last will and testament

The estate of Isaac Scarborough, part 1.

We met James Scarborough and the people he enslaved here and here and here. His son Isaac Scarborough, born in 1780, came into possession of Scarborough House just before his death and passed it on to his younger daughter, Susan Scarborough Bryant.

Isaac Scarborough made out his first will in Edgecombe County on 21 August 1826. In it, he left twelve enslaved people to his wife Nancy Scarborough — Sooky, Harry, Agnes, David, Austin, Elsy, Jinny, Amy, Abel, Orange, Caswell, and Charlotte. [N.B.: Isaac Scarborough married two women named Nancy. The maiden name of his first wife is not known. Nor is her death date.]

In 1848, Scarborough married Nancy Barnes Tyson. In the 1850 census of Edgecombe County, Isaac Scarborough’s household included himself, his wife, their infant daughter, and Nancy Tyson’s children by her first marriage to Abner Tyson, and Scarborough reported 33 enslaved people.

Isaac Scarborough made out his will in October 1853. To his wife Nancy, he left a life interest in the tract of land on which they lived near present-day Saratoga, which he had purchased from Joab Horne in 1841, as well as the adjoining tract purchased from Louis Dilda in 1847. [These purchases totaled more than 1400 acres on White Oak Swamp.] Isaac also left Nancy outright “the following slaves (viz) Mary, Edith, Harriet, John, Himbrick, Abraham, and Gray Hilliard ….” and a life interest in Harry, Orrin, Rose, and Austin, who were to pass to their daughters Victoria and Isaac Susan after Nancy’s death. Isaac’s remaining enslaved people, who were not named, were also to pass to their daughters in equal shares.

Isaac Scarborough died in early 1857, and his estate entered a lengthy probate. The file is rich with references to the enslaved people whose lives were upended by his death.

In this post, we examine documents from 1858 through 1860, including hire lists and a receipt for the care of “a n*gger woman.”

First things first, to keep the plantation going and income flowing, some of Scarborough’s land was rented and enslaved people were hired out. (Those belonging to the estate, that is. The men and women bequeathed directly to widow Nancy Scarborough were not subjected to these transactions.)

For the period 6 March 1857 to 1 January 1858, widow Nancy Scarborough hired David and Ned for ten dollars each, a price that suggests their old age or disability. She was also paid by the estate for the care of four women with small children — Charlotte with three, Jinny with three, Debby with three, and Chaney with two. Joseph Payne hired Daniel ($139) and Lucy and her child ($40). Jacob Byrum hired Abel ($160) and Bill ($110), and James J. Taylor, Jesse ($95, Toney ($40.50), and  Mary ($70); John Felton, Hannah ($13.50); and Rufus W. Edmundson, Milly ($2.75).

At the end of 1858, the cycle started all over again, with people from Isaac Scarborough’s shifted around to spend a year with the highest bidder. Bill went to David Webb for $73. David went to Jonathan Weaver for $137.25. James Barnes took Abel for $175.25. Lewis S. Dilda took Daniel for $175.00. Jonathan Bulluck took Jesse ($127) and Milly ($12). Ned remained with Nancy Scarborough, who also took Augustin for $2.50. (Augustin’s absence from the previous year’s hire and his low lease rate suggests he was a young child, perhaps 6 or 7 years old.) Lucy and her child remained with Joseph Pane ($25), and Hannah with John Felton ($25.25).

Curiously, there’s a second account that appears to have been filed for the same year. The heading is somewhat ambiguous — is this account for the year that ended 31 December 1858? Patrick Bynum hired Bill ($140), Hannah ($42), and Milly ($43); Nancy Scarborough hired David ($141); James Barnes hired Abel ($178) and Daniel ($190); Hiram Webb, Jesse ($167); Jonathan Bulluck, Toney ($99.75) and Ned ($112); James J. Taylor, Mary ($85); and Isaac C. Moore, Augustin ($34.50). David Webb took in Jinny and her three children, and Nancy Scarborough took in Charlotte and her three children, Debby and her four children, Lucy and her two children, and Chaney and one child.

