last will and testament

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.

Was Edith Jordan under the control of her negroes?

Edith Jordan, widow of Joshua Jordan, lived north of present-day Wilson in what was then Edgecombe County. Her 1835 estate file contains a remarkable set of depositions attesting to Jordan’s state of mind at the time she wrote her will. Specifically, had enslaved people influenced her decisions?

The file does not reflect the determination in Bartley Deans Executor of Edith Jordan vs. Joshua Jordan et al. Nor does an examination of Jordan’s will reveal any obvious cause for alarm. To grandson Josiah Jordan, she left Rachel and her two children Milley and Offey, plus Daniel; to grandson David Jordan, Sarah, Joseph and Morning; to grandson Jesse Jordan, Isaac and Mary; and to great-granddaughter Sarah Deans, Mary Ann and Julia.

  • The deposition of Harris Horn

Persuant to the annexed commission at the House of John Horn in Sumter County Ala. We caused Harris Horn to come before us on the 7th of October 1835, to give evidence agreable to said Commision after being Sworn on the Holy Evangelist of Almighty God Deposeth and Saith as followeth

Interogatories

Q. 1st Do you know the parties in this case

Ans. I know Bartlet Deans & Joshua Jorden

2nd Did you Ever know the Said Edith Jorden in her Life time and if you did Where Did She Lived and what was her Situation and property and how many negroes She posses’d.

Ans. I knew Edith Jorden She lived in Edgecombe County She had negroes but I don’t know how many

3rd Whether She was a person of able or firm mind to protect hersef or property or Whether She was not entirely at the Disposal of or under the controle of Some person for Ten or twelve years before her Death

Ans. I think She hardly was able to protect herself or property and could be controlled by her neighbors

4th Was it not your opinion that the Said Edith Jorden should have had a Guardian Several years before She Died.

Ans. I think She would have done better if She had of had a guardian

5th Did you ever know the Said Edith Jorden to Do any business in ten years prior to her Death Without Some person telling her What to Do or how to conduct the Same

Ans. What ever Trading She had Done of my knowledge was Don by Some Other person

6th Did not you think the Said Edith Jorden was under the controle of her negroes

Ans. I think She was.

Q. 7th State all you know about the contested will

Ans. I Did not know She had made a will               /s/ Harris Horn

  • The deposition of John Grice

Persuant to the annexed commission at the House of John Horn in Sumter County Ala. We cause John Grice to come before us on the 7th of October 1835 to give evidence agreable to said commission after being Sworn on the holy Evangelist of  Almity God Deposeth and Saith as followeth

Interogatories

Q. 1st by Pltff.

Were you ever cal’d on to witness a will of Edith Jorden if So State by Whome and all the circumstances attending it

Ans. I was and I think it was by the said Edith Jorden

2nd Whoo was present and Whoo was the Other Subscribing Witness

Ans. Myself Bartlet Deans and William Haynes the other witness

3rd Whoo Wrote the Will

Ans. Bartlet Deans

4th Was the Will red over in the presents of the Old Lady your Self and Haynes before assignd

Ans. It was

5th Did you and the other Witness assign in the presents of the Old Lady

Ans. We did

6th Did She assign in your presents

Ans. She Did

7th Whoo Did She Desire to keep the Will till her death and What reason Did She assign for it

Ans. Bartlet Deans asked her what he should do with the Will and She told him to carriet home and take care of it and She Said She Wanted us to keep it a Secret for She had a will before and She could See no peace until it was Destroyed and that She thought She ought to have a right to Do as She pleased with her property

8th how Long have you been acquainted with her and how fare did you live from her

Ans. I have known the Old Lady for fifteen or Sixteen Years and Lived Within about half mile of her nine or ten years

9th Did the Old Lady appear to be in her Sound Mind and Disposible memory at the time She assigned the Will

Ans. I think She was as much So as ever I Saw her

10th Did She have reason Enough to know what She was about and to express her wishes in giving her property away or not

Ans. She appeared at that time to have it I thought

11th Did you ever witness any other will for the Old Lady Except the one you witnessed with William Haynes

Ans. I Did not

12th if you recollect State how She Directed the Legacies Given in the will that you witnessed and whome to

Ans. I think She gave Josiah Jorden one negroe man by the name of Daniel one negro woman named Rachel and Two negro children and to David Jorden & Jesse Jorden She gave one of them three negroes and the other Two and to Bartlet Deans Jun’r child she gave Two Negroes

Interogatories

Q. 1st by Deft.

If you do not know at the time of the Subscribing of this Will by the Said Decd. That it was entirely by persuasion that it was made and that in reality that it was not her will but the wish of those that She could be controled by

Ans. I Do not.

