last will and testament

The last will and testament of Herman N. Grissom.

I, Herman Grissom, of the town of Wilson, State of North Carolina, declare this to be my last Will and testament.

1 — I give and devise to my wife Lydia Grissom, the dwelling house and lot on which it stands, and after her death to my three children Dorthea, Vivian and Lydia Grisom.

2 — I will and devise to my mother Hattie Grisom, the vacant lot on the north side of the above named house & lot, on which my said mother is to build a house as soon as possible after my death, and after her death, said house and lot, to go to my children.

I name as my executor, Walter Hines.

In testimony whereof, I have set my hand and seal this the 23rd day of Mar., A.D. 1921.      Herman X Grisom

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In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Hattie Grissom, 25; son Herman, 8; sister Anie, 23, and brother Warren, 15, day laborer.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: factory laborer Etta [sic] Grissom, 35, divorced, and son Herman, 16, barbershop bootblack.

On 24 July 1913, Herman Grissom, 22, of Wilson, son of Willis and Hattie Grissom, married Lydia Meeks, 20, of Edgecombe, daughter of Philip and Nancy Meeks, at Saint Paul’s A.M.E. Zion in Tarboro, Edgecombe County.

In the 1916 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Grissom Herman N (c) barber Tate & Hines h N Vick cor Atlantic

In 1917, Herman Natius Grissom registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 12 January 1890 in Wilson; lived on Atlantic Street, Wilson; was a barber with Tate & Hines; and had a wife and two children. He signed his card “Herman Nadis Grissom.”

Herman Nadies Grissom died 23 March 1921 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 12 January 1891 in Wilson to Willis Grissom of Franklin County, N.C., and Hattie Thorne of Wilson; was married to Lydia Grissom; lived at 201 Vick Street; and worked as a barber.

Apparently, Walter Hines, the barber for whom Grissom had worked, carried out the terms of Grissom’s will immediately. As early as the 1925 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directories, his mother, nurse Hattie Grissom, is listed at 203 North Vick Street, the house built on the north side of the house in which he had lived at 201.

 

Last will and testament of Nellie Bullock Whitehead.

When Nellie Bullock Whitehead made out her will on 10 November 1949, she was very clear that only her daughters Anna Whitehead Hagans and Elnora Whitehead Sauls would inherit.

Nellie Bullock Whitehead was a native of Wilson County; her husband John Whitehead was from Georgia. I have not found a marriage license for them, but they lived in Dodge County, Georgia, in 1910, and all their children were born in Georgia. By 1920, they had returned to live in Nellie Whitehead’s home county.

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In the 1910 census of Mullis township, Dodge County, Georgia: John Whitehead, 26; wife Nellie, 25; and sons Edmund, 7, and Will. H., 4.

In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on S.H. Crocker Farm Road, tenant farmer, John Whitehead, 37; wife Nellie, 36; children E.K., 16, William H., 13, Anna V.O., 7, Anna Nula, 5, and J.B., 4; and great-uncle[?] Josh Whitehead.

In the 1930 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Highway 91, express laborer [no first name] Whitehead, 49; wife Ella, 45; and children Anna V., 17, Nora, 16, John, 14, and William, 24. All were born in Georgia except Ella [Nellie], who was born in North Carolina.

John Whitehead died in Wilson on 24 October 1937. Per his death certificate, he was 55 years old; was born in Georgia to Joshua Whitehead and Georgian Melvin; was married to Nellie Whitehead; lived at 1513 Nash Street; and worked as a meat packer.

In the 1940 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: widow Nellie Whitehead, 56; son J.B., 24, truck driver for a contractor; daughter Anna Hagans, 27, tobacco company stemmer; son-in-law Henry Hagans, 32, town garbage remover; and daughter Elnora Whitehead, 26.

John Baptist Whitehead registered for the World War II draft in Wilson in 1940. Per his registration card, he was born 25 December 1915 in Chester, Georgia; lived at Route 4, Box 39, Wilson; worked for Imperial Tobacco, Barnes Street; and his contact was his mother, Nellie Whitehead.

