The estate of Stephen Boykin.

In January 1865, a court-appointed committee of neighbors divided “negro slaves and stock among and between” the heirs of Stephen Boykin, who died in 1864. (Various sums of money changed hands among the heirs to even the value of their inheritances.)

Boykin’s widow Sallie Davis Boykin received “Anthony valued at $400.”

Sallie Mercer received Nancy and Rose, valued at $500.

Kizziah Pope received Henry, $800.

Willie Coleman and wife Smithy received Chaney, $700.

John Barnes and wife Nicey received Thom, $700.

Willis Hanes and wife Cally received Jason, $500.

Mules and cattle were distributed next.

Four months later, these men, women, and children were freed.


In the 1870 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: farm laborer Henry Boykin, 24; Nancy, 55; Jason, 15; and Rosetta, 12. [This appears to be a nuclear family — a mother, or perhaps grandmother, with her offspring. If so, the distribution of Stephen Boykin’s estate had briefly divided them among three households.] Next door: Allen Powell, 32, dipping turpentine; wife Charity, 22 [Chaney Boykin]; and children Robert, 4, and Cena, 2.

Also in the 1870 census of Oldfields: Anthony Boykin, 60, blacksmith.

And: Thomas Boykin, 27, farm laborer; wife Thana, 34; and daughter William Harriet, 6 months.

Stephen Boykin Estate File (1865), Wilson County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line],


  1. Every day, and sometimes multiple times a day, I am at once inspired by the amazing work you do and appalled by the things you find. Deep sigh.

  2. This is amazing. Chaney/Charity and Allen are my grandma Bettie’s grandparents. Can’t believe I’m looking at a Will that lists them as property. Thank you for your research!

    1. Allen Powell, I believe, was a free man of color. As for Chaney, it is fairly uncommon that I am able to connect names in wills or deeds with freedpeople in or after 1870, so this is special.

  3. We must the reality that our ancestors were enslaved people in the USA who managed to survive the Maafa (i.e., great suffering). It made us what Amiri Baraka called a blues people with our sorrow songs.

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