The Mountain Eagle
Whitesburg KY

Have you checked your property deed recently?

To the Editor:

I grew up in Hot Spot, up on Johnson’s Fork in the 1940’s and ’50’s. My family has owned the same piece of land there for well over 100 years. In fact, I can remember stories my grandmother told me as a very little boy about her being 10 years old and having to help on the family farm while the men were gone during the Civil War. I remember the people always respected neighbors and everyone was your friend or family. And we certainly respected the property of others.

I recently learned that those days are long since gone. I was in the area for deer season with my son this November and found out that two individuals have deeded themselves about 25 acres of our land without any type of conveyance from our deed — no survey, no legal documentation, and certainly without the consent of the family. These deeds are now recorded in the Letcher County Courthouse and we now have to hire an attorney to help us fight to get our land back. Why did this happen?

To answer that question I went to the Courthouse to ask County Clerk Winston Meade and found out that as long as someone presents themselves to the Clerk’s office with a deed to be recorded and the money to pay for it, it gets done. In our case it was done without any evidence of ownership. No proof of purchase, conveyance, grant, gift or inheritance was necessary. We (the family) have tax receipts dating back to 1914, when the 45-acre tract was given to my mother by her mother (my grandmother) who inherited her 300 acres from her father who was the original owner as a part of a land grant by the federal government. Yet without any proof or legal consideration, two people were able to steal our land. Now they are attempting to sell and or lease parcels of that 25 acres to coal companies for mining even though they do not own it.

Friends of Letcher County, this is not how I envisioned my mother’s legacy. I suggest that anyone who holds large parcels of land go to the Courthouse and demand to see your deed and any conveyances from it. You may find, like I did, that you may not own anything.
Fostoria, Ohio

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