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=Cathell Family- West Virginia=

Sinclair Ridge and the Sinclair Family

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Sinclair Ridge April 2009

The tombstone for Hector Sinclair and Sarah Schooley Sinclair. The Mt. Sarah Church was named in her honor as the Sinclair's donated the land for church and cemetery. This branch of the Scottish Sinclair family immigrated to Virginia (later West Virginia) before 1800. Hector and Sarah lived nearby on the high glade country of Garrett County Maryland before moving to the even more remote Sinclair Ridge. After Sarah passed away, Hector moved in with his daughter at Cranberry Glade and was buried near Oakland Maryland. According to family lore, Hector was later disinterred at dawn and moved by horse and wagon to be with Sarah on Sinclair Ridge. For more information on this Sinclair family please go to the Sinclair Family, Sinclair Ridge WV

On April 26, 2009 the trees have only started to bud at this elevation. Sinclair Ridge actually is a continuation of the high Allegheny plateau that has been deeply dissected by the Cheat River system of Preston County West Virginia

The simple Mt. Sarah Methodist Church reflects the lives of the Sinclair Ridge residents who have foregone the large cities and towns for a life of independence close to the land.

The Reverend Orville Davis has been serving the Mt. Sarah Church as well as other southern Preston County charges for over 50 years. Here he prepares for the 9:00 AM service.

Looking south toward Tucker County West Virginia and 3,150 foot elevation Limestone Mountain

Facing northeast one can view the Cheat River far below.

The Sinclair family homeplace. For many years now it has been used only as a hunting cabin for family members who have spread far and wide.

Alexander (1846?-1919) and Mary M. Sinclair (1845?-1922), year of photograph-1898. Mary Michael Sinclair was the daughter of William Michael and Sarah Forsyth Michael. The Michaels were a substantial family, widow Mary M. Sinclair was living with the Reverend A.O. Michael at Meadow-dale, rural Fairmont, Marion County at her death in 1922. Census records and death certificates have slightly different years of birth for both Alexander and Mary- Photo from Karla Sinclair Taylor

Alex Sinclair Father 1846 34 Va Farmer Mary Mother 1847 33 Va .. Lilly Dau. 1869 11 WV? .. Sarah Dau. 1871 11 WV? .. Joseph Son 1876 4 WV or MD? .. Benonia Son 1880 8m MD? .. Although listed as a farmer, this family possibly was involved or owned the grain mill on Water Street in Oakland and is related to some old time Oakland families including the Rasches and Kimmels.

Joseph Sinclair, born 1876-Killed in the Spanish American War- Photo from Karla Sinclair Taylor

(5)1910 U.S. Census-Rowlesburg, Preston County, West Virginia

Name Relation Yr Birth Age Parents Born Occupation
Benonia Sinclair Father 1880 30 Md ..
Carrie (Caroline Carrico) Mother 1879 31 W.Va ..
Margaret Dau. 1900 10 W.Va ..
Gladys Dau. 1902 8 W.Va ..
Willis Son 1904 6 W.Va ..
Arthur Son 1902 8 W.Va ..
Albert Son 1907 3 W.Va ..

Alexander Sinclair, Benonia Sinclair's father.

Mary Michael Sinclair, Benonia Sinclair's mother.

Alexander Sinclair's Civil War pension record.


October Term, 1876

APPEAL from the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of West Virginia.

In April, 1831, Robert Sinclair, of Hampshire County, Va., died, leaving a widow and eight surviving children. He was, at the time of his death, possessed of some personal property, and the real property in controversy, consisting of one hundred and ten acres. By his last will and testament he made the following devise: 'I give and bequeath to my beloved wife, Nancy Sinclair, all my estate, both real and personal; that is to say, all my lands, cattle, horses, sheep, farming utensils, household and kitchen furniture, with every thing that I possess, to have and to hold during her life, and to do with as she sees proper before her death.' The will was duly probated in the proper county.

In July, 1839, the widow, for the consideration of $1,100, executed a deed to the Union Potomac Company, a corporation created under the laws of Virginia, of the real property thus devised to her, describing it as the tract or parcel on which she then resided, and the same which was conveyed to her 'by the last will and testament of her late husband.' As security for the payment of the consideration, she took at the time from the company its bond and a mortgage upon the property. The mortgage described the property as the tract of land which had on that day been conveyed by her to the Union Potomac Company.