On an unspecified date in 1859, the estate paid Anna Walston two dollars “for A visit to A n*gger woman.”

For the year following 30 December 1859: Bill ($125) and Jinny and two children went to David Webb; David ($50), Hannah ($50), and Milly ($50) to Nancy Scarborough; Abel ($179) to James Barnes; Daniel ($170) to William Gardner; Jesse to Hiram Webb ($180); Tony ($111), Ned ($139), and Ashley ($25) to Jonathan H. Bulluck; Augustin ($62) to William Woodard; and Mary and a child ($60) and Lucy and two children ($30) to John Harper. Nancy Scarborough agreed to payment for the care of Charlotte and three children, Debby and five children, and Chaney and one child.

On 9 January 1860, James J. Taylor received a ten-dollar credit from James Barnes, guardian of Isaac Scarborough’s minor heirs. Why? The unnamed woman he had hired the previous year had had a child, thereby diminishing her usefulness.

On 2 June 1860, Joshua Walston received two dollars for “Services rendered by my wife in attending to negro woman in 1859.”

A receipt for care of women with children during 1859 and 1860:

In December 1860, again, the community is picked over and divided up for the next year. David Webb hired Bill ($120) and Jinna and two children ($10); Nancy Scarborough hired David ($50) and Ashley ($46); James Barnes hired Abel ($175); William Felton hired Daniel ($170); Hiram Webb hired Jesse ($150); Elbert Felton hired Toney ($111) and Ned ($135); Isaac Moore hired Augustin ($64); Garry Bargeron hired Hannah ($55) and Charlotte and her two children ($45); and David Amason hired Milly ($37). Nancy Scarborough agreed to take payment for care for Debbie and her five children, Lucy and her two children, and Mary and her two children.

As seen, members of Isaac Scarborough’s enslaved community were moved from year to year as their hire arrangements began and ended. Given Saratoga’s proximity to the county line, it is not surprising that several of the men who bid for their services lived beyond Wilson County in Pitt and Edgecombe Counties. Thus, we see that, even when a community was not broken up by sales, the death of an enslaver profoundly destabilized communities.

Estate of Isaac Scarborough (1859), North Carolina Estate Files 1663-1979,

A guide to Wilson County enslavers.

Wills and estate records contain some of the most useful material for researchers of enslaved people. Here, a running list of enslavers’ wills and estate records featured in Black Wide-Awake.


Detail from 1860 federal slave schedule of Wilson County, North Carolina.

Estate records

The estate of Edith Joyner Barnes.

Edith Joyner Barnes, widow of Jesse Barnes, was mother of several of Wilson County’s wealthiest men, including county founder, farmer, slave trader and military man Joshua Barnes.

Edith Barnes’ 1848 will included these provisions:

  • a negro boy named Tony to grandson Jesse Barnes, son of Dempsey D. Barnes

  • “old Negro man Isaac” had “the priviledge of choosing for his master either of [her] three sons Elias Barnes William Barnes or Joshua Barnes his wife Violet to go with him” with money from her estate to support them for their lifetimes

  • “two negroes named Judy and Toppy,” valued at $600, to son Joshua Barnes

Edith Barnes died in 1849, and her estate entered probate. At November Term 1849, her sons petitioned the county court for the partition of the enslaved people not named in Edith’s will — Harry Sr., Harry Jr., Elisa, Hannah, Violet, Short, Celicia [Cecilia?], Cherry, Cass, Anarchy, Squire, Bob, Ginny, Mark, and Eny.

The estate file does not contain the order responding to the petition, or a distribution per its terms.


N.B.: Isaac Barnes and Vilet Barnes registered their nine-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace in 1866. In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Isaac Barnes, 35; wife Violet, 25; children Warren, 9, and Joseph, 4; Della Amerson, 21, and child Margaret, 1; and Larrence Barnes, 21. This young couple were children when Edith Barnes made her will in 1848 and could not have been the “old man Isaac” and wife Violet referred to.

Edith Barnes Will, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records 1665-1998,; Edith Barnes Estate File (1849), Edgecombe County, North Carolina Estate Files 1663-1979,

The last will and testament of John Lucas.

