estate records

The strange affairs of Silas Parker.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cancer cure.

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The Independent (Elizabeth City, N.C.), 24 June 1921.

Harriet Holloway‘s vision failed; she died less than four months later.

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In the 1912 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory lists Harriet Holloway as owner of a millinery on Nash Street near Vick and living at East Nash near Wainwright. Laborers Jefferson Holloway and Thomas Holloway also lived at East Nash near Wainwright.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Nash Street, Harriet Holoway, 43, laundress, and son Thomas, 23, auto machinist.

In the 1920 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, several Holloways were listed on West Nash Street near Young Avenue —  domestics Annie, Harriet and Lelia, and laborer Louis and Wilbur.

Harriet Holaway died 2 October 1921 in Wilson of cancer of the uterus. Per her death certificate, she was 45 years old; was born in Durham, N.C., to Charlie Adams and Mary Trice; was married to Jeff Holaway; and resided at 609 Roberson Street.

On 5 October 1921, Camillus L. Darden appeared in Wilson County Superior Court and was appointed administrator of Harriett Holloway’s estate, her husband Jeff Holloway having renounced the role.  T.F. Sanders provided bond with Darden. The estate was described as a house worth about $2500 and personal property valued at $150. Her heirs were Jeff Holloway, Minnie Exum, Thomas Holloway and Eddie Lee Artis (who was a minor.)

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Holloway’s desperate measures captured the attention of her neighbors and of newspapers across North Carolina:

Fayetteville Observer, 20 June 1921.

News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 21 June 1921.

 

The last will and testament of Theophilus Grice.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Farmer v. Vick.

After her husband Gray Farmer’s death in July 1893, Argent Farmer went to court to get what she felt was hers. She filed suit against Daniel Vick, asserting that he had claimed title to a parcel land that had rightfully belonged to Gray and from which she was entitled to dower.

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Vick’s lawyer promptly responded, asserting, among other things, that:

  • Gray Farmer had indeed owned property as tenants in common with Charles Battle, Washington Sugg, William McGowan, and Wilson Barnes, but not at the time of his death.
  • That land, in fact, was east of the railroad, two acres on the northeast side of the alley running from Pettigrew to Pender Streets. (See the 1893 Sanborn map section below. The alley, marked “lane,” is now Church Street.)
  • On 13 February 1886, Gray and Argent Farmer conveyed all their title and interest to the property to J.T. McGraw.
  • On 7 May 1890, J.T. McGraw conveyed his interest to Charles Battle.
  • Pursuant to a judgement in a suit against Battle, Suggs and McGowan, the property was sold at public auction on 7 November 1892. Daniel Vick purchased it.

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Wilson Advance, 13 October 1892.

Farmer gave up on her claim, and the Clerk of Superior Court entered a nonsuit.

farmer v vick

  • Gray Farmer — Possibly, in the 1870 census of Wilson , Wilson County: Clay Farmer, 60, Gray W. Farmer, 13, and Jonas Gay, 14. Young Gray worked in a brickyard. On 15 March 1876, Gray Farmer, no age listed, married Argent Blount, 20, at Smith Knight‘s in Wilson. In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: house carpenter Gray Farmer, 27, wife Argent, and children Ellenor, 3, and Charlie Gray, 2.
  • Argent Blount Farmer
  • Daniel Vick
  • Charles Battle
  • Washington Suggs
  • William McGowan — William McGowan appears with five siblings in the 1870 census of Wilson, Wilson County, in the household of their mother, Anna McGowan, 35, washerwoman. Widower William McCowan, 86, died 1 September 1940 in Wilson of myocarditis. He resided at 513 Church Street, in the middle of block he and his partners had lost to sheriff’s sale 60 years earlier.
  • Wilson Barnes

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

The last will and testament of Hilliard Ellis.

