Wills & Estates

Bob is hired for one year.

On 1 January 1857, Jesse Minshew, acting for the partnership Minshew & Caho, hired Bob from John A. Sam, guardian of William H. Applewhite, for one year for $146. Minshew & Caho agreed to furnish Bob with three suits of clothes (one woolen), a pair of shoes, a hat and a blanket.

William H. Applewhite was the son of Henry and Orpha Pike Applewhite. His father died when he was eight years old, leaving him and his siblings inheritances that included Bob and other enslaved people. As the guardian of a minor, John Sam’s job was to protect his interests and increase his assets, and sending Bob to work for Minshew & Caho was calculated to do just that. (It’s not clear what kind of business Wayne County farmer Jesse Minshew and steam miller John M. Caho were engaged in.)

Slave Hire-1857, Records of Slaves and Free People of Color, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

The estate of Nathan Blackwell.

We examined the will of free man of color Nathan Blackwell here, in which he left his estate to sons Nathan, Exum, and Josiah Blackwell and named Asberry Blackwell as his executor. Nathan directed Asberry, who was probably his brother, to “take Andrew and see to his labor for my children to the best advantage also take my children and take care of them.”

Andrew was an enslaved man.

Nathan Blackwell died sometime in 1846 in a section of eastern Nash County that is now Wilson County. His personal assets were sold on 16 August 1846, and buyers included his relatives Peter Blackwell and Drucilla Blackwell, as well as Stephen and Josiah Powell, who were likely relatives of his deceased wife Jincey Powell Blackwell. Willis Jones was listed among debtors to the estate.

Nathan Blackwell’s orphaned sons were minors. Ordinarily, they would have been placed with a white family via involuntary apprenticeship. However, their father’s estate had assets, and a couple of white men, Jarman Eatman and Mabry H. Hinnant, took turns as their guardian. Exum seems to have died not long after his father

As requested, “negro Andrew” was hired out and his lease fee applied to Blackwell’s estate for the benefit of his boys. Jesse Simpson, for example, hired him for about 54 dollars on credit in the year 1848.

Nathan Blackwell Estate Records (1846), Nash County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The last will and testament of Robert Simms Sr.

Robert Simms Sr. of Wayne County made out his will on 18 December 1789. It entered probate in April Court 1891. Simms’ landholdings were in the area between Contentnea and Black Creeks, which is now in Wilson County.

  • to wife Mary Simms, a life interest “negro man Roger and his wife beck,” “one boy Jack,” and “one boy Pompey,” with remainder to son Benjamin Simms
  • to son Benjamin Simms, “Negro girl Chaney
  • to son Robert Simms, “a Negro boy named Boston
  • to daughter Susanna Simms, “a Negro gairl Named Rashel
  • to son Barnes Simms, “negro boy Charles
  • to son Abm. [Abraham] Simms, “one Negro man named Jim and one Negro boy named peter

Robert Simms Jr. submitted this undated inventory of his father’s property to court in July Term 1791:

A 26 August 1791 account of sales from Simms’ estate shows that his daughter purchased Roger for two pounds.

Will of Robert Simms (1789), Estate Records of Robert Simms (1791), Wayne County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The Ellis family’s community of enslaved people.

William and Unity Dixon Ellis and their descendants claimed ownership of many dozens of enslaved African Americans. Undoubtedly, these men and women constituted generations of many families, and I have listed them below (in family groups where known) with their identified owners in parentheses. I have had little success in tracing them forward into freedom, but have inserted that information that I am reasonably sure is accurate.

