Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Mary, Isaac, Charles, and John

I’m rewriting the biography of my ancestor James Sims. The first set of documents being perused are the census. As I study the pre-1850 census listings of my 5th great-grandfather and his children, I’m paying close attention to ALL persons in the households including enslaved persons.

James Sims was known to have had slaves. They were featured in my three-part series on the slaves of James Sims during Black History Month in February 2015. Today on the anniversary of these posts, I would like to feature four more enslaved persons found in a Sims household.

RELEASING Kate, Isaac, Charles, and John

James’ oldest son Jeremiah Sims had three colored persons in his household in Clark County, Ohio, in 1820.1 The headings of the columns are nearly impossible to read and do not match up with the census extraction form for 1820.2 There are too few columns for Slaves and Free Colored Persons. On the page with Jeremiah’s entry, there are two columns with the numbers 2 and 1 – separated by a double line. Could this be to distinguish the number of slaves from free colored persons? Or male from female? The ages and gender of these persons cannot be obtained from the sheet due to the lack of columns. Who are these people?

1820 U.S. Federal Census, Ohio, Clark, German Township, Jeremiah Sims

The answer may lie in the history of Ohio. Slavery was abolished in Ohio by the state’s original constitution when it was formed in 1803. Jeremiah did not settle in Ohio until about 1804. The 1810 census for Ohio with the exception of the county of Washington is lost. This means no record of Jeremiah having slaves in 1810. Who could these people be and were they free or enslaved?

Jeremiah Sims’ Relationship to Thomas Milhollin

Jeremiah was married to Sarah Milhollin, daughter of Thomas Milhollin and Jane McClintic, on 26 November 1800.3 Her mother Jane died about 1801 and her father was living at the time Jeremiah and Sarah went to Ohio around 1804. When did Thomas Milhollin die? Did he own slaves? Did he leave a will?

The Will and Codicil

The Last Will and Testament of Thomas Milhollin
The Last Will and Testament of Thomas Milhollin

The Last Will and Testament of Thomas Milhollin dated 21 September 1818 was witnessed by Charles Cameron and Charles L. Francisco.4 It was probated in Bath County, Virginia, in the December Court 1818. Executors were Charles Cameron, Robert Kincaid, and Charles L. Francisco. Thomas made the following bequests:

  • All private property (except slaves) to be sold together with the gristmill, sawmill and everything pertaining thereto
  • To daughter Mary all other lands adjoining part sold, with the gristmill, sawmill, and everything pertaining thereto. Daughter Mary to pay executors $200 within two years
  • To Mary featherbed and furniture already claimed by her, all cow beasts claimed by her, falling leaf table and small trunk
  • To son Thomas all other lands, including the part he lives on, son Thomas to pay executors $300 within two years
  • Executors to pay $100 each to sons William and Patrick and to daughter Elizabeth
  • To daughter Sarah $500 “this I give her in compliance with a promise made at the request of her mother”
  • Executors to pay son William $100 to be applied in schooling a son of Mary Akeman’s (now Mary Hoover) which son Andrew was said to be a child of my son Patrick, on condition of the mother’s consent and the child being bound to son William
  • (see Bequest Concerning Slaves below)
  • Balance to daughters Sarah and Margaret and to John Milhollin, a natural son of daughter Esther, dec, who now lives with my brother Patrick Milhollin

Codicil to the will: two tracts being purchased from John Bollar are also to be sold. Dated 8 November 1818 and witnessed by Charles and Rachel Cameron.

The Inventory

The Inventory of the Estate of Thomas Milhollin
The Inventory of the Estate of Thomas Milhollin

The Inventory of the Estate of Thomas Milhollin was submitted on 18 December 1818 by Adam Givin, Charles Cameron, B. Thomson, and Alexander McClintic.5 It included the following items: cart, farm implements, tools, kitchen furniture, saddle and saddle bags and pair of stillards, household furniture, shoemakers tools, gun and shot pouch, old books, wearing apparel, hemp, rye, broke flax, barrels, still, 2 axle tres, oats, wheat, corn, 5 stacks of hay, 13 hogs, 3 horses, 19 cattle, and Negroes named Kate, Isaac, Charles, and John.

Section in the inventory with the names of the enslaved persons

In the middle of page 233 we find:

1 Negro Woman named Kate 150.00
1 negro boy named Isaac 500.00
1 negro boy named Charles 400.00
1 negro boy named John 250.00

The Sale of the Estate

The Sale of the Estate of Thomas Milhollin

The sale of the estate was on 8 December 1818.6 Three pages of items with the names of the buyers and the price they paid. The enslaved persons were not sold.

A Bequest Concerning Slaves

Thomas Milhollin made the following bequest in his last will and testament concerning the slaves found in his inventory.

As it is my desire that my slaves to wit. Kate and her three children Isaac, Charles, and John, should not be retained in Slavery after my decease I will and direct that my daughter Mary and my son Thomas out of the legacies left them do furnish my said slaves Kate and her three children with two suits of strong new cloths and with money necessary for conveying them to the state of Ohio and that my said son Thomas carry them there and deliver them to my son-in-law Jeremiah Sims and that said Jeremiah Sims bind the said Isaac, Charles, and John to learn some trade agreeable to the Laws of that commonwealth until they severally arrive to the age of twenty one years, at which time it is my will that they be free and that the said Jeremiah Sims have and enjoy the services of the said Kate until her residence there under the laws of that state and my will now intitle her to her freedom and also should it be necessary upon the introduction of my said slaves into the State of Ohio to pay any tax to the commonwealth it is my will that the said Jeremiah Sims pay the same out of the legacies left by me to his wife Sarah.