In 1854 this bond and mortgage were assigned to the complainant and Hector Sinclair, the latter a son of the widow, in consideration of $100 cash, and the yearly payment of the like sum during her life. Previous to this time, Brant and Hector Sinclair had purchased the interest of all the other heirs, except Jane Sinclair, who was at the time, and still is, an idiot, or an insane person; and such purchase is recited in the assignment, as is also the previous conveyance of a life-interest to the company.

In July, 1857, these parties instituted suit for the foreclosure of the mortgage and sale of the property. The bill described the property as a tract of valuable coal land which the company had purchased of the widow, and prayed for the sale of the estate purchased. Copies of the deed of the widow and of the mortgage of the company were annexed to the bill. In due course of proceedings a decree was obtained directing a sale, by commissioners appointed for that purpose, of the property, describing it as 'the lands in the bill and proceedings mentioned,' if certain payments were not made within a designated period. The payments not being made, the commissioners, in December, 1858, sold the mortgaged property to one Patrick Hammill, who thus succeeded to all the rights of the Union Potomac Company.

The defendant corporation, the Virginia Coal and Iron Company, derive their title and interest in the premises by sundry mesne conveyances from Hammill, and in 1867 went into their possession. Since then it has cut down a large amount of valuable timber, and has engaged in mining and extracting coal from the land, and disposing of it.

Brant, having acquired the interest of Hector Sinclair, brought the present suit to restrain the company from mining and extracting coal from the land, and to compel an accounting for the timber cut and the coal taken and converted to its use.

The court below dismissed the bill, whereupon Brant brought the case here.

Argued by Mr. John J. McKinnon and Mr. George W. Brandt for the appellant.

Under the will, Nancy Sinclair took only a life-estate. The testator having failed to devise the fee, it descended to his heirs. She had no power, nor did she attempt to divest them of it.

Real and personal property of an intestate is, under the statute of Virginia, distributed equally among his heirs-at-law. The rule is the same where the owner in fee of lands devises them to another for life, without making any specific disposition of the inheritance.

A rule never to be lost sight of in the construction of wills is, that the heir is not to be disinherited without an express devise, or implication importing so strong a probability, that an intention to the contrary cannot be supposed. 1 Redf. on Wills, p. 425, n. 5, p. 434, sect. 18; Allen's Ex'r v. Allen, 18 How. 391.

Negative words are not sufficient to exclude the title of the heir. There must be an actual gift to some other definite object. Fitch v. Weber, 6 Hare, 145; 1 Redf. on Wills, 425.

Courts will look at the circumstances under which the devisor makes his will, as to the state of his property, his family, and the like. 1 Redf. on Wills, 425.

In a deed, the words govern the intention. In a will, the intention governs the words. Edwards v. Bibb, 43 Ala. 666.

It is an old and equitable rule, that the reversion is not to be defeated, or the heirs despoiled by implication, without express words. Dashwood v. Peyton, 18 Ves. 40.

No words authorizing Mr. Sinclair to sell and convey the fee can be found in the will, either in connection with the life-estate or elsewhere. The leading case of Bradley v. Westcott, 13 Ves. 445, is strikingly analogous to that at bar. In both there is an express devise for life, followed by an ambiguous authority or discretion; and in each the authority or power is confined to natural life.

Applying the doctrine in that case to this, it cannot be contended that the still less potent and greatly more ambiguous language following the express devise for life in this case is to have a different meaning or be differently construed. Smith v. Bell, 6 Pet. 80, Gregory v. Cowgill, 19 Mo. 415, Boyd et al. v. Strahan, 36 Ill. 355, Seigwald v. Seigwald, 37 id. 431, and Cox et al. v. Butt et al., 22 Ark. 568, are to the same effect as Bradley v. Westcott, supra, and settle the question as to what estate Mrs. Sinclair took, and what power she had under the will.