First, an Ellis family genealogy. William Ellis left a wife, Unity, and eight children at his death in 1812 — William, Gray, Coffield, Dixon, John, Jonathan, Willie and Spicey Ellis. Several were minors — which made for a lengthy estate administration — and Gray and Spicey died within months of their father. Without wills. Spicey died possessed of an unnamed “negro woman and three children,” and her administrator petitioned for their sale, with distribution of the proceeds between her mother and siblings. Widow Unity Dixon died 1817. Dixon Ellis died in 1818, leaving a wife Jemima (who pretty quickly married Hardy F. Barnes) and five children Willie, Unity, Gray, Hickman and Cynthia Ann Ellis. His estate included 17 to 18 unnamed enslaved people. William Ellis (Jr.) died in 1831 and Willie in 1836. Willie left a wife, Queen Esther Sharpe Ellis, and daughter Martha Ann, who later married Jonathan Dew. Esther Ellis then married her husband’s cousin Hickman Ellis, Martha Ann’s guardian. In 1854, Jonathan Dew sued to recover his wife’s assets from Hickman. Coffield Ellis, the last remaining child, died in 1854. Jonathan Ellis died about 1857, and his wife Elizabeth Ward Ellis about 1858. Their heirs were their granddaughters Susan Bynum Bynum, Louisa Bynum Best, Elizabeth Bynum, Sarah Bynum and Virginia Bynum, whose mother Spicy Ellis had married Reuben Bynum. Dixon Ellis’ son Hickman Ellis Sr. died about 1860, leaving children Spicey, Unity and Hickman Ellis Jr.

The Ellis estate files are difficult to decipher, with multiple petitions to divide unnamed groups of slaves, but often no reports filed after the divisions. Conflicts between guardians (often close family members) and minor heirs were common, with intervenors claiming that guardians had held and hired out enslaved people for years without benefit to their underage owners. Inventories of enslaved people occasionally list small children with their mothers, but more often do not. No married couples are identified as such.

Nonetheless, here is what I’ve gleaned. Each person’s name is followed by parentheses containing the names of Ellis family members to whom they are linked in wills or estate records. [Where possible, I have distinguished individuals bearing the same first names. Where not possible, I have listed them as if they are different people, though they not be in fact. It is likely that this multi-generational community of enslaved people passed down names within family lines, but the record is too thin to make absolute identifications.]

  • Aaron (Hickman Ellis > Spicey Ellis)
  • Alley (Jonathan Ellis)
  • Amanda (Elizabeth Ellis)
  • Annah (Coffield Ellis)
  • Anthony (William Ellis > Willie Ellis)
  • Amos (Elizabeth Ellis)

Amos was probably the son of Isham/Isom and Patience Ellis, see below.

Amos Ellis and Mary Edmundson registered their 18-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace on 2 July 1866.

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: next door to Isom and Patience Ellis, farm laborer Amos P. Ellis, 47; wife Mary 40; and children Adeline, 23, Authur, 19, Learh, 17, Mary, 15, Jane, 11, and Lewis, 10; plus Authur, 65, and Betsey Barnes, 60.

  • Arthur (William Ellis > Unity Dixon Ellis > John Ellis)
  • Beckey (Elizabeth Ellis)
  • Beedy (William Ellis > Spicey Ellis)
  • Belfour (William Ellis > Coffield Ellis)
  • Ben (Elizabeth Ellis)
  • Blount (Jonathan Ellis > William and Louisa Bynum Best)

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Della Applewhite, 34, domestic servant; Haywood, 19, Sarah, 14, Alice, 2, Anna, 2, and Clara Applewhite, 7; Hyman Bynum, 21; Blount Best, 21; Abraham Bynum, 17; Moses Bynum, 20; and William Pittman, 21 (the last five all farm laborers.)

Blount Best married Sarah Applewhite on 29 July 1872 in Wilson County.

In the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Blunt J. Bess, 32, laborer; wife Sarah, 23; children William L., 9, Nellie J., 6, Joseph H., 4, and Ivory, 8 months; plus sister-in-law Annie Barnes, 11.

On 26 March 1914, Blount Best, 69, of Saratoga, married Hagar Bynum, 56, of Gardners, at Liberty Webb‘s in Saratoga township. Primitive Baptist minister Elder Robert Edwards performed the ceremony in the presence of Isaac Bynum, S.H. Best and John Farmer, and Jesse Artis applied for the license.

