The will and estate of William Barden.

The second in a series documenting enslaved people held by the Bardin/Barden family, who lived in the Black Creek area in what was once Wayne County, but is now Wilson County.


When William Barden (1785-1837 drafted his last will and testament on 3 October 1835, he disposed of his enslaved property in two paragraphs. First, “my negro man Dred” was to be sold. Second, “all the rest of my Negroes” were to be equally divided among his children Celia Barden, James Barden, Jacob Barden, Penelope Barden Holmes, John Barden, Henry Barden, Nancy Barden, William Barden, Phebe Barden, Charity Barden, and Sally F. Barden.

William Barden died in 1837.

Immediately, on 20 March 1837, his executor hired out several enslaved people to bring in income.

A 15 May 1837 note in Barden’s estate file reveals that, even before he died, Barden authorized his son Jacob Barden “to carry out of the state and sell the negroe boy Dred.” Accordingly, J. Barden took Dred to Alabama and sold him to John Cook for $1000 — $500 down and $500 on credit.

On 6 June 1837, a committee divided the men, women, and children who had lived together as Arthur Barden’s enslaved property:

  • Ben, valued at $600, to Sally F. Barden
  • Whitley, valued at $550, to James Barden
  • Hardy, $525, to Nancy Barden
  • Tom, $500, to William Barden
  • Wilie, $425, to Jacob Barden
  • Milly, $500, to John Barden
  • Cherry and child, $550, to Pheraby [Phebe] Barden
  • Jerry, $325, to Penny Holmes
  • Mary, $325, to Henry Barden
  • Pursey and Ruffin, $425 to Lilia Barden
  • Lany and Patrick, $500, to Charity Barden


All William Barden’s children moved to Pontotoc and Itawamba Counties, Mississippi, within a few years of their father’s death. They undoubtedly took with them named here, pulling them hundreds of miles from the families and communities they knew and loved. I have only been able to locate what appears to be further record of one — Dred, who was sold away.

  • Dred

On 14 August 1867, Dred Cook, colored, registered to vote in Precinct No. 17, Greene County, Alabama. (John J. Cook had settled in Greene County as early as 1825.)

In the 1870 census of Mount Hebron township, Greene County, Alabama: Dred Cook, 83, farmer, born in North Carolina; presumed wife Mahala, 50, born in N.C.; and Wiley, 19, and Delia Cook, 15, both born in Alabama.

Also, in the 1870 census of Boligee township, Greene County, Alabama: Dred Cook, 83, farmer; presumed wife Haley, 50; and Wiley, 18, and Deley Cook, 15, all reported born in Alabama.

Estate File of William Barden (1837), Wayne County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998,


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