Wills & Estates

Lane Street Project: Nunnie Barnes.

Nunnie Barnes’ headstone.

Nunnie Barnes‘ headstone is one of the largest standing in the cleared section of Odd Fellows’ cemetery. She  died on 26 August 1921 in Wilson. Barnes was unmarried and had no children, but left a sizable estate. W.M. Farmer and R.G. Briggs filed for letters of administration of estate, naming her siblings Sarah Joyner, Annie Alexander, and Sam Barnes as heirs and estimating her estate as a one-quarter interest in a house and lot at 604 Viola Street (worth about $500) and other property totaling about $2400.

Nunnie Barnes’ name is elusive in the record, but we can find glimpses of her family. (Her sister, Sarah Barnes Joyner, was featured in the post about her home at 609 Viola Street.) 

In the 1870 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Ellis [Ellic] Barnes, 27, teamster; wife Frances, 25; and children Minnie [possibly Nunnie], 2, Mary, 1, and infant, 1 month. 

In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Alexander Barnes, 35, farmer; wife Francis, 33; Mannie [possibly Nunnie], 13, Stanley, 10, Louizah, 7, Sarah, 5, and Roscoe, 1. All were reported as born in Virginia, though Frances’ parents were described as North Carolina-born.

I have not found Barnes in the 1900 and 1910 censuses, but she appears in the 1912 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory as Nannie Barnes, a domestic living at 615 [now 609] Viola. Per her death certificate, she worked for Roscoe G. Briggs, the bank and cotton mill president who helped settle her affairs. [Ned Barnes was Briggs’ coachman and lived on premises in 1900, per the census. Ned was the son of Willis and Cherry Battle Barnes, and there is no known relationship to Nunnie Barnes.]

604 Viola Street (formerly numbered 615 and 612) in the 1922 Sanborn fire insurance maps of Wilson, N.C. Now demolished, the house is described in the 1988 National Historic Register nomination form as “ca. 1908; 1 story; extensively modified triple-A cottage; Masonite-veneered.”

Nunnie Barnes’ foot marker.

Exploring the kinships of men and women enslaved by the Moore-Flowers family.

We examined the connection between John H. Clark‘s father Harry Clark and Isabel Taylor here. Harry and Isabel were children of Annis Taylor, and all had been enslaved by Henry Flowers.

The will of Henry Flowers’ maternal grandfather, Edward Moore, who died in 1783 in Nash County, reveals interesting bequests, including “… to my loving Daughter Judah Flowers one Negro girl Named Nell …” and “… to my loving Daughter Elizabeth Moore one Negro [Wench?] Named Annis ….” Both Nell and Annis were already in possession of Moore’s daughters.

Judith Moore Flowers’ husband John Flowers legally owned Nell. John Flowers died intestate in early 1806, and his widow Judith quickly remarried Edward York. When the enslaved people belonging to Flowers’ estate were distributed in December 1807, York took possession of Primus, Nell, Annis and Will on Judith’s behalf. (Others distributed were Peter, Dorcas, Abram, Mourning, Jacob, Frank, Toney, and Joan.)

It appears that Nell passed from Edward and Judith Moore Flowers York to Judith’s son Henry Flowers and is likely the “old Negro woman Nelly” who died in 1845, per Henry Flowers’ estate records. 

And what about Annis? 

Recall that Edward Moore bequeathed an Annis to his daughter Elizabeth Moore. Was she the same Annis who, 24 years later, was part of John Flowers’ estate? And was this Annis connected to Annis Taylor, who was part of Henry Flowers’ estate in 1845? These and other shared names among the enslaved people belonging to the Moore-Flowers deserve a closer look.