John Lucas (also known as Locus) made out his will on 10 July 1926, about six months before he died.

His bequests included:

  • to son Kenney Lucas, a life interest in “that part of the home place, on the North side of the cart road, on which the house I live in now stands,” and after his death to children Sidney Lucas, Susia Sims, and Eddie Lucas in equal shares.
  • to children Sidney Lucas and Susia Sims, in equal shares, the portion of the home place on the south side of the cart road, adjoining Dew’s place.
  • to son Eddie Lucas, 20 acres known as “the old Phine place,” adjoining the lands of Allison Howard, Gib Howard, Dick Cozart, and ten acres Eddie Lucas purchased from his father earlier.
  • to daughter Nannie Deans, ten acres from the old Phine place.

  • to daughter Dora Battle, ten acres of the Phine tract.
  • to son Frank Lucas, five dollars.
  • to Roxia Blackwell [daughter of Susan Lucas Simms Ellis],his organ.
  • to an unnamed granddaughter, described as “the daughter of Sidney Lucas, the one next to the oldest girl,” his bureau.
  • to granddaughter “Mink,” daughter of Eddie Lucas, his “clothing safe.”
  • to daughter Susia Simms, his sewing machine.
  • to son Kenney Lucas, his iron safe.
  • and other property to be divided equally among children Kenney Lucas, Sidney Lucas, Eddie Lucas, Dora Battle, Nannie Deans, and Susia Simms.
  • children Kenney Lucas and Dora Battle were named co-executors, and Glenn McBrayer legal adviser.

Glenn McBrayer, Lillian McBrayer, and George W. Barnes were witnesses.

Will of John Lucas (1926), North Carolina Wills and Probate Records 1665-1998,

The last will and testament of Ira Howard.

Ira Howard made out his will on 24 August 1906.

  • to son James Howard, a 42 1/2-acre tract known as the “Joe Howard tract” and a 28 1/2-acre tract called the “Ivey Ivens tract”;
  • to son William Howard, the 50-acre “home place” tract and the 22 1/2-acre “Cally Taylor lands”;

  • to Manuel Batchelor, Silver Lee Batchelor and Roxie Ann Batchelor, children of Mahala Batchelor (once they reached age 21), the 50-acre “Jim Taylor lands,” the 22-acre “Peter High lands,” and the 22-acre “Cally Taylor lands,” to be equally divided;

  • William Howard was to serve as guardian for the Batchelor children;
  • all personal property, including farm animals, farm implements, furniture, and crops was to be sold to pay debts, with the remainder divided equally between sons James and William Howard (with William to receive an extra $150 to make up for the $150 James owed their father);

  • and son William Howard was appointed executor.


In the 1870 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: farmer Delus [Zealous] Howard, 35, wife Rodah, 33, and children Mary, 16, Ira, 13, George, 11, Delus, 8, Gibbs, 6, Jesse, 3, and Doctor, 1.

On 26 December 1877, Orry [Ira] Howard, 22, married Harriet Wilkins, 22, in Wilson County.

In the 1880 census of Jackson township, Nash County, N.C.: farmer Ira Howard, 22; wife Harriet, 21; son James E., 1; servant Merica Farmer, 8; plus brother George Howard, 21.

In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Ira Howard, 45; wife Harette, 44; and son William, 15; also James Howard, 20, and wife Cisco, 20.

On 15 November 1895, Willie Lucas, 23, of Nash County, son of John Kalis and Frances Lucas, married Sylvia Howard, 21, of Nash County, daughter of Ira Howard and Mahala Batchelor, in Taylor township, Wilson County.

William Howard died 18 January 1918 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 30 June 1892 in Wilson County to Ira Howard and Harriett Wilkins; was married; and worked as a farmer. Lula Howard of Wilson was informant.

James Howard died 18 November 1923 at the “Col. Hospital” in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 26 October 1875 in Wilson County to Ora Howard and Harriet Wilkins; was married to Sisco Howard; and was a tenant farmer for J.R. Brantley.

