I’ve been working on my Book of Negroes post, digging in my Family Tree Maker files and through scanned documents, cross-referencing and making notes. At the top of the list of enslaved ancestors is Juda, a woman named in the 1819 will of Elizabeth Kilpatrick of Rowan County, North Carolina. Kilpatrick left her “negro boy Dave” to her son Robert Kilpatrick, her “negro girl named Lucinda” to her daughter Mary Kilpatrick, and directed that her executors sell her “negro woman Juda and all her children (not disposed of).” There are gut-punches all through this document — Lucinda was my great-great-great-grandmother — but that last one always tears me all to pieces. Put it all together, and you see that Kilpatrick owned one family of slaves — Juda and her children — and she directed that that family be ripped apart upon her death.
Elizabeth Kilpatrick’s will was devastating enough. And then I found her 1829 estate records. There, in faded script is the last sighting of Juda and her not-disposed-of children, Matthew, John, and Kezy. It’s damnably hard to read, but if you peer closely: Negroes Juda $50 Matthew $425 John $2[illegible]0. And below, a notation: Kezy Unsound Not sold by consent of Heirs Remains in the hands of [illegible]. (Another note in the file records a change of heart — on 20 October 1830, Kezy was, in fact, sold for $74.75.) I don’t know how old Juda was when she was sold away from her children in 1829, nor Matthew, John, Kezy, or Dave, but Lucinda was about 13.
And, so, without the need to explain further, the “strong woman” to whom I dedicate this edition of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is my great-great-great-great-grandmother Juda.
Estate of Elizabeth Kilpatrick (1829), North Carolina Estate Files 1663-1979, http://www.familysearch.org