The estate of Edith Joyner Barnes.

Edith Joyner Barnes, widow of Jesse Barnes, was mother of several of Wilson County’s wealthiest men, including county founder, farmer, slave trader and military man Joshua Barnes.

Edith Barnes’ 1848 will included these provisions:

  • a negro boy named Tony to grandson Jesse Barnes, son of Dempsey D. Barnes

  • “old Negro man Isaac” had “the priviledge of choosing for his master either of [her] three sons Elias Barnes William Barnes or Joshua Barnes his wife Violet to go with him” with money from her estate to support them for their lifetimes

  • “two negroes named Judy and Toppy,” valued at $600, to son Joshua Barnes

Edith Barnes died in 1849, and her estate entered probate. At November Term 1849, her sons petitioned the county court for the partition of the enslaved people not named in Edith’s will — Harry Sr., Harry Jr., Elisa, Hannah, Violet, Short, Celicia [Cecilia?], Cherry, Cass, Anarchy, Squire, Bob, Ginny, Mark, and Eny.

The estate file does not contain the order responding to the petition, or a distribution per its terms.


N.B.: Isaac Barnes and Vilet Barnes registered their nine-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866. In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Isaac Barnes, 35; wife Violet, 25; children Warren, 9, and Joseph, 4; Della Amerson, 21, and child Margaret, 1; and Larrence Barnes, 21. This young couple were children when Edith Barnes made her will in 1848 and could not have been the “old man Isaac” and wife Violet referred to.

Edith Barnes Will, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records 1665-1998,; Edith Barnes Estate File (1849), Edgecombe County, North Carolina Estate Files 1663-1979,

One comment

  1. Thank you for sharing this. Edith and Jesse Barnes were my own 4th great-grandparents via my mother’s Barnes-Branch family lineage.

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