Manuel Howard died 7 December 1930 in Rocky Mount, Nash County, N.C. Per his death certificate, he was perhaps 50 years old; was born in Wilson to Ara Howard and Lizzie Batchelor; was a farmer; and was married. Sylvie Lucas, Wilson, was informant.

Will Book 4, page 112, Office of Clerk of Superior Court, Wilson County Courthouse, Wilson

The obituary of Louisiana Eatmon Hammond.

Wilson Daily Times, 22 December 1948.


In the 1920 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: William Eatmon, 35, farmer; wife Geneva, 33; and daughter Louisiana, 11.

In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Eatmon Louisiana (c) dom h 317 Finch

In the 1930 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: William Eatmon, 50, city laborer; wife Geneva, 41; and daughter Louisiana, 20.

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Eatmon Louisiana (c) h 317 Finch

On 23 February 1938, William Hammond, 24, of Wilson, married Lousanna Eatman, 28, of Wilson, in Wilson, in the presence of Luther Hammond Sr., Luther Hammond Jr., and Lula Hammond.

In 1940, William Elwood Hammond registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 16 November 1914 in Lumberton, N.C.; lived at 317 Finch; worked for Mrs. C.C. Benton; and his contact was wife Louisiana Hammond.

Louisiana Eatmon Hammond drafted a will on 15 February 1947. Under its terms, all her property, except one tenant house, was to go to her surviving children. The tenant house, which was “on the Nash Street Road East … beside of the Colored Brick Church, East of the town of Wilson,” was to go to her late father’s children, i.e. her siblings. [What was the “Colored Brick Church”?]

Will Book 9, page 8-9. 

Louisiana Hammond died 16 December 1948 at her home at 317 Finch Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 5 October 1917 in Nash County, North Carolina, to Willie Eatmon and Geneva Powell; was divorced; and worked as a day laborer. Mary Goram was informant.


Where we worked: back of the bawdy house.

In From a Cat House to the White House, Jesse D. Pender painted a richly detailed portrait of life in Wilson and Wilson County in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s — including his adventures as a driver and cook for white madam Betty Powell. Powell and Mallie Paul were among the last of the big-time brothel keepers operating in Wilson’s early twentieth century red light district centered on South Spring [Douglas], South, and East Jones Streets at the heart of Wilson’s blocks of tobacco warehouses. This area, simultaneously, was a solidly working-class African-American neighborhood known as Little Washington and home to Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church’s church and school.

On 28 July 1914, the Wilson Daily Times reported on the visit of the chief of police to all the town’s bawdy houses after “drunk and disorderly conduct at Ola LeRoy’s house a few nights ago and the suicide of” a man named Bunn. Not only had the houses not complied with an earlier directive to shape up, most were in flagrant violation. Ordering all in the trade to leave town by the end of the week, the chief listed his shocking discoveries, naming names:

