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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Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, North Carolina

Such estate wherewith it has pleased God to bless me in this life.

In the name of God Amen, I John van Pool in the State of North Carolina, and County of Rowan, being perfect in mind and memory, calling unto mind the mortality of my body, and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die, do make and ordain this my last will and testament, that is to say principally and first I give and recommend my soul into the hand of almighty God that gave it, and my body I recommend to the earth to be buried in a decent Christian burial, nothing doubting but at the general ressurrection I shall receive the same again by the mighty power of God. And as touching such worldly estate wherewith it has pleased God to bless me in this life, I give and dispose of the same in the following manner and form.

1st, I give and bequeth to my son-in-law Samuel McNeely my waggon and hind geers.

2nd, What household furniture I did not sell, I give and bequeth to my Daughters Nancy and Margaret.

3rd, I give an bequeth to my grand Daughter Eliza Pool fifty dollars if she lives to come of age. If not, it will be Equally Divided among my own children.

4th, I give to my grand Children Margaret T. Pool and Elihu N. Pool sixty dollars.

5th, I give to my well beloved son David Pool forty dollars.

6th, I give to my well beloved son Jacob Pool fifty dollars

7th, I give to my Daughter Margaret fifty dollars.

And the remainder of my Money to my other three children Nancy, John, and Maria to be equally divided amongst them.

I likewise constitute, make, and ordain Samuel McNeely Executor of this my last will and testament, and I do hereby disalow, revoke, and disanul all and every other testaments, Wills, Legacies, requests, and Executors by me in any wise

Willed, bequeathed, ratifying and confirming this and no other to be my last will and testament in Witness whereto I have there unto set my hand and seal this 13th day of October in the year of our Lord One Thousand Eight hundred and Twenty-Five.

John X Van Pool

Test. John McNeely Sen’r

Test. John McNeely Jun’r

Wm B. McNeely

Recorded at August Sessions, 1827, in Will Book H, page 401, Rowan County, North Carolina Probate Records 1735-1970, familysearch.org.

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My great-great-great-grandfather John W. McNeely was the son of Samuel McNeely and Nancy Van Pool McNeely. Nancy Van Pool’s parents were John Van Pool, above, and Elizabeth (perhaps Peyser). John Van Pool was the son of Jacob Van Pool, a native of Cecil County, Maryland, and Elizabeth Hampton, who married in Rowan County in 1752. (This is all sort of accepted wisdom. I have not done any original Van Pool-Hampton research. And, sadly, my Van Pool matches were purged with the “new and improved” version of Ancestry DNA.)

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DNA, Maternal Kin, North Carolina

DNA Definites, no. 18: Neill.

As I moaned about in November, I lost most of my deep DNA matches when Ancestry rolled out its “new and improved” test analyses, mostly in lines that branch above my great-great-great-grandfather Thomas Allison Nicholson. Imagine my joy, then, when I recently noticed two new matches whose family trees indicated descent from James and Agnes Ann Falls Snoddy Neill of Iredell County, North Carolina. James and Agnes’ daughter Elizabeth Neill married Theophilus Allison (1754-1805) and gave birth to Mary Allison (1792-1857). Mary Allison Nicholson was Thomas A. Nicholson’s mother.

The first match, T.S., is their great-great-great-great-great-great-grandson. I contacted L.P., who administers T.S.’ account, and learned that he is her maternal uncle and is a cousin of J.W., my other Neill/Falls match. T.S. is my fifth cousin, three times removed. L.P. and J.W. are my sixth cousins, twice removed.