Blount Best died 28 March 1928 in Saratoga township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 88 years old; was born in Greene County to Friday Best and Marie Best; was married to Haggar Best; and was a farmer for Mrs. Mattie Williams and preacher. Informant was Joe Henry Best. [Was Blount’s mother the Maria below?]

  • Bob (William Ellis > Gray Ellis) and Bob (Jonathan Ellis)

See Robert, below.

  • Bright (Coffield Ellis)

See Robbin, below.

  • Bryant (Coffield Ellis)
  • Byhuel (William Ellis > Spicey Ellis)
  • Calvin (Coffield Ellis)

Calvin Ellis died 18 October 1933 in Saratoga township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 80 years old; a widower formerly married to Mary Ellis; a farmer; and was born in Wilson County to Jacob Ellis and Charlotte Ellis. Informant was General Ellis.

  • Caroline (Coffield Ellis > Louisa E. Barnes)
  • Chaney (William Ellis > Spicey Ellis) and Chaney (Coffield Ellis)
  • Chaney and son Isaac (Hickman Ellis)
  • Old Chaney (Hickman Ellis > Spicey Ellis)
  • Charlotte (Coffield Ellis)

See Calvin, above.

  • Cherry (Coffield Ellis)
  • Clara (Willie Ellis > probably Martha Ellis Dew)
  • Ellen (Coffield Ellis) and Ellen (Elizabeth Ellis)
  • Eliza [and two unnamed children] (Hickman Ellis)
  • Elvy (Hickman Ellis)
  • Ephraim (Jonathan Ellis)

Possibly, in the 1870 census of California township, Pitt County: Ephraim Ellis, 37, farmhand.

Possibly, in the 1880 census of Farmville township, Pitt County: Ephram Ellis, 35, farmhand, and wife Rildy, 30.

On 13 August 1885, Ephraim Ellis, 47, married Amanda Crudass, 26, in Wilson County at the courthouse.

On 20 February 1897, Ephraim Ellis, 52, married Mary Edmundson, 25, in Wilson County.

  • Faroby (Coffield Ellis)
  • Frances (Coffield Ellis)
  • Gideon (William Ellis > Dixon Ellis)
  • Gilford (William Ellis > Jonathan Ellis) and Guilford (Elizabeth Ellis > William and Louise E. Best)

Guilford was probably the son of Isham/Isom and Patience Ellis, see below.

Guilford Bynum and Pleasant Bynum registered their cohabitation in Wilson County on 7 April 1866.

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Guilford Ellis, 40, farm laborer; wife Pleasance, 29; and children Ned, 16, Cherry, 14, Jesse, 12, Arabella, 11, and Sarah, 4. [Note: per his death certificate (and a marriage license), Ned Ellis was born about 1855 to Gilford Ellis and Becky Riffin (Ruffin).]

In the 1880 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Guilford Ellis, 55, common laborer; wife Penny, 55; and children Sarah E., 16, Mary E., 10, and Lafayette, 8.

See also Norfleet, below.

  • Gilly (Coffield Ellis > Sally E. Barnes)
  • George (Coffield Ellis)
  • Gray (Hickman Ellis)
  • Green (Coffield Ellis)
  • Hannah (William Ellis > Spicey Ellis) and Hannah (Jonathan Ellis)
  • Hannah (Hickman Ellis > Spicey Ellis)

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Jackson Ellis, 45; wife Margaret, 36; and children Hannah, 17, and Hewell, 11; Hannah Ellis, 90; and Lucy, 2, and Mary Simms, 1.

Hannah Ellis, daughter of Jack and Margaret Ellis, married John Artist, son of Arch and Rose Artist, on 29 February 1872.

  • Hardy (Hickman Ellis)
  • Harriet and children Adeline, Lucy and Manerva (Jonathan Ellis > William and Louisa B. Best)
  • Harriet (Elizabeth Ellis) and Harriet (Hickman Ellis)
  • Harry (William Ellis > Coffield Ellis)
  • Hester (William Ellis > Unity Ellis > William Ellis) and Hester (Jonathan Ellis)
  • Hewell (Elizabeth Ellis) and Hewell (Hickman Ellis)

See Hannah, above.

