Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING 9 Slaves of Braxton County, (West) Virginia

RELEASING: Mary and her husband; their children Washington, Granville (a girl), Catharine, and Lucinda; Maddison, Callohill, and Granville (a woman).

Last month I wrote about Cato who was sold on Christmas Day in 1821 to Robert Kelly.

Robert Kelly was found on the Nicholas County, (West) Virginia, slave schedule in 1850 but he was enumerated in his son’s household in the neighboring county of Braxton.

1850robertkellycensus
Ancestry.com. 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Year: 1850; Census Place: District 4, Braxton, Virginia; Roll: M432_937; Page: 211A; Image: 82
1850robertkellyslaves
Ancestry.com. 1850 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules [database on-line]. Year: 1850; Census Place: District 43, Nicholas, Virginia.
Cato was a young man in 1821 and would have been at least in his late 40s in 1850. From the above slave schedule listing, Cato was very likely no longer owned by Kelly who had 8 slaves in 1850. Robert Kelly’s last will and testament was located in Braxton County and names 8 enslaved persons and mentions one unnamed man.

RELEASING: Mary and her husband; their children Washington, Granville (a girl), Catharine, and Lucinda; Maddison, Callohill, and Granville (a woman).

The Last Will and Testament of Robert Kelly of Braxton County, (West) Virginia
r-kellywill1
Citation: “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-HYK7-4?cc=1909099&wc=Q8BW-MZL%3A179688701%2C179712101 : 21 June 2016), Braxton > image 160 of 177; county courthouses, West Virginia.

Know all men by These presents that I, Robert Kelly of the County of Nicholas and State of Virginia do hereby make my last will and testament in manner and form following, That is to say,
1st. I desire that the perishable part of my Estate be immediately sold after my decease (with the exception of such property as is hereafter willed) and out of the monies arising Therefrom all my Just debts and funeral expenses be paid.
2ndly. I will and bequeath to my two sons John McH. Kelly and Charles William Kelly my farm on Elk River lately purchased from George Molahon and bind my said two sons to pay to said Mollahon five hundred dollars being the last installment of the purchase money due forsaid land, and also to board, clothe and take care of my daughter Mary Virginia Kelly during her natural life and in the event of my Daughter Mary Virginia Kelly being unwilling to live with either of them then in that event they shall out of the value of my land this day willed to them pay to such person as may board clothe and take care of her in a genteel manner a reasonable amount for such board and clothing.
3rdly. I will and bequeath to my son John McH. Kelly my negro man slave Maddison to him and his heirs forever.
4thly. I will and bequeath to my son Charles William Kelly my negro slave Callohill to him and his heirs forever.
5thly. I will and bequeath to my daughter Rebecca Jane Ann Duffy Two negro girls named Catharine & Lucinda The children of my negro woman slave named Mary to her and her (sic) and the heirs of her own body forever together with the future increase of said negro girls to her and her heirs forever.
6thly. I will and bequeath to my son David O. Kelly my negro boy Washington and my negro girl named Granville two children of my slave Mary. The said negro boy Washington to serve my said son David O. Kelly or his heirs until he arrives at the age of thirty years, and at that age the said negro boy Washington to be free, to him and his heirs forever.
7thly. I will and bequeath to my Daughter Mary Virginia Kelly my negro slave named Granville, one feather bed and bedding to be enjoyed by her during her natural life and at her death I will and desire that the negro woman slave Granville share be free, in consequence of her kindness and attention to my family.
8thly. I will and order that any executors herein after named and my heirs shall if atall in their power conveniently to try and prevent the seperation of my negro woman slave Mary & her husband.
9thly. I will and bequeath to my two sons John McH. Kelly & Charles William Kelly each of them one feather bed and bedding to them and their heirs forever.
10thly. I will and bequeath that all my Estate both real and personal not herein before willed shall after my death be sold and out of the monies arising therefrom first my two sons John McH. Kelly & Charles William Kelly are each to have one hundred dollars and the balance of said proceeds of said sale to be equally divided amongst all my children or their heirs.

r-kellywill2
Citation: “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-HYV1-D?cc=1909099&wc=Q8BW-MZL%3A179688701%2C179712101 : 21 June 2016), Braxton > image 161 of 177; county courthouses, West Virginia.