For example, here is the bequest of Henry Flower’s grandfather, also named Henry Flowers, to John Flowers in his 1788 will:

 

Henry “Senior” directed that John receive a man named Primus (after the death of Henry’s wife Nanny) and three boys named Peter, Abraham, and Frank. Primus is surely the man Edward and Judith York took in 1807. It is possible that this is same Frank who is described as “old” in the lot drawn by John’s granddaughter Charity Flowers Taylor and her husband William in the 1849 distribution of the estate Henry “Junior.”  And Peter is probably the Peter named in the lot drawn by Nancy Flowers Mann and her husband Claiborne in the 1807 distribution of John Flowers estate. The Manns moved to Mississippi some time after 1820, and may have taken Peter with them. There is also a Peter in the estate of Henry Flowers Jr. Was he perhaps a son, grandson or nephew of the first Peter?

Henry Flowers Will (1788), John Flowers Estate Record (1806), North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com. Many thanks to Katherine Elks for bringing my attention to these possible connections, which I began to explore here. Stay tuned.

The obituary of Noah Best, well-known brick layer.

Wilson Daily Times, 30 January 1929.

Noah Best was a member of the extended family who owned most of the land in the community known as Grabneck.

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In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Daniel Best, 62; wife Jane, 50; children Laura, 19, Nicy, 17, Noah, 16, and Orange, 21, and [Orren’s wife] Hancy, 21.

In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: hireling Daniel Best, 72, and wife Jane, 55, living amid a cluster of household that included farmer Orren Best, 31, wife Hansey, 31, and children James, 9, Oscar, 6, George, 4, Fannie, 2, and Hattie, 3 months; hireling Lewis Best, 53, wife Harriette, 50, and children Daniel, 23, Sarah, 12, John, 8, and Willie, 10; and brickmason Noah Best, 27, wife Sarah, 25, and sons William, 2, and Thomas, 4 months.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Noah Bess, 45, brickmason; wife Sarah, 45; and children Henry, 22, brickmason, Morris, 20, day laborer, Wilson, 17, Clinton, 15, Frank, 11, Thad, 8, Noah, 6, Alis, 5, Lorra, 3, and Hillard, 1.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Nash Road, bricklayer Noah Best, 52, widower; son Clinton, 24, bricklayer; daughter-in-law Minnie, 21, seamstress; son William, 19, bricklayer; and daughters Alice, 15, and Laura, 13.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Nash Street, laborer Frank Mitchell, 27; wife Alice, 23; daughter Nora A., 1; and boarder Noah Bess, 63, widower.

Noah Best died 29 January 1929 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 62 years old; was born in Greene County to Daniel Best; and lived near Grabneck. Informant was Clinton Best.

Noah Best drafted a will on 9 January 1924, leaving bequests to his children Laura Best [Boddie], Morris Best, Clinton Best, Alice Best Mitchell, William Best, Wilson Best, and Henry Best. (On 8 July 1927, Best signed a codicil modifying the second provision slightly, leaving his house on Griffin Street to both daughters.)

Noah Best Will, North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

Iredell County Chronicles, no. 1.

A few weeks ago, I promised to go a teeny way toward carrying out my original plan for several one-place studies by turning the focus of Black Wide-Awake briefly to other beloved Black communities. This week I’ll be guest-blogging (though in my own space) from time to time about Iredell County, North Carolina, my maternal grandmother’s birthplace, two hundred miles west of Wilson on the western edge of North Carolina’s Piedmont.

I’ll start with an introduction to my great-great-great-grandfather Walker Colvert, who was born enslaved about 1819 in Culpeper County, Virginia. When Samuel W. Colvert died in 1823, Walker passed to his son John Alpheus Colvert, who had migrated to Iredell County and bought land on Rocky Creek, a South Yadkin River tributary.

Only four years later, John A. Colvert died. This excerpt from his estate records shows  “Negroes hired for one year,” that is, enslaved people leased to neighbors to earn money for Colvert’s estate and the support of his widow and children. “Boy Walker” was about eight years old. That he was listed without his mother may suggest that he was an orphan, though he was about the age to be separated from her and put to work on his own. Walker’s kinship to Jerry, Amy, Joe, Ellen, Meel, Anda, Charlotte, and Lett is unknown. 