The complainant is in no manner or way estopped by reason of the foreclosure proceeding or by the sale thereunder. To estop him in any view of the case, the defence must show that his language or conduct was the direct motive or inducement to the purchase. This has not even been attempted. Ware v. Cowles, 24 Ala. 446; Jones v. Cowles, 26 id. 612; Brewer v. Brewer, 19 id. 431; Morton v. Hodgdon, 32 Me. 327; Cambridge Inst. v. Rittlefield, 6 Cush. 216; Watkins v. Peck, 13 N. H. 360; Darlington's Appeal, 1 Harris, 430; Carpenter v. Stilwell, 1 Kern. 61.

Ignorance of the true state of the title on the part of the purchaser must concur with wilful misrepresentation or fraudulent concealment on the part of the vendor. Crest v. Jack, 3 Watts, 238; Hepburn v. McDowell, 17 Serg. & R. (Pa.) 383; Ferris v. Coover, 10 Cal. 509; Casey v. Inloes, 1 Gilm. 430; Lawrence v. Brown, 1 Seld. 394; Hill v. Epley, 7 Casey, 331; Goodson v. Beacham, 24 Ga. 150; Parker v. Parker, 2 Met. 421.

No estoppel will arise in the absence of actual fraud, unless the purchaser was not only ignorant of the true state of the title, but had no means of acquiring knowledge by a recourse to the record. Bigelow v. Topliff, 25 Vt. 273; Carter v. Champion, 8 Conn. 554.

Argued by Mr. E. Wyatt Blanchard for the appellee.

Notwithstanding the assumed defect in Mrs. Sinclair's original title under the will, the appellant is entitled to no relief, and is estopped from denying the validity of the appellee's title: first, as privy in estate of Mrs. Sinclair, under whom he claimed in the foreclosure proceedings; second, by his own declarations of record in those proceedings, his non-assertion at that time of the title he now claims, and by various acts in connection with the foreclosure sale, and subsequently thereto.

It is not necessary to the application of the doctrine of estoppel that fraud in fact should be charged or shown. It rests on a broad principle of equity, which will not permit a party to a transaction, even when made under a mistake of title, to receive its fruits, and afterwards repudiate it. Assertions innocently made, but which mislead others; silence as to conflicting claims, or as to facts which should have been disclosed; recitals in deeds; descriptions of title; covenants; warranties,—all or any will give rise to the application of this principle for the protection of a purchaser, in the class of cases known as cases of constructive fraud.

It is a principle of universal application, that a person assenting to an act, and deriving and enjoying a title under it, shall not be permitted to impeach it. 2 Wash. Real. Prop. b. 3, p. 472; 11 How. 322, 325, 326; 5 Johns. Ch. 184; 1 id. 354; 12 Wall. 358; 13 id. 291.

Nor can any controlling authority be found for applying the rule caveat emptor to this class of cases.

The evidence is uncontradicted, that the sum agreed to be paid to Mrs. Sinclair was at the time the full value of the property in fee-simple, subject to the life-estate reserved by her. Whatever, therefore, she conveyed was to be paid for as a fee-simple estate. Her acceptance of the mortgage in fee, to secure the payment of the purchase-money, was a distinct act in pais, recognizing the existence of a title in fee in the Union Potomac Company.

In the application of the doctrine of estoppel, the question whether the acts done by the parties are legally effectual is excluded. The sole question is, What did they intend to do? In this case, the conclusion is irresistible, that Mrs. Sinclair intended to part with the fee for a then fair price. Her opinions, purposes, or unknown views must yield to the force of her solemn acts; and for the protection of others against her and her privies in estate, if the purchaser believed himself acquiring a fee as against her and them, his estate is a fee. Although it is not intended to charge that the complainant in this and in the foreclosure case committed the fraud of conducting that proceeding with his present opinion of his title, or with the purpose of selling the lands, receiving the proceeds, and then reclaiming them, the effect is the same as if he had acted with such guilty purpose. Every line of the record of that proceeding shows that the officers of the court did not sell the life-estate of Mrs. Sinclair, but that they did offer 'the lands mentioned in the proceedings,' with that life-estate reserved, in such explicit terms, that no successful bidder could fail to conclude that he was the purchaser of the fee.

The power of disposition of Mrs. Sinclair, under the will of her husband, equally affects all descriptions of the property devised. Nothing is to be found in the will to indicate any purpose on his part to distinguish her dominion over his real and personal estate.

