I spent today transcribing a document I found last year at the New Jersey State Archives which conveys 200+ acres from Thomas Hayes and his wife Margaret to Earnest Mange, believed to be the Ernest Mann of my family (one of them at least).
Besides the difficulties of reading the handwriting of old European script and the poor quality of the scanned image, I need to comment about what seems like the excessive length of this document for its purpose, which was to say Thomas Hayes was selling land to Earnest Mange. I think the document goes on at some extreme length for three reasons:
a) the document is apparently giving the entire history of ownership of the land in question. This is a BIG thing for a genealogist to realize - that a description of YOUR family's land transaction might well be recorded in the land transaction of those who came later. So in this particular case, if you are looking for surnames STACY, POUNELL, ATKINSON, POTTS, WRIGHT, KNIGHT, JANNEY, KIRKBRIDGE or SCOTT in Sussex County, New Jersey before 1783, you would probably find some interest in the document I have just transcribed.
b) the document gives loooooong descriptions of the boundaries of the land by degrees and chains and links, but also by cornerstones and lanes of neighboring lands. So in my case, the land in question is bordered by George SUMMERS (who would be father-in-law of my Ernest Mann), as well as SIMMS, PENROSE, PARKER, and VANATTA (spelling of these surnames may vary as transcription of this document was a challenge). Another great lesson: my family might be mentioned in the land descriptions of neighbors!
c) the legalese about heirs and executors and dowers goes on and on in what I assume is fine English tradition. This document was signed by a judge of the court of common pleas in the STATE of New Jersey, which in April, 1783 was almost but not quite yet a locale found in an independent nation. George Washington and the Continental Army had spent almost half of the Revolutionary War in New Jersey. And yet now there was true hope of peace: Cornwallis had surrendered in Yorktown in 1781, the preliminary articles for a peace treaty had been signed in Paris in November, 1782, King George III would sign the treaty in September, 1783 and the American Congress would ratify the treaty giving them separation from Great Britain in January, 1784. The American Constitution and election of the first American President were on the near horizon.
So the length of this conveyance document aside, I find myself wondering about my ancestor whose first language was German, who had traveled so far to disembark in Philadelphia in 1754 and there work as a stocking weaver, who in 1776 applied to become a tavern keeper in Oxford, New Jersey, and who was now about to make himself an American landowner. I find myself imagining it was an amazing day for my Ernest Mange, the 13th of April in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty three.