Inventory of the estate of John Alpheus Colvert, Iredell County, North Carolina, 1827.

When he reached adulthood in 1851, John’s son William Isaac Colvert inherited Walker and held him until Emancipation on his farm in Eagle Mill township. The same year, Walker Colvert fathered a son, John Walker Colvert, by Elvira Gray. The boy and his mother were likely enslaved on a nearby plantation, perhaps that of William I. Colvert’s sister, Susan Colvert Gray. Around 1853, Walker married Rebecca Parks, a relationship that was not legalized until they registered their cohabitation as freed people in 1866. Their registration notes three children — John (Rebecca’s stepson), Elvira, and Lovenia. Rebecca also had a son Lewis Colvert, born about 1860, whom Walker reared but apparently did not father.

Iredell County Cohabitation Records, Register of Deeds Office, Statesville, N.C.

Walker Colvert and his son John Walker worked for decades after slavery for William I. Colvert, likely both on his farm and at his cotton manufacturing enterprise, Eagle Mills. Walker eventually bought a small farm in nearby Union Grove township, though he did not record a deed for it. On 16 March 1901, with the help of his neighbors he drafted a short will leaving all his property to his widow Rebecca Colvert, and then to his son John Colvert. Four years later, he died.

The Landmark (Statesville, N.C.), 10 February 1905.

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In the 1870 census of Union Grove township, Iredell County: farm worker Walker Colvert, 50; wife Rebecca, 25; and Lewis, 10.

In the 1880 census of Union Grove township, Iredell County: farm worker Walker Colvert, 62; wife Rebecca, 37; grandson Alonzo, 5; and niece Bitha Albea, 3.

In the 1900 census of Union Grove township, Iredell County: farmer Walker Colvert, 84, and wife Rebecca, 60. Both reported having been born in Virginia.

The estate of George W. Thompson.

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Wilson Advance, 19 June 1890.

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In the 1870 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farm laborer George Thompson, 57; wife Rilda, 43; son Rufus, 8; with Cherry Bailey, 42, and Bitha, 25, and Mittie Bailey, 16.

In the 1880 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer George Thompson, 62; wife Marilda, 52; son Rufus, 20; and granddaughter Hattie Thompson, 6.

Apparently on his deathbed, George W. Thompson made out his will 16 December 1885.

He left all his property to his wife Rilda during her lifetime, then his land to son Rufus, and, if Rufus had no heirs, to granddaughter Cora Thompson. After Rilda’s death, his personal property was to be sold and the money equally divided between son Rufus Thompson, Courtney Peacock, and Cora Thompson. Solomon Lamm was appointed executor.

George Thompson died within days. His executor filed to open his estate and prepared this inventory of his property. Though relatively meager, the list represents a laudable achievement for a man who had spent the bulk of his life enslaved.

Unfortunately, George Thompson’s debts outweighed the value of his estate, forcing the sale advertised in the notice above of a ten-acre parcel adjoining the property of M.V. Peele, Isaac Rich, and Henry Peacock. Marilda and Rufus Thompson had left the area, however, and could not be found in the county for service.

George Thompson Will, George Thompson Estate Records, North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

Run over by the fast mail train.

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Wilson Advance, 14 May 1896.

Henry Peacock was killed in a particularly gruesome train accident in 1896.

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In the 1870 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: farm laborer Moses Peacock, 42; wife Hagar, 30; and Charles, 10, Matilda, 9, Green, 7, Roxy, 5, Caroline, 16, Lucetta, 2, and Henry Peacock, 13.

In the 1880 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer Henry Peacock, 24; wife Courtney, 25; daughters Hettiroe, 4, and Naroe, 2; and stepmother Celia Thompson, 50.

Peacock’s land in Cross Roads township was mentioned in the notice of an action to sell a tract belonging to the estate of George Thompson.

Wilson Advance, 20 March 1890.