The construction claimed by the appellant requires that the words of power shall be held to refer to the words creating the estate, so as to read, 'to have and to hold during life, and to do with as she sees proper, according to the powers of a life-tenant.' When the testator gave all to his wife, to have and to hold during her life, he, without superadded words, gave every power incident to that estate. The appellant, in effect, rejects the words of power, and treats them as surplusage.

That construction rests on the presumed intention of the testator to die intestate as to the remainder of his effects, real and personal, in order that they might pass to his heirs-at-law subject to the life-estate devised to his wife; but such intention is not to be presumed if any other construction be possible, especially where a devise like this is of the testator's entire estate. 2 Preston on Estates, 103. Where the devise is general, with words added implying a power of disposition, the devisee takes a fee.

Where an express estate for life is given with such words of power added, the devisee takes an estate for life, and the power must be exercised. 2 Preston on Estates, 81, 82; Cruise, tit. Devise, c. 13, sect. 5; Jackson v. Robins, 16 Johns. 537; Stevens v. Winship, 1 Pick. 318; Reid v. Shergold, 10 Ves. 370; Guthrie v. Guthrie, 1 Call, 7; Shermer v. Shermer's Ex'r, 1 Wash. 266; Burwell v. Anderson, 3 Leigh, 355; 2 Johns. 392; May v. Joynes, 20 Gratt. 692. The power is a distinct gift, and is not limited to a disposition of the life-interest, but will pass the fee. 3 Lomax, Dig. 317; 2 Preston, 81, 82; 8 Viner's Abr. 234, 235, sects. 2, 3, 4, 9, 8, 14. Nor is any special form of words necessary to give the power of disposition of the fee to the life-tenant.

The current of authority is unbroken, that words of power following a gift for life, and uncontrolled by other parts of the will, give either a fee, or a life-estate with power to dispose of the fee. Mrs. Sinclair's deed, therefore, either conveyed, and was meant to convey, nothing, or was intended to operate according to the legal effect of its words

upon the reversion. MR. JUSTICE FIELD stated the case, and delivered the opinion of the court.


Other Church Scenes

Location______________? Left to right Stellie Cline, Gladys Emma Sinclair Cathell, Clarence Mitchell Cathell, Dorothy Bernard Cathell, Willie Cline, Carl Mitchell Cathell, Jr., David Wayne Cathell. Willie and Clarence were first cousins through their Robinson mothers so perhaps this church is in the Licking district of Tucker County.



Use this link to go to the Cathell Family in West Virginia Home Page

Green Valley, West Virginia
August 4, 2007

Green Valley, near Etam West Virginia. Platt Mitchell Cathell homestead. Currently owned and occupied by Gerald "Pete" Cathell, grandson of Platt M. Cathell

1907 Map of Etam West Virginia. The Cathell homestead is just off of this map to the southwest.

Platt and Sarah, as well as many of their offspring are buried in the Etam Methodist Church cemetary.

Children of Platt and Sarah Cathell-use "back" to return to this page from links
Name: Cathell, George E. Year of Birth 1865 Year of Death: 1932 Birth Place: Baltimore MD
Spouse: Sarah E. Robinson Spouse Birth/Death:1867-1954 Burial:Etam Cemetary Child: Roy Cathell 1900-1901
Child: Clarence M. Cathell 1890-1983 Child: Bertha I. Cathell Britton1891-1973 Child: James A. Cathell 1895-1964 Child: Nora A. Cathell 1893-1983
Residence: Green Valley WV County: Preston Occupation: Farmer Notes:

Name: Cathell, Joseph Huvington Year of Birth 1868 Year of Death: 1964 Birth Place: Baltimore MD
Spouse: Callie V. Adams Spouse Birth/Death:1884-1960 Burial:Etam Cemetary Child: Perl A. Cathell
Child: Edith J. Cathell Child: Dora M Cathell Child:Earl C. Cathell Child: William E. Cathell
Child: Elsie E. Cathell Child: Dorothy C. Cathell Child:T.Gordon Cathell Child: W. Donald Cathell
Residence: Etam WV County: Preston Occupation: Farmer Notes: 95 years old at death

