There is usually a reason; it is just a matter of finding out what it is.
Mimke Habben died in Hancock County, Illinois, in 1877, leaving his real estate to his widow, Antje. Twenty-three years later she died, and her family “settled up the farm” with a deed after her death. Fairly typical. I thought the case was pretty “cut and dried,” similar to others I had seen in a variety of time periods and locations. But there was a difference. A thorough search of land records for the Habben farm located two additional quitclaim deeds for Antje's property. Other people signed these deeds “selling” Antje's property while Antje was still alive and the actual owner . How could they sell land when the owner still was alive? And more importantly, why would anyone pay money for such a deed?
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