Letter re: 40 acres and underlying mineral rights in Ritchie County

I recently received a letter from a lawyer stating that I owned a fractional share of 40 acres and the underlying mineral rights located in Ritchie County, WV. I called the lawyer and was informed that they had mailed me a lease in March and that they were still trying to locate my brother and sister which I told them were half brother and sister, by a different father. The inheritance came from my father. They said that they would mail me another lease and a form to have notarized stating that I was the only child. They said that my share was just under an acre and said that I would receive a bonus of 2500.00. Nothing was said about royalty. My question is that if they thought that my brother and sister (half) would be getting shares, would their shares go to me now or be split up between the long line of heirs that co-owed the land with me? I would like to know if anyone else knows about this parcel of land that they called the Creed Barker estate. I know no one from my father side of the family except for one sister that passed years ago. I am completely ignorant about all this. Does anyone have advise? I need guidance, please…

Hi Ms. Campbell, great news about having a mineral interest! About the information that your interest came from your father and that your half siblings had a different father, as I read this it seems that you would not be sharing his interest with others in the line.

If you go to www.uslandrecords.com and select West Virginia then select Ritchie and put in Barker Creed you will find an entry.

You can search the Ritchie county sheriff's tax records Ritchie County Sheriff tax records

for Barker Creed. I found tax tickets going back several years.

There might be other things we can help you with.

Ask the lawyer for information about the lease which you said they had mailed. You need to see which company is involved, what are the terms of the lease, etc.

You must somehow be related to Creed Barker. Creed is an old honored forename in Ritchie county. Creed Collins, long deceased, has a school named after him.

Nancy, I actually did go uslandrecords.com and viewed the documents and of the Grantor/grantee estate I found for Creed Barker. I also saw the tax tickets. Do they mean that the Creed Barkers heirs owe the taxes and how do get a list of heirs? The company involved is Antero Resources. I recieved a lease and it state that I owned 0.97222 gross acreage and they are offering 3000.00 per acre bonus and 15% royalties. I truly don't understand the language they use for the terms of the lease. It's really confusing and from what understand, it would cost as much as the bonus to have an attorney look over it and advise me. I have also been advised that if I'm not careful signing, that I could possibly lose the property altogether. Although, I have never been to West Virginia, just owning this little parcel of land has a great sentimental value to me. Also, as much as I could use 3000.00 right now, I'm not willing to sign this lease without doing some research. It says I have to sign by May 31. Yes, Creed Barker was my great grandfather. The parcel # is 3 -7-28 ;28.1. How can I find out where this parcel is located? Nancy, thank you so much for taking time to help me. I truly appreciate you.

Nancy Mosley said:

Hi Ms. Campbell, great news about having a mineral interest!
About the information that your interest came from your father and that your half siblings had a different father, as I read this it seems that you would not be sharing his interest with others in the line.

Hi Robin,

I have several suggestions. This is going to be long!

I have access to the tax maps, and found that parcel (those parcels) to be slightly southeast of the mutual boarder of Ritchie, Tyler and Pleasants Counties.

You can get a copy of this tax map (Clay Map 7) by calling the Ritchie County Assessor's Office at 1-304-643-2164, listen to the menu for Assessor's office. Cost around $5.

If you are interested in an historic view, the Ritchie County Historical Society has copies of what is called The Old Farm Map made by oil and gas companies around 1905 to show who owned what at that time, so they knew whom to contact for leasing, pipelines, etc. Ritchie County Historical Society The parcel on that map that matches the modern tax map/parcel 3/7/28 (and 28.1, carved out of 28) was owned by Sarah McFadden.

Looking at the WV Office of Oil and Gas map showing wells and permits, WV Office of Oil and Gas Permit map

if you put in the box for Attribute Search : 08509728 and zoom in, you see the approximate location. This well is on the property just east of 7-28. You can see a plat of the lease acreage for this well (085-09728) on this site WV GES downloads for Ritchie with Ritchie already selected (all the WV counties are on the main site).

If you go down to that number 08509728 and select the plat you'll see it. To the northwest is Mary L. Moore 40 acres, next to Mary L. Moore 43 acres.

Back to that WV OOG permit/well map site, if you put in 08510180 you'll see a long orange line, next to two other long orange lines, coming out of a red star-like thing. Those are horizontal wells, and the red star is the common well pad. The 10180 well is called Manos Unit 1H ("H" means a horizontal well; that 09728 is a vertical well, just going down. The Horizontal wells go down, then bend and go out horizontally). If you go here WV Office of Oil and Gas Permit list and put in that number (085 then 10180) you'll find it, and see that a permit was issued in Feb. of this year. Back to the Downloads site and look for that number, you'll see that is going through the tracts next to the 3-7-28 (here listed as 37.867 acres (the rest of the 40 acres is 3-7-28.1)

They are probably going to have a horizontal well going under your tract when they can get the leases in place.

Going back to the Ritchie County Sheriff's Tax records you can put in that tax-parcel number using the bottom search: 03 Clay 7 28 then 03 7 28 1 to see the surface owners of these tracts, going back to the earliest online records. You can see that Mary Moore owned this tract for several years.

About the entry in uslandrecords for Barker Creed heirs I looked again and it said something about estate in Tyler county. Luckily for researchers, the Tyler county records are online going back to the beginning.

