If you decide to contact him, tell free to tell John I referred you. They also have many other specialty attorneys in the firm with whom he consults as needed.
Hi dmmsj, If you go to that link I gave, CSSI and select Ritchie and then select Archive Browser, you can see the old records (before 1985 but including some from 1985). At the top of the page, left side, is a Book Set tab. The one showing is Assignment Book. If you go to that tab and select Deed Index the middle tab shows A. If you wanted to search your name Simonton, select S. The right side list starts A:0000 You see there are several letters at the top. L M N R T and a column ODD Their system is go take the name, start with the initial letter (S in this name). Then go to the next letter that is one of the 5 (L M N R T) For Simonton the first letter which is one of those is M. Go down the M column and you see Simonton Simington and to the right is the number 44. That means the index for those names starts on S page 44 Go back to the top and where it says A:0000 select 44. You see there are 11 pages of 44, start with 44:0001. Each time you change something you have to click on View Page for the new page to appear. The column to the left is Grantors. The next is “The party you are searching” (here it is Simonton, and has 3 more columns for forenames. The given names are grouped by letters listed.). The next is Grantees. The next is Recorded (Book and Page), Date of Writing, Kind of Writing, What Conveyed (Acreage etc), General Description, Reservations. You may be used to this kind of deed index. If not please ask. The nice ladies in the courthouse were very helpful, as was my sister who is an attorney in another state but has done this kind of search. If you go down to line 13 of that first page you see William Simonton to L J Murphy, a lease for 117 acres in Clay district. This is recorded in Lease Book 12 page 273, and is dated 1899. If you want to view it, go back to the top left column and change Deed Index to Lease Book etc. It appears to be a flat rate lease for the gas and a 1/8 royalty on the oil. If you wanted to see how it was assigned, go back to the deed index and select M, look for Murphy L J and see what you find. I started that and found that Murphy is in Special Binder #3 and is on page 74. Go back to the middle column to Book M3 and select page 74 Let me know if this makes sense. It can be somewhat tedious but is quicker than a drive to West Virginia.
That is so very helpful; thank you. I did explore the CSSI site, which is remarkably free of any instructions or help functions. The County or State and the people they serve deserve a more -user friendly system-- what’s the point in having it online, if they public can’t use it without proper instructions? For example, I looked at several “Books”, but who would think that oil and gas leases would be under “Deeds”, not “Leases”?
I printed your instructions out and will try again. But I still want to visit!
I’m thrilled and stupefied. This is like a lesson in my mysterious West Virginia family history. We only knew that my great-grandfather William was born in Pennsylvania and had come (as a child with his father “John”, I now surmise) to West Virginia later-- looks like in the 1850s. My grandfather left home (no wonder-- 13 children!) at age 16 and went, with his brother, to become a “wildcatter” in the Oklahoma oilfields. He was a very laconic man who laid a pipeline across the Mississippi River. When I asked him once, as a child, “How on earth did you do that?” his reply was, “Carefully.” He never talked about nor seemed to want to talk about his family.
May I make one emendation to your instructions? (Forgive me-- I’m a writing teacher, including technical writing): Your instructions say “If you wanted to search your name Simonton, select S. The right side list starts A:0000 You see there are several letters at the top.”. I would emend that to read “If you wanted to search your name Simonton, select “S”. The right side list starts “A:0000”. Load that page by selecting ‘View Image’; once loaded, you’ll see several letters at the top”, and so forth.
Thanks again-- I owe you a cup of “black gold”.
Thanks for the editing recommendations! I Know Better but was being a bit lax! I am not sure how well I would have been able to use this online resource if I had not actually been there in person to see the books and how they are arranged, and had the explanation from the Records Room Clerk. Some of the other counties have multiple indexes. I am glad Ritchie uses their system. However, when using this, I have found it helps to take clear notes if one needs to go back and look at something again. You may know that there is business probably founded by your relatives, Simonton Windows. Here is a link to their first business (as I quickly researched) Simonton history
Well, it was presumptuous of me, but if I had graded your instruction set, you would have gotten an “A”. As my old prof used to say, “With so much here to admire, who am I to quibble?” One thing that confused me is that the courthouses I’ve worked in, in Mississippi, have a separate set of ledgers and indices for “Minerals Leases”.
My 2nd cousin, Fred, started that company long ago (he invented a certain kind of window awning), but it has since been sold. That was about the only WV relative any of us ever knew of.