Name: Cathell, James Mitchell Year of Birth 1860 Year of Death: 1941 Birth Place: Baltimore MD
Spouse:1) Carrie Coburn 2) Annie Turner Spouse Birth/Death:__________ Burial:Etam Cemetary Child:Virgil Cathell
Child: Claude Cathell Child: Child: Child:
Residence: Belington WV County: Barbour Occupation: Notes:Died in Rowlesburg at Will's

Name: Cathell, Steward H. Year of Birth 1870 Year of Death: 1953 Birth Place: Baltimore
Spouse: Cyrena May Lipscomb Spouse Birth/Death:1871-1952 Burial:Etam Cemetary Child: Thomas Oscar Cathell
Child: Anna L. Cathell Child: Harry Ervin Cathell Child: Lula Mabel Cathell Child: Elmer Neal Cathell
Child: Orville Ross Cathell Child: Theodore Platt Cathell Child: Boyd Williard Cathell Child: Stewart Lee Cathell (loved cake)
Child: Goldie Grace Cathell Child: Everett McKinley Cathell Child: Mary Katherine Cathell Child: Kenneth Hall Cathell
Child: Arthur U. Cathell Child: Avril Cathell Child: Robert W. Cathell Child:Ruth M. Cathell
Residence: Hepzibah Community County: Taylor Occupation:Farmer Notes:

Name: Cathell, William Luther Year of Birth 1878 Year of Death: 1956 Birth Place: Green Valley -Etam, WV
Spouse: Elsie M. Spouse Birth/Death:1883-1959 Burial:Etam Cemetary Child:Merrill (Myrl)Cathell
Child: Charles (Charley) Cathell Child: Child: Child:
Residence: Rowlesburg WV County: Preston Occupation: Engineer, B&O Notes: Pension card in Rowlesburg book

Name: Cathell, Charles (Charley) Year of Birth 1880 Year of Death: 1952 Birth Place: Green Valley -Etam, WV
Spouse: Mable (Mae)Gaines Spouse Birth/Death:1887-196_ Burial:Etam Cemetary Child:Betty (Cathell) Sohn
Child: Dolly M (Cathell) Bolyard Dutton 1914-2002 Child: Gerald (Pete) Cathell, Green Valley, WV Child: Richard (Rich) Cathell, Chesapeake, VA Child: Violet (Cathell) Carver
Child: Augusta Cathell Child: Mildred M. Cathell Child: C. Harold Cathell Child:
Residence: Green Valley, WV County: Preston Occupation:Farmer Notes: bought homeplace from siblings

Name: Cathell, Jane Year of Birth 18__ Year of Death: 19__ Birth Place: Baltimore MD
Spouse: Thomas Springs Spouse Birth/Death:_______ Burial:_______ Child:
Child: Child: Child: Child:
Residence: County: Taylor Occupation: Notes:

Name: Cathell, John Wesley Year of Birth June 22, 1872 Year of Death: August 25, 1951 Birth Place: Baltimore, MD
Spouse: Jane Haymon or Layman Spouse Birth/Death:_______ Burial:Concord Church Child: Callie Cathell Corley
Child: Johnnie Cathell Child: Ralph William Cathell Child: Daisy Cathell Child:Howard Cathell
Child: Mitchell Cathell (of John, not of Clarence) Child: Carrie V. Cathell Child: Inez D. Cathell Child:Myrtle E. Cathell
Child: Bretsel L. Cathell Child: Bud Cathell Child: Clifford B. Cathell Child:Blanch Cathell
Child: Dolly P.Cathell Child: Child: Sarah E.Cathell Child: Nellie R. Cathell
Residence: rural Belington WV County:Barbour Occupation: Farmer Notes:

Name: Cathell, Jonathan Year of Birth abt 1873 Year of Death: ? Birth Place: Baltimore MD
Spouse: _____ Spouse Birth/Death:_______ Burial:? Child:
Child: Child: Child: Child:
Residence: County: Occupation: Notes: Jonathan might be John Wesley-above?

