Monday, February 13, 2012

Amanuensis Monday - Alexander Brandon Power of Attorney to Ransom Spurlock - 1857

On his TransylvanianDutch blog, John Newmark defines an amanuensis as “a person employed to write out what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.” For more information about this daily blogging prompt, see John’s post Amanuensis – Why?.

I have amassed quite a collection of scans of handwritten documents related to my ancestors—primarily marriage records, deeds, and wills. As I have been transcribing these documents, it occurred to me that most of these documents were not actually written by my ancestors, but rather dictated to someone else, and then transcribed by a clerk into official records.

While in Utah for the Salt Lake Institute for Genealogy, I added 291 scanned images to my collection of items to be transcribed! I am going to be busy for quite a while.

The document I have chosen to transcribe this week is the Power of Attorney granted by Alexander Brandon to Ransom Spurlock in 1857.

Because one does not grant power of attorney to just anyone, I decided to research Alexander Brandon to see if I could determine the nature of his relationship to Ransom. I discovered that Alexander was living in Bienville Parish in 1850; a 37-year-old farmer, born in South Carolina, he had four children under 10 in his household, but no apparent wife.[1] On 9 January 1851, he married Tabitha Ann Vickers in Bienville Parish; on 19 November 1855, he married Nancy Person.[2] In 1860, Alexander was living in Canton, Van Zandt County, Texas. He was enumerated as a 47-year-old farmer, born in South Carolina; also enumerated were Nancy, age 34 born in Georgia, and seven apparent children, ages 18 down to 1, with the youngest born in Texas and the others born in Louisiana.[3]

So how does this all relate to Ransom? Not sure exactly. Ransom was also in Bienville Parish in 1850, but not exactly a near neighbor to Alexander. (Ransom’s family was #553 in the census enumeration and Alexander’s family was #522.) Ransom’s wife was Ellender Vickers; was there a familial relationship between Ellender and Tabitha Ann? Did Tabitha Ann die soon after her marriage to Alexander? So many unanswered questions, but continued research may lead to the discovery of Ellender Vickers Spurlock’s parents.

Whether there was a family relationship or not, Alexander Brandon trusted Ransom Spurlock enough to grant him power of attorney. Here’s the transcription of the document with the image below.

“The State of Texas)
County of Vanzandt )

Know all men by these presents that I Alexander Brandon of the county of Vanzandt, and State of Texas have made, constuted[constituted], and appointed and, by these presents, do make constitute and appoint Ransom Spurlock of the state of Louisiana and Bienville Parish my  True and Lawful agent for me and in my name, place and stead, to sue for and collect, all monies that may be coming to me in said state of La. hereby giving and granting my said Attorney full power and authority to do and perform all and every act, and any thing whatsoever requisite and necessary to be done in and about the collecting of any and all debts, as fully to all Intents and purposes as I might or could do if personally present, with full power and authority hereby Ratifying and confirming all that my said agent, or his substitute, shall lawfully do or cause to be done by Virtue hereof. In Witness Whereof I have hereunto set my hand and [--?--] for seal on the 7th day of March A.D. 1857. Signed in presence of
W. L. T Burnes)           (signed) Alexander Brandon {seal}
T. M. Allen      )

The State of Texas   )
Vanzandt County      )

Before me A. G. Parker, Clerk of this County court of Vanzandt County, this day personally appeared Alexander Brandon, to me Well Known, and acknowledged, to me that he signed and sealed the within and foregoing power of attorney for the purposes therein Set forth and that it was his own free act and deed. In Testimony of which I hereunto set my hand and affix the seal of the county court thereon done at Canton on the 7th day of March A.D. 1857.
(signed) A. G. Parker, Clerk, of County court Vanzandt County.

I certify that the foregoing is a true Record of the original Power Atty. as filed & Recorded March 24th A.D. 1857.
                                                John G. Noles Recorder”

[Source: Bienville Parish, Louisiana, Conveyance Records, 1848-1900, E: 115, 
Alexander Brandon Power of Attorney to Ransom Spurlock, 24 March 1857; 
FHL microfilm 266,008.]

[1] 1850 U.S. census, Bienville Parish, Louisiana, population schedule, Western District, page 285-A, no dwelling number, family 522, Alexander Brandon; online images, ( : accessed 10 February 2012); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm publication M432, roll 230.
[2] Art Lewis, transcription, “Bienville Parish Marriage Book A & B; 1849-1872”; USGenWeb ( : accessed 10 February 2012).
[3] 1860 U.S. census, Van Zandt County, Texas, population schedule, Canton,  page 17, dwelling 128, family 133, A. Brandon; digital images, ( : accessed 10 February 2012); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm publication M653, roll 1307.

© 2012 Denise Spurlock

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