In the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Jack Ellis, 55, and son Hewel, 21.

  • Isaac (Jonathan Ellis)
  • Isham (Willie Ellis)
  • Isham (William Ellis > Willie Ellis), wife Patience (Jonathan Ellis) and Jacob (Jonathan Ellis)

Isham Bynum and Pacience Bynum registered their 40-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace on

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Isom Ellis, 67; wife Patience, 62; and son (grandson?) Jacob, 18, farm laborer.

Jacob Ellis, 24, married Milly Forbes, 35, in Wilson County in 28 February 1874.

In the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Jacob Ellis, 27, farm laborer; wife Milly, 33; and sons Thaddus, 5, and Rufus, 2.

  • Jack (William Ellis > John Ellis)
  • Jack (Hickman Ellis) and wife Margaret (Hickman Ellis)

See Hannah and Hewell, above.

Jack Ellis and Margaret Ellis registered their 18-year cohabitation in Wilson County in 1866.

  • Jane (Coffield Ellis)
  • Jenny (Willie Ellis > probably Martha Ellis Dew)
  • Jesse (Elizabeth Ellis > William and Louisa B. Best)
  • Jim (William Ellis > William Ellis), Jim (Elizabeth Ellis > Joseph and Susan Ellis Bynum), and Jim (Hickman Ellis > Spicey Ellis)

See Jim Ellis Dew.

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farm laborer James Ellis, 48; wife Zana, 38; and children/grandchildren Eliza, 14, James, 5 months, Cora, 13, Macoid, 10, Oscar, 6, and Anna, 1.

In the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: James Ellis, 59, farm laborer; wife Zany, 49; and children/grandchildren Mccoid, 18, Oscar, 17, Anna, 11, James, 10, Johnathan C., 8, and Benjiman S., 5.

  • Job (Jonathan Ellis)
  • John (Hickman Ellis)
  • Jonas (Dixon Ellis) and Jonas (Coffield Ellis)
  • Laurence (Coffield Ellis)
  • Lettice (Elizabeth Ellis) and Lettice (Elizabeth Ellis)

See Norfleet, below.

  • Lewis (Coffield Ellis > Penninah Ellis)

Lewis was probably the son of Isham/Isom and Patience Ellis, see above.

Lewis Bynum and Milly Thompson registered their cohabitation on 20 April 1866.

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farm laborer Lewis Ellis, 36; wife Milly, 35; and children John, 17, Daniel, 10, Adeline, 5, Mary, 3, and Martha, 1.

In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Lewis Ellis, 49; wife Milly, 48; children Daniel, 20, Addie, 16, Mary, 14, Marthey, 12, Cora, 10, and James, 6; nephew Jackson, 9; mother Patience, 70; and Jacob Barnes, 32, farm laborer.

  • Littleton (Coffield Ellis)

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farm laborer Littleton Ellis, 30, wife Judah, 21, and children Bryant, 4, and Martha, 3.

In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Littleton Ellis, 45; wife Judah, 30; and children Bryant, 14, Martha, 12, Patsey, 10, Mary, 8, Bud, 6, Thomas, 4, Rose, 2, and James, 1.

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Littleton Ellis, 73; wife Judy, 55; and children Lucy, 21, Littleton, 18, Sarah, 16, Maggie, 14, Nettie, 12, and Minnie, 10.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Wiggins Mill Road, farmer Littleton Ellis, 27; his mother Judie, 62; and sisters Lucy, 30, Sarah, 24, Maggie, 23, and Lettie, 21.

  • Lisle (William > Unity), died 1812-1818
  • Lucy (Willie Ellis > probably Martha Ellis Dew)
  • Mark (Jonathan Ellis > William and Louisa B. Best)
  • Maria (Jonathan Ellis)
  • Mary (Coffield Ellis) and Mary (Hickman Ellis > Spicey Ellis)
  • Milbry (Hickman Ellis) and daughter Betsey (Hickman Ellis)
  • Mimah and daughters Sary and Clary (William Ellis > Jonathan Ellis)
  • Old Minny [Miney?] (Coffield Ellis)
  • Young Minny [Miney?] (Coffield Ellis)
  • Moll (William Ellis > Willie Ellis)
  • Nancy (Hickman Ellis)
  • Netty [and unnamed child] (Hickman Ellis > Spicey Ellis)
  • Norfleet (Jonathan Ellis)

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farm laborer Norfleet Ellis, 25; wife Charlotte, 22; and children Willie, 2, and Elizabeth, 2 months; Jordan Taylor, 19; and Albert Barnes, 21.

