In the name of God, I Ishmael Wilder of the County of Wilson and State of North Carolina being of sound mind and memory and in feeble health and considering the uncertainty of my earthly existence and the certainty of death do make and declare this my last will and testament in the manner and form following
First that executors hereinafter named shall out of the first money coming into their hands as a part of my estate pay all my funeral expenses together with my just debts wheresoever and to whomsoever owing.
Item 1. I lend to my son Josiah Wilder 60 acres of land to be cut off of the east side of my tract of land so as to include my present residence but not to include the place where he formally lived to him during his natural life and at his death I give and bequeath it to his bodily heirs if any and if none to return to my estate.
Item 2. I lend to my son H.G. Wilder 60 acres of land to be cut off next to my son Josiah Wilder’s piece so as to include the house where Josiah Wilder formally lived and not to include the house on the road where Joe Barnes now lives; to him during his natural life and at his death I give and bequeath it to his bodily heirs if any and if none to return to my estate.
Item 3. I lend to my daughter Laura A. Reed 59 1/2 acres the remainder of my land to include the house where Joe Barnes now lives to her during her natural life and at her death I give and bequeath it to her bodily heirs if any and if none to return to my estate.
Item 4. I give and bequeath to the six children of my deceased son Hinton Wilder One Hundred and Seventy Five dollars each in money.
Item 5. I give and bequeath to the two children of my deceased daughter Victoria Hinnant Three Hundred dollars in money.
Now I have some insurance and some personal property which I desire sold and used in the payment of the items above mentioned and if there be a deficiency which I think there may be it is my will and my desire that my two sons Josiah Wilder and H.G. Wilder and my daughter Laura A. Reed shall pay the deficiency each of them paying one third of said deficiency so that my grandchildren may have what I have bequeathed to them and I make this a first lien of the lands devised to them until they have paid said deficiency.
Lastly I hereby appoint my two sons Josiah Wilder and H.G. Wilder my lawful executors to execute this my last will and testament and I hereby revoke and declare void all other wills and testaments and I hereunto set my hand and seal this the 16th day of October 1913. /s/ Ishmael Wilder
Made and declared by Ishmael Wilder to be his last will and testament and at his request and in his presence and in the presence of each other we sign the same as witnesses thereto. This October the 26th 1913. Witnesses R.T. Barnes, S.C. [Simon C.] Barnes
J.T. Revell surveyed and divided Ishmael Wilder’s land in Springhill township among his heirs on 21 April 1920. A map of the division is found on page 390 of Will Book 5-6, housed in the Wilson County Register of Deeds office.
This was not the end of the matter.
Laura Wilder Reid and her husband, Henry S. Reid, contracted to sell Oscar Neal her 59 1/2 acre portion of her father’s estate for $10,000. Reid contended that she had title to the land in fee simple, but Neal questioned her ability to convey the land to him under the terms of Ishmael Wilder’s will. On 19 October 1921, the Reids filed suit to clarify the matter. A trial judge found in their favor, and Neal appealed to the North Carolina Supreme Court.
Here is the statement of facts and initial judgment in Reid v. Neal, 182 N.C. 192 (1921).
Five dense pages of legalese later, the Supreme Court concluded that Laura Reid had only a life estate in her father’s property and thus could not sell it. Judgment reversed.
On 27 August 1866, Ishmal Wilder and Sarah Richards registered their cohabitation before a justice of the peace in Wilson County.
In the 1870 census, Springhill township, Wilson County: Ishmael Wilder, 41, wife Sarah 38, and children Hinton, 6, Josiah, 4, and James, 2.
In the 1880 census, Springhill township, Ishmal Wilder, 44, his mother Classey, 65, his wife Sarah, 36, and children Hinton, 15, Josiah, 13, James, 12, Lorrian, 9, Guilford, 8, Clarian, 7, Henry, 5, and Nancy An, 3.
On 11 November 1893, H.G. Wilder, 21, son of Ishmael and Sarah Wilder, married Francy Earp, 19, daughter of Sidney and Nancy Earp, in Oldfields township, Wilson County.
On 6 January 1894, Josiah Wilder, 27, son of Ishmael and Sarah Wilder, married Christina M. Earp, 25, daughter of Sidney and Nancy Earp, in Oldfields township, Wilson County.
On 22 October 1895, Laura Wilder, 25, daughter of Ishmael and Sarah Wilder, married Henry S. Reid, 34, son of Washington and Penina Reid of Wayne County. Samuel H. Vick applied for the couple’s license. (Henry was a brother of veterinarian Elijah Reid and principal J.D. Reid.)
On 31 January 1900, Ishmael Wilder, 60, son of Ben and Clarisa Wilder, married Edna Newsom, 55, in Wilson County.
In the 1900 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: Ishmael Wilder, 63, wife Edney, 55, and daughter Clara, 26.
In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Wilson & Raleigh Branch Road, Ishmael Wilder, 74, divorced, living alone. Next door, the “Joe Barnes” mentioned in his will: Joseph Barnes, 57, wife Chana, 51, children Elijah, 16, Joseph, 13, and Sarah Barnes, 10, and granddaughter Fletchie L. Williams, 6. Joseph reported that he was renting the land he farmed; he was Ishmael’s tenant.
Ishmael Wilder died 10 February 1917.
North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], Ancestry.com.