The three children were to be bound to Jeremiah Sims to learn a trade until the age of 21, then freed. Kate was to work for Jeremiah Sims until freed under the laws of Ohio.

1820 U.S. Federal Census, Ohio, Clark, German Township, Jeremiah Sims

On the 1820 census, three persons of color were in the Sims household in Germantown in Clark County, Ohio. Were they the three sons of Kate? Two sons and Kate? Was Kate living in a different household? Had Isaac already reached the age of 21 and freed?

By 1830 Jeremiah was deceased and his widow Sarah had her own household with 2 sons and a daughter. Next door was her son William. Her oldest son Thomas who had married in 1822 has not been located in 1830. Sarah and William did not have slaves or free colored persons in their household.

Is it possible Jeremiah Sims, who died in 1824, left a will including bequests concerning the young men bound to him?

The Last Will and Testament of Jeremiah Sims

On 8 January 1824, Jeremiah Sims wrote his last will and testament.7 No mention was made of slaves. There was, however, a codicil to the will.

Codicil to the Last Will and Testament of Jeremiah Sims

I, Jeremiah Sims, do further add this codicil to my last will and testament, that is to say, it is my will that the two coulered boys living in my family to wit Charles and John shall be bound out at the discretion of my executors aforesaid. Witness my hand and seal to this day above written (8 January 1818). Jeremiah Sims
Saul Henkle
John Callison
James Callison

By 1824, it would appear that Isaac had reached the age of 21 or for some other reason was no longer living in the family of Jeremiah Sims. Charles and John had likely not yet reached the age of 21.

Jeremiah Sims did not include surnames for the two young men living in his family. What surname or surnames did Kate, Isaac, Charles, and John choose to use? Did they remain in Clark County, or even in Ohio?

This was written in hopes of the names of Kate and her sons Isaac, Charles, and John being familiar to a descendant searching for them.

True's statementFollowing my three-part series on the slaves of my 5th great grandfather 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 (About the Project) administered by Schalene Jennings Dagutis who also blogs at Tangled Roots and Trees.

© 2018, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. 1820 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Fourth Census of the United States, 1820 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M33, 142 rolls, NARA Roll M33_88, image 33, page 18, Ohio, Clark, Green, German, image 3 of 3, line 41. Jeremiah Sims (ancestry.com : accessed 21 February 2018). 
  2. Ancestry.com, U.S. Census Forms, 1820 census, https://c.mfcreative.com/pdf/trees/charts/1820.pdf 
  3. Eliza Warwick Wise, Bath County Marriage Bonds and Ministers Returns 1791-1853 (Bath County Historical Society, Inc. 1978). 
  4. “Virginia, Wills and Probate Records, 1652-1983,” (images), Ancestry.com, citing original data of Virginia County, District, and Probate Courts, Bath Will Books, Vol 1-3, 1791-1830; Vol 2, pages 229-232, images 439-440 of 746. Last Will and Testament of Thomas Milhollin. (Ancestry.com : accessed 25 February 2018). 
  5. Ibid., pages 232-233, images 440-441 of 746. Inventory of Estate of Thomas Milhollin. (Ancestry.com : accessed 25 February 2018). 
  6.  Ibid., pages 236-238, images 442-443 of 746. Sale of the estate of Thomas Milhollin. (Ancestry.com : accessed 25 February 2018). 
  7. “Ohio, Wills and Probate Records, 1786-1998,” (index and images), Ancestry.com, citing original data from Ohio County, District and Probate Courts,, Clark Wills, Vol A1, 1819-1835; Vol 2, 1835-1855, p 94-96, images 56-57 of 565. 1824 Last Will and Testament of Jeremiah Sims and Codicil. (Ancestry.com : accessed 26 February 2018). 
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Author: Cathy Meder-Dempsey

When I’m not doing genealogy and blogging, I spend time riding my racing bike with my husband through the wonderful Luxembourg countryside.

14 thoughts on “Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Mary, Isaac, Charles, and John”

  1. It’s interesting to note that even prior to 1820 conscientious slave owners were recognizing the wrong in the practice of slavery and were making arrangements for manumission of their slaves. In this case, unfortunately, the owner of the slaves – Thomas Milhollin – was only willing to grant them freedom when he no longer had need of them, i.e. after his own death. Still, it was a positive gesture in the long run, and hopefully shaking the bonds of slavery was a blessing for these freedmen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tim, your comment reminded me of one bequest in the will which I think I failed to include. I’ve added two more points to the will. Jeremiah’s wife Sarah received a special bequest “a promise made at the request of her mother.” I wonder if perhaps Kate belonged to his deceased wife. I will have to check is there is a will for her.

      Like

      1. I understood what you meant about loving the project. It brings a subject into the limelight which we don’t want to have to deal with. But I believe in the long run it will help descendants of both the enslaved and holders. We can’t change what happened and should not ignore the records. Researching them as I do (checking for census and other records) means searching for records you may not have looked for, doing searches differently, and is helpful in teaching new ways to search. Thank you, Luanne.

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  2. I love this project also, as I’ve said many times. I reach each post with my heart aching. This one I found uplifting—that your ancestors released these people even if belatedly is honorable. I hope their descendants can find them. Thanks for doing this, Cathy.

    Liked by 1 person

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