Wills & Estates

The last will and testament of Jacob Taylor.

On 9 July 1860, Jacob Taylor of Wilson County penned a will that included these provisions:

  • To son William T. Taylor, two parcels totaling 224 acres on the public road from Hadley’s Mill to the Town of Wilson, near the “poor house land” and Great Branch, plus “two negro boys Raiford and Pomp
  • To daughter Louiza Martin, wife of John H. Martin, 200 acres and “two negro boys Alfred and Deberry
  • To Taylor and Martin, to divide or sell and divide the proceeds, “two negroes Charlotte and Frank

The approximate location of Jacob Taylor’s farm between Hadley’s Mill and the County Poor House land.

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Perhaps, Deberry was, in the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Berry Taylor, 28; wife Caroline, 26; and children Hardy, 8, Robart, 5, Loucenda, 3, and John, 5 months; plus farm laborer Berry Strickland, 18.

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Pompy Taylor, 30, was listed as a farm laborer in the household of Benj’m Farmer, 48.

Likely, in the 1880 census of Stony Creek township, Wayne County: railroad worker Pompey Taylor, 40; wife Lindy, 34; and children Jack, 16, Zackary, 8, Lotty, 6, Penny, 3, and Annie, 6 months. Pompey reported that his father was born in Africa.

In the 1900 census of Stony Creek township, Wayne County: farmer Pompey Taylor, 59; wife Linda, 50; and children Annie, 19, and Jacob, 13.

in the 1910 census of Stony Creek township, Wayne County: farmer Pomp Taylor, 69, and wife Lindy, 60.

 

Images available at North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

Notice of sale of McGowan’s lot.

Tillman McGowan and wife Charity McGowan died within days of one another in 1892. In an earlier post, I noted that I had not found estate records for the McGowans. Now, I have.

The McGowans had at least nine children — Martha McGowan Cole, Chloe McGowan Barnes, Amy McGowan Hinnant, Lucinda McGowan Harper, Aaron McGowan, Ira McGowan, Delia Ann McGowan Morgan, Nathan McGowan and Courtney McGowan. At appears that three — Martha, Aaron and Courtney — died before their parents, though of these only Martha left heirs.

The McGowan children inherited as tenants in common a half-acre single lot at the corner of Vance and Maplewood Streets. Too small to divide seven ways, the McGowan heirs sought to sell the lot and divide the proceeds equally among them. To do this though, everyone needed to be on board. Ira and Nathan McGowan had migrated to Indianapolis, Indiana, and Delia McGowan Morgan was still living in Wilson. It is not clear to me where Chloe Barnes, Lucinda Harper or Amy Hinnant were living, but they were accounted for. All joined as plaintiffs in a suit for partition, naming their nieces and nephews — Charity, Nelson, Mary, Aaron and John Cole — as defendants. The Coles could not be found in the state, however, and the court named Henry G. Connor as guardian ad litem to represent their interests. The notice below ran for six weeks in the Wilson Mirror, but the children did not respond. On 10 December 1894, an appointed commissioner conducted a public sale of the lot, netting a $345 bid. After fees were deducted for the plaintiffs’ attorney ($20.00), the guardian ($5.00) and the commissioner ($10.00), the McGowans shared the proceeds.

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Wilson Mirror, 19 September 1894.

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In the 1870 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Setta Whitfield, 37, domestic servant; Gross Conner, 18, a white news dealer; Tillman McGown, 35, farm laborer, wife Charity, 36, and children Amy, 17, Lucinda, 15, Aaron, 20, Ira, 5, Delia A., 7, Nathan, 3, and Courtney, 1.

On 15 October 1875, Lucinda McGowan, 20, married Richard Harper, 22, in Wilson.

In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farmer Tilman McGown, 43, wife Charity, 49,  and children Delia A., 18, Ira R., 15, and Nathan, 13.

On 1 September 1892, Delia Ann McGown, 22, of the Town of Wilson, daughter of Tilghman and Charity McGown, married Dennis Morgan, 38, of Wilson township. Rev. Crocket Best performed the ceremony in the presence of J.T. Deans, Paul Loyd and Cora Beckwith.

On 24 May 1894, Nathan McGowan married Clara Hester in Marion County, Indiana.