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State of North Carolina, Iredell County

In the name of God Amen,

I James Neill of Said County being in a sick & low condition but thanks be unto God being at this time in perfect mind & memory do make this my last will & Testament. & first I recommend my [obscured] unto God who gave it me & my body I recommend to the Dust to be buried at the discretion of my Exr. In a Christian & decent manner. & as touching my worldly Substance that I am now possessed of I give & bequeath as followeth (viz)

After all my lawfull debts is paid I leave unto my daughter Sarah ten shillings

& unto my Daughter Hannah I leave ten shillings also

& unto my son Wm. I leave & bequeath the land he lives on

& unto James Holmes my son in law & Each of the bodily Heirs of my daughter Mary now deceased I leave to each five shillings

And unto my son Archibald I leave ten Shillings

And unto my son James I leave & bequeath the plantation he now lives on being a part of the Tract of land my son Wm. now lives on

& unto my daugter Elizabeth I give ten Shillings

& unto my son Robert I give & bequeath the land I now live on includeing my new entry Joining my ould Samuel Neills, Andrew Ramseys, & James Patterson, lands together with the residue of my Personal Estate Except what I give & bequeath unto my beloved Wife which is as follows (viz) I leave unto her a mare called Short her saddle & bridle her bead & furniture a third of my houshold furniture a third of my Dwelling house if necissary for her accommodation the above movable property to be at her disposal at her death Together with a good & honourable maintainance to be given her by my said son Robert during her natural life Also I leave unto her my negro wench Luce & the one half of my cattle to be eaquel in value with my son Roberts half the whole of which is to be at her disposal at her death.

And Lastly I do hereby constitute & appoint my beloved Wife & my son Robert to be the Executors of this my last will And Testament And I do in the presence of the subscribeing Witnesses publishing & Decclareing this & no other to be my last Will & Testament In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand & Seal this 22d Day of June 1793

/s/ James Kerr, John Falls Jurat     James X Neill {seal}

Will of James Neill, Will Book 1, page 154. Iredell County, North Carolina Probate Records 1735-1970, familysearch.org.

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August 23rd, 1793 Iredell County State of North Carolina. In the name of God Amen I Agness Neill of the State & County aforesaid being in a Sick & poure State of health but being Sound in mind & Memory I do will & Bequeath to my son Andrew Snoddy, one feather bead the one I have for my own use with all the furniture belonging to the same also three Puter Dishes Six plates Six Basons five porringers one large Metal pots one small Do. Item I Bequeath to my Daughter Elizabeth Alison, Wife of Theophilus Alison, my Chest & all my body Cloas, also the mare willed to me at my Husbands death, Mare named Short, also Six Head of Sheep I do Give & bequeath to my son James Neill, one Cow & Calf, & one year old heifer, also my Table & four Chares & one Smothing Iron, Also I do bequeath to my son Robert Neill the Loom & What tacklings there is belonging to the Sd. Loom & one Smoothing Iron Item I Do leave & Bequeath to my grand Daughter Agness Alison, Daughter of Theophilus & Elizabeth Alison one feather Bead, & all the furniture belonging to the same as known by The white cotton tick with one Copper Tea Cittle.

I do also leave to my grand Daughter Agness Neill, Daughter to my son Robert & Margaret Neill, one feather bed, & furniture it is a striped Tick the remainder of my Stock to be Sold & Eaquell Divided among my three sons & Daughter Andrew Snoddy Jas. & Robt. Neill & Elizabeth Alison. I Do request them to give me a decent Buring to be paid out of that part of the Stock which to be Sold. I do also give & bequeath to my son Andrew Snoddy Six yards of thick cloth which I now have.

I make this my last will & Testament & do my son in law Theophilus Alison to be my Executor in Witness whereof I have set my hand & Seal this 23rd Day of August A.D. 1793 Test

Thomas Allison Junior, Samuel Wilson Jurat   Agness X Neill {seal}

Will of Agness Neill, Will Book 1, page 153. Iredell County, North Carolina Probate Records 1735-1970, familysearch.org.

