to the Southwestern Wisconsin Room at the UW-Platteville. Apparently, the database entry that described the tax records as being in "saddlebags" was more literal than I thought. The 1840s tax records are in ledgers built in to actual leather saddlebags that were clearly carried from door to door as the taxes were collected each year. Awesome! By looking through the records for every few years we were able to narrow down the date of the kitchen addition to the Cothren's large stone house to between 1866 and 1871. There were no records between those years. Then we went to Dairy Queen. Mmmmmm....

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