In the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Norfleet Ellis, 33; wife Charlotte, 26; and children Mack, 12, Lizzie, 8, Redmond, 6, Floyd, 2, and Marion, 3 months.

On 26 September 1891, Norfleet Ellis, 52, son of Guilford Ellis and Lettice Ellis, married Eva Rice, 18, daughter of John Rice and Laura Hudson, in Wilson County.

  • Pat (William Ellis > Unity Ellis > John Ellis)
  • Peter (Willie Ellis > probably Martha Ellis Dew) and Peter (Hickman Ellis)
  • Old Peter (Hickman Ellis > Spicey Ellis)
  • Rachael (Elizabeth Ellis)
  • Reuben (Jonathan Ellis)

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Reuben Ellis, 34, farm laborer; wife Clarkey, 22; and daughter Jane Grant, 1.

In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Rubin Ellis, 54; wife Clarky, 36; and children Jane, 10, Jonah, 8, Sherard, 7, William, 6, Rubin, 5, George, 4, and Cansy, 4 months.

  • Robbin (Coffield Ellis)

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Robbin Ellis, 23, farm laborer, and wife Hannah, 24, and children Emma, 5, Mahala, 2, and an infant girl, 1 month, plus Bright Ellis, 20, farm laborer.

In the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Robert Ellis, 34, farmer; wife Hannah, 35; children Emma, 15, Jane, 11, Alice, 8, Winnie, 6, and Cora, 3; and Mandy Barnes, 24, laborer, and William T.C. Barnes, 1.

  • Robert (Coffield Ellis)

Robert was probably the son of Isham/Isom and Patience Ellis, see above.

Robert Bynum and Caroline Barnes registered their cohabitation on 31 March 1866.

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Robert Ellis, 39, farm laborer; wife Caroline, 38; and children Amos, 9, Louisa, 3, and infant boy, 2 weeks.

In the 1880 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Robert Ellis, 50, farmer; wife Caroline, 49; and children Amos, 19, Louisa, 12, William, 10, and Susan, 5.

However, also:

In the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Robert Ellis, 34, farmer; wife Hannah, 35; daughters Emma, 15, Jane, 11, Allice, 8, Winnie, 6, and Corah, 3; plus Quandie Barnes, 24, and her son William T.C. Barnes, 1.

And:

Robert Ellis and Anica Ellis registered their 8-year cohabitation in Wilson County in 1866.

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Robert Ellis, 45, farm laborer; wife Anaka, 50; and Mary Bynum, 12.

In the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Robert Ellis, 55, laborer, and wife Anakey, 58.

And:

Robert Ellis, 54, of Saratoga, married Mima Mitchell, 30, of Saratoga, on 4 July 1892 in Saratoga township.

Robert Ellis died 25 January 1934 in Gardners township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 105 years old; was born in Wilson County to unknown parents; was married to Vester Ellis; and had been a farmer. Robert Barnes was informant.

  • Rose (Elizabeth Ellis > Joseph and Susan B. Bynum) and Rose (Hickman Ellis > Spicey Ellis)
  • Sam (William Ellis > Coffield Ellis) and Sam (Elizabeth Ellis)
  • Tempy (Hickman Ellis)
  • Tiller (Jonathan Ellis)
  • Tom (Jonathan Ellis > William and Louisa B. Best)
  • Treasy (William Ellis > Unity Ellis > William Ellis)
  • Turner (Coffield Ellis)

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farm laborers Turner Ellis, 27, and Aaron Bynum, 18.

