Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Silah, Jane, Melacy, Daphney, Agness

While researching my families who lived in Mason County, West Virginia, I came across the last will and testament of Thomas Hannan (1757-1835).

In the will he mentions: a Negro Girl Slave named Silah, one Negro Girl Slave Jane, one Negro girl Slave Melacy, and three Negro children, one girl the child of Daphney, two boys Sons of Agness. The names of the three children are not given.1

1834 Last Will and Testament of Thomas Hannan

Mason > Will book, v. 001A 1833-1875 > image 27 of 165 courtesy of FamilySearch

In the name of God Amen, I Thomas Hannan of the County of Mason & State of Virginia, being weak in body from advanced age, but of sound mind disposing memory Knowing the uncertainty of life & the certainty of death, in order to dispose of the worldly goods that I have been blessed with, do make and publish this my last will and testament – first I commit my soul to God who gave it, and my body to the earth, in hopes of a blessed immortality in the resurrection – and desire that after my death, my body may be directly interred by my Executors, & the funeral expenses and all my Just debts be fully paid & satisfied. I give and bequeath to my Sons John Hannan, Esom Hannan & Henry Hannan, or the Survivors of them the home tract of land situate on the Ohio river at and above the mouth of little Guyandotte Creek containing five hundred acres, with all and singular its appertenences (sic) but upon this trust & use nevertheless that they or the Survivors of them Shall annually account & pay over the rents & profits of Said land unto my Son Charles Hannan, or in their discretion to permit him to use occupy and enjoy the Same during his life – and at the death of the Said Charles, I then give the Said land to his children if he should have any, if not to be disposed of in the manner hereinafter provided for the distribution of my property generally:
I give and bequeath unto my daughter Sarah Whitten a Negro Girl Slave named Silah
I give and bequeath unto my daughter Susannah Shelton the wife of James Shelton one Negro Girl Slave Jane
I give and bequeath unto my Grand daughter Mahala Maxwell one Negro girl Slave Melacy
I desire that the three Negro children, one girl the child of Daphney, two boys Sons of Agness, which I have Sent over the River for their liberty, I desire Shall remain free forever.
My Son Henry owes me Seventy five Dollars & Jesse thirty Dollars, which is to be taken as part of my Estate
I then desire that all my estate not hereby specially bequeathed whether real or personal Shall be equally divided among my children, or the heirs of them that may not be living
Lastly I appoint my two sons John Hannan & Esom Hannan or the Survivor of them the Executors of this my last will & testament. Hereby revoking all other wills heretofore made.
In Testimony whereof I have hereunto Set my hand & Seal this 24th day of September 1834.
. . . . . . . . . . . . Thomas Hannan (x his mark)
Attest
John Lendley
Geo W. Shelton
Thomas M. Shelton

Mason > Will book, v. 001A 1833-1875 > image 27 of 165 courtesy of FamilySearch

At a court held for Mason County April 27th 1835
a writing purporting to be the last will and testament of Thomas Hannan decd. was this day presented in open court and was proven in part, by the oath of Thomas M. Shelton one of the Subscribing witnesses thereto and continued for further proof teste
. . . . . . . . . . . . Thomas Lewis clerk

At a court held for Mason County May 4th 1835
The last will and testament of Thomas Hanna decd which was in part proved by the oath of Thomas M. Shelton a Subscribing witness thereto at April term last past, now this day further proved by the oath of George W. Shelton also a Subscribing witness thereto and the same is ordered to be Recorded And on the Motion of John Hannan & Esom Hannan Executors named in the Said will who made oath thereto and together with Charles Clendinen William A. McMullin & Robt. A. Hereford their Securities entered into and acknowledged their bond in the penalty of $8,000 conditioned as the law directs certificate is granted them for obtaining a probate of the Said will in due form of Law.
. . . . . . . . . . . . Teste
. . . . . . . . . . . . Thomas Lewis clerk

At a Court held for Mason County, November 2nd 1835
The last will and testament of Thomas Hannan decd which was proved at former terms of this court, by two subscribing witnesses thereto and ordered to record was this day further proved by the oath of John Lendley who is also a Subscribing witness thereto.
. . . . . . . . . . . . Teste
. . . . . . . . . . . . Thomas Lewis clerk

Thomas Hannan in the U.S. Federal Census

In 1820 Thomas Hannan was enumerated in Mason County, Virginia.2 In his household there were 7 enslaved persons:

Slaves – Males – Under 14 : 2
Slaves- Females – Under 14: 4
Slaves – Females – 26 thru 44: 1

In 1830 the number had gone up to 9 and were in the following age groups:3

Slaves – Males – Under 10: 2
Slaves – Males – 10 thru 23: 3
Slaves – Females – Under 10: 1
Slaves – Females – 10 thru 23: 2
Slaves – Females – 24 thru 35: 1

Several of the sons of Thomas Hannan left wills: Charles in 1860, John in 1861, and Esom in 1867. The wills of the first two included names of enslaved persons and will be shared next time.

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.

© 2020, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-HN9X-P7?cc=1909099&wc=Q8B7-1YL%3A179687901%2C179729801 : accessed 26 January 2019), Mason > Will book, v. 001A 1833-1875 > image 27 of 165; citing Mason County Clerk, West Virginia. 
  2. 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_138, Virginia, Mason, image 137, Thomas Hannan entry. The official enumeration day of the 1820 census was the 1st Monday in August. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