Births Deaths Marriages, Free People of Color, Migration, Newspaper Articles, Paternal Kin

The last will and testament of Anna Henderson Simmons.

STATE OF INDIANA, CASS COUNTY, SS:

BE IT REMEMBERED, That on the 10th day of July, 1906, the following proceedings were had in the Cass Circuit of Indiana, in the matter of the Estate of Anna Simmons, deceased, as entered of record in Probate Order Book No. 31, page 589, which proceedings are in the words and figures as Follows, to-wit:

IN THE MATTER OF THE ESTATE OF ANNA SIMMONS, DECEASED         PROBATE OF WILL, July 10, 1906.

Comes now on this 10th day of July 1906, John W. Markley, one of the subscribing witnesses and presents to the Clerk of the Cass Circuit Court, for probate the will of Anna Simmons, deceased, dated May 14th of May [sic] 1906, and shows by the affidavit of John W. Markley one of the subscribing witnesses to said will in proof thereof, that at the time of execution of said will the said Anna Simmons was a person over twenty one years of age, of sound disposing Mind and Memory and not under any coercion or restraint, and that said decedent departed this life testate in Cass County in the State of Indiana, on the 16th day of June, 1906. And thereupon said will is admitted to probate by the Clerk of the Cass Circuit Court as the last will and testament of Anna Simmons, deceased, And said will and the affidavit of John W. Markley in proof thereof are now spread of record by the Clerk of the Cass Circuit Court, in the Will records of Cass County Indiana, as the last will and testament of Anna Simmons, deceased, which will and affidavit in proof thereof are in these words

In the name of the benevolent Father of all

I Anna Simmons wife of Montraville Simmons being of sound and disposing mind and memory do hereby make and publish this as my last Will and Testament, hereby revoking and making void any and all wills by me at any time heretofore made.

First: I direct that all my just debts be paid out of the first moneys coming to the hands of my executor hereinafter named.

Second. I will devise and bequeath to my children, Moncy A. Bassett, Doctor T. Simmons, Susan Bassett, Montraville Simmons Jr. and Edward Simmons, a certain mortgage and debt secured thereby, which mortgage is executed by Montraville Simmons March 23rd 1903, to me to secure money advanced to said Montraville Simmons by me of funds received from my father, as a portion of my interest in his estate. Said mortgage is recorded in the Recorders office in Cass County Indiana in mortgage record No. 49 page 314, but the devisees aforesaid are not to compel a collection of said debt as long as the interest on said debt is paid by the said Montraville Simmons.

In the event that said Montraville Simmons becomes incapacitated for work and has no income so he is able to pay any interest on said mortgage & it becomes necessary to foreclose said mortgage to preserve the property and debt, it is my desire that the children above named look after the comfort of their father and to such end that they use such p[art of the prcoeeds said mortgage as is necessary to provide for his subsistence and comfort.

I hereby appoint Doctor T. Simmons my son to act as Executor of this my last will.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand this 14 day of May 1906.  Anna (X) Simmons

Witness Benjamin D. Bradfield

Subscribed by the testator in our presence as his last will and testament and at her request, subscribed by us in her presence and in the presence and in the presence of such other as witnesses to said last will.     John W. Markley, Benjamin D. Bradfield

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Beyond the gobsmackedness of finding that Anna Henderson Simmons had a will at all, there is this:

  • The will is dated just a month before Anna died on 16 June 1906. Her mind was sound, but she knew her body was failing.
  • All she left to her children was the mortgage she held on her husband Montraville Simmons’ property. She had secured the mortgage to ensure that Montraville repaid a loan she made him.
  • Incredibly, she cites as the source of the money lent “funds received from my father, as a portion of my interest in his estate.” Funds received from her father’s estate???? Anna’s father, James Henderson — my great-great-great-great-grandfather — died about 1890 in Wayne County, North Carolina. I have found no probate records for him there or anywhere.
  • Montraville executed the mortgage on 23 March 1903. According to a lawsuit Anna filed in December 1905 — which had the effect of stalling claims by Montraville’s many and exasperated creditors — Montraville was in debt to her for $3500. While some small portion of that may have been inherited from her father, it is hard to believe that James Henderson’s estate totaled $3500, much less that his estate remitted that amount to the one child (of his dozen or so then living children) that he had not seen in 30 years.
  • Even if their father defaulted on the mortgage — and despite his abuse of his family, about which more later — Anna wanted her children to care for him. She could not have known, of course, that her compassion would be wasted, as he would remarry within the year and set off a new wave of scandal.
  • To wit, from the 9 April 1907 Logansport Pharos-Tribune: “Married [to Emily Langford] March 11 and separated March 16, and in the meantime to have another darky come along and love his wife right in his presence is the ‘terrible’  experience which Montraville Simmons was ‘his’ during this short but eventful honeymoon.” Montraville (described as a “darky of large proportions”) claimed that Emily allowed William Wilson to “hug, kiss, caress and fondle” her in his presence and, when he protested tried to kill him with a flatiron. Montraville filed for divorce, but on 9 July 1907, the Pharos-Tribune reported that the Monticello, Indiana, paper had reported that Montraville “is gathering up the ragged remains of his matrimonial venture in our local colored colony” and had dropped the divorce action. This dysfunction roiled on into 1908, when the Logansport Daily Reporter alerted Cass County that Montraville had beaten Emily badly for breaking a mug and spilling his beer.
  • Witness Benjamin D. Bradfield was an Irish-born doctor who practiced for decades in Cass County. John W. Markley owned a title company.
  • Dock Simmons did not prove to be a worthy steward of his mother’s estate. (To be fair, the “more notoriety” label was probably more applicable to his father than to him.) From the 9 February 1909 edition of the Logansport Times:

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  • Anna’s legacy disappeared under a flurry of lawsuits. Later newspaper reports show that by 1909 Montraville and the children were under siege by various creditors holding judgments totaling hundreds of dollars. Montraville Jr. died in 1910 at the tender age of 28; his father followed two years later.
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No information that the deceased left a will.

Little more than a month after his death, Caswell C. Henderson‘s widow Carrie applied for letters of administration for his estate.

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Her petition noted that he had been a resident of 1884 Belmont Avenue, Bronx; had died in Yonkers; and had left no will.

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She identified his next of kin and heirs at law as his brother Lucian Henderson of Dudley, North Carolina, and sister Sarah Henderson Jacobs of Wilson, North Carolina.

005548449_00194

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Bronx Probate Administration Records, #161-193; New York, Wills and Probate Records, 1659-1999 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

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Births Deaths Marriages, Land, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina

Dr. Ward’s empire.

Wilson_Advance__8_22_1889_DGW_Ward_estate_land_sale

Wilson Advance, 22 August 1889.

The Civil War set Dr. David G.W. Ward back, but not for long. When he died in 1887, he stood possessed of more than 1900 acres in Wilson and Greene Counties.

[As an aside, Ward’s administrator, Frederick A. Woodard, was elected Democratic Congressman to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1892. He lost his bid for re-election to George H. White, a visionary African-American who was the last black Southerner elected to Congress until the post-Civil Rights era. I attended a middle school named for Woodard.]

[As another aside — literally — I think it’s safe to say that Sarah Ward’s children received nothing from the doctor’s estate.]

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Enslaved People, Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Other Documents

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: 3. Strong Woman.

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.

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 Estate of Elizabeth Kilpatrick (1829), North Carolina Estate Files 1663-1979, http://www.familysearch.org

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Education, Enslaved People, Land, Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Other Documents

Writing.

My grandmother tells a story:

… Jay and I were supposed to clean the house on Saturday. You know, do the vacuuming and dusting and cleaning and everything. And then I would play, and we would play, and Grandma would say, “I’m gonna tell your mama. I’m gonna write your mama and tell your mama how you act.” She said, “I can’t write her right now ‘cause I’m nervous,’ you know.” Couldn’t write a lick. [I laugh.] Couldn’t read …. I don’t think she could read or write, but I know she couldn’t write. Bless her heart. She says, “I’m gonna tell your mammy on you. You see if I don’t. And, see, if I wont so nervous, I’d write her, but I’m too nervous” – couldn’t write any more than she could fly! [Laughs.]

Martha Miller McNeely, born into slavery in 1855, may not have been able to read or write, but her children signed their names in clear, firm hands that evidence both their early education and their easy familiarity with penmanship. Their father Henry, the literate son of a slaveowner, may have taught them rudiments, but they likely attended one of the small country schools that dotted rural Rowan County. (My grandmother said that her mother Carrie finished seventh grade and was supposed to have gone on to high school at Livingstone College, but the family used her school money to pay for an appendectomy for one of her sisters.) The document below is found in the estate file of Henry’s half-brother, Julius McNeely, who, unlike Henry, was not taught to read during slavery. Julius died without a wife or children, and Henry’s offspring were his sole legal heirs.

Power of attorney

Signatures are often-overlooked scraps of information that yield not only obvious clues about literacy, but also subtleties like depth and quality of education and preferred names, spellings and pronunciations. They are also, in original documents, tangible traces of our forebears’ corporality — evidence that that they were once here.