  • at Cora Duty’s house, he found women from Richmond, Virginia, Washington, D.C.; Washington, N.C.; Chicago, Illinois; and Louisville, Kentucky [in the 1900 census of Wilson, Cora Duty is listed with four “boarders”; in the 1912 city directory, her address is 404 South Spring]
  • at Gertrude Augustine’s house, he found a woman from Jamestown, New York, and evidence that other young women had come and gone
  • at Beck Walston’s, one woman [probably also known as Bessie Walston; in the 1920 census, at 510 Spring]
  • at the house of Gertrude Stone, who hailed from Providence, Rhode Island, a woman from Baltimore, Maryland
  • at the house Jessie Smith, originally of Winston-Salem, N.C., no one else, because they’d all left after Bunn’s death
  • at Ada Coleman’s, no one else, but the weekend before there had been “a bunch of drunken men” and other evidence that she was violating prohibition laws
  • at Bessie E. Stamper’s, no one else, but other women had been seen there
  • at Maude Weston’s, “the others left after the death of Bunn and purpose to stay away until everything is quiet again” [in the 1916 city directory, Weston is at 511 South Spring]
  • at the house of Lou R. Padgett, alias Ola LeRoy, LeRoy and another woman were drunk only a day after LeRoy had been found guilty of disorderly conduct
  • at the houses of Gertie Sears, Lida Simpson, and “Alice,” no one else [in the 1916 city directory, Sears is at 513 South Spring; Lida (Lydia) Simpson appears in directories at 404 South Spring, 310 East Jones, and 312 East Jones; and Alice Hinson at 310 East Jones]
  • at Clyde Bell’s, known as Pat Moore, “a house full of men and beer” [a native of Norfolk, Virginia, in 1916, Bell married L.E. Pittman at her home at 313 Mercer Street]
  • at the house of Fannie Ange, alias Theodora Davis, several women [in the 1916 city directory, at 328 South Street]
  • at “the house where Trixie Clark died,” three women, including Fannie Ange’s sister [in the 1912 city directory, Clark was at 322 South Street; a Clara Clark, age 23, residing at 324 South, died 30 January 1924 of opium poisoning and a pistol shot wound — was this “Trixie”?]
  • at Mollie Johnson’s, one girl [in the 1912 city directory, at 318 South Street; in the 1916 directory, 311 South Street; in the 1920 census, 508 Spring]
  • at Fannie Burwell [Burrell]’s, one woman [in the 1900 census, Burrell ran a boarding house with three young women boarders, including Mallie Paul; in the 1908, 1912 and 1916 city directories, she is at 309 South Street]

Wilson Daily Times, 23 December 1910.

Fannie Burrell died 26 January 1917 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 64 years old; was born in Virginia; and was a “land lord of bawdy-house.” She is buried in Maplewood cemetery.

Burrell had made out a will on 23 November 1916, broadly dispensing her sizable wealth. She left money, diamond jewelry, furniture, land lots, and houses to numerous friends, including two Wilson madams, Mallie Paul and Theodora Davis, and two trusted members of her domestic staff, Mary Floyd and Carrie Strickland. [In the 1910 census of Wilson, Mallie Paul and Mollie Johnson are listed on either side of Burrell on Jones Street.]

To Floyd, her cook, Burrell left her house on Spring Street (or $400, if the house sold under option.)

To her “faithful servant and friend” Strickland, Burrell left a house at the corner of Spring and Hines Streets (or $400).

Robert N. Perry, the rector of Saint Mark’s Episcopal, witnessed Burrell’s execution of the will. He was her neighbor at 315 South Street.

Little Washington/the red light district as drawn on the 1913 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson. At (A), Saint Mark’s Episcopal and at (B) a “Sanctified Church (Negro).” The numbers mark addresses associated with white bawdy houses from 1900-1922 — (1) 313 Mercer (Clyde Bell); (2) 404 South Spring (Cora Duty; Lida Simpson; Alice Hinson); (3) 418 South Spring (Fannie Burrell); (4) 508 South Spring (Mollie Johnson) (5) 510 South Spring (Bessie Walston); (6) 512 South Spring (Nan Garrett); (7) 511 South Spring (M. Weston); (8) 513 South Spring (Gertrude Sears); (9) 308 [renumbered 409] East Jones (Betty Powell); (10) 310 [renumbered 410] East Jones (Alice Hinson); (11) 312 East Jones (Lida Simpson; Alice Hinson); (12) 314 East Jones (Evelyn Belk); (13) 309 [renumbered 304] South (Fannie Burrell; Mallie Paul); (14) 311 South (Mollie Johnson); (15) 314 [renumbered 309] South (Mallie Paul); (16) 318 South (Mollie Johnson); (17) 322 South (Trixie Clark); (18) 328 South (Theodora Davis).


  • Mary Floyd

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Spring Street, Mary Williams, 20, tobacco factory laborer, and lodger Junis Floyd, 35, odd jobs laborer.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 311 Hines, Seary Mitchell, 31, and wife Gertie, 19; Junous Floyd, 41, gas plant fireman; wife Mary, 32, tobacco factory worker; brother Allen, 25, tobacco factory laborer; and roomer Pattie Williamson, 40, private cook. [Next door: Mollie Johnson, above.]

