Wills & Estates

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.

The estate of William L. Farmer.

William L. Farmer’s hefty estate file contains multiple references to both enslaved people and free people of color.

From an inventory of assets, a list of enslaved people hired out in 1857 and 1858 — Samson, Blunt, Joshua, Jane and Clarkey.

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A 25 November 1856 inventory of the debts owed to William L. Farmer highlights the web of financial relationships that characterized the largely bankless antebellum South. For many, after land and slaves, their greatest assets consisted of I.O.U.’s.

Green Lassiter (and his sister Rachel Lassiter?) seems to have been one of the largest debtors.

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Terrell Parker‘s $11.32 debt to Farmer was declared “bad,” i.e. uncollectible.

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As were those of many others, including Gray Boseman …

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… another of Green Lassiter’s …

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… the $1.25 Silas Lassiter owed …

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… the $7.50 John R. Locus owed …

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…  the $3.25 Warren Artis owed …

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… debts by Timothy Howard, Lawrence Hagans, Zealous Howard, and James Howard …

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… and another $5.57 owed by Warren Artis.

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Benjamin Thorn hired out Joshua for a year. Jane went to Archibald Roes, and Sampson to Henry Armstrong. The estate paid Evins Baker five dollars to care for Clarky.

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“They are to have 3 soots of Cloths & three pair of shoes one of woolen one hat & one Blanket” Henry Crumpley hired out Daniel for the year, and W.G. Sharp hired Ben. Though both were described as “boys,” their hire prices suggest they were young men in their prime.

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On 6 April 1860, “negro Ben” required a visit to Dr. James G. Armstrong.

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This remarkable document, the only one of its kind I’ve seen, is a receipt for the late fall purchase of goods for Farmer’s slaves — seven blankets, seven pairs of shoes, five wool hats, 18 and-a-half yards of osnaburg, five yards of linsey, one pair of coarse boots, and 29 years of kersey. Osnaburg was a coarse, stiff fabric woven from flax or jute and commonly used to make garments for enslaved people. Linsey (or linsey-woolsey) was another coarse cotton and wool fabric. Kersey was a dense woolen fabric.

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In 27 August 1856, shortly before he died, Farmer gave Rachel Lassiter a note for $15.59, which could have represented money borrowed or more likely services rendered or goods sold.

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On 14 July 1857, Farmer’s administrator, Augustin Farmer, paid Green Lassiter $16.42 to settle a debt.

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William L. Farmer Estate File (1856), Wilson County, North Carolina Estate Files, 1663-1979, http://www.familysearch.org.

The Clarks and Taylors: reconnecting an enslaved family.

While researching for the Henry Flowers estate piece, I noticed that John H. Clark was informant on the death certificates of Isabel Taylor and Alex Taylor, children of Annis Taylor and Henry (last name uncertain). What was Clark’s connection to this family?

Detail from death certificate of Isabel Taylor, who died 26 October 1929 in Wilson. 

The crucial clue: Katherine Elks mentioned that Henry Flowers’ youngest daughters married brothers John P. Clark and Sidney P. Clark. Their father, Phineas P. Clark, had brought his family from Connecticut to Nash County to set up as a buggy maker. (His employee Willis N. Hackney went on to found the carriage-making company that became Hackney Brothers Body Company.)

P.P. Clark does not appear to have been a slaveholder. However, John P. Clark is listed in the 1860 slave schedule of Wilson County as the owner of five enslaved people. One was a 19 year-old male, the correct age and sex to have been Harry Clark, John H. Clark’s father. John P. Clark was a 21 year-old newlywed at the time of the census. Where he had obtained five slaves? Had his wife Nancy Flowers brought them into the marriage?

Detail from the 1860 slave schedule of Wilson district, Wilson County.

Recall the distribution of Henry Flowers’ enslaved property. In 1850, the group was divided into three lots. Lot number 3 included a boy named Harry. Though existing estate records do not specify, it’s reasonable to assume that Lot 3 went to Nancy Flowers when she achieved majority some years later. When Nancy married John P. Clark, he assumed legal control over her property, which included Harry. (The 25 year-old woman was likely Peggy, who was also in Lot 3, and the children were probably hers. They were born after the 1850 division of Henry’s property and thus were not named.)