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 Interview of Margaret C. Allen by Lisa Y. Henderson, all rights reserved. File of Jule McNeely, Rowan County, North Carolina Estate Files 1663-1979, https://familysearch.org. Original, North Carolina State Archives.

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Births Deaths Marriages, Land, Maternal Kin, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina

John W. McNeely’s heirs.

John Wilson McNeely died childless in July 1871. Or at least, you know, childless in any way that mattered to probate court. He had not made a will, so his heirs at law were his widow Mary McNeely McNeely and his two surviving siblings. His son Henry W. McNeely did not warrant notice.

In August, Joshua Miller, administrator of John’s estate, and Mary McNeely filed a Petition to sell Land for Assets against John’s brother William B. McNeely and sister Acintha McNeely or Corryer [or, as most commonly spelled, Corriher.]  McNeely’s debts totaled about $2000, and his estate was valued at only $800, of which $300 had been set off for his widow.  At death John had owned “about 235 acres on Catheys Creek in Rowan County adjoining the lands of Joshua Miller, Frederick Menus, Dr. F.A. Luckey, and others” and valued at about $7/acre.  This property was to descend to William, age 65, believed to be living somewhere Missouri, and Acintha McNeely or Corryer, age 60, living somewhere in Tennessee.

On 8 September, justice of the peace John Graham, J.M. Harrison, and S.A.D. Hart allotted a year’s provision to Mary McNeely, which included a mouse-colored mule worth $125, four horseloads of hay, 500 bundles of fodder, two hogs, one sow and four pigs, one old buggy and harness, 37 pounds of bacon, two bushels of Irish potatoes, one ax, an old washtub, one “foalding leg table,” one “old poplar cubbard & contents,” one waterbucket and washpan, a half dozen chairs, one candlestand, one bureau, an old looking glass, two beds and furniture, one small Bible, two Hymn books, four handtowels, and three “table cloth.”

William and Acintha were never located,* and, on 31 October, Joshua Miller sold the remainder of John’s personal property at auction. The items sold included a “crout” stand, 550 shingles, “sythes,” a log-chain, tanner’s knives, a cross-cut saw, ceiling-dogs, moulding planes, “clevis & strechers,” planes, “waggon cloth,” “hackel & chain oil,” a cultivator, a tar bucket, five sheep, nine hogs, a red calf, a blue calf, two cows, two horses, a mule, a bureau, mirror, a small table, two beds and furniture, a book case, a clock, two chests, two pairs of boots, shoe tools, sheep skins, a map, Scotts Bible, another Bible, a hymn book, 14 lots of books, a razor and strop, an armchair, ten chairs, one counterpane, a coon skin, two padlocks, a slate, and 240 1/2 acres of land sold at $10.80/acre for a total of $3266.19 1/4.

The land sale apparently did not go through, and six weeks later, Miller advertised the sale of 235 acres from John’s estate.

Carolina_Watchman_12_8_1871_Notice_Sale_JW_McNeely_land

Carolina Watchman, 8 December 1871.

It is likely that Henry McNeely’s mother Lucinda worked in John W. McNeely’s household until he died. The 1870 census of Atwell township, Rowan County, lists J. Wilson McNeely and wife Mary at household #292; Henry W. McNeely, wife and children, including a son John Wilson, at #293 (this Henry was NOT John W.’s son, though he was certainly a nephew by marriage and/or cousin); then Lucinda, her son Henry and two grandchildren at #294 and Lucinda’s son Julius, wife and nephews at #295. I have no doubt that Lucinda and her offspring lived on John McNeely’s land. Or that the sale of John’s 235 acres forced them off. By 1880, they were living just north in Mount Ulla township, where Julius bought a small farm.

*I have never found a trace of Acenith McNeely Corriher, but William Bell McNeely outlived his brother by 13 years. More later on his life in Iron County, Missouri.

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To my ….

Abstracts of wills filed in Wayne County Superior Court, Goldsboro, North Carolina:

Lizzie E. Hagans — (1) to my beloved husband Will S. Hagans and his heirs in fee simple my house and lot in the town of Goldsboro, situated on Oak Street between West Center and James Streets and known as 104 West Oak Street; (2) to my husband $5000 with all benefits from life insurance policy #190279, Phoenix Mutual Life Insurance Company; (3) Will S. Hagans appointed executor. Signed 5 August 1904 in the presence of H[enry] S. Reid and J.A. Dees.