Junius Floyd died 30 November 1929 in Forks township, Wayne County, at the hospital. Per his death certificate, he was 50 years old; was married to Mary Floyd; and worked as a laborer.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 519 South Spring, widow Mary Floyd, 40; son James A., 9; and roomers Bertha Johnson, 27, and Ellen Williams, 22.

Mary Floyd died 13 May 1931 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 46 years old; was born in Franklin County, N.C., to Saul Williams and Hellen Richardson; was married to June Floyd; lived at 519 South Spring; and worked as a tobacco factory laborer. Bertha Smith was informant.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Spring Street, brickmason Goodsey Holden, 50; wife Laura, 47; daughters Estella, 25, Bertha, 24, laundress, and Ione, 20, laundress; and lodger Carrie Strickland, 18, hotel chambermaid.

In the 1912 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Strickland Carrie (c) dom h 603 S Spring

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 603 Spring Street, brickmason Goodsey Holden, 59; wife Laura, 52; and roomer Carrie Strickland, 29, tobacco factory worker.

In the 1920 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Strickland Carrie I (c) hairdresser h 603 S Spring

In the 1922 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Strickland Carrie (c) hairdresser 528 E Nash h 504 S Lodge

Many thanks to J. Robert Boykin III for transcribing “Ordered to Leave Town: Disorderly Conduct in ‘Red Light District’ Causes Mayor Dickerson to Issue the Order,” Wilson Daily Times, 28 July 1914.


The last will and testament of Jonathan Bailey.

In the name of God Amen. I Jonathan Bailey of the County of Edgecombe and State of North Carolina do this 6th day of August in the year of our Lord one thousand Eight Hundred and Fifty One, being of sound disposing mind and memory do make and publish this my last will and testament in the form and manner following.

1st. I give and bequeath unto my daughter, Lucy Braswell, one Negro boy by the name of Jacob to her and her heirs forever.

2nd I give and bequeath unto the heirs of my daughter, Polly Taylor one Negro girl by the name of Amy

3rd I lend unto my daughter, Sally Jordan, the land whereon she now lives and after her death to be equally divided betwixt her children. I also lend unto my daughter, Sally Jordan, one Negro girl named Sucky, and after her death the said Sucky with all her increas to be divided betwixt the children of the said Sally Jordan.

4th I lend unto my daughter, Nancy Ruffin, the land whereon she now lives during her natural life and after her death to be equally divided betwixt her children. Also I lend unto Nancy Ruffin one Negro girl named Ellen and after her death the said Negro girl Ellen with all her increased to be equally divided betwixt the heirs of the said Nancy Ruffin

5th I give unto the heirs of my son, Berry Bailey, lawfully begotten of his body all my land lying on the north side of the road adjoining the land of Mathew Whitehead, Jeremiah Batts, and others. I also give unto the heirs of Berry Bailey as above one negro boy named Lewis.

6th I give unto my grandchildren, David Lawrence Williams and Elizabeth Williams one Negro girl named Mary and one hundred and twenty dollars in cash to be equally divided betwixt them, but should either of them die without having a lawful heir, the living one to have the others part, and should both die the said property to return to the Baily family.

7th I lend unto my daughter, Rebecca May, one Negro girl named Esther, during her natural life, together with her increase and after her death to be equally divided betwixt the children of the said Rebecca May lawfully begotten of her body. I also give unto my daughter, Rebecca May, one hundred and twenty dollars in cash.

8th I give unto my son, Bert Bailey all my tract of land whereon I now live also one Negro boy by the name of Petter.

9th I lend unto my daughter, Martha Amason, one Negro woman named Mariah, one Negro girl named Betty, one Negro child named Chaney, one Negro girl named Patience, and one girl named Cherry together with all their increase and I further give the said Martha Amason, the right to dispose of any part of said Negroes as she may think proper.

10th My will and desire is that all my property which is not disposed of above be sold and all my just debts be paid and the balance remaining to be queally divided betwixt my children as follows: Lucy Braswell, Polly Taylor, Sally Jordan, Nancy Ruffin, Dilly’s two children, viz David Lawrence and Elizabeth, being Bailey heirs, Rebecca May and Nancy Ruffin.