On 2 December 1894, Ira R. McGowan married Alice A. Stout in Marion County, Indiana.

Ira McGowan died 17 May 1939 at his home at 952 Camp, Indianapolis, Indiana. Per his death certificate, he was born 8 January 1865 in North Carolina to unknown parents; worked as a laborer; and was married to Alice McGowan.

The strange affairs of Silas Parker.

Silas Parker died without a will in 1914, and two years later his 51-acre tract went up for sale at public auction to pay his debts. His widow Mahalia Parker, who served as administratrix of his estate and filed the petition to sell, was high bidder at $500. The couple’s children were Maggie V. Parker, Mary B. Parker, John W. Parker, Mack McKinley Parker, Este Parker, Jerry D. Parker, Bertha Parker, Anna Parker, Sarah J. Parker and Adeline P. Parker.

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Via Dickensian proceedings, Silas Parker had inherited most of this tract of land from his uncle, Jerry Dunn.

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In the 1870 census of Upper Town Creek township, Edgecombe County: Toney Parker, 41; wife Julia, 34; and children Harry, 10, Silas, 10, Bray, 8, William, 5, Mary, 3, and George, 3 months.

Also, in the 1870 census of Upper Town Creek, Edgecombe County: farm laborer Jerry Dunn, 48; wife Sarah, 40; and Silas Parker, 8. (Next door: Zania Hill, 43, and daughter Della, 17.)

In the 1880 census of Upper Town Creek township, Edgecombe County: farmer Jere Dunn, 60; wife Sarah, 55; and nephew Silas Parker, 21, laborer.

In early 1881, Jerry Dunn drafted his last will and testament:

State of North Carolina Edgecomb County I Jary Dunn thankin God that I am in Good Bodily helth and sound mind do acknowlege this my last Will and testemaning that I do give unto Silas Parker after the deth of my self and my beloved Wife sara Dunn a serten tract of land containing forty one acres known as the Boiten Wilaford tract Joanding the lands of Boston Armstrong and others to him the said Silas Parker to have and In Joy forever as he may ce cause I Jarey Dunn in Presans of God and Witnss have hear to set my hand and seal the 9 day of Januarey AD 1881 Jarey X Dunn Witness Jesse W. Williams Richard X Wilkins

On 20 December 1888, Silas Parker, 27, of Nash County, son of Toney Parker of Wilson County and Julia Parker, married Mahala Parker, 20, of Nash County, daughter of Ruffin Parker and Morning Parker, at Ruffin Parker’s in Nash County.

On 31 December 1888, Jerry Dunn, 65, of Toisnot township, son of Harry and Rachel Dunn, married Sarah Wilkins, 58, of Toisnot township, daughter of Daniel Pitt and Piney Wilkins, in Wilson township. Methodist minister J.H. Mattocks performed the ceremony, and Silas Parker and C.H. Darden witnessed. [Was this a second wife, also named Sarah?]

Jerry Dunn died in 1889, and the strangeness started. In August, attorneys Bunn & Battle filed this petition in Wilson County Superior Court on behalf of administrator D.L. Lancaster. The petitioner claimed that (1) Jerry Dunn was $800 in debt to Silas Parker; (2) the value of Dunn’s personal estate was only $50; (3) Dunn owned a 41-acre tract in Wilson County worth $300; (4) this land descended to Dunn’s children [sic] Ben Pitt, age 73 or 74, of Edgecombe County, Mariah Taylor, age 44 of Wilson County, Harry Atkinson, age 50, of Wilson County, Blount Atkinson, age 55, of Edgecombe County, Harriet Webb, wife of Eli, age 40, of Wilson County, Mills Atkinson, 64, of Edgecombe County; Dunn died intestate without wife or children; and Pitt, Taylor and Harry Atkinson conveyed their interest in Dunn’s estate to Silas Parker.

