BLOCK FOUR and EAST SIDE DEVELOPMENT
The development of Block 4 was different than the other three blocks. It was almost as if plans were in the works, but not quite complete, when Daniel Robinson filed the Town Plat in 1847. There is no indication that Robinson EVER owned any of the lots in Block 4, even though he has lots 1, 2 and 3 of Block 4 drawn in on the filed town plat. It’s also telling that he doesn’t mention this block in the plat description, which led me to the conclusion that he was not the original owner/developer of Block 4. The historic records prove this conclusion.
These three lots are the only ones ever referred to by lot number in the deed records as being part of Block 4. On Robinson's plat they are numbered opposite the way the lots on the other side of the street or ordered....they’re backwards on the plat. So, as I began to plat the deeds on the east side of Main, I was never really sure whether my placement of the lot was correct or not. Following are the existing deeds for Lots 1, 2 and 3 of Block 4.
Block 4 ~~
~ Q:322, dated 23 Apr 1854. J. S. Collard sold to Augustus Richards, Lots 1 & 2.
~ R:224, dated 22 May 1856. John E. George sold to Groesbeck & Rice, Lot 3.
~ U:74, dated 3 Aug 1859. Montgomery Co. Sheriff sold to W. P. Holland, Lot 2.
(Sold per judgment in favor of Holland against George W. Reding, James Springston and Augustus Richards, 20 May 1859; being same lot on which Richards built a Blacksmith Shop previous to 21 Nov 1856; described as 'second lot above the Slayman lot.') This description helps us to place the Slayman lot south of Block 4.
~ Y:97, dated 1 Apr 1868. J. M. Westmoreland sold to Tobe Westmoreland, Lot 2. And, being described as "known as the Second Lot above the Slayman lot, being formerly owned by Augustus Richards and George W. Reding; a blacksmith shop upon it built by A. Richards." Tobe Westmoreland was a free man of color who worked as a Blacksmith in Danville.
~ Vol. 1:770, dated 2 Dec 1872. Tobe Westmoreland sold to William F. Spiller, Lot 2. And, being described as "known as the lot of A. Richards and G. W. Reding, above the Slayman Lot; has a shop and dwelling upon it built by Tobe Westmoreland; [same lot] sold in favor of W. P. Holland against G. W. Reding on 20 May 1859."
More development on the East Side ~~
I was also surprised to find much more extensive development on the east side of the street than had been expected. I had to throw out all preconceived ideas about what I was going to find and just go with the evidence from the land descriptions. There are countless missing deeds that were simply never filed. The lots were being bought and sold very quickly. However, certain areas began to take on ‘identities’ and were repeatedly referred to by these ‘names’ throughout the chains of title which helped me to place neighboring lots in some instances. We find names like the Slayman Lots, Springston’s Blacksmith Lots, “Stewart Johnson & Mayfield” Lots, Sessum’s Lots, and another heretofore unknown block of lots which was east of the Blacksmith Lots, and owned by the Spillers. These were groups of lots that had businesses on them and undoubtedly took on the name of the person or business concern that seemed to be there the longest; they did not necessarily take on the name of the original owner, as will be shown.
The Beginnings of the East Side of Main St. ~~
The land on the east side of Main St., in the area of the Town Lots, went through several hands from the original headright owner, Joseph Lindley. By 1846, when the first lots on the west side of Main St. were being sold by Daniel Robinson, the land on the east side of the street was part of a 164 ac. tract owned by William Waters Shepperd. In 1847, Shepperd sold 93.5 acres of this tract to Jonathan S. Collard. The land on the east side of Main St. in the Town Lots area fell within this 93.5-ac. tract. Shepperd and Collard were both land speculators in the area. Collard sold the 93.5-ac. tract to Hiram Little in 1848 with certain exceptions which gives us our first known sales of lots in Block 4, without have recorded deeds to the transactions, as follows:
The First Blacksmith Lots, owned by James Springston:
Vol. N:82-84 records the sale of 93.5-acres from J. S. Collard to Hiram Little, EXCEPT "the two Town Lots in Danville to contain 1600 sq. vrs. of land, the lines to run according to the plan of the Town of Danville and to include the house first used as a storehouse by Collard & Co." I believe these two lots to be Lots 2 and 3, Block 4 according to the recorded plat.