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In the name of God Amen, Theophilus Allison of the County of Iredell in the State of North Carolina being very sick and weak in body But of Perfect mind and Memory thanks be unto God calling unto the mortality of My Body and Knowing it is appointed for all men all to die do make and ordain this my last will and Testament that is to say Principally and first of all I give and command my Soul into the hand of almighty God that give it and my Body I recommend to the Earth to be Buryed in decent Christian Burial at the discretion of my Executors and as touching such worldly Estate wherewith it has pleased God to bless me in this life I give devise and dispose of the same in the following manner and form first I give and bequeath to my dearly Beloved wife my Negro Woman named Soose and her child Esther my mare named Short and saddle and Bridle her Bed and furniture and all the dresser Furniture and Six head of Cattle of her own picking also six sheep of her own Choosing the one half of the Kitchen Furniture to be hers and hers for ever also I give to my well beloved Daughter Nancy Allison Peggy Allison Mary Allison Elizabeth Allison and Daely Simonton Allison and my well beloved Jefferson Theophilus Allison an Equal divide of the remainder of my property (Excepting my Land) to be given to them as Mary Becomes of age the plantation I now live on I allow my Executors to dispose of at any time if they think Best Before my son Jefferson Theophilus Allison come of age and make Good Titles and the price thereof to be my sons Jefferson Theophilus Also my Tennessee Land I allow to be equally divided among my wife and children I allow for the support of the family & use of the place my sorrel Mare called Magay and her year old filly and the horse called Tobby and wagon and four pair of Gears and all other Plantation Tolls & all the Hogs and as many of my cattle as my Executors shall Think necessary and the remainder of both Horses and Cattle to do to public sale. I also allow my Executors to keep upon the plantation the rest of my Negroes not willed but if they my Executors should at any time think Better to hire or sell one or more of my Negroes to do it and make good rights all other property not mentioned if needed for the use of the family to be kept, but if not needed to be sold and I do by these presents constitute appoint and ordain my trusty friends Elizabeth Allison my wife Richard Allison my brother and Joseph Kerr my brother in law Executors of this my last will and Testament and do by these presents revoke and disavow and disalow all other former Testaments will Legacies bequests and Executors by me in any wise before named willed or bequeathed, ratifying and confirming this and no other to be my last will and Testament in witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this the seventeenth day of November, in the year of our Lord one Thousand Eight hundred and five signed seal published pronounced and declared in presents of us –

John Knox

Robert Knox       Jurat                 /s/ Theophilus Allison

Jherrod Stroud

Will of Theophilus Allison, Will Book 2, page 44. Iredell County, North Carolina Probate Records 1735-1970, familysearch.org.

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Enslaved People, Land, Maternal Kin, North Carolina

38 acres.

So, I found this deed today on the Iredell County Register of Deeds’ site:

Screen Shot 2015-01-03 at 11.07.21 AM

A number of things strike me:

  • John Walker Colvert never registered a deed for this or any other property. Neither did his father Walker Colvert.
  • The property bordered that of John Greenberry “J.G.” Colvert, a son of William I. Colvert, who had been Walker and John Walker’s master.
  • “For further description and title, see deed of G.W. Mullis to G.B. Morgan. Also see will of Walker Colvert — Will Book 6 at page 483.” George W. Mullis was the father of Daniel A. Mullis, one of the witnesses to Walker’s will.
  • Though the deed was not registered until 1904, Mullis sold the 38 acres for $250 to Gabriel B. Morgan on 2 April 1863. Lying in the northeast corner of the Richardson tract on Hunting Creek, the parcel was bounded as follows: “Beginning at a hickory thence South (58) fifty-eight poles to a stone thence near south [sic] a conditional line 114 (one hundred & fourteen) poles to two oaks near a branch, then north to Beatys line thence East with said line to the beginning containing thirty eight acres more or less….” (Deed Book 30, page 234)
  • In the 1870 census, Walker reported owning $100 of real property. It is not clear when he bought the 38 acres, presumably from Morgan.  He is listed in Union Grove township, just west of Eagle Mills township in Iredell County. His close neighbor is Beeson Baty, presumably of the “Beaty’s line” named in the deed.
  • Walker made his will in 1901; it was probated in 1905. Walker’s widow Rebecca was his primary beneficiary, but everything passed to John after her death in 1915.
  • As an aside, Walker and Rebecca’s daughter Elvira married Richard Morgan, son of Richard Madison and Hilda Morgan, in 1874. Had Richard and his mother belonged to G.B. Morgan?
  • P.P. mentioned that D.A. Mullis lived in the vicinity of Mullis Road and Zion Liberty Road. I’ve marked that intersection with the left-most arrow on the map below. As the deed described, this area is near Hunting Creek, which crawls across the middle of the image, and is at the eastern edge of Union Grove township. The second arrow marks the point at which I photographed the creek from the Eagle Mills Road bridge. The third points in the direction of Nicholson Mill. As the crow flies, the map depicts an area no more than a couple of miles wide.