A week after her husband’s terrible death, Courtney Peacock appealed to justice of the peace W.R. Davis to appoint two disinterested people to assess Henry Peacock’s estate and apportion to her the year’s support to which she was entitled by law. Davis appointed Larry Lucas and Amos Atkinson and made this notation on the back of their summons:

She is entitled to 300$ as years support for herself and 100$ each for any child under 15 years of age — to be set apart out of all the personal estate of the dec’d. including crop now growing — which crops must be valued as correct as possible.

Courtney Peacock had eight dependents, though, and the value of her husband’s estate was only $432.50.

Henry Peacock’s widow Courtney died within a few years, leaving their children orphaned. In the 1900 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer [illegible] Peacock, 18; and siblings Nerroe, 21, James P., 20, Amos H., 15, Georg A., 7, and Nettie, 5; plus grandmother Celia Thompson, 80.

Georgia Barnes died 28 December 1929 in Lucama, Cross Roads township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 38 years old; was married to Junious Barnes; was born in Wilson County to Henry and Cortna Peacock; and was buried in the Peacock graveyard.

Anderson Peacock died 24 September 1933 in Cross Roads township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 1883 in Lucama to Henry Peacock and Courtney Thompson; was the widower of Pattie Dawson; was a tenant laborer; and was “found dead in field no sign of foul play.” Abie Reid was informant.

Nero Bains died 3 February 1942 in Cross Roads township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 30 June 1878 in Wilson County to Henry Pickup and Codney [last name unknown]; was the widow of John Bains; and was buried in Bickup cemetery near Lucama.

James P. Peacock died 3 March 1942 in Fremont, Nahunta township, Wayne County. Per his death certificate, he was born 2 November 1880 in Wilson County to Henry Peacock and Cedney [last name unknown], both of Wilson County; was a wage hand; was married to Minnie Belle Peacock; and was buried in Bains cemetery near Lucama.

Nellie Reid died 19 December 1949 in Great Swamp township, Wayne County. Per her death certificate, she was born 17 March 1889 to Henry and Courtney Peacock; was married; and was buried in Watson cemetery.

Henry Peacock Estate Records (1896), Wilson County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The estate of Isaac Daniel.

Isaac Daniel’s homeplace was at the site of modern Daniels Chapel Free Will Baptist Church, on Frank Price Church Road, northeast of Black Creek (and once part of Wayne County). Daniel made out his will on 13 January 1809. Among its provisions:

  • to beloved wife Mary Daniel, a negro woman woman named Crease
  • to wife Mary Daniel during her lifetime or widowhood, a negro boy named Everett
  • to wife Mary Daniel, negro woman Dinah and “her five younges children” Rose, Gin, Rachel, Lige, and Willie until his daughter Elizabeth Daniel comes of age, and then for Dinah and her children (and any increase) to be divided equally among Isaac and Mary Daniel’s six children, David, Elizabeth, Isaac, Patsey, Polly, and Jacob.

Isaac Daniel’s father was also named Isaac Daniel, which makes for confusing documentation, as we’ll see.

In March 1815, Wayne County Court divided the enslaved people belonging to Isaac Daniel’s estate. Son David Daniel drew Lot No. 1, Rosa and Clary ($440). Son Jacob Daniel drew Lot No. 4, Dinah and Sarah. Daughter Elizabeth Chance drew Lot No. 2, Jim ($375). Son Isaac Daniel drew Lot No. 3, Rachel and Peter. Daughter Martha Hooks drew Lot No. 5, Lige ($290). Daughter Polly Daniel drew Lot No. 6, Willie and Tobbin ($425).

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Though this 1817 document is found in Isaac Daniel’s estate file, it appears to relate to the estate of his father Isaac Daniel. This Isaac’s children were Isaac and Jacob Daniel, who predeceased their father; Elizabeth Daniel Rountree; and Solomon Daniel. Isaac the first had owned four enslaved people — Sally ($275), Leah ($275), Sharper ($275), and Iredal ($200). The heirs of Isaac Daniel Jr. (the Isaac above) received Sharper. Elizabeth Rountree received Leah. The heirs of Jacob Daniel received Iredal. Solomon Daniel received Sally.

