We have read here, here, and here of Zealous “Deal” Howard Sr., who was born a free person of color in what was then Nash County, N.C., and developed relative wealth as a farmer and landowner in Taylor township, Wilson County. Howard died in 1911, leaving a detailed last will and testament executed in 1905. Some of the land he owned still remains in the hands of his descendants.
After directing payment of his debts and funeral expenses, Howard bequeathed:
- to son Ira Howard, five dollars, noting that Ira had already received 37 acres of land;
- to son Dock Howard, five dollars and nothing more (though he noted that Dock had previously received “advances”);
- to daughter Anner Blackwell, a lifetime interest in a 4 1/4 acre tract of land, with the remainder to Anna’s daughter Lydia Blackwell and any other children;
- to son Zelius Howard, a lifetime interest in a 38 3/4-acre parcel of land on Cabin Branch, with the remainder to his children;
- to son Kenyon Howard, his “home tract” containing 50 7/8 acres on Cabin Branch, with the remainder to his children if he had any, and if not, to be divided equally among Anner Blackwell, Zelius Howard, Jesse Howard, and Mary Taylor (or their children, if they are deceased);
- to son Jesse Howard, a lifetime interest in a 42 1/2-acre tract, with the remainder to his children;
- to son Allison Howard, a lifetime interest in a 42 1/2-acre tract, with the remainder to his children if he had any, but if not to daughter Mary Taylor (or her children if she were dead);
- to son James Gilbert Howard, a lifetime interest in the rest of his property, consisting of the 27 1/2-acre “Nelson Eatmon tract” on Big Branch and the 25 1/2-acre “Wood Eatmon land,” with the remainder to his children;
- all his personal property to daughter Mary Taylor or her children.
Lastly, Zealous Howard appointed Devit Moore executor of his will.
About five weeks after executing this will, Howard executed a codicil that added a provision for his son George Howard, leaving him one dollar in addition to property he had already given him.
The will was not well-received. Kenyon Howard, Anna Howard Blackwell, and Allison Howard filed a caveat in order to challenge the validity of the document.
A jury heard In re Will of Zelius Howard during Wilson County Superior Court’s February Term, 1915, and Judge George W. Connor issued a judgment finding the will valid.
Will Book 4, page 406, Office of Clerk of Superior Court, Wilson County Courthouse, Wilson; Estate of Zelius Howard (1911), Wilson County, North Carolina Estate Files, http://www.familysearch.org.