Screen Shot 2015-01-04 at 1.56.36 PM

 

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Births Deaths Marriages, Land, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

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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Births Deaths Marriages, Free People of Color, Land, North Carolina, Paternal Kin

The Balkcum women.

In the name of God, Amen, I Hester Balkcum of the State of North Carolina and County of Sampson, being of sound mind & memory, but of feeble health, and knowing that all must die; do make & ordain this my Last Will & Testament. And first I give my body to the dust, to be buried in a decent manner and commend my spirit to the care of God who gave it, as a being infinitely wise & good. As for my worldly goods, my will is that they be disposed of as follows – (viz):

1st. I give & devise to my daughter Nancy Balkcum, thirty acres of land, to be laid off by the direction of my executor, from the eastern extremity of a tract lying on the southside of Beaver Dam swamp, so as to include the house in which she now lives, & a part of the cleared land to her & her heirs forever, in fee simple. I also give & bequeath to my said daughter Nancy the sum of Six dollars in money to be paid her by my executor.

2nd.  I give & devise to my grandson, James Lucien Balkcum, son of my daughter Mariah, the residue of said tract of land, lying on Beaver Dam Swamp, after thirty acres as aforesaid shall have been given to my daughter Nancy, the said residue supposed to contain one hundred acres more or less with all the appurtenances thereunto belonging to said James L. Balkcum & his heirs forever in fee simple  and I hereby revoke all gifts, grants and deeds of whatsoever nature or kind coming within the meaning & purview of these devises & declare them utterly void as having been done for temporary purposes & having had their effect  I also give & bequeath unto said James Lucien Balkcum, one bed, bed-stead & furniture and one pot & skillet.

3rd. I give & bequeath unto my grand daughter Mary Ellen Johnson, daughter of my daughter Mariah, one bed and its necessary furniture and all my household & kitchen furniture not heretofore disposed of, with all clothes & cloths of every description, which I may leave at my decease.

4th.  I give & bequeath unto my grand son, John Balkcum, one common Bible, or its equivalent in money

5th.  I give & bequeath unto my two grand sons, Harman & Lemuel Balkcum, one common Bible each, or money sufficient to purchase the same

6th.  It is my will that my Executor pay all my legal debts, and the above legacies, with the Expense of Administration out of such money or notes as may be left by me at my death and the overplus (if any) be given to my daughter Mariah for her own proper use or benefit.

7th.  I hereby constitute & appoint my friend William L. Robinson Executor of this my last Will & Testament, hereby revoking all former Wills, Deeds, gifts or grants of what name or kind soever.

March the 9th day 1843          Hester X Balkcum

Signed, seal’d, publish’d & declared by the Testatrix to be her last Will & Testament in the presence of us, who were present at the signing of the same /s/ Isaiah Robinson /s/ Abner Robinson

State of North Carolina, Sampson County  } Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, May Term 1843

There was the foregoing will duly proven in open court by the oath of Isaiah Robinson a subscribing witness & ordered to be recorded.  /s/ Thomas J. Faison Clk

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About 1799, John Balkcum, a widower with two young children, married a woman named Hester in Duplin County NC. Her maiden name is unknown. John died in 1803, leaving as heirs only Hester and his children by his first wife, Tomsin and William.  In 1804, Hester received a widow’s allotment and two years later is listed in a Duplin County tax digest with 450 acres.