And lastly I do hereby constitute and appoint my two sons John McH. Kelly and Charles William Kelly Executors of this my last will and testament hereby revoking all other or former wills or Testaments by me heretofore
made. In Testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal this 2nd day of August 1849.
Signed sealed published and declared by              R. Kelly *Seal*
Robert Kelly as and for his last will
and Testament in the presence and
hearing of us who at his request and
in his presence have subscribed our
names as witnesss.
David Eagle
John McD. Grose
Ro. Hamilton
Codicil to the foregoing last will & testament of Robert Kelly, viz. when the foregoing will was made I thought that the two slaves viz. Washington and Granville could be freed by me, at the time mentioned in said will without any confliction with the laws of Virginia. But on mature reflection, I have concluded that if the new constitution of Virginia shall be adopted, which I believe it will that in that event the said Washington‘s freedom is hereby revoked by me, and that he shall be and remain the property of the said D. O. Kelly to him & his heirs forever, and the said Granville‘s freedom is revoked so far as this, that she shall remain & live with my daughter Virginia so long as she lives, and at her death she shall have a right to live with any of my children that she choses during her lifetime. And it is my desire that whichever child of mine that she should make choice to live with to pay her revenue tax as a slave, so as to secure to her a right to live in the state, without her being molested or disturbed by the laws of the state. This codicil signed & sealed by me on this 26th day of September 1851.
Teste                                                R. Kelly *Seal*
Jno. P. Byrne
W. Newlon
Braxton County Court September Term 1853.
The last will and testament of Robert Kelly Deceased, with a codicil Thereto [illegible] was this day produced in Court, and the will was proved by the oaths of David Eagle and John McD. Grose subscribing witnesses thereto, and the codicil was proved by the oaths of William Newlon & John P. Byrne subscribing witnesses thereto, which will together with the codicil thereto is ordered to be recorded.
Teste Jno. P. Byrne Clk

Due to blog format I transcribed without line breaks in the main text of the will and placed numbered items at the beginning of a new line.

Robert Kelly a Resident of Nicholas and Braxton Counties

Robert Kelly appears to have lived in the part of Nicholas County which became Braxton County – his land likely lying in both counties. Note: Braxton County was formed in 1836 from parts of Lewis, Kanawha and Nicholas counties.

In 1820 Robert Kelly had 5 slaves in his household: 1 male under 14 and 4 females 14 thru 25. In 1830 he had 7 slaves in his household: 2 males under 10, 1 male 24 thru 35, 2 females under 10, 1 female 10 thru 23, 1 female 24 thru 35. In 1840 he had 6 slaves in his household: 1 male under 10, 1 male 10 thru 23, 1 male 24 thru 35, 1 male 36 thru 54, 2 females 10 thru 23.

From the information on the 1850 slave schedule and the will of Robert Kelly, I believe these are the names and ages of the enslaved persons. The name Granville was mentioned twice in the will, for a girl and for a woman. Mary’s husband’s name was not given.

1850slavenames
Ancestry.com. 1850 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules [database on-line]. Year: 1850; Census Place: District 43, Nicholas, Virginia.
I analyzed the ages of the slaves in the pre-1850 census, compared with the 1850 schedule and the will. I believe it is possible Cato was the father of Granville, Mary, and Callohill and may have died before the will was written. This is an assumption on my part and I have no documentation to back it up.

In 1860, several of Robert Kelly’s children are on the slave schedule of Braxton and Nicholas counties:

  • Braxton: Charles William Kelly with a 23 yrs old male mulatto (Callohill)
  • Braxton: Mary Virginia Kelly with a 40 yrs old female mulatto (Granville) and a 3 yo female mulatto
  • Braxton: John McHamilton Kelly with a 33 yrs old male black (Maddison)
  • Nicholas: David Oliver Kelly with a 30 yrs old female mulatto, a 23 yo male mulatto (Washington), a 6 yo male mulatto, 4 yo male mulatto, and a 2 yo male mulatto.
The Codicil

Robert Kelly, at the time he wrote his will, believed he could easily arrange for two of his slaves to be freed. Within two years he was writing a codicil to the will as he expected a new constitution to be adopted by Virginia which would make it impossible to carry out his wishes.

This codicil makes me wonder how many slave holders changed their minds about freeing their enslaved people because of the laws of their state?

bestwishescathy1

True's statementFollowing my three part series on the slaves of my 5th grand-father James Sims during Black History Month in February 2015 I made a commitment to write a post on a monthly basis until I’ve RELEASED all of the names of slaves owned by my ancestors or owned by persons I’ve researched who were relatives or neighbors of my ancestors. These posts are part of the Slave Name Roll Project which can be found on Schalene Jennings Dagutis’ blog Tangled Roots and Trees

© 2016, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

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Author: Cathy Meder-Dempsey

As a military brat I've lived in Georgia, France, Idaho, West Virginia, Spain, South Carolina, Texas, and Luxembourg. Married 36 years with two grown children. When I’m not doing genealogy, I spend time riding my racing bike with my husband through the wonderful countryside in Luxembourg and surrounding countries.

9 thoughts on “Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING 9 Slaves of Braxton County, (West) Virginia”

    1. Hi Diane! Glad to see you commenting. Thank you.
      This year it will be a challenge to find documents to write about since my focus is on researching my European families. But as you say, it’s a worthwhile project. I will continue to release the names I find.

      Like

  1. I know I’ve said this before, but every time I read one of these wills, it still blows my mind that people once owned other people as property. Something about the wills makes it so much more concrete and awful.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank You Cathy- This is was well prepared and done good. Virginia’s laws are ever changing in those times. It’s hard to keep up with. So far I have not put any effort to research this State. Alabama gives me daily challenges. I’m so glad you took time to follow up on this. There names are released and with all these new DNA kits coming in I’m hoping this is someones brick wall. The names and area should be very helpful for someone. Well Done my Friend.

    Liked by 1 person

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