Eli and Harriett Webb filed an answer to the petition in October 1889. The opening paragraph was true, they acknowledged, but as to paragraph 1, Jerry Dunn was not carrying $800 in debt and owed nothing to Parker. Dunn had settled with Parker, paying him “every cent” he owed him and not incurred any new debt to Parker in the last three years. As to paragraphs 2 and 3, Dunn’s personal estate ought to be worth at least $250 and his land worth $450. As to paragraph 4, these were Dunn’s siblings, not his children, and none had signed over their interest to Parker. There was no need to sell Dunn’s land to pay his debts, which amounted to no more than $50, as his personal assets should cover them. Further, Mills Atkinson was a “lunatic” without a guardian.

At that point, it seems, Jerry Dunn’s will suddenly turned up. He was not intestate, after all. The will was entered into probate on 6 January 1890 in Wilson County Superior Court, and the whole game changed. The court dismissed the petition to sell land and began to transfer Dunn’s wealth to his sole heir under his will, Silas Parker. Parker was the sole buyer at the sale of Dunn’s personal property in December 1891, scooping up farm animals, some equipment and a bed. He also, of course, received Dunn’s 41 acres.

In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Silas Parker, 38; wife Mahala, 31; and children Maggie, 9, Mary B., 7, John W.L., 5, McKilley, 3, and Estie, 1.

In the 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on Wells Daws Avenue, farmer and teacher Silas Parker, 49; wife Mahalley, 41; and children Maggie, 19, May B., 17, John, 15, Mack M., 13, General Este, 11, Jerry B., 18, Bertha, 6, Anna, 4, Sarah, 2, and Addie P., 3 months.

Administrator’s bond for estate of Silas Parker, 21 February 1914.

On 13 December 1915, Mahala Parker filed the petition to sell land for assets, asserting that Silas Parker had died with about $1000 in outstanding debt; that all of his personal estate had been allotted to her as widow’s support; that she had paid down $600 of her husband’s debt; that at his death Silas Parker owned a 51-acre parcel in Toisnot township and a 3/4 acre parcel near Nashville, Nash County; that she and Silas’ children lived on the “old Silas Parker home place” and that two of the children were adults and the rest minors; and that sale of the land was necessary.

Undated notice from estate file of Silas Parker, probably published in the Wilson Daily Times.

On 6 January 1916, William Battle, 21, of Edgecombe County, son of Jackson and Hannah Battle, married Bell Parker, 20, of Toisnot township, daughter of Silas and Mahalia Parker. Minister of the Gospel Samuel Burston performed the ceremony at Mahala Parker’s in Toisnot in the presence of Sidney Cotton, George Armstrong and Kinley Battle.

On 4 September 1918, John W. Parker, 24, son of Silas and Mahalia Parker, married Indiana Terry, 22, daughter of Henderson and Mary Terry, in Toisnot township.

Mahala Parker died 13 October 1921 in Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was the widow of Silas Parker; was about 51 years old; and was born in Nash County to Ruffin Parker and Mourning Joyner. Informant was Mack Parker, Elm City.

On 22 November 1935, Estee Parker, 30, son of Silas and Mahala Parker, married Irene Davis, daughter of Ellis and Bessie Davis, in Greenville County, Virginia.

On 17 June 1936, David King, 21, of Wilson, son of Peter King and Freay (last name unknown), married Adlena Parker, 23, of Wilson, daughter of Silas Parker and Mahala Parker. Missionary Baptist minister Charles T. Jones performed the ceremony at James Alston‘s on Green Street in Wilson in the presence of Mag Parker, James Alston and Mary Whitely.

Jerry Parker died 5 July 1938 on the Parker farm, Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 10 February 1902 in Wilson County to Silas Parker of Wilson County and Mahala Parker of Nash County; was a farmer; and was buried in Parker cemetery. John Parker, Elm City, was informant.

Maggie McGeachy died 13 November 1953 in Sharpsburg, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 21 April 1883 in Wilson County to Silas Parker and Mahalia Parker; was married to Willie McGeachy; and was buried in the Parker cemetery, Wilson County.

Mack McKinnley Parker died 20 May 1968 in Elm City, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 1 May 1899 to Silis Parker and Mahalia Parker; was a farmer; and was married to Minnie Parker. He was buried in the Parker cemetery in Wilson County.

Mary Bell Battle died 4 August 1971 in Hampton, Virginia. Per her death certificate, she was 77 years old; was the widow of William Battle; and was the daughter of Galas Parker and Mahalia (last name unknown). Informant was Willie Lee Battle, Rocky Mount, N.C.

John Parker died 22 January 1975 in Rocky Mount, Nash County. Per his death certificate, he was born 22 November 1892 to Silas Parker; was married to India Parker; and was retired. Walter Parker of Rocky Mount was informant.

Estate records of Jerry Dunn (1889 and 1890) and Silas Parker (1914), North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

Bethana Jones’ community.

As shown here, in December 1852 administrator Benjamin Simpson conducted a sale of the property of Bethana Jones, a recently deceased free woman of color. At the time of her death, Jones’ land was in Nash County. Three years later, it was in Old Fields township, western Wilson County.

In the 1850 census of Nash County, Thany Jones, 78, is listed at household #537 with extended family Mary, 26, William, 10, John, 2, and Willie Jones, 17. A closer examination of the men (and one woman) who purchased items from Bethana Jones’ estate reveals the mix of close neighbors and kin, black and white, who made up her community.

  • Dempsey Harrison — in the 1850 census of Nash County: at #579, Dempsey Harrison, 66, and sons Dempsey Jr., 21, Christian, 19, and Gethro, 21 [see Jethro Harrison, below].
  • Willis Jones — in the 1850 census of Nash County: at #536, Willis Jones, 50, farmer; wife Sarah, 42; and children Henry, 13, Alex, 10, Noel, 8, Kingsberry, 3, and Peyton, 9 months.
  • Mabry Hinnant — in the 1850 census of District 9, Johnston County: at #34, Mabra Hinnant, 34, farmer, and family.
  • Lazarus Cook — in the 1850 census of Nash County: at #526, Lazarath Cook, 67, farmer.
  • Jethro Harrison — in the 1860 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Jethro Harrison, 31, farmer and family, plus Willis Jones, 35, making turpentine, and wife Mary, 37, domestic, both free people of color. Harrison reported $400 in real property and $1400 in personal property.
  • Jacob Jones — in the 1850 census of Nash County: at #521, turpentine laborer Jacob Jones, 25; wife Milly, 28; Shade, 18; and Susan Jones, 2; plus Levi Worrel, 60, farmer.
  • Amos Ellis — in the 1850 census of Nash County: at #539, cooper Amos Ellis, 30, and family. (At #542, slave dealer Bartley Deans.)
  • William Jones — in the 1850 census of Nash County: at #249, cooper William Jones, 35, and wife Mary, 35.
  • Isaac Williamson — in the 1850 census of Nash County: at #535, farmer Isaac Williamson, 42, and family.
  • Robert Simpson — in the 1850 census of Nash County: at #534, farmer Robert Simpson, 36, plus cooper Eligah Powell, 50; wife Selah, 48; and children Denis T., 22, and Henry, 21, turpentine laborers; Eligah, 19; Mary, 18; Stephen, 10; Jane, 6; Jabe, 2; and Sally, 18.
  • Asberry Blackwell — in the 1850 census of Nash County: at #584, Asberry Blackwell, 25.
  • Dempsey Powell 
  • John Simpson — John Simpson was a son of Benjamin and Clara Simpson, see below.
  • Shadrach Jones — see Shade Jones, above, in the household of Jacob Jones.
  • Joseph Jones — in the 1850 census of Nash County: at #538, Joe Jones, 36, turpentine laborer, and children Milly, 10, Milbry, 6, Edie, 5, Sarah, 4, Jesse, 3, Nathan, 1, James, 3 months, and Delphi, 2.
  • Andrew Cook — in the 1850 census of Nash County: at #527, farmer Andrew Cook, 38.
  • Frederick Taylor — in the 1850 census of Nash County: at #561, farmer Frederick Taylor, 21, and family.
  • Calvin Davis — in the 1850 census of Nash County: at #531, Calvin Davis, 22, turpentine laborer, and family.
  • Jesse Simpson Sr. — in the 1850 census of Nash County: at #533, farmer Jesse Simpson, 74, and family.
  • Clara Simpson — in the 1850 census of Nash County: at #532, Clary Simpson, wife of Benja Simpson.
  • Benjamin Simpson — in the 1850 census of Nash County: at #532, farmer Benja Simpson, 46, and family, plus Mahalah Jones, 5, a free girl of color who was likely an apprentice.

The last will and testament of Long John Webb.

“Long” John Webb, so-called because his height distinguished him from several contemporaries of the same name, lived in a section of southwest Edgecombe County that is now northeast Wilson County. His will, drafted in 1845, entered probate in August 1853 and included these provisions:

“I, John Webb, of the State of North Carolina and County of Edgecombe, being of sound mind and perfect memory blessed be God do this 19th day of October in the year of our Lord, One Thousand Eight Hundred and Forty-Five, make and publish this my last will and testament in the following manner:

“First:  I give and bequeath to my son John Webb one Negro man by the name of Prussian; also one by the name of Jim and a Negro woman by the name of Maci and one by the name of Anaky and a Negro boy the name of Peter.

“Second:  I give and bequeath unto my son David Webb one Negro girl by the name of Bet and one Negro boy by the name of Harry, one Negro boy by the name of Elie.

“Third:  I give an bequeath unto my son Nathan Webb one Negro woman by the name of Nance and her daughter Silvy, and one other by the name of Mary Lettie, her child.

“Fourth:  I give and bequeath to my son Orman Webb one Negro boy by the name of Tom, also one Negro boy by the name of Ephraim.

“Fifth:  I give and bequeath to my son Willis Webb one Negro boy by the name of Dennis, also one Negro girl named Gatsy.

“Sixth:  I also give and bequeath unto my daughter Anna Webb one Negro boy by the name of Miles and one Negro girl by the name of Anna.

Seventeenth:  And lastly I do hereby make and ordain my worthy friend David Williams my executor to this my last will and testament, revoking all other wills by me made or cause to be made.

…”

Will transcribed at ncgenweb.us.

The estate of William J. Armstrong.

William J. Armstrong died in Wilson County in September 1856. Several months later, his heirs, as tenants in common, petitioned for the division of his enslaved property, identified as Quinny, Abram, Jim, Birden and his wife and child, Ned, Tony, Harry, Julann and her two children, Lizett, Nance and her child, Ciller and her two children, Jane, Lucinda and two children, Berry, and Mahala.

At January term 1858 of the Wilson County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, a team of commissioners reported their division, randomly allotted, thus:

  • Lot 1 to Catherine Armstrong, consisting of Abram, Avy, Nelson and Allis, valued at $2275.
  • Lot 2 to Caroline Armstrong, consisting of Julan, Mahala and Nancy, valued at $2175.
  • Lot 3 to Willie G. Barnes and wife, consisting of Quinny, Harry, Scilla and her child, valued at $3050.
  • Lot 4 to George W. Armstrong, consisting of Ned, Clary, Sarah and Barry, valued at $3100.
  • Lot 5 to James G. Armstrong, consisting of James, Burton, Rufus and Lucinda and her child, valued at $3325.
  • Lot 6 to John H. Winstead and wife, consisting of Tony, Lizette, Lucinda, Jane and her child, valued at $3320.

Some notes:

  • The petitioners clearly underestimated the number of enslaved people William Armstrong had owned at his death.
  • Scilla and one of the Lucindas were each separated from one of their (youngest) children. (Children over about age eight would have been listed individually.) Julann and Nancy were completely divided from their children.
  • Burton, who seems to have been the only man with a wife living on the Armstrong plantation, was separated from his wife Clary and child.

Only a few of the men, women and children formerly enslaved by William J. Armstrong are readily identifiable in post-Emancipation records:

  • A Wilson County justice of the peace registered Abram Armstrong and Cherry Proctor’s 16-year cohabitation in 1866. In the 1870 census of Joyners township, Wilson County: Abraham Armstrong, 52, wife Cherry, 32, and children Nancy, 16, Haywood, 14, Nelson, 12, Joshua, 11, and Burlee, 7. As Cherry Armstrong and children were owned by a different enslaver, this Abraham’s son Nelson is a different person than the Nelson listed above. So is Nancy.
  • A Wilson County justice of the peace registered Burton Armstrong and Clary Armstrong’s 18-year cohabitation in 1866. In the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Burden Armstrong, 45, farm laborer, who owned $400 personal and $300 real property, and wife Clara, 38. Burton and Clara Armstrong became Exodusters and are found in the 1900 census of Portland township, Ashley County, Arkansas, with granddaughter Laura Binam, 6.
  • A Wilson County justice of the peace registered James Armstrong and Pricilla Braswell‘s two-year cohabitation in 1866.
  • In the 1880 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Lucinda Armstrong, 41; her children Charley L., 16, Gray Anna, 13, and Shadrick, 10; her sister Lizette Armstrong, 51; and Mourning Pitt, 80. Charley Armstrong may have been the child allotted with Lucinda to James G. Armstrong. Though they presumably spent the last decade of slavery owned by Barneses, Lucinda and Lizette retained Armstrong as their surname.
  • A Wilson County justice of the peace registered Ned Armstrong and Eliza Whitehead‘s cohabitation in 1866.

Images of estate documents available at North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

Bad debts.

Among the men whose debts to deceased Theophilus Grice were listed in an inventory of his assets were these free men of color — Lewis Artis, Thomas Ayers, Richard Artis and Jacob Artis. (Actually, Thomas Ayers’ ethnicity is ambiguous. He may have been white, but appears to have been closely related to free colored Ayerses in the county.) All likely were close neighbors of Grice in the area around Bloomery Swamp in western Wilson (then Nash) County.

Lewis Artis owed for two loans — $17.00 incurred in 1806, and $13.05 incurred in 1808. Thomas Ayers had owed $29.79 since 1818. Richard Artis owed $15.84 since 1819. Jacob Artis had owed $14.56 since 1810. All the debts were described as “desperate” and were unlikely to be recovered.

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Images of estate documents available at North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The last will and testament of Theophilus Grice.

Theophilus Grice made out his will on 18 April 1823; he died six months later. Per Elton Cooke, who contributed a transcription of the will to http://www.ncgenweb.us, “The Grices, Deans and Cooks owned large tracts of land along Contentnea Creek, Hwy. 42 W and the Old Raleigh Road west of Wilson and east of I 95. References to Poplar Spring branch and Shepard’s branch are frequently seen in Cook and Grice deeds of the period. The area, known as the Old Fields (various spellings) district was taken from Nash County in 1856 [sic] to form a part of the new County of Wilson.”

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“In the name of God Amen. I Theophilus Grice of the County of Nash and State of North Carolina Being Weake in body but Sound in Mind and Memmory blesed be God for his goodness do this Eighteenth day of April in the year of our lord one thousand Eight hundred and twenty three Ordain and Make this My Last Will and Testament in Manner following to wit

“After My death and being buried and all My just debts is paid I lend to My Wife Polley Grice doring hur lifetime or Widowhood the home plantation and the Jacob Row field and after inclooding the said Row field thence two and along the Grass fence below the orched to the ford of the Contenney Creake at My old place all the lands adjoining above the said ford of the Creake is allotted for hur I also lend My negro Man Sesar to hur during hur natrel life or widowhood I allso give to hur one negro Man named Hardy and it is My desier that he be Hired out and the Money arising from His hire to be aplied to the seport of My Wife and hur Children that lives With hur I give hur three Cows and Calves and twenty hed of hogs Such As She Chooses out of My Stock and five hed of Sheep and one bay mare Called pidgin One plow frame two Cutting hoes one ax one grubing hoe I lend to My Wife one pot one Dutchoven one gridiron one boilar during of hur natrel life or Widowhood I give hur one bed and furniture one Whele and Cards One lume and gun one bridle and Saddle one burch table one pine table & Six Chiers one pale one pigin two tubs one Case of knifes and forks one meal sifter one bred tray I lend to My Wife during hur natrel life or Widowhood two puter basons one dish six plates and six table spoons and one Chest to hur and hur ares forever

Item I give to My Sun John Grice the blumery land that is to say the lots bought of Dred Deberry and his Wife and Irvin Ricks lying on both sides of the blumery pond also another tract of land lying in the afore said County Beginning at the ford of the Creake about one Hundred and fifty yards from the house at My old place on the Johnston line thence down the Manders of Said Creake to the Row Corner on Said Creake thence with the Row line & Grice line between Theopolis Grice and Christen Row unto the Raley Rode to a corner pine thence West With the Rode to Nichols line thence South With Nichols line to Theopolis Grices line thence East With his line until they get below the Jacob Row feld and down the Branch to the fork thence up the other branch nearly West to the head of said branch thence nearly South to the first beginning at the ford of Contenney Creake to him and his ares forever

Item I give to My Sun Thomas Grice all of My land lying in Johnston County Except three Akers lying at the Mill Called the Cobb Mill also I give him another tract of land lying in Nash County Called the boykin land adjoining Jesse Simpson to him and His ares forever also all the ballance of My land that is not Willed away I leave to be Sold at a twelve Month Credit

Item I give to My daughter Salley Cook two negros garls and their Children that is now is their puseson also one bed and furniture two Cows and yearlins one desk one Chest to Hur and hur ares forever.

Item I give to My Suns and daughters that is to Say John Thomas Rodey and Tempey fifteen negros to be Eakeley divided between them that is to Say Pris and hur three Children and Sal and hur fore Children and Darkis and hur fore Children and all of their increase that Shal Come hereafter and one Small garl named Morning to be divided at the time that My Sun John think proper to take his part of them to them and their ares forever and it is My desier that all the Rest of My Negros be Sold at a twelve Month Credit Namely Phillis Phareby Rode Anddy Patianc Fortin and Child Joe Nance and hur Child Art Jes Mill Zil

… I also nominate and apoint Bartley Deans and My Sun John Grice My Hole Sole Executor to this My Last Will and testament Whereof I Theopolis Grice have herunto Set My hand and afixed My Seal the day and year first above Written   /s/ Theophilus Grice

Signed in the presence of us and Sealed in the presence of us  /s/ John L. Lyons  James Deans

——

In a nutshell, Theophilus Grice left his wife Mary “Polly” Harrison Grice a life interest in Caesar and directed that Hardy be hired out to support Polly and their children. He left his daughter Sarah “Sally” Grice Cook two unnamed young women and their children, who were already in her possession. For his four remaining children — John, Temperance Ann, Rhoda and Thomas Grice, who were all minors — he directed that 15 enslaved people be divided equally among them. The fifteen were Pris [Priscilla?] and her three children; Sal [Sally or Sarah] and her four children; Darcus and her four children; and Mourning, “a small girl” (who, presumably, was orphaned.) To equally distribute 15 people among four heirs likely required that one or more mothers be separated from their children. Grice further directed that Phillis, Phereby, Rhoda, Andy, Patience, Fortune and her child, Joe, Nancy and her child, Art, Jess, Mill, and Zil be sold.

On several days in over the year after his death, Grice’s executors held sales to liquidate his property per the terms of his will. On 4 December 1923, they sold Phillis, Phereby, Rhoda, and Fortune and her child Bedy to Polly Grice; Andrew, Jess and Ace, Zill and Milly to John Grice; Joe, Arthur and Nancy and her child Piety to John Cook; and Patience to Harris Horn.

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At February 1824 term of court, Grice’s executors filed an inventory that listed all 37 of his slaves, including those sold above:

Philis, Phareby, Rody, Andrew, Patience, Fortune and child Beedy, Joe, Nance and child Piety, Arthur, Jes, Mill and Zill (twins?), Sarah, Ace, David, Chaney, Henry, Eliza, Priss, Richmon, Daniel, Ann, Darcus, Litha, Wiley, Charity, Dempsey, Mourning, Caesor, Hardy, Beed, Cussey and her three children.

In December 1828, the guardians appointed to oversee minor Thomas Grice’s inheritance filed an income and expense report with the court showing, among other things, that they had paid Mary Grice thirty-seven dollars for “the expense” of feeding and clothing the enslaved people Thomas had inherited, and Josiah Horn seven dollars and fifty cents for “doctoring his Negro woman.”

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On 7 February 1829, Polly Grice sold some of the property she had inherited, including Caesar, whom her son John Grice purchased. (Note the credit to the account of seven dollars for the balance of the six-month period Caesar had been hired out to Peter C. Davis.)

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In this December 1838 account of Rhoda Grice’s inheritance, Bartley Deans reported income from the hire of enslaved people Wiley, Charity, Jim, Caroline and Elbert.

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Estate of Theophilus Grice, images available at North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.