Nellie B. Whitehead died 27 March 1951 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 10 August 1884 in Elm City, N.C., to Equia B. Bullock and William Ann Barnes and was a widow. Anna B. Hagans was informant.

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 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.

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 last will and testament of James B. Woodard.

I James B. Woodard of the County of Wilson, State of North Carolina, being of sound mind but advanced in years, & aware of the uncertainty of life, do make, constitute & declare this to be my last will & testament in manner & form as follows.

Second. I give & devise to my Eldest daughter Elizabeth Ann Stancil wife of Thomas Stancil the land on which she now lives, known as the Atkinson land containing about two hundred & twenty acres …, the following Slaves, negro man Elvin, woman Feriba & girl Dellah and their increase ….

I also give & bequeath to my son John B. Woodard negro man London to have & to hold ….

Fifth. I give & devise to my son George W. Woodard the balance of my home tract of land on which my dwelling and improvements are bounded …. I also give & bequeath … the following slaves Howell & Jesse ….

Sixth. I give & bequeath to my daughter Margaret P. Batts wife of W.W. Batts the following slaves Sarah, Florence, Phebe, Mary & young Sarah and their increase ….

Seventh. I give & bequeath to my daughter Mary J. Edwards wife of W.H. Edwards the following slaves Harriett, Debba, Ben, Ned, Rose & Fanny and their increase ….

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand & seal this the 22 day of June A.D. 1863.       /s/ Jas. B. Woodard

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James B. Woodard’s will — drafted six months after the Emancipation Proclamation — included bequests of 17 enslaved people. Most were descendants of London Woodard (whom he had sold to Penny Lassiter in 1856) and his first wife Venus, including their children Elvin, Feriba, London Jr., Howell, Sarah, Harriet, and Rose, and daughter Feriba’s children Ben, Debba, young Sarah, and, possibly, Mary.

The estate of Theophilus T. Simms.

On 13 January 1855, William Bardin, John G. Barnes, and William W. Barnes agreed to pay Amos Horn, guardian of the minor heirs of T.T. Simms, $225 for the hire of Reddick and Willie, enslaved men. Bardin and the Barneses also agreed to provide each man three suits of clothes (one woolen), two pairs of shoes, one pair of stockings [socks], a hat, and a blanket.

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At October Term 1863, the Wilson County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions heard the petition of Simms’ daughter Diana A. Simms for partition of her father’s slaves, identified as Gray, Willey, Dick, Austin, Watey, Jane, Lucy, Molly, Stella and Anna. Diana Sims and her minor siblings owned in common.

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I’ve only identified one of the enslaved people from T.T. Simms’ estate — Waity Simms Barnes.

In 1866, Waity Simms and Gaston Barnes registered their 6-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace.

In the 1870 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farm laborer Casten Barnes, 28; wife Waity, 24; and children Austin, 6, Benjamin, 5, Etheldred, 4, and Aaron Simms, 1.

In the 1880 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Gaston Barnes, 42; wife Waity, 35; and children Benjamin, 16, Aaron, 10, Nellie, 7, Willie, 5, and infant boy, 17 days.

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

The last will and testament of Washington Pitts.

On 25 November 1916, Washington Pitts (or Pitt) wrote out his last will and testament:

  • to his aunt Lucinda Pitts, the lot on Vance Street in Wilson on which he then lived, purchased from Earnest Deans and wife and recorded at Deed Book 91, page 37; all his personal property; and any residual money
  • to his brothers Martin and Jack Pitts, a lot on Vance Street purchased from Wilson Real Estate and Loan Company and recorded at Deed Book 102, page 246
  • to his cousin Hattie Slight, a lot at 523 Church Street at which Beatrice Sugg now resided
  • Lucinda Pitts was named executor of the will, and C.T. Harriss and W.P. Whitaker Jr. were witnesses

Washington Pitts Will (1916), Wilson County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.