Harry was one of the children of Annis, as were Isabel and Alex. Harry adopted the surname Clark after Emancipation, while his siblings adopted Taylor, the surname of their last owners, William and Charity Flowers Taylor. So, what was John H. Clark’s connection to Isabel and Alex Taylor? He was their nephew.

Many thanks to Katherine Elks.

The estate of John Flowers.

We examined documents related to the people enslaved by Henry Flowers here. A look at the estate records of his father John Flowers, who died in 1806, reveals that several men and women had been held by the family for almost half-a-century.

Dr. John Vick and William Moore were administrators for John Flowers’ estate. As was common, they hired out four men (and rented out two plantations) for the years 1806 and 1807.

On 5 December 1807, a committee prepared a valuation of the twelve African-Americans comprising Flowers’ human chattel. They were Primus ($250), Peter ($450), Abram ($400), Frank ($425), Toney ($300), Jacob ($150), Will ($125), Annis ($5), Nell ($300), Dorcas ($300), Mourning ($200), and Joan ($175).

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The same day, the committee divided the enslaved into four lots, and Flowers’ heirs drew for them. The first lot — Primus, Nell, Annis and Will — went to Flowers’ widow, Judith, who had remarried to Edward York. The second lot — Peter and Dorcas — went to Claiborne Mann for his wife Nancy, Flowers’ daughter. The third lot — Abram, Mourning, and Jacob — went to son Edward Flowers. The last — Frank, Toney, and Joan — went to son Henry Flowers.

Nell, Annis, Peter, Abram, Toney, and Frank, and Jacob share names with enslaved people listed in Henry Flowers’ estate. In 1807, Nell was a woman in her prime. She is likely the Nelly who died forty years later during the probate of Henry Flowers’ estate. However, Annis, whose valuation in John’s estate likely indicates old age, appears to be a namesake for the other Annis listed with her children in Henry Flowers’ estate records. Census records indicate that the latter Annis was born between 1810 and 1818. Similarly, Henry Flowers’ Peter was born well after John Flowers’ Peter. There is insufficient evidence about Abram, Toney, and Frank.

John Flowers Estate File (1806), Nash County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

Thanks again to Katherine Elks for alerting me to this rich trove of documents.

The estate of Henry Flowers.

Henry Flowers, who lived on the south bank of Toisnot Swamp in what was then Nash County, died in February 1845.

Flowers enslaved fourteen people at the time of his death, and all were hired out on 4 March 1845, pending the settlement of his estate, which would involve a protracted battle between two sets of children. Though their ages are not listed, this schedule suggests that Frank, Toney, Jim, Peter, and Jacob were grown men at the time. Merica and Peggy were likely very young girls. Annis was a grown woman with four children, and Nelly is likely an older or disabled woman. Beyond Annis and her children, the family relationships, if any, among the fourteen are not stated. Whatever they were, and even if they involved parental or marital relationships beyond Flowers’ farm, this mass hire was powerfully disruptive, as the group was dispersed to live on eight different farms.

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Another version of this account reveals that Nelly and Annis and her children were labeled “parishners.” A parishioner ordinarily is a member of a church parish, but here seems to designate persons who were unable to work, as the estate paid Britton Bottoms and Kinchen Taylor to take these six people. This account also identifies Annis’ four youngest children, Elic [Alex], Redmond, Harry, and Rose.

New leases began at the first of the year 1846, and the group was further shuffled around. Only Toney remained with his previous lessor, John W. Williams. William Taylor leased three adults, plus three of Annis’ four children. The fourth, Ellick, was now old enough to be leased on his own, and he went to W. Roe at a discount price. Nelly, alas, had died.

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Another new year, another reshuffling. William Taylor, husband of Flowers’ daughter Charity,  continued to consolidate his leases over Henry Flowers’ slaves, hiring Frank, Peter, and Annis and her children, including Ellick. Annis had had another child during the previous year, a girl she named Isabel.

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Here, an undated roster of “the negros belonging to the Estate of Henry Flowers Decd.”