On 2 May 1917, C[larence] Dillard and J. Peele swore that they were knew Lizzie Hagans for a number of years, were well-acquainted with her handwriting and verified her signature. Henry S. Reid also swore that he witnessed the will, which was recorded and filed on 3 May 1917.

HAGANS -- Lizzie Hagans Death Cert

She had inherited Oak Street house from her (probable) uncle, William Burnett. Lizzie Hagans died shortly after William S. Hagans moved his family from Goldsboro to Philadelphia. 

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Adam T. Artis — (1) S.S. Strother appointed executor; (2) a decent burial suitable to the wishes of my family and friends; (3) to my wife Katie Artis, all of the Thompson tract on which I now live, about 18 acres, all household and kitchen furniture and personal property; (4) to son Pinkney Artis, $100; (5) to son June Scott Artis, $10; (6) to son Henry Artis, $10: (7) to son Columbus Artis, $10; (8) to son William Artis, $5; (9) to son Walter Artis, $5; (10) to daughter Josephine A. Sherard, $15; (11) to son Robert Artis, $5; (12) sell the balance of my land to pay out the above, then divide the remaining in equal shares among my children Vicey Aldridge, Liza Evert, Augustus K. Artis, Georgana Reid, Mary Jane Artis, Emma D. Locus, Ida Reid, Lillie Thompson, Napoleon Artis, Haywood Artis, Addie Artis, Annie Artis, Alberta Artis, and Jesse Artis, and, at Katie’s death, property to be divided among the twelve heirs above whose gifts are not limited. Signed with an X in the presence of W.F. Lewis, J.J. Coley and J.E. Exum. Codicil: (13) to son Noah Artis, $10.

Recorded and filed 1 May 1919.

Adam Artis’ will includes the names of 23 of his children. Emma’s name is crossed out because she died before the terms of the will could be carried out. Known children whose names do not appear include Cain Artis, who died in 1917; Caroline Artis Coley and Louetta Artis, who presumably died before the will was made; Adam Artis Jr., who seems to have been very much alive in Washington DC. (Was the omission of his name inadvertent, as with Noah?) Despite newspaper reports claiming that Adam  fathered 47 “legitimate” children, these 27 are all I have been able to identify. Though there were doubtless others who died in childhood, I doubt there were 20 of them, and I am fairly certain that no other children reached adulthood.

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Mathew Aldridge — (1) to daughters Fannie B. Randolph and Mamie J. Aldridge, 1/2 undivided interest in my dwelling house and lot on Pine Street. Signed 27 August 1919 in the presence of N.D. White and Ida Darden.

Recorded and filed 18 May 1920. Fannie Aldridge was qualified as administratrix.

record-image-24 copy

Hmmm. Mathew Aldridge’s will provided for neither his wife, Fannie Kennedy Aldridge, nor his oldest daughter, Daisy Aldridge Williams. Perhaps he had settled property upon them prior to making his will.

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Lucian Henderson — to John Wesley Carter, all my real estate known as my home place, 8 acres, provided that John W. Carter care for me and my wife Susan Henderson, otherwise null and void. My trusty friend John W. Carter appointed executor. Signed with an X in the presence of Everest Lewis and R.E. Simmons.

Lucian Henderson died 22 June 1934 and his will was recorded and filed 27 June 1934.

Lucian and Susan Henderson’s only child, Cora Q., died in 1907. For more re his friendship with John W. Carter, nephew of his sister Sarah’s husband Jesse A. Jacobs, see here.

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Joseph Aldridge — (1) a decent burial; (2) to my wife Martha C. Aldridge, all my real and personal property during her lifetime or widowhood; (3) to my sons Allen Aldridge, Daniel Aldridge, William Aldridge and Milford Aldridge, $1 each, to my son Joseph Aldridge, my watch, to my son George Aldridge, my clock; (4) after Martha’s death, all my personal property to be divided between my sons Joseph and George and my daughters Mary Aldridge, Luella Aldridge and Lillie Mae Aldridge; as tenants i common, Mary, Luella and Lillie Mae to receive 12 acres to be laid out of the someplace on the east side of the old stagecoach road; to Joseph and George, all the remainder of the land between what I received from the estate of my father Robert and my brothers George and Dave. Signed 5 May 1934.

Recorded and filed 12 September 1934.

Martha Hawkins Henderson Aldridge remarried in 1940, triggering the terms of paragraph 4 of the will. As set forth here, she remained close to Joseph Aldridge’s children the remainder of her life. Also, a small clue I hadn’t noticed before: Joseph indicated that he received land from the estate of his brother Dave. As noted here, I had lost sight of David Sloan Aldridge after 1904, but now know that he died before 1934.

 

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