Name: Cathell, Martha W Year of Birth abt 1876 Year of Death: ? Birth Place: _________
Spouse: _____ Spouse Birth/Death:_______ Burial:? Child:
Child: Child: Child: Child:
Residence: County: Occupation: Notes:

Name: Cathell, Rutherford B. Year of Birth abt 1876 Year of Death: ? Birth Place: West Virginia
Spouse: Grace E. Francis Cathell Spouse Birth/Death:12/25/1879/? Burial:? Child:
Child: Child: Child: Child:
Residence: Harrison Co. WV County: Occupation: Notes: Married Grace 1899

Notes-Need to classify/verify

1900 Census
Preston County
listed under Stuart (Steward) and May
Arthur U Cathell abt 1899

listed under William L
Charity Cathell abt 1882

listed under Jos. H.
Eunice E Cathelll abt 1872
Perl A. Cathell abt 1890
Edith J. Cathell abt 1892
Dora M Cathell 1894
Earl C. Cathell abt 1897

1910 Census
Preston County
listed under William and Elsie
Merrill Cathell abt 1905
Charley Cathell abt 1908

listed under George E. and Sarah
Florence M. Cathell abt 1890

listed under Charles and Mabel (Charley and May)
Augusta Cathell abt 1907 (Gusty, a visitor to my home in the 1960's ?)

listed under James M.
Virgil Cathell abt 1901

listed under Stewart H. and (Cyrena) May
Arvel Cathell abt 1900 (seen elsewhere spelled Avril ?-if Avril, died Sept 20 1964 Mineral Co WV- retired B&O RR)

listed under John and Jane-Upshur County--assumed to be the same as John Wesley
Daisy Cathell abt 1895
Howard Cathell abt 1904
Mitchell Cathell abt 1904 - spouse was Mary Russie Malcomb-died March 1953

1920 Census
Preston County

listed under John and Jane
Carrie V. Cathell abt 1909
Inez D. Cathell abt 1914
Myrtle E. Cathell abt 1915
Bretsel L. Cathell abt 1916
Bud Cathell abt 1916

(listed in 1930 census--Barbour Co- Under John and Jane)
Blanch Cathell abt 1913
Clifford B. Cathell abt 1918
Dolly P. Cathell abt 1920
Sarah E. Cathell abt 1922
Nellie R. Cathell abt 1922

listed under William L and Elsie
Myrl Cathell (same as Merrill?) abt 1905
Charles Cathell abt 1908

listed under James W. (1861)
Anna Cathell abt 1881 (Annie Turner)
Claude Cathell abt 1909

listed under Stewart and (Cyrena) May
Robert W. Cathell abt 1909
Ruth M. Cathell abt 1918

1930 census

listed under Theodore Platt-Monongalia Co (of Stewart and Cyrena May) Coal miner- died Sept 1936
Hazel M Cathell about 1905-spouse from Maidsville WV
Charlotte C Cathell abt 1925
Harley N Cathell abt 1926
Richard L Cathell abt 1927
Della M Cathell abt 1930

Rita M Cathell abt 1895?

listed under Charles R abt 1908-Preston Co (of _________)
Augusta Cathell abt 1908
Mary L Cathell abt 1926
Jack Cathell abt 1928

listed under Charles (abt 1881) (of Platt and Sarah) and Mabel abt (1888) (May) -Preston Co in addition to above)
Mildred M Cathell abt 1921
C Harold Cathell abt 1924
Gerald L. Cathell (Pete-current owner in 2007 of homeplace) abt 1926
Richard G. Cathell (Rich-resides in Chesapeake VA in 2007) abt 1929

listed under Joseph H. (of Platt and Sarah) and Callie V. ( in addition to above )
William E Cathell-abt 1915
Elsie E. Cathell abt 1916
Dorothy C Cathell abt 1917
Ethel D Cathell abt 1919
T Gordon Cathell abt 1921
W. Donald Cathell about 1924

listed under Thomas O (Oscar)-Preston Co (of Stewart and Cyrena May)
Ora M Cathell (spouse?) abt 1895
Roy E Cathell abt 1915
Thelma E Cathell abt 1917
Mary E Cathell abt 1922

listed under Harry E --Taylor Co (of Stewart and Cyrena May)
Elizabeth Cathell (spouse?) abt 1897
Edwin H Cathell abt 1920
Stewart A Cathell abt 1923
Mary S Cathell abt 1926
Dorsey L Cathell abt 1928

"abt" = about date of birth


Etam and Rowlesburg Industry


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