Around 1 Jan 1850, Hiram Little sold the 93.5-ac. tract BACK to J. S. Collard (O:188-189) with this exception: "Two lots sold to James Springston, and one on which the Grocery stands, said lots being 20 vrs. by 40 vrs. each and situate in Danville." This deed probably only refers to the two lots previously mentioned in N:82-84 and based on the fact that the lots were excepted from the sale of the 93.5-ac. tract proves that the lots would have been on the east side of the street; most likely Lots 2 and 3 in Block 4 as previously stated.
Next, on 4 Nov 1852, is the sale of 4 lots by J. S. Collard to James Springston (P:85-86), described as follows: "Beg. at the Southeast corner of what is known as the Black Smith Lots, which lots lay Eastwardly and opposite Lots No. 1 & 2 in Block No. 3. The addition of these 4 lots would have given Springston almost an entire traditional-sized Block of Lots for his Blacksmith business. [There were 8 lots in Blocks 1-3.] I have labelled these lots as The 1st Blacksmith Lots. The description in this deed confirms the location as being Block 4. This deed has been the source of some confusion because, as will be shown next, in Feb of 1852, J. S. Collard sold property to George and Susan Spiller which seemingly includes part of these lots and it also appearing in the Spiller deed that James Springston had already moved his Blacksmith business to lots just north of these. Without complete deed records, we can only speculation how this may have really transpired. It is known that sometimes the lot owners would sell their lot(s) back to the 'speculator' from whom they purchased the lot or lots and the speculator would then 'turn' the lot again; almost like a rental. That may have been the case here. If George Spiller found that there was never a deed recorded for the previous sale (ie. Collard to Springston) and he wanted a good title to his property, he may have insisted that Collard 'go back' so to speak and make a deed to Springston 'after-the-fact' to make the chain of title to the lots that Spiller bought complete. However, there is no deed proving that Springston sold the lots back to Collard, who then sold them as part of a larger tract to the Spillers. This scenerio is speculation on my part, but I have found evidence that George Spiller actually had J. S. Collard re-file his 1852 deed to correct a small mistake Collard had made in the wording of the land description. The deed to the Spillers follows:
20 Feb 1852 - J. S. Collard sold 460 acres (which included his 93.5-ac. tract on the east side of Main St.) to George Anderson Spiller and his wife, Susan (P:344-346). A plat of the tract, found in G. A. Spiller's probate documents in the Black Boxes of the County Clerk's office in Conroe, proves the presence of other lots on the east side of Main St. that had been previously sold as the Spiller property now goes around them.
~~ a lot which Collard must have sold to B. E. Frazier and was then sold to John Besser sometime Feb 1852. This lot was south of Block 4 and would have been opposite and across the street from Lot 4, Block 2. There is no recorded deed to these transactions.
~~A full block of lots is also referenced in the Spiller deed that was owned by James Springston, the Blacksmith, by Feb 1852. They were north of his first Blacksmith lots in Block 4. This is where it becomes obvious that the layout of the east side businesses was a little different than the west side. There is no evidence of a street between the north end of Block 4 and the 2nd Block of Springston's Blacksmith Lots.
Springston's 2nd Block of Blacksmith Lots were sold to him by Hiram Little on 3 Apr 1852 (P:84). They are described as "beg. on Main St. opposite Block 3, at the N.W. corner of six lots sold by J. S. Collard to said Springston"....containing two lots. The measurements of these two lots, given in varas, tell us that these two lots were the size of a traditional town lot. And, the fact that the beginning point is at the N.W. corner of his 1st set of Blacksmith lots infer that the new lots were actually adjoining the old ones. There is no measurement given to indicate the presence of a street between them.