On 26 July 1878, Turner Ellis, 31, married Jane Williamson, 35, at the residence of justice of the peace Elbert Felton in Wilson County.

  • Willie [or Wiley] (Cynthia Ann Ellis)

Willie/Wiley ran away in 1853 and 1856. Ads noted that his owner was Cynthia A. Ellis, that he was likely hiding near the farms of William Ellis or Jonathan Ellis, where he had relatives, and that he had a wife in Georgetown, South Carolina.

  • Violet (Jonathan Ellis)

 

The estates of Jonathan and Elizabeth Ward Ellis.

Jonathan Ellis, son of William and Unity Ellis, died intestate in Wilson County about 1857, and his wife Elizabeth Ward Ellis about 1858. Their heirs were their granddaughters Susan Bynum Bynum, Louisa Bynum Best, Elizabeth Bynum, Sarah Bynum and Virginia Bynum, whose mother Spicy Ellis had married Reuben Bynum.

In the 1859 Fall Term of Wilson County Superior Court, the clerk issued an order directing William Barnes Jr., Washington Barnes and Edwin Barnes to divide Jonathan Ellis’ enslaved people Ruben, Jacob, Ephraim, Tom, Hannah, Hester, Adeline, Bob, Lamm, Blount, Lucy, Gilford, Norfleet, Isaac, Patience, Maria, Violet, Job, Mark, Harriet, Tiller and Alley into one-fourth shares. Son-in-law Joseph J. Bynum was administrator of Ellis’ estate, and his foot-dragging led to a petition for division by his sisters-in-law. (It is not clear to me why Susan Bynum was not entitled to a share.) The commissioners reported allotting to William and Louisa Best enslaved people Blount, Mark, Tom and Harriet and her three children Adeline, Lucy and Manervy, valued at $4100. The remaining men, women and children were held as “common stock” for minors Elizabeth, Sarah and Virginia Bynum.

Meanwhile, also during the 1859 Fall Term of Wilson County Superior Court, the clerk issued an order directing the same men to divide Elizabeth Ellis’ enslaved people Guilford, Amos, Beckey, Jim, Jesse, Ben, “2 Lettuces,” Ellen, Rose, Rachael, Hewell, Isham, Sam, Amanda and Harriet into one-fifth shares.

005277100_01232.jpg

The Barneses filed a report on the division as directed. They allotted Jim and Rose, valued at $1900, to Susan and her husband Joseph Bynum; Jesse, Lettice, Lettice and Gilford, valued at $2050, to Louisa and her husband William Best; and the remainder were held in common for minor heirs Betsey, Sally and Virginia.

005277100_01247.jpg

Elizabeth Ellis Estate Records, Wilson County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

 

 

 

The last will and testament of Coffield Ellis.

On 28 January 1854, Coffield Ellis of Edgecombe County penned a will that included these provisions:

  • to wife Penninah Ellis, enslaved people Minny, Lewis, Robbin, Jacob, Young Minny, Turner, Jane, Laurence, Bright, Chaney, Greene, Mary, Jonas, Charlott, Frances, Robert, Ellen, Annah, Calvin, Cherry, Faroby, Littleton, Bryant and George. After Penninah’s death, Robert and Charlotte were to go to son William Ellis.
  • if “at any time during her life [wife Penninah] became tired of keeping any of the said negroes she may call three disinterested men together and point out to them said such of said negroes as she wishes to get clear of,” to be divided between their daughters Sally, wife of William Barnes, and Louisa, wife of James Barnes.
  • to son William Ellis, the right to take any of Coffield Ellis’ slaves to use, when water level is low, to complete a canal in Toisnot Swamp
  • “if my faithful servant Old Miney shall survive my wife,” she shall be able to choose a master from his three children
  • to daughter Sally, wife of William Barnes, an enslaved woman named Gilly
  • to daughter Louisa, wife of James Barnes, an enslaved woman named Caroline

Coffield Ellis Will, Edgecombe County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

 

The will and estates of William and Unity Ellis.

