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Land petition of Catherine Dochstader Balm
Posted by: raymond lozon (ID *****2687) Date: February 12, 2007 at 09:40:54
  of 187

This posting is about the petition of Catherine Dochstader Balm, Caistor [UCLP, 1836, B20/5, film C-1632, NA]. This petition if for a tract of land on the Grand River in Canborough Twp. that had once belonged to Capt. John Dochstader and that he had received through Joseph Brant. Catherine bases her claim on the fact that Captain John died intestate, that he had no "legitimate" children, and that she was very distantly related, as she states that she is the heir at law to John Dochstader,the son of George. She concludes that she is also heir at law to Capt.John Dochstader. George Dochstader is not the brother of Captain John Dochstader but his nephew. George is the son of Captain John Dochstader's elder brother, Henry Dochstader, of Caistor. George died in 1781 leaving besides his wife, two sons, John and George Henry. John also died young and Catherine is the only and surviving daughter. In 1836 she was the wife of Abraham Balm, of Caistor.
I will quote from the opening page of this petition that is signed "Catherine Balm".

"Know all men by these Presnts, that, whereas the late Captain John Dochstader of the County of Haldimand, in the District of Niagara , Deceased, Did Die intestate having or leaving no Legitimate Children and being at this time of his Lawfully in Possession of Certain Lands in Said District, and, whereas the late Henry Dochstader of the Township of Caistor, Eldest brother to the the Said Captain John Dochstader, Deceased, had four sons of which the Eldest George Dochstader Deceased previous to his Father, the Said Henry Dochstader and Left two sons of which namely, John Dochstader the Elder now Deceased, and left one only Child, a Daughter by the name of Catharine Dochstader now Catharine Balm by her intermarriage with a certain Abram Balm of Said Caistor yeoman."

So we learn from this land petition that Capt. John Dochstader's eldest brother was Henry Dochstader of Caistor Twp., that he had 4 sons, Henry's eldest son, George, died previous to his father, George Dochstader had 2 sons, George's eldest son is John Dochstader, John had one child, a daughter, Catherine Dochstader, Catherine Dochstader became the wife of Abram Balm, yeoman, of Caistor.

Catherine based her claim on this family line from Captain John and also on the fact that he and his wives were not married according to English or Church laws, thereby making his children "illegitimate" and not able to inherit.

This claim was denied. The concluding document in this land petition is from Robert S. Jamieson dated 15 June 1836. He states that upon the of [Capt.] John Dochstader, who had died intestate, leaving by his "Indian" wife, a daughter, Catherine, the wife of Lyman Burnham, the "Indians in continuance and confirmation of the provision previously made, solemnly granted a renewed lease of the same tract of land to the said Catherine Burnham and John Burnham as the Heirs of John Dochstader......The intention of the Indians throughout seems manifest. Their object was to provide for that person who had married into their Nation, and on his , for his descendants of their blood whom they deemed and styled his heirs and not to benefit the heirs of the elder brother of John Dochstader who are strangers to their blood, possessing no claim....."

We learn from this document that Capt. John Dochstader had an Indian wife and by her a daughter, Catherine Dochstader, who had married Lyman Burnham. John Burnham was called the child of Catherine and Lyman in the Attorney General's letter but in this he was mistaken. In her own land petition (C1633) Catherine Dochstader Burnham states that John Burnham was not her son but the son of her deceased sister, Mary Burnham. Catherine was the daughter of Capt. John Dochstader and John was his grandson through his daughter, Mary. It also shows that although Capt. John and his wives were not married within the English law or the church the inheritance of his children was assured. Jamieson further states in his letter "Whatever may have been the defect in the legitimacy according to the Laws of England of those whom the Indians styled the heirs of John Dochstader.....Mr. Thornburn [Catherine Balm's representative] is a little mistaken as to the effect of premogeniture in this case,the property, being a chattel interest only would not have descended to the heir at law, but would have been distributable among the next of kin of the Intestate."

Janette Burnham Lozon

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