Wills & Estates

The estates of Ephraim Daniel and Zilpha Fort Daniel.

The second in a series documenting enslaved people held by the Daniel family, who lived in the Black Creek area in what was once Wayne County:

Though Ephraim Daniel named only four enslaved people — Simon, Temperance, Robbin and May —  in his will, estate documents reveal that he claimed 26 at the time of his death in 1822. On December 16 of that year, 22 enslaved people were sold to 16 different buyers in the liquidation of Daniel’s estate.

The men, women, and children dispersed from their homes were James (purchased by Hardy Horn and maybe the Jim referred to in Horn’s will and estate file); Jacob; Bob; Oen; Burden; Peter; Enos; Levi; Sarah; Fan; Hester; Jury and child Amy; Silviar; old man Bob; Lany and her three children George, Sintha, and Moses; old man Ned; old man Dick; and Isaac Hoods “the use of him reserved to the old Widow Hood her life time.”

Zilpha Daniel died just two years after her husband Ephraim. An inventory of her estate listed six enslaved people among her property. On 2 January 1826, her belongings went on the block. Her son Rufus hired out Hester; Simon, his wife, and children; and Oen [Owen], who was described as “very sick,” until March 1. On 11 March 1826, all were offered for sale. Rufus Daniel bought Simon, Temperance, and their children Robert and May, whom his father had specifically passed to Zilpha under the terms of his 1822 will.

Estate Files of Ephraim Daniel (1822) and Zilpha Daniel (1824), Wayne County, North Carolina Estate Files, 1663-1979, http://www.familysearch.org.

The last will and testament of Ira Howard.

Ira Howard made out his will on 24 August 1906.

  • to son James Howard, a 42 1/2-acre tract known as the “Joe Howard tract” and a 28 1/2-acre tract called the “Ivey Ivens tract”;
  • to son William Howard, the 50-acre “home place” tract and the 22 1/2-acre “Cally Taylor lands”;

  • to Manuel Batchelor, Silver Lee Batchelor and Roxie Ann Batchelor, children of Mahala Batchelor (once they reached age 21), the 50-acre “Jim Taylor lands,” the 22-acre “Peter High lands,” and the 22-acre “Cally Taylor lands,” to be equally divided;

  • William Howard was to serve as guardian for the Batchelor children;
  • all personal property, including farm animals, farm implements, furniture, and crops was to be sold to pay debts, with the remainder divided equally between sons James and William Howard (with William to receive an extra $150 to make up for the $150 James owed their father);

  • and son William Howard was appointed executor.


In the 1870 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: farmer Delus [Zealous] Howard, 35, wife Rodah, 33, and children Mary, 16, Ira, 13, George, 11, Delus, 8, Gibbs, 6, Jesse, 3, and Doctor, 1.

On 26 December 1877, Orry [Ira] Howard, 22, married Harriet Wilkins, 22, in Wilson County.

In the 1880 census of Jackson township, Nash County, N.C.: farmer Ira Howard, 22; wife Harriet, 21; son James E., 1; servant Merica Farmer, 8; plus brother George Howard, 21.

In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Ira Howard, 45; wife Harette, 44; and son William, 15; also James Howard, 20, and wife Cisco, 20.

On 15 November 1895, Willie Lucas, 23, of Nash County, son of John Kalis and Frances Lucas, married Sylvia Howard, 21, of Nash County, daughter of Ira Howard and Mahala Batchelor, in Taylor township, Wilson County.

William Howard died 18 January 1918 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 30 June 1892 in Wilson County to Ira Howard and Harriett Wilkins; was married; and worked as a farmer. Lula Howard of Wilson was informant.

James Howard died 18 November 1923 at the “Col. Hospital” in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 26 October 1875 in Wilson County to Ora Howard and Harriet Wilkins; was married to Sisco Howard; and was a tenant farmer for J.R. Brantley.

Manuel Howard died 7 December 1930 in Rocky Mount, Nash County, N.C. Per his death certificate, he was perhaps 50 years old; was born in Wilson to Ara Howard and Lizzie Batchelor; was a farmer; and was married. Sylvie Lucas, Wilson, was informant.

Will Book 4, page 112, Office of Clerk of Superior Court, Wilson County Courthouse, Wilson

The obituary of Louisiana Eatmon Hammond.

Wilson Daily Times, 22 December 1948.


In the 1920 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: William Eatmon, 35, farmer; wife Geneva, 33; and daughter Louisiana, 11.

In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Eatmon Louisiana (c) dom h 317 Finch

In the 1930 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: William Eatmon, 50, city laborer; wife Geneva, 41; and daughter Louisiana, 20.