Per Powell and Powell, Wilson County Founding Families (2009), published by Wilson County Genealogical Society, William Ellis was born about 1740 in what was then Chowan County, North Carolina. He married Unity Dixon and settled in an area of Edgecombe County that is now Wilson County. His and Unity Ellis’ children were Willie, William, Coffield, Dixon, John, Gray, Jonathan and Spicy Ellis.

William Ellis made out his will on Christmas Eve 1812 in Edgecombe County:

  • to wife Unity Ellis, a life interest in the plantation on which lived lying at the fork of Mill or Panthers Branch and Toisnot Swamp, to revert to son Willie Ellis at her death. Also, Unity received life interests in enslaved people Arthur, Jonas, Isham, Belford, Lisle, Pat, Mimah, Treasy and Hester.
  • to son Coffield Ellis, a grist mill and land lying on the south side of Mill Branch, as well as slaves Sam and Harry, who were available to Unity Ellis during her lifetime or until Coffield turned 21
  • to son Dixon Ellis, the plantation on which William formerly lived on White Oak Swamp and a second parcel of land, as well as slave Giddeon
  • to son John Ellis, the plantation on which John lived on the main road from Tarboro to Stanton’s Bridge [roughly modern N.C. Highways 111 and 222], containing 149 acres, as well as a second one-hundred-acre tract and an enslaved man named Jack
  • to son Gray Ellis, if he had heirs, a plantation near Tarboro containing 125 acres (to go to son Jonathan Ellis if Gray had no lawful children) and an enslaved man named Bob
  • to son Jonathan Ellis, a plantation on the south side of the main road from Tarboro to Greenville, containing 100 acres, and an enslaved man named Guilford
  • to daughter Spicey Ellis, a plantation on the south side of Toisnot Swamp on the main road from Stanton’s Bridge to Tarboro, containing 100 acres, and slaves Hannah, Byhuel, Chaney and Beedy
  • to son William, an enslaved man named Jim; and
  • to son Willie, slaves Anthony and Mol, who were available to Unity Ellis during her lifetime or until Willie turned 21

Unity Ellis died in 1817, before the settlement of William Ellis’ estate. Her share of William’s enslaved estate was divided thus: to son John, Arthur ($525) and Pat ($5); to son Dixon, Jonas ($712); to son Coffield, Belfour ($712); for son Willie, Isham ($636); for son Jonathan, Mima, Sary and Clary ($888); and to son William, Trease ($600) and Hester ($350). Lisle, presumably, died between 1812 and 1818, and Sarah and Clara were born to Mima during the same period.

——

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Isom Ellis, 67; wife Patience, 62; and son (grandson?) Jacob, 18, farm laborer.

Perhaps, in the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Guilford Ellis, 40, farm laborer; wife Pleasance, 29; and children Ned, 16, Cherry, 14, Jesse, 12, Arabella, 11, and Sarah, 4.

Will of William Ellis (1812); Wilson County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The will and estate of William H. Skinner.

William H. Skinner made out his will in Wilson County on 8 September 1860. Among other things, he left his wife Rebecca Skinner 423 acres “on both sides of the swamp,” “also the following Slaves [blank] & two children Randal & Judy a boy Peter a slave, a boy a slave Jo ….” [The phrasing and lack of punctuation make it difficult to determine how many people are included in this list.]

Skinner also directed “a Negro Girl Matilda & all the balance of my Property … be divided among” several named heirs and, at his wife’s death, all slaves were to be sold and the proceeds divided among his remaining heirs.

On 11 January 1861, executor Thomas H. Skinner held a public sale of William H. Skinner’s personal property. The very last item listed, accounting for more than a quarter of the proceeds brought in, is this unnamed woman. Presumably, she was Matilda:

Screen Shot 2019-11-29 at 4.04.12 PM.png

——

In 1866, Peter Skinner and Cherry Sharp registered their cohabitation in Wilson County.

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Peter Skinner, 24; wife Cherry, 24; and children Van, 7, and Fate, 3.

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Rosa Skinner, 30; and children Randal, 13, farm laborer, and John, 8, Judea, 7, Dennis, 3, and Amos, 3 months.

