Nuts From the Family Tree

A Genealogy Blog About the Kelly and Williams Families (and all the rest) mostly from Frostburg, Maryland

Friday, May 3, 2013

House Heirs Association: Part III, Where Did They Get All That Land?

If you've been following along on this crazy journey to resurrect the collected facts, trivia, and stories about the House Heirs Association (HHA) you'll remember in Part Iwe checked out the basics of it all and in Part II we followed the money. In this post we'll try to figure out and untangle what's known about how the House men got possession of that land in the first place. But first the usual recap of the HHA.

Here's a recap of what the House Heirs Association is all about. In a nutshell, the descendants of one Andrew V. House (1700 - 1797) believed that he and his son, John Valentine House (1739 - 1843), had supposedly been swindled out of payment from the US Government for a 99 year land lease on an immense tract of land they owned, reported to be as large as 64,000 acres. At the end of the lease the government and people living on that land in about 1884 or 85, located roughly in Frederick County, Maryland, all forgot that the House family were the rightful owners. 

So where the heck did they get all that land? I'm still curious even though lately I've been suspicious that we're actually related to this House line! In an old document in Mom's possession our connection through Samuel Albert House, my 2nd great grandfather, is outlined. It was about 1900 and times were hard and people must have seen this as an opportunity to enjoy wealth, because the estimate was that everyone would get $2 million. Now, you need to know that Samuel Albert lived in a small rural village in the back woods of West Virginia and scraped by, as best we can tell. It amuses me to think what he might have done with a $2M pay day:)

Back to the main question of the day: where did they get that land? It was a gigantic parcel, some 64,000 acres. Where would they get that?! There are mentions about the original land grant in HHA documents but the attorney who represented the HHA states in a letter (with no date but presumably after the 1901 Kokomo Indiana meeting) that "much time and effort has been spent in writing to parties who were said to have papers and records but none have been found to throw any light on the matter." He goes on to say, "we have found nothing, except, perhaps family history".

That said, the next posting by Mr. Granger to the RootsWeb message board listed as House Heirs Association meeting Williamstown, KY, Jan 9th, 1899, concerns a letter dated December 18, 1899, reportedly coming from "a London Law Office" and here's what it said, in a nutshell. (I've underlined the descendancy stuff for easier reference.)

1.  The House records and estate of Andrew House by metes and bounds was first ceded to Count Frederick Edward Van Hautzen by Pudshers from the English Government, in the 16th Century.
2. It was attached as part of the Commonwealth of Maryland to the Calvert Government, which with the Estate of Lord Baltimore, it reverted back to the Crown, being regranted in the 17th Century to Andrew House, who was the Great Grandson of Count Frederick, from the latter Frederick County was named.
3. This land was given to Andrew House as a birthday present, if he would enter this grant: he was also given the coat of arms: signatures and seals (a different House Mediveael Coat of Arms), cord and dagger. 
4. From Andrew House it descended to John Valentine House, the eldest child and his heirs. 
5. Neither patent or grant was ever recorded in Maryland, but a search of the British Colonies Offices in the 17th and 18th Century will reveal the Grant and old will of those records.

The writer of this letter, who sounds awfully certain of it all, states,"The search for you will cost about ten pounds, or fifty dollars. But before coming to England, it might be well to satisfy that there was no assignment or quit-claim from John Valentine House, who was son of Count Frederick Edward Van Hautzen, who was a son of Andrew Van Hautzen, in times the last of the Counts of the Barony."

Confused? Yeah, me too. Next time, Dastardly Deeds!

(Insert Cheezy Coat of Arms Here;)

Update, 6/25/2013: Here's a link to the page on Len Granger's web site where he talks about the House Heirs Association. Thanks, Len!!

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  1. Anthony ThompsonJanuary 30, 2014 at 3:45 PM

    The House Heirs Association lawsuit is fiction. No land records have ever been found. J.V. House and Eleanor Harrod are my 6th GGrandparents and 90% of the genealogical information on this House line is incorrect, fabricated, or a mash up of no less than 5 different J.V. House individuals, and have absolutly no connection to Count Frederick Edward Van Hautzen. I think the lack of evidence not located in the last 250 years is proof of the fradulent case. Almost all claiments had no proof of descendency to this House line. Anyone interested in joining the House DNA project, which has tested 4 proven descendents of J.V. House and Eleanor Harrod are welcome to contact me at

    • .February 12, 2014 at 8:56 AM

      Hi Anthony-- 

      The House Heirs Association is real and not a fiction. It is a historic event that happened and my purpose here was to capture as much as I could now, and before any more of it is lost to history. To me, it's a fascinating story of false hope and then shattered dreams. 

      The grounds for the law suit are another kettle of fish entirely. My take on the HHA is that bits and pieces of family stories were woven together to build hopes of easy money. Folks with the House surname were recruited and asked to donate to the cause that could, they were told, have brought them over a million dollars. For my poor West Virginia farmers with the surname House, that must have seemed like the solution to their problems.

      I tend to think that all House surname people who participated were told that they descended from Count Van Hautzen. Mine as well, and of course they did not.

      Best of luck in your DNA project!


  2. Anthony ThompsonFebruary 21, 2015 at 12:41 PM

    Professional researchers have proven this was a fraud like many others of the time. Dishonest individuals would fabricate pedigrees to attempt to prove inheritance of lands. It was very common in the early 1900s among many families. John Valentine House had many great great grandchildren living at the time of the House Heirs claim yet NONE were ever contacted to be involved in the case. These descendants were well documented and part of a very important group of people, such as Geo. Washingtion, Anthony Wayne, Thomas Cresap, the Harrod family, the Moore family, and Daniel Boone. Every area the House family lived is well documented in known land records and no mystery lands existed. J.V. House, the Harrods, and the Moore family are my direct family ancestral line. The House Heirs claim is not unique as many other scammers attempted to prove land claims using false pedigrees at this time in history. None of J.House great great grandchildren were involved in this even when they were known descendants. As a genealogist and researcher I must go by facts and evidence, which none has ever been found to support this claim by any legitimate sources.

  3. Leonard GrangerDecember 27, 2015 at 4:39 PM

    I originally posted the House Heirs Association website as my grandfather a House heir got involved and spent considerable money with a lawyer. After looking at all the old yellow documents I have, I believe the House family could not prove
    ownership of property so US government stopped paying lease fees. Property became public property of the State of Maryland and case closed after all these years. As usual the lawyers who promoted it made money and those that thought they would be rich learned a lesson, including my grandfather. I have a collection of old document copies. My grandfather sent his four daughters to college, then when he got involved with the House Heirs Association he could not help his only son go to college. Dad with a 10th grade education, as he had to drop out of school during the depression to help on the farm, went on to become a multimillionaire. He helped his sisters families later on. So ends the story.





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