Obed Outten

The writer takes great pleasure in writing the memoir of Obed Outten because he was his own great-grandfather. But he regrets being unable to give the exact date of either his birth or his death. However, it seems certain that we was born in 1728, and he was the youngest son of John Outten Sr., and the grandson of John Outten, the Pioneer. He had three brothers and four sisters, all older than himself, except one sister.

His father made his last will and Testament August 29, 1733, but as Obed was one of the youngest children, he received no share in the real estate, and only an equal part of the personal property with six other children, his sister Mary, having received one shilling, did not share in the personal property. But in a codicil to the Will made March 2, 1735, Obed was to receive one slave, a negro boy named Tom, after the death of his mother. His father died in February, 1735, when he was only eight years old. Then his mother was appointed by the Orphans court guardian of her children. She had previously been appointed “whole and sole executrix” of her husband’s property, and she made he report to the Orphans Court July 27, 1737.

After his father died Obed’s mother married a Mr. Killum but the writer does not know anything about this union. Then she lost two of her children, John, who had married Mary Sturgis, and Director, but she succeeded in raising the other six. Mary the eldest daughter had married David Sturgis before her father’s death. They had a son, Outten Sturgis. The other children were Purnell, Abraham, Obed, Tabitha, and Edith. It seems probable that all the children were raised on the plantation where their father died, and Obed became a ship-carpenter.

There is an old family tradition still extant that two Outten brothers came to Delaware about the year 1750. Of course, this is an old gag that nearly all Delaware families boast about, but in our family is it probably true, and those brothers were Abraham and Obed. They were ship-carpenters, and went to work in the shipyard. They established their homes in Nanticoke Hundred, but at the time all the land in this section was held by the Maryland titles.

Obed purchased a tract of land which he called Outten’s Discovery, situated near Deep Creek, probably between Outten’s Landing and Concord. All the deeds for his property are recorded at Georgetown, Delaware, but they are very elaborate and almost illegible. That writer has copied in full several deeds and bonds that he found in the old records signed by Obed Outten, but he will record here just a brief extract of the property deeds .

In 1776, the boundary line between Delaware and Maryland was established, and at that time there were a great many farms in Delaware that were held by Maryland warrants. Many of these were resurveyed by their owners, and they received Delaware indentures for them, but several years passed and the work of surveying was not completed. The work was continued, however, until June 19, 1793, when the following measure was passed by the Delaware Legislature: “Whereas it appears to the General Assembly that large quantities of vacant and uncultivated land are within the State, which at present do not, and heretofore have rendered no support, Therefore, An Act for opening and establishing a land office in the state and for the sale of all vacant and uncultivated land therein.”

It was also stated “That the Governor shall commission in each County some surveyor of skill and integrity and that it shall and may be lawful for any person or persons to apply to the Recorded of Deeds in said County who is required to issue a special warrant under his hand and the seal of his office, and return a plot thereof, which shall contain the several lines and the names of owners of the contiguous or adjoining lands. And no warrant shall issue to any one person for any greater quantity than 200 acres.

Obed Outten had purchased land on three different occasions. The first was for 320 acres called Outten’s Discovery. The second was for 50 acres, which included a mill property, and the third was for 200 acres, called Good Neighborhood. So he had been in possession of 570 acres of land, and there are no deeds on record showing that he had sold any part of it. There is, however, a rambling bond recorded, signed by Obed Outten to Joseph Boyce and Jonathan Dobly, dated October 22, 1760, but he writer does not know how much was involved in it. But whatever real estate Obed Outten had in 1776, became vacant land, and as any person or persons were permitted to lay claim to vacant land, not exceeding 200 acres, the squatters of that day had an excellent opportunity to purchase a farm by paying the “caution money,” that is 50 cents an acre for 200 acres. The writer does not know how many people obtained a part of the land that had belonged to Obed Outten, nor how it was all disposed of, but when Jacob Adams made his Will February 3, 1809, which was probated December 17, 1819, he owned a part of Good Neighborhood, and willed it to his son Thomas Adams.

At long last Obed Outten got his eyes open, and he saw that every Tom, Dick and Harry that wanted a farm for 50 cents an acre, was taking up his property. Like all his descendants he was so exceedingly gullible, that he allowed himself to be cheated out of nearly all he had, before he could see what was going on. So he finally decided to act at once, and if possible save at least his home and a part of the land on which he had lived forty years. But like all others who lost their land at that time, he was only regarded as a squatter, and could only ask for 200 acres.

On November 19th, in the year of our Lord God, 1793, and the 18th year of the Independence of the United States of America, Obed Outten of the County and State of Delaware, received a warrant of 200 acres of vacant land situated in Nanticoke Hundred, on which he was at that time located, and had made an improvement.

This was evidently a part of the same piece of ground that Obed Outten had purchased in 1753, called Outten’s Discovery, and he had probably lived on it forty years, from November 15, 1753, to November 19, 1793, but he had only a Maryland title to it until the latter date, when he applied to the State of Delaware for a warrant to take up vacant land. It is clearly stated in the deed that he lived on the land at the time he received a Delaware warrant, and it was called vacant land. That is land that was unclaimed by Delaware title. In his Maryland deed, the land was known as Outten’s Discovery, but in the deed that he received from the State of Delaware, it was called Partnership.

Partnership was surveyed at once by Robert Shankland, Surveyor of the County, and the date of the survey is the same as the date of the purchase, November 19, 1793. But forsooth, when the survey was completed it was found that out of all the 570 acres that Obed Outten had once owned, there was left only 114 acres unclaimed. And as a plot of the survey was required, the following is the diagram that is on the survey.

The surprise and humiliation of this business transaction produced such a complete shock that Obed Outten’s health was undermined, and he died in a few weeks, leaving his wife a widow, and his children orphans. The writer’s father said many times that his father and grandfather lived to be sixty and sixty-five. We know that his father died at sixty, and therefore his grandfather died at sixty-five. And he died intestate, or without making a Will, indicating that his death was sudden and unexpected.

There are some events of Obed Outten’s life that are worthy of mention. He had been left an orphan by the death of his father when he was eight years old, and he did not receive any real estate from him, but only a little personal property, including a negro slave, Tom. When he grew up he went to Nanticoke Hundred, probably to work in the Seaford shipyard, along the Nanticoke River. And when he was twenty-five years old he purchased 320 acres of land called Outten’s Discovery.

Obed Outten was married twice. His first wife was Mrs. Isabel Denwood Selby, widow of Ezekiel Selby of Worcester County, but they had no children, and she died during the 70’s. Then the Revolutionary War came on, but as we have no account of his service as a soldier, he probably continued his trade as a ship-carpenter. In 1780, when he was fifty-two years old, he was married to a young woman whose name was Sarah, but her maiden name is unknown, and they were the parents of three children: Esther, Abraham and Rachel.

The writer has stated in this narrative all the facts that he has been able to find concerning Obed Outten. he has also searched for other dates and deeds that he is sure exists somewhere, and as old records are still being found, all the desired data and property rights will no doubt be available sometime. If there are any mistakes in any of these statements the writer will correct them as soon as the truth is known, either by re-writing this narrative, or by writing a supplement at the end of the chapter.

Written by Rev. John Perry Outten converted to Hypertext by Karen Stephens