In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Pettigrew Street, farmer Peter Skinner, 35; wife Sarah, 35; and children Van Buren, 14, and Lafayette, 13.

Will of W.H. Skinner (1860); Estate Records of W.H. Skinner (1860); Wilson County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The estate of Rhoda Shallington.

W.E.J. Shallington‘s mother died about four years after her son. Her estate consisted almost totally of promissory notes, but “There is one negro boy belonging to the estate 18 years old” and “There is one negro woman belonging to the estate 42 years old.”  005277156_01824.jpg

Rhoda Shallington’s personal effects were sold off, and her enslaved property hired out on 28 December 1864 for what all parties believed would be a year. Both the boy Arch and the woman Dilley went to her son David Pender Shallington for hyper-inflated rates that approached the sales prices of just a few years before.

005277156_01829.jpg

Estate Records of Rhoda Shallington, Wilson County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The estate of W.E.J. Shallington (or: “Hines has gone to the Yankees.”)

When Dr. W.E.J. Shallington died without a will at the end of 1860, his widow Sarah Shallington relinquished her right to administer his estate to David L. Hardy. The Shallingtons had minor children, and Hardy had the unenviable task of managing the estate to provide income for the family during the entirety of the Civil War.

Dr. Shallington held six people in slavery, and on Christmas Eve Hardy hired all of them out through 1 January 1862. Willis went to William Hamlet for $156.00; Hines to Gray B. Sharp for $60.00; Ann to widow Shallington for the nominal sum of $1.00; and Critty and her two children to Hamlet for $31.00. J.D. Rountree rented the Shallingtons’ house and lot in Wilson for $15.00

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Though the account is not in the estate file, Hardy likely rented out the group 2 January 1862 through 1 January 1863 as well. The process repeated on 2 January 1863, with Willis, Hines, and Critty and her children going to J.H. Bullock and Ann remaining with Sarah Shallington. George Barefoot rented the house and lot at a cut rate.

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The following year, the hiring out took place at Joyner’s Depot [Elm City] for the period of 28 December 1864 to 28 December 1865. (Or so the parties intended. Events at Appomattox would intervene.) Willis, Critty and her children went to Jordan Winstead at inflated rates (reflected also in the house rental); Ann, to Sarah Shallington. Hines, perhaps smelling freedom in the air, had “gone to the Yankees.”

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With no enslaved labor to tap as a resource, by 1869 D.L. Hardy’s account of rentals contained a single line item: “6 March 1869, To amt rec’d for rent for house & lot from David Strickland cold. [colored] to Jany 1st 1870 $14.00. The house was vacant for 2 months as I could not rent it out at the 1st Jany 1869 on satisfactory terms.” Strickland renewed his lease on 1 January 1870 at an increase of four dollars a month.

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In the 1860 census of Coopers township, Wilson County: Roda Shallington, 69; [daughter-in-law] Sarah, 36; and Mary Ann, 15, Caroline, 12, and Fredrick Shallington, 1. Roda claimed $5000 in personal property, and the rest of the Shallingtons, $3800. (This constant amount likely represented their (anticipated) inheritance from recently deceased W.E.J. Shallington.)

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: David Strickland, 30, farm laborer; wife Fillis, 28; and children Isaac, 2, Amanda, 12, and Samuel Strickland, 8; William Farmer, 1; and Jane Mosely, 9.

There are no Shallingtons, black or white, listed in the 1870 census of Wilson County. (In fact, I have found none of the men and women listed in W.E.J. Shallington’s estate using the surname Shallington.) However, in the 1880 census of North Wilson township, Wilson County, widow Sallie Shallington, 55, is listed as a member of an otherwise African-American household: Aaron Edmundson, 31, well digger; wife Ann, 26; and their children Earnest, 5, and Hattie, 3. (The census taker, perhaps startled by the unexpected arrangement, wrote a W over the B he initially recorded for her race. Also, this may be the Ann hired out above, if that Ann were a child.)

Estate Records of W.E.J. Shallington, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.