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Eatmon Louisiana (c) h 317 Finch

On 23 February 1938, William Hammond, 24, of Wilson, married Lousanna Eatman, 28, of Wilson, in Wilson, in the presence of Luther Hammond Sr., Luther Hammond Jr., and Lula Hammond.

In 1940, William Elwood Hammond registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 16 November 1914 in Lumberton, N.C.; lived at 317 Finch; worked for Mrs. C.C. Benton; and his contact was wife Louisiana Hammond.

Louisiana Eatmon Hammond drafted a will on 15 February 1947. Under its terms, all her property, except one tenant house, was to go to her surviving children. The tenant house, which was “on the Nash Street Road East … beside of the Colored Brick Church, East of the town of Wilson,” was to go to her late father’s children, i.e. her siblings. [What was the “Colored Brick Church”?]

Will Book 9, page 8-9. 

Louisiana Hammond died 16 December 1948 at her home at 317 Finch Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 5 October 1917 in Nash County, North Carolina, to Willie Eatmon and Geneva Powell; was divorced; and worked as a day laborer. Mary Goram was informant.


The estate of Elisha Woodard Jr.

Elisha Woodard Jr., son of Elisha and Mary Elizabeth Sasser Woodard, lived north of Contentnea Creek in an area of Edgecombe County now in Wilson County. When he died in 1835 at age 80, he left 14 heirs stretching from Edgecombe County across the South. Treasy Woodard, Henry Woodard, Elisha Woodard, Patsy Woodard Batts and her husband William Batts, Zylphia Eure, Josiah Woodard (a minor), Anna Woodard (a minor), and Henry Benson lived in Edgecombe; Elizabeth Peele and her husband John Peele in Georgia; Nathan Woodard and Jethro Benson in Alabama; and Treasy Stokes and husband John Stokes, Judith Amason and husband Levi Amason, Betsy Boyte and husband Patrick Boyte in Tennessee.

Elisha Woodard’s estate included Old Ben, Young Ben, Jesse, Old Beck, Young Beck, Hester, Mary, Sylley, and Ethel[illegible]. Per administrator Stephen Woodard’s Petition for Sale & Division of Negroes, presented to court at November Term 1835, “owing to the small number of slaves & the large number of those entitled to distribution it is impossible to make a fair & equitable division of the same without a sale.”

Detail of petition.

Estate file of Elisha Woodard (1835), North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998, http://www.ancestry.com.

The estate of Joel Eatmon.

Eatmons (also “Eatman”) settled in what is now the Rock Ridge area of Wilson County by the mid-1700s. They are thought to descend from brothers John and Thomas Eatmon, but exact relationships between various Eatmon lines, which often intermarried, are murky.

This post is the first in a series featuring documents from Eatmon/Eatman family estate files.


Joel Eatmon, son of John and Ruth Ruffin Eatmon, was born about 1780 in Nash County, N.C., and died 7 July 1851 in Nash County, N.C. Eatmon’s estate opened shortly after. Pending inventory and distribution of his assets, several of the enslaved people he had held were hired out to neighbors:

“The acount of the higher of the neroes of Joel Eatmans discease highered the 3 of March 1852”

Nathan Williams hired Reddick for a year for $56.50; Cornelius Jordan Sr. hired Sewel for $56.25 and Clary for $37.50; and Alexander Baker hired Haywood for $36.75.

Eatmon’s estate paid Alexander Eatmon $85.00 for “maintainance” of Charity and her four children, and Bertley Well $46.25 to care for Easter and her four children.

On 8 July 1851, the court approved the distribution of Eatmon’s enslaved property. Daughter Sally Eatmon drew Sowell, valued at $800; son Peter Eatmon drew Reddick, valued at $750; son Alexander Eatmon drew Haywood, $675; son-in-law John Eatmon, on behalf of his wife Elizabeth Eatmon Eatmon, drew Clary and Zilla, $912.50; son Amos Eatmon drew Easter, Ben, and Vilet, $837.50; son-in-law Barney B. Person, on behalf of wife Piety Eatmon Person, Charity, Delpha, Hawkins, and Wester, $825; and the heirs of Amy Eatmon Williams, Dolly, Barbary, and Milbry, $900.


In the 1850 slave schedule of Nash County, North Carolina, Joel Eatmon reported nine enslaved people — a 52 year-old man, a 41 year-old woman, a 35 year-old woman, a 19 year-old young man, a 14 year-old boy, a 13 year-old girl, a 10 year-old boy, and 5 and 8 year-old girls.

  • Reddick and Charity

In the 1870 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: farmer Redick Eatmon, 40, and wife Charity, 39.

In the 1880 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: farmer Reddic Eatmon, 49; wife Charity, 48; and hireling Casana Wiggins, 14.

Estate File of Joel Eatmon, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998, http://www.ancestry.com.