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Finally, in 1850, after years of squabbling, the estate began to pay out. Henry Flowers’ enslaved property was divided into three lots. No. 1 consisted of James ($700), Elix ($500), Annis ($300), Isabel ($200), and Frank “old” ($100). No. 2 was Peter ($600), Merica ($550), Redmon ($450), and Rose ($300). No. 3 was Toney ($345), Jacob ($650), Pegga ($550), and Harry ($475). Lot No. 1 was distributed to William Taylor and his wife Charity Flowers Taylor. The remaining lots would go to Charity’s half-sisters, Nancy and Judith Flowers, when they reached adulthood.

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  • Frank
  • Toney
  • James/Jim
  • Peter

Possibly: in 1866, Peter Taylor and Clarisy Taylor registered their eleven-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace.

If so, in the 1870 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farm laborer Peter Taylor, 32 [sic]; wife Clarsey, 37; and children Harrit, 8, Haywood, 10, William, 5, and Susan, 8 months.

In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Peter Taylor, 50; wife Clarcy, 36; children Harriet, 17, William, 15, Susan, 10, Henry, 8, Moretta, 6, and Charlie, 2; and granddaughter Clarcy, 7 months.

Charissy Taylor died 16 September 1932 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 12 June 1836 in Wilson County to Dempsey Cotton; was the widow of Peter Taylor; and lived at 522 Church Street. Informant was Mark Cotton.

  • Jacob
  • Merica

In the 1870 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farm laborer America Flowers, 35, and daughter Anaka, 7.

In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmworker America Flowers, 55.

  • Peggy

On 22 September 1870, Belford Farmer, son of Ben and Ellen Farmer, married Peggy Flowers, daughter of Henry and Annie Flowers, in Wilson County.

In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: widowed laundress Peggy Farmer, 43, and children Mourning, 23, Alice, 21, Annie, 13, Moses, 16, Ida, 10, Belford, 7, and Mary, 5, and grandsons Willie, 3, and Henry, 1.

  • Annis

In the 1870 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Anniss Taylor, 52; daughter Isabella, 23; and granddaughter Mary J., 4.

In the 1880 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Annis Taylor, 70; daughter Isbel, 30; and granddaughter Mary J., 16.

  • Nelly
  • Ellick

In 1866, Alex Taylor and Laney Locus registered their seven-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace.

In the 1870 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farm laborer Ellis Taylor, 34, and wife Lainey, 45; plus Nathanel Locust, 33, farm laborer, and Malvina, 11, and Duncan Locust, 4. [Note that Alex Taylor was born about 1835. This means that he was about 11 years old when deemed old enough to be hired out separate from his mother.]

In the 1880 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Alex Taylor, 42, farmer; wife Delany, 50; and grandson Jessee D. Locus, 12.

In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Alex Taylor, 70, widower, and boarder Frank Johnson, 20.

In the 1910 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: on Nash Road, widower Ellic Taylor, 75, farmer, and sister Isabel Taylor, 65.

Alexander Taylor died 26 June 1923 in Taylor township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 96 years old; was a widower and farmer; and was born in Wilson County to an unknown father and Anicky Taylor. John H. Clark was informant.

  • Isabel

In the 1870 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Anniss Taylor, 52; daughter Isabella, 23; and granddaughter Mary J., 4.

In the 1880 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Annis Taylor, 70; daughter Isbel, 30; and granddaughter Mary J., 16.

In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Isbel Taylor, 51, laborer.

In the 1910 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: on Nash Road, widower Ellic Taylor, 75, farmer, and sister Isabel Taylor, 65.

Issabell Taylor, died 26 October 1929 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 84 years old; was single; was born in Wilson County to Harry Taylor and Anicky Taylor; and was a tenant farmer. Informant was John H. Clark. [What was the relationship of John H. Clark to the Taylors?]

  • Redmund
  • Harry
  • Rose

Rose Flowers died 26 January 1919 in Taylors township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 80 years old; was single; was a farmhand; and was born to Henry Williams and Annis Taylor. Informant was Alex Taylor. [It appears that Annis Flowers’ daughters Peggy, Rose, and Isabel had the same father, named Henry, whose surname is variously attributed as Flowers, Taylor and Williams.]

Nancy Flowers Estate File (1848), Nash County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com; Henry Flowers Estate File (1845), Nash County, North Carolina Estate Files, 1663-1979, http://www.familysearch.org.

Many thanks to Katherine Elks for alerting me to this rich trove of documents.