If you go to that link for the Ritchie documents but choose “Tyler” instead of “Ritchie”, you will see that they have grantor and grantee indexes. I can’t find the correct link for Wetzel county for their older records, but they have 4 sets of books (at least, since I can’t find the website to review) : grantor and grantee each for deeds and leases. There may be a separate index for wills. Have fun looking around. Not quite like being in the courthouse but almost. I hope you are able to make the trip. The courthouse is historic and scenic. Small by city standards but it has served the people of Ritchie county for a long time.
Thanks-- I’ve subscribed, now reading the Gazette online.
re the first post here from BK: our lease is about the same age with the same provisions-- 1/8 royalty on oil and flat rate of $200/year on gas. We are on Bonds Creek and Hushers Run 2 parcels). We are different in that we only represent about a dozen of the 36 family members spread out all over the country, with whom we have no contact. So, getting a majority of them to join us, in order to present a united negotiating front for modification of terms is more difficult. I’ve also noted that the fracking wells on our 117 acres have produced over 5 million $ in revenue over the last 2 years. We will keep those numbers in mind while we listen to their “poor John” stories about why they can’t negotiate a better deal. I’ve also noted, on relatives’ production advisories, that they typically deduct 25-27% for “processing costs”, whatever those are.
Not that I’ll be discouraged by our disadvantages-- I intend to negotiate aggressively.
EQT was recently sued by the Richards for big post production costs and the Richards won. EQT is on the hook for over $200,000. Haven’t heard if they appealed.
I have heard that they have not appealed yet. I am sure the story is not finished yet, especially the story about EQT and taking improper charges out of royalty payments.
The process of learning can be painful. My new revelation: my (foolish) relatives, who signed leases without even examining them a few years ago, have now (I’m told) committed us to one lease where the royalty rate dates back to the 1950s (8.5%), and now that the oil company has begun producing, I’ve been told that we are now locked into those terms in perpetuity. Because I believe everything is negotiable, I am disinclined to accept that. I wonder if others have been successful in renegotiating such old lease rates? (Another of the leases, from 1922, is for a flat fee of $200 per year for ALL natural gas production!)
Also, re deductions: the oil company deducts about $28% from royalties, for “taxes and fees”, they’ve said. That is NOT, however, for Federal taxes, since we withheld W-9 information from them and are choosing to pay our own taxes.
Nancy, Hi,I also have a lease with EQT, signed first in 2012, renewed again in 2017 .I own 1/2 interest in land and royalty for 23 acres in the brush run area Grant district. You might recall reading about a couple that has this well also , took EQT to court and won, this was a couple of years ago.and of course nothing has been done on the well as far as I know. I just keep hoping that Antero will somehow end up with this well, The well # is 04701706690. The location is real close to Mcclellan District.Never have heard of good about EQT.
One of the attorneys I’ve spoken with this week has said “once you’ve signed a recent lease, you’ve accepted its terms and the accompanying division order, and you’re stuck, not just for the 5-year term of the lease but in perpetuity, since they can renew as long as they’re producing.” He also implied this was because of disadvantageous rulings by the W.Va. Supreme Court. Yikes.
BK: our circumstances sound similar: very old shallow well lease (ours, 1899; yours, 1909), continuing production. Then, more recently, new or renewed leases for deep wells, with the old shallow well rights “sub-conveyed” to another producer, with both shallow and deep wells continuing to operate.
dmmsj,One can still hope that someone buys the lease for the well. it has happened twice to me, remember the Ocfords wells that was started by Noble and now are being finished by Antero, also, I at one time had a lease for 20 acres in Grant by EQT that all of a sudden Antero had it, no notification by either party. so there is hope, slim but always a possibility.
You’re right-- there are ways to disrupt their “perpetual” claims, such as selling our interests, something we may consider. Isn’t it a shame that we have to have lawyers like lions just to get our fair share?
They have a lot of lobbyists and give a lot of campaign money to the local WV legislators so the laws favor the companies.
Believe it or not, Mississippi is worse. When an oil company wanted a well right in front of an antebellum mansion, there were a lot of protests, but somehow (money), they got permission. And, our pooling law only requires 33% agreement. Further, the oil/gas rights on our 16th section lands were leased on 100 year leases for a few dollars (literally, like $10) to political insiders some years ago.
That is REALLY BAD. It makes WV look very generous.