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Beginning in December 1814, Jacob Fulghum, guardian of Isaac Daniel’s minor sons, kept a log for several years of “the hire of the Negroes belonging to Jacob and Isaac Daniel.” (This appears to refer to Isaac the second and his brother.)

Dena and children were named as enslaved people belonging to Jacob Daniel. Dena’s youngest was born between 28 December 1814 and 28 December 1815. By 1821, Dena’s children Jack and Sary were old enough to be hired out on the own.

Isaac Daniel’s enslaved people were Rachel and Peter.

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This brief inventory has a blurry date (1822?), and it is unclear whether it pertains to Isaac Daniel the first or second. In any case, it names two additional enslaved people — boy Laurance and girl Rena.

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Isaac Daniel Estate Records (1810),Wayne County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

 

The estate of Henry Horn.

Henry Horn owned several tracts of land in the Black Creek area, which was once part of Wayne County. He drafted his last will and testament on 25 January 1830 with very particular instructions. First, he directed his executor to “sell one Negro boy by the name of Arnold ….” Then, “to my wife Edah nine Negros Lige, Patience, Fanny, Warren, Dinah, Jim, Winny, Abram & Linnet … until my daughter Sally shall arrive to the age of fifteen years, then it is my desire that one half of the above named negroes be equally divided between my daughters Nancy Barnes, Sally, Zilly & Rebeckah …” The other half would remain with wife Edith during her lifetime, then be distributed among their children as she saw fit.

Horn died in 1838. The inventories his executor prepared on 21 September 1838 and 30 November 1839 note that his estate held fifteen enslaved people. The 1839 inventory carried this addendum:

“Since the taking of the first Inventory of the above dec’d one negro woman by the name Winny is deceast and Two children has been born one the child of sd. Winny and the other the child of Fanny”

Pursuant to an order of Wayne County Court at July Term 1840, Horn’s executors divided his enslaved property among his legatees. Widow Edith Horn drew Lot No. 1: Lije ($850), Linet ($600), Patience and child Hilard ($700), Will ($300), Litha ($350), and Jeffry ($125). Lot No. 2, to be split among their children: Jim ($800), Warren ($650), Fanny and child Henry ($750), Pearcy ($350), and Jo ($300). With adjustments paid to equalize shares, Rebecca Horn received Jim; Jonathan Barnes and wife Nancy Horn Barnes received Warren; James Newsom and wife Sally Horn Newsom received Fanny and Henry; and Zilla Horn received Pearcy and Jo.

Horn’s youngest children, Mary Ann and Elizabeth, were born after he made his will in 1830, and he never updated it to include them. Thus, the 1840 court ordered that they receive the shares they would have gotten had he made no will at all. Accordingly, Abram ($750), Diner ($400), Esther ($400), and Hester ($375) were set aside for the girls, who were about seven and four years of age.

Henry Horn Will (1830), Henry Horn Estate Records (1838), Wayne County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The estate of Patrick H. Simms.

On 8 March 1860, Benjamin E. Simms of Wilson County wrote out a will in which, in part, he left his brother Patrick H. Simms “my Negro woman Harriet & child.” (The Simms brothers were sons of Theophilus T. Simms.)

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When the 1860 slave schedule of Wilson County was enumerated, P.H. Simms claimed three enslaved people — a 35 year-old woman, an 8 year-old girl, and a one year-old boy.

Excerpt from 1860 slave schedule of Black Creek district, Wilson County, showing listings for Patrick H. Simms, his mother Abigail Holland Simms, and sister Mary Abigail Simms.

When Patrick Simms died in 1864, an inventory of his personal property named “three negroes named Harriet, Frank and Ellen.” With the rest of his property, they passed to his mother Abigail Simms. (Who was forced to free them the following year.)

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Benjamin Simms Will (1860), Wilson County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com; P.H. Simms Estate Records (1864), Wilson County, North Carolina Estate Files, 1663-1979, http://www.familysearch.org.