In the name of God, Amen,

I, Hilliard Ellis, of the County of Wilson, and State of North Carolina, being of sound and disposing mind and memory, but considering the uncertainty of human life, and the certainty of death, do hereby make and declare this, my last will and testament in manner and form as following, to wit:

Item 1st I direct that, after the payment of all my just debts, and costs of administration, including the costs of my funeral and burial expenses and a proper tombstone, appropriate to the value of my estate, to mark my last resting place, all of my estate real and personal, go to, and I hereby devise and bequeath the same, to my beloved wife, Fereby Ellis, to have and to hold by her during her natural life or widowhood, and when or after she shall or may die or marry, then as hereinafter provided

Item 2nd After the death or marriage of my said wife, I direct that all my estate, real and personal, go, and I hereby devise and bequeath the same, to all my children now living or who hereafter may be born, before or after my death, share and share alike, subject to all such advances as I have made or may make during my life to any of said children, and excepting from the benefits, devises and bequests of this item my daughters Louisa and Adeline (hereinafter provided for) to have and to hold to my children and their heirs share and share alike in fee simple and absolutely with power and authority to sure for division all of said property after their mother’s death if a majority of said children should deem such sale necessary for a fair division thereof.

Item 3  I give and bequeath to my said daughters Louisa and Adeline Twenty-five dollars each to be out of and constitute a charge on first, any personal property and secondly any real estate, left and on hand after the death or marriage of my said wife.

Item 4  I give and bequeath to my daughter Mary Anne (afflicted by the visitation of God and therfore needing special provision) one hundred dollars in money to be paid after the death or marriage of my said wife, to be a charge first on the personal and then on the real estate herein before disposed of and existing at the death or marriage of my said wife.

Item 5  I desire that my said wife shall have to her own use, after the payment of all of my debts and burial expenses, all such personal property left by me at my death as would be consumed in its use, and I hereby bequeath the same to her absolutely to that end.

Item 6  It is my further will and desire, and I hereby direct, that all sums of money or property of any description, which I have given or loaned, or may hereafter give or loan, to any of my children shall be deemed and taken as so much advanced or paid them in satisfaction of their shares under this my will any excess over their proportionate share of the personalty to be charged upon and deducted from their shares of the realty and vice versa, this provision not to extend to the specific shares to my daughters Louisa, Adeline and Mary Anne.

For the present, I shall not appoint any executor or executrix to this, my last will and testament, but shall leave the administration of my estate to such person or persons as the law may select or as I may see proper to hereafter appoint by a codicil to this instrument. Witness my hand and seal this Nov. 3rd, 1883.  Hilliard (X) Ellis {seal}

Signed sealed and delivered and published this 3rd day of Nov. by said Hilliard Ellis, who made his mark thereto in our presence, we affixing our signatures as witness hereto in his presence and in the presence of each other.   /s/ G. Fulghum, B.J. Cobb

I have made advancement to three of my children as follows: to William Ellis $70.00, to George Ellis $50.00, and to Phillis Ellis $40.00, and I charge them 6% interest on the advancements from date.  This March 21st 1893   Hilliard (X) Ellis     Witness: J.D. Bardin

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Hilliard Ellis married Fereby Rountree circa 1848 and registered their 18-year cohabitation in Wilson County on 11 August 1866. As culled from census, marriage and death records, their children included: Louisa Ellis Rowe (1850-1924), Adeline Ellis Mitchell (circa 1853-??), Caroline “Carrie” Ellis Coleman Woodard (1854-1914); William Ellis (1856); George Ellis (1859-1941); Emma Ellis Bunn (1861-1937); Hilliard D. Ellis (1865-1924); Mary Anne Ellis (1866-??); Warren Ellis (1869-??); Phillis Ellis Barnes Hagans (1870-??); and Millie Ellis Smith Hunt (1874-??).

Hilliard Ellis died in 1900, and Hilliard Ellis Jr. was appointed executor of the estate. Here’s his inventory of his father’s personal property:

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Ellis Jr. sued for partition of the real property:

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Hilliard Ellis’ acreage, once several miles northwest of Wilson, is now inside city limits. The approximate location of his holdings is marked below:

map H Ellis

North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], Ancestry.com.