The last will and testament of Jonathan Bailey.

In the name of God Amen. I Jonathan Bailey of the County of Edgecombe and State of North Carolina do this 6th day of August in the year of our Lord one thousand Eight Hundred and Fifty One, being of sound disposing mind and memory do make and publish this my last will and testament in the form and manner following.

1st. I give and bequeath unto my daughter, Lucy Braswell, one Negro boy by the name of Jacob to her and her heirs forever.

2nd I give and bequeath unto the heirs of my daughter, Polly Taylor one Negro girl by the name of Amy

3rd I lend unto my daughter, Sally Jordan, the land whereon she now lives and after her death to be equally divided betwixt her children. I also lend unto my daughter, Sally Jordan, one Negro girl named Sucky, and after her death the said Sucky with all her increas to be divided betwixt the children of the said Sally Jordan.

4th I lend unto my daughter, Nancy Ruffin, the land whereon she now lives during her natural life and after her death to be equally divided betwixt her children. Also I lend unto Nancy Ruffin one Negro girl named Ellen and after her death the said Negro girl Ellen with all her increased to be equally divided betwixt the heirs of the said Nancy Ruffin

5th I give unto the heirs of my son, Berry Bailey, lawfully begotten of his body all my land lying on the north side of the road adjoining the land of Mathew Whitehead, Jeremiah Batts, and others. I also give unto the heirs of Berry Bailey as above one negro boy named Lewis.

6th I give unto my grandchildren, David Lawrence Williams and Elizabeth Williams one Negro girl named Mary and one hundred and twenty dollars in cash to be equally divided betwixt them, but should either of them die without having a lawful heir, the living one to have the others part, and should both die the said property to return to the Baily family.

7th I lend unto my daughter, Rebecca May, one Negro girl named Esther, during her natural life, together with her increase and after her death to be equally divided betwixt the children of the said Rebecca May lawfully begotten of her body. I also give unto my daughter, Rebecca May, one hundred and twenty dollars in cash.

8th I give unto my son, Bert Bailey all my tract of land whereon I now live also one Negro boy by the name of Petter.

9th I lend unto my daughter, Martha Amason, one Negro woman named Mariah, one Negro girl named Betty, one Negro child named Chaney, one Negro girl named Patience, and one girl named Cherry together with all their increase and I further give the said Martha Amason, the right to dispose of any part of said Negroes as she may think proper.

10th My will and desire is that all my property which is not disposed of above be sold and all my just debts be paid and the balance remaining to be queally divided betwixt my children as follows: Lucy Braswell, Polly Taylor, Sally Jordan, Nancy Ruffin, Dilly’s two children, viz David Lawrence and Elizabeth, being Bailey heirs, Rebecca May and Nancy Ruffin.

11th I hereby appoint my son, Bert Bailey, Thomas Amason, and Jeremiah Batts Executors to this my last will and testament.

Signed sealed and acknowledged in presence of: D. Williams Thomas Fly

Jonathan Bailey


Jonathan Bailey lived in an area of Edgecombe County that became southeast Wilson County in 1855. His will entered probate in 1852.

Will of Jonathan Bailey (1851), Edgecombe County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The estate of Lemon P. Stanton.

On 12 October 1844, Lemon P. Stanton of the Stantonsburg area drafted a will that, among other things, bequeathed a man named Larry to his nephew George W. Stanton and an enslaved family to his niece and nephew, Louisa and Lemuel DeBerry.

The will entered probate in February 1846, and six years later, the court received this  petition to partition Negroes:

The takeaways:

  • Stanton’s will left the DeBerry siblings an enslaved woman named Phillis, her children Alford and Curtis, and any future children.
  • As the time of the petition in early 1852, Phillis had four children — Alford, Curtis, Romulus, and Laura. Another child, Haywood, had died.
  • Phillis and her children were in the care of Lemuel DeBerry Senior, guardian of Louisa and Lemuel DeBerry.
  • In November 1850, Louisa DeBerry had married Ferdinand H. Whitaker, the petitioner.
  • Whitaker sought the partition of Phillis and her children so that his wife could get the half owed her under her uncle’s will.
  • Lemuel DeBerry chimed in that he was “equally desirous” of partition. However, he later filed a memorandum with the court explaining that he was not certain, but Stanton’s will might have directed payout to the DeBerrys only when they reached age 21 — Louisa was 20 and Lemuel Jr., 18.

The digitized file contains no order in response to Whitaker’s petition. Inevitably, though, dividing the group in half would have meant that Phillis and one or more of her children were separated.

Will Book F, page 334, Edgecombe County Register of Deeds Office, Tarboro, North Carolina; Estate of Leeman P. Stanton, Edgecombe County, North Carolina Estate Files, http://www.familysearch.org.