In the next few years, Hester Balkcum gave birth to two daughters, Nancy and Mariah. She gave them the last name Balkcum, though neither was John’s child. It was the beginning of an unconventional family, with both Nancy and Mariah giving birth out of wedlock, and one or two of Nancy’s children fathered by a black or mixed-race man. (This last circumstance was unconventional, but not nearly as uncommon in antebellum America as one might imagine.) Hester appears only sporadically in census enumerations, but in 1830 “Hester Baucom” is listed in Duplin County heading a household that consisted of a female aged 50-59; one male under 5; two males 5-9; one male 10-14; one male 20-29; one female under 5; one female 15-19; one female 20-29; one female 30-39; all described as white. Ten years later, in the 1840 census of Sampson County, Hester does not appear, but her daughter Nancy Balkcom, aged 30-40, is listed, heading a household of two females aged 5-10 and one female aged 10-14, all white, and one slave.

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When Hester died in the spring or early summer of 1843, her executor W.L. Robinson listed the debts owed her estate — all to family members — and her meager belongings. Her real property had dwindled considerably since the early days of her widowhood, and I catch a bit of feeling that the family was struggling.

BALKCUM -- H Balkcum Inventory 1843

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Ten years later, Hester’s daughter Nancy felt poorly enough to dictate her own last will and testament:

In the name of God Amen, I Nancy Balkcum of the State of North Carolina & County of Sampson being of sound & perfect mind & memory but feeble in body & feeling that the sentence if Death which has been passed upon all will probably ere long be executed upon me think fit to make this my last will & testament as follows.

First I give my body to be buried in a decent manner without parade or vain shew & commend my spirit to him who gave it as a being infinitely wise & good.

As for my worldly goods my will is that they disposed of as follows

First. I give & bequeath unto my daughter Margaret Balkcum one bed bedstead & furniture (the bed on which I have usuly lain) one wheel & cards one table one sow & pigs & twenty dollars to be paid by my executors. This is for her services in waiting on me in my last sickness to her & her heirs forever

Secondly, I give & bequeath unto my two daughters Eliza & Mary one bed & furniture to them & their heirs forever

Thirdly I desire that my Son Harman be paid back all expence that he may incur in providing for me by my Executor

Fourthly, All the residue of my property both real & personal ( desire to be sold by my executor to the best advantage & after paying all my just debts & funeral expences that the proceeds of said sale be equally divided among all my children

Lastly I hereby make constitute & appoint my friend William L. Robinson Executor of this my last will & testament with full powers to execute the same according to the true intent & meaning thereof & I hereby revoke all former will  this the 20th day of August 1853

Signed sealed published & declared by the Testatrix to be her last will & testament hereby revoking all former wills in the presents of us who witnessed the in the presents of the testatrix & of each oth  /s/ Nathan Johnson, Joshua X Rackley                         Nancy X Balkcum

Nancy was dead within six months. The same William L. Robinson who had administered her mother’s estate handled hers, and his inventory reveals Nancy’s slightly better-furnished life.

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Inventory of Nancy Balkcum’s estate, 1854.

The account of sale of the property is even more detailed. With the exception of two or three neighbors, all the buyers were Nancy’s children or other close family and they seem to have gotten bargain basement prices. Subtracting the $200 that Harmon Balkcum paid for Nancy’s 32 acres, the remainder of her worldly goods netted only $12.86.

NBalkcum Sale 1854

BALKCUM -- N Balkcum Inv 1854 p 2

Account of sale of Nancy Balkcum’s estate, 1854.

Documents found in estate files of Hester Balkcum and Nancy Balkcum, Estates Records, Sampson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

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Births Deaths Marriages, Enslaved People, Land, Maternal Kin, North Carolina

All of my possessions to have and to hold.

COLVERT -- W Colvert Will_Page_1

COLVERT -- W Colvert Will_Page_2

Born 40 years into American independence, and less than ten after the importation of African slaves was banned, Walker Colvert could have prayed for, but never foreseen, that he would gain his freedom just past the midpoint of his life and that he would die possessed of something to leave his wife and son.

 

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