Copying from someone's instructions on this, "

Go to link http://tylercountywv.com/,

Scroll down to Tyler County Web Base Tax and Document Inquiry, click this link just under it:

At the next screen is 'Document Inquiry' and 'Tax Inquiry'. Choose 'Document Imaging' tab. ... The Tyler County website is tricky. If you want deeds before the mid ninety's, you need to install a separate app on your desktop. Basically after the page loads and you click on document image button, you go to far right and right click on the button farthest right that says right click (there may be two). You then left click " remove this application". When that is finished you right click again on the button which has a new name..."Book/Page" and you have the option to install "WEB book and Page application onto this computer". This will install a link on your desktop which you can then use to find older deeds...."

A lot to do but you can find probably the same info in Tyler as that one filed in Ritchie this year. If you get this archive database installed, go to the left drop down menu to "Index of Fiduciary" select A-L and on the button next to that select 16-0017, see the second entry. Barker, Creed with Eliza Barker administrator. It lists the heirs (wife Eliza and children). I think this means that he died without a will and these are his legal heirs under West Virginia law. One of these is probably your grandparent.

Back to the tax question: if you go the Ritchie Sheriff's tax site again, look for Barker Creed and see that it is listed "care of" with a name and address. My guess is that this 1/2 OGM 40 A Bonds Creek (Bonds Creek is the watershed near this property) has never been divided among those heirs, and that one of his children, then one of that one's children, has been getting and paying the taxes on this over the years since he died (1929 it says). Now that Antero is interested in drilling under that property, they have traced down the individual heirs and are trying to get leases from them, including you. You are not in danger of losing this because of nonpayment of taxes, but it might be a great idea to contact the current "care of" person and talk about this. The filing of the Creed Barker estate document probably is the first step in getting these taxes separated to the various heirs.

About the lease, I have found the hard way that it is money well spent to hire a good oil and gas attorney to help with leasing. Here are two documents, specific to Texas but much of it applies to WV, on leases




Hints on Negotiating An Oil and Gas Lease

I suggest you read your lease, read these documents, and see what you see.

The company always gives a lower offer first, so you could ask for more bonus and higher royalty. There are other important terms as well. I recommend using an attorney, and I use Kyle Nuttall Kyle Nuttall's website

He has a lot of interesting things on his website. He is located a couple counties away from Ritchie but has clients all around the area. If you want a local Ritchie County attorney, I recommend the Windom Law firm

in Harrisville.

About the speed they want you to sign, they need your signature. It would be good for them to have it now. However it would be good for you to have the lease you are comfortable with.

About the cost, I don't think either of these law offices would cost more than your bonus, and might save you a lot more than that with a good lease. If you have siblings or know cousins or other relatives who are involved, these attorneys usually are happy to negotiate for a group and split the costs. All the more reason to contact that Creed Barker heir who has been paying the taxes.

Hope this isn't too overwhelming. It is a great thing to be part of this oil and gas boom. Like you said I feel a connection to my ancestors when I think about the oil and gas interests they left me. I used to visit my grandparents in Ritchie county, years ago, before they moved away, so I remember those visits fondly when I think of Ritchie county.

Please ask questions of you have any. I'm glad to help. I've learned a lot in doing my own research and am grateful for help I have gotten along the way.

Final note: in the Tyler county site, I found some entries in the grantor and grantee indexes for Creed Barker, and you and his other heirs might still own property there. I didn't follow that but you might.

Nancy, I did find relative that has been the taxes. Bruce Richard Mcginnis is listed as in care of and the taxes are paid up to date. I have been busy all night. Bruce is a cousin on mine. My father's sisters son, but unfortunately, he passed away April of this year. I've been trying to find a phone number for his wife, Paula, so far, no luck. I believe the other land in Tyler maybe was left in care of Gladys Cox. Believe it or not, she passed April, 2013. But taxes are paid up to date. I tried to follow that but got lost. There are so may documents, Grantor/grantees, I don't have a clue. I will follow your steps and see if simplifies it somewhat. This is really exciting. In regards to an attorney, I was first contacted by Steptoe & Johnson, Attn at Law. Would they be representing the landowners. For some reason, I was under the impression that they represented Antero Resources. Also, I think, I am not positive, that I was able to see the property from street view on a map. If the physical address is 36 Marys Lane in Lewisburg, I did. That was awesome! I may be wrong but I convinced that it was the property. I guess I'd best get busy. Thanks Nancy.

Great that you have found some things! I think the Lewisberg address was where Mr. McGinnis lived. Not in Ritchie county. You can get a version of a street view on the WV OOG map site. More likely where the surface owner lives, if you find that address on the Tax website searching 3. 7. 28. Steptoe and Johnson firm represents ts Antero although I have heard of people using them. Probably a conflict of interest for them to represent people leasing with Antero. Just going by the tax info, and the care of names for the Creed Barker heirs, it sounds like when Ms. Cox died Mr. McGinnis took over. My family on my Dad’s mother’s side, has McGinnises. Wonder if we are related to your relatives? Anyway see what you can find. Please ask more if you want, I can probably help some more. As I wrote somewhere on this forum, I have read in the local.papers that starting in June Ritchie county will have a different online system for deeds etc. Like the Tyler one, including the old records. That should clear up some things. Oh, I looked up some of the Creed Barker children names in uslandrecords and found a couple involving a lot in Harrisville, the county seat, to Gladys Cox, I think as father to daughter. See if you find it using her name. Enjoy the search. It’s really interesting and rewarding. And if you get good at the old Tyler documents you might find out if those properties I saw listed with Creed Barker’s name are still in the family. Could be getting another call. Noble Energy is working in the area in Ritchie and Tyler, just west of your property,and maybe Creed’s Tyler property is near there. Meade district, the part of Tyler just over the border north of Ritchie, next to Pleasants.