11th I hereby appoint my son, Bert Bailey, Thomas Amason, and Jeremiah Batts Executors to this my last will and testament.

Signed sealed and acknowledged in presence of: D. Williams Thomas Fly

Jonathan Bailey


Jonathan Bailey lived in an area of Edgecombe County that became southeast Wilson County in 1855. His will entered probate in 1852.

Will of Jonathan Bailey (1851), Edgecombe County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line],

The estate of Lemon P. Stanton.

On 12 October 1844, Lemon P. Stanton of the Stantonsburg area drafted a will that, among other things, bequeathed a man named Larry to his nephew George W. Stanton and an enslaved family to his niece and nephew, Louisa and Lemuel DeBerry.

The will entered probate in February 1846, and six years later, the court received this  petition to partition Negroes:

The takeaways:

  • Stanton’s will left the DeBerry siblings an enslaved woman named Phillis, her children Alford and Curtis, and any future children.
  • As the time of the petition in early 1852, Phillis had four children — Alford, Curtis, Romulus, and Laura. Another child, Haywood, had died.
  • Phillis and her children were in the care of Lemuel DeBerry Senior, guardian of Louisa and Lemuel DeBerry.
  • In November 1850, Louisa DeBerry had married Ferdinand H. Whitaker, the petitioner.
  • Whitaker sought the partition of Phillis and her children so that his wife could get the half owed her under her uncle’s will.
  • Lemuel DeBerry chimed in that he was “equally desirous” of partition. However, he later filed a memorandum with the court explaining that he was not certain, but Stanton’s will might have directed payout to the DeBerrys only when they reached age 21 — Louisa was 20 and Lemuel Jr., 18.

The digitized file contains no order in response to Whitaker’s petition. Inevitably, though, dividing the group in half would have meant that Phillis and one or more of her children were separated.

Will Book F, page 334, Edgecombe County Register of Deeds Office, Tarboro, North Carolina; Estate of Leeman P. Stanton, Edgecombe County, North Carolina Estate Files,

The estates of Jesse and Patience Aycock.

Revolutionary War veteran Jesse Aycock (1743-1823) lived in the Nahunta area of Wayne County, N.C., but owned property in what would become Black Creek township, Wilson County. This property included the land upon which Lower Black Creek Primitive Baptist church stood; he bequeathed the parcel to the church in his 1822 will.

The Aycocks attended Lower Black Creek P.B., as did their slaves. Church records mention a woman Hannah owned by Jesse Aycock, and Briton(?) and Peter, owned by Aycock’s second wife, Patience Aycock.

Jesse Aycock drafted his will on 7 November 1822. To his wife Patience, he left a lifetime interest in “four negroes by names Jacob Peter and two by name of Haner.” (In other words, the four were Jacob, Peter, Hannah, and Hannah.)

Aycock owned additional slaves, as evidenced by a subsequent provision: “I leave all my Negroes that I have not lent to my wife to be sold with Balance of my Estate.” The proceeds were to be used to pay off his debts, and any remainder was to be distributed among his children and grandchildren.

Further, after Patience Aycock’s death, Jesse Aycock’s enslaved people were to be sold, with “Peter and Haner to be sold together.” (Presumably, they were a married couple and perhaps were elderly.)

Jesse Aycock died in 1823, leaving many dozens of heirs by his first wife and an estate whose settlement dragged on for decades.

Patience Aycock drafted her will on 4 June 1824. Though she had life estates in her husband’s slaves, she could not devise them to anyone, and her will only mentions a woman named Rose, who was to go to her son Joel Newsom.

The inventory of Patience Aycock’s estate, made in November 1827, confirmed that she owned only one enslaved person outright:

“An Inventory of the Property of Patience Acock Deecast Late of Wayne County Taken the 3rd of November 1827 by Hardy Williamson”

Will of Jesse Aycock (1822), Wayne County, North Carolina, U.S. Wills and Probate Records 1665-1998,; Estate of Patience Aycock (1827), Wayne County, North Carolina, U.S. Wills and Probate Records 1665-1998,