2nd you can State beyond contradiction in your mind this Will is or was the Will of Some of her negroes

Ans. I Do not know that it was the will of her negroes

3rd Do you not believe that at the time of makeing this Will and long before that She was not competent to make a will

Ans. I think She was capable of makeing a will and ought to give her property to Whome She please

4th Did you not think She ought to have had a guardian years before her Death

Ans. I Did not

  • The deposition of Isaac F. Wood

State of Indiana, Randolph County  }  Suit pending before the honorable Court in Tarborough, Edgecombe County North Carolina, on the fourth Monday of November AD 1835 – Wharein Bartley Deans Executor of Edith Jordan dec’d is plaintiff and Joshua Jordan & others defendants

Deposition of Isaac F. Wood of Greenford Township, County of Randolph above said, sworn and examined on this the 12th day of October in the year of Our Lord One thousand eight hundred and thirty five, between the hours of Ten oclock in the morning and four in the afternoon and taken at the office of and before James C. Bowen a Justice of the peace of Greenfork Township, in the County of Randolph and State of Indiana, pursuant to the inclosed notice to be read as evidence in the above cause on the part and the half of the defendants, Joshua Jordan & others as follows to wit:  Isaac F. Wood of the Township of Greenfork, in the County of Randolph and State of Indiana of Lawful age being duly sworn to testify the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and being diligently examined, doth depose and say, that he has been acquainted with the said Edith Jordan for about fifteen years before he left Carolina, which was in date AD 1832, and that he wrote a deed of Gift, which the said Edith Jordan executed to her granddaughter Orpha Jordan which included all or nearly all the negroes she possessed at that time. He further states he does not recollect the date, but it was a year or two before the death of the said Orpah Jordan. He further states that he was the subscribing witness to said deed and believes that the said Mrs. Edith Jordan requested him the said Wood to take said Deed and have it recorded and he the said neglected to do it, because he thought the said Edith acted under the influence of her negroes. He further states the said Edith said the reason for giving nearly all her blacks to the one grand child was because the negroes wished it so and she did not want to part them. He further states he has written several other instruments wharin she conveyed her property, but does not recollect the dates or particulars relative therto. He further states that he does not believe the said Edith Jordan was capable of conveying her property, and that he thinks her negroes influenced her as they wished. He further states that he thinks she should have had a guardian many years before he left Carolina; And further this deponent sayeth not       /s/ Isaac F. Wood

Edith Jordan Will (1833), Edith Jordan Estate File (1835), Edgecombe County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The last will and testament of Nathan Hines.

Nathan Hines made out his will just three weeks before his death.

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In the 1870 census of Cokey township, Edgecombe County: Nathan Hines, 22, farm laborer; wife Maria, 22; and [parents] George, 80, and Morning Hines, 65.

In the 1880 census of Lower Town Creek township, Edgecombe County: farmer Nathan Hines, 31; wife Mariah, 31; and children Marion, 8, Dora, 6, Ella, 3, and Frank, 2.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson township: day laborer Nathan Hines, 52; wife Mariah, 52; and children Dora, 24, Georgianna, 14, Ella, 22, and Julia, 13.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 127 Suggs, odd jobs laborer Nathan Hines, 62, widower; son Marion, 32, and [son-in-law] Dossey, 25, both public school teachers, Georgia, 27, and granddaughter Josephine, 2.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 127 Suggs Street, Nathan Hines, 72, widower; daughter Ella Powell, 38; son-in-law Dorsey Powell, 34, mail clerk; nephews [Hines’ grandsons] Chauncey, 15, and Graham Bynum, 11; and [grand]sons Onessimus, 6, and Columbus Powell, 1.

Nathan Hines died 29 March 1925 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 77 years old; was born in Edgecombe County to George Hines and Mourning Gabs; worked as a common laborer; lived at 614 Suggs; and was buried at “Mason cemetery,” Wilson.

Marion Hines died 10 December 1927 in Carlisle, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. Per his death certificate, he was born 20 April 1872 in North Carolina to Nathan Hines and Maria Bynum; was married; and worked as a painted. Orneida G. Hines was informant.

[Sidenote: Hines’ property at 614 Suggs Street, next to Oakdale cemetery, now lies under a housing development.]

Nathan Hines Will (1925), Wilson County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The last will and testament of Lewis Rountree.

On 20 September 1849, Lewis Rountree of Edgecombe County penned a will that included these provisions:

  • to wife Elizabeth Rountree, a life interest in “one negro man George and one negro woman by the name of Fanney aged 31 years.” After Elizabeth’s death, their six daughters were to inherit George and  Fanney equally.
  • to Sarah Jordan, wife of Thomas Jordan,”one negro boy by the name of Sam and one negro girl by the name of Phillis
  • to daughters Eliza Daniel, wife of Willie Daniel; Harriet Ellis, wife of I.G. Ellis; Penelope Rountree; Elizabeth Rountree; Treasia Rountree; and Margaret Rountree “the following negroes to wit — Stephen, Braswell, Hillard, Joe, Dave, Warren, Henry, Joiner, Amos, Rafe, Levi, John, Little Gorge, Fed, Gray, Bob, Love, Rebecca, July, Cherry, Milley, Ester, Deborah, Rhoda, Ann and Louisa,” share and share alike.
  • daughters Eliza and Harriet to receive their shares of community property immediately, and the remaining daughters to receive theirs as they reached age 21

After Lewis Rountree’s death, daughters Eliza Daniel and Harriet Ellis (through their husbands) petitioned for the division of their share of their father’s enslaved property. Eliza Daniel received Brass, Amos, Love, George, Rhody and Ann, valued at $2375. Harriet Ellis received Hilliard, Pheriba, Louisa, Adaline, Levi and Julia, valued at $2400.

Hilliard and Pheriba Ellis were a newly married couple at the time of the division. Hilliard Ellis’ brother Warren remained part of the common property and adopted the surname Rountree after emancipation.

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