The estates of Barnes and Roderick Amason.

It’s not a common surname in Wilson County anymore, but in the early 1800s a prosperous extended family of Amasons (Amersons) lived in the Stantonsburg area (in what was then Edgecombe County, North Carolina). They owned extensive real property and considerable slaves, and often left estates that spent years in probate as family members bickered, and heirs and administrators died.

This post is third in a series featuring documents from Amason family estate files.


Roderick Amason was appointed administrator of his brother Barnes Amason’s estate soon after Barnes’ death in April 1844.

On 25 October 1844, at Joshua Wilkinson’s store, John A. Tyson testified in a deposition that on 10 June 1844 that he “happend in company with Roderic Amason & General Moye at Daniel & Rountrees store in Stantonsburg and that Mr. Gill had presented his account against Barnes Amason ….” Amason had run up credit with Andrew E. Gill, but a number of credits reduced the debt. For 1840, that credit included the  “Hire of 2 Hands” on December 22 for 80 cents. For 1843 and 1844, Amason’s credits included the hire of an enslaved man named Jerry to Gill.

At November Term of Edgecombe County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, Roderick Amason filed a petition for division stating that “the slaves belonging to the estate of … Barnes [Amason] will not be required for the purpose of paying the debts of said intestate, there being ample personalty besides them for that purpose. That of them, there are fifteen as follows — 1 Frank 2 Mourning 3 Stephen 4 Jack 5 Solomon 6 Jerry 7 Richmond 8 Lucy 9 Jinny 10 Hilliard 11 Judy 12 Rosa 13 Dyer 14 Patsy & 15 Sally,” and they should be divided among Barnes’ heirs, who consisted of his siblings and their children.

Roderick himself died in December 1844, however. Wyatt Moye — state senator and slave dealer — took over as administrator of both estates. His stewardship of both estates was contentious.

In October 1845, B.B. Bell complained to Edgecombe County court that Moye owed him $63.21 from the estate of Roderick Amason.

A justice of the peace sided with Bell and noted that Moye claimed that he had paid out sums greater than the cash at hand, but noted “there is four negroes yet to be sold.”

At August Term, the heirs complained to the court that Wyatt Moye was still holding on to Barnes Amason’s estate and had refused to make full distribution, a charge Moye denied.

I have not been able to determine the fates of the enslaved people held by Barnes and Roderick Amason.

Estate of Roderick Amason, North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The estates of Jesse and Patience Aycock.

Revolutionary War veteran Jesse Aycock (1743-1823) lived in the Nahunta area of Wayne County, N.C., but owned property in what would become Black Creek township, Wilson County. This property included the land upon which Lower Black Creek Primitive Baptist church stood; he bequeathed the parcel to the church in his 1822 will.

The Aycocks attended Lower Black Creek P.B., as did their slaves. Church records mention a woman Hannah owned by Jesse Aycock, and Briton(?) and Peter, owned by Aycock’s second wife, Patience Aycock.

Jesse Aycock drafted his will on 7 November 1822. To his wife Patience, he left a lifetime interest in “four negroes by names Jacob Peter and two by name of Haner.” (In other words, the four were Jacob, Peter, Hannah, and Hannah.)

Aycock owned additional slaves, as evidenced by a subsequent provision: “I leave all my Negroes that I have not lent to my wife to be sold with Balance of my Estate.” The proceeds were to be used to pay off his debts, and any remainder was to be distributed among his children and grandchildren.

Further, after Patience Aycock’s death, Jesse Aycock’s enslaved people were to be sold, with “Peter and Haner to be sold together.” (Presumably, they were a married couple and perhaps were elderly.)

Jesse Aycock died in 1823, leaving many dozens of heirs by his first wife and an estate whose settlement dragged on for decades.

Patience Aycock drafted her will on 4 June 1824. Though she had life estates in her husband’s slaves, she could not devise them to anyone, and her will only mentions a woman named Rose, who was to go to her son Joel Newsom.

The inventory of Patience Aycock’s estate, made in November 1827, confirmed that she owned only one enslaved person outright:

“An Inventory of the Property of Patience Acock Deecast Late of Wayne County Taken the 3rd of November 1827 by Hardy Williamson”

Will of Jesse Aycock (1822), Wayne County, North Carolina, U.S. Wills and Probate Records 1665-1998, http://www.ancestry.com; Estate of Patience Aycock (1827), Wayne County, North Carolina, U.S. Wills and Probate Records 1665-1998, http://www.ancestry.com.

The last will and testament of Zealous Howard Sr.

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.

Receipt filed for publication of notice re estate action.The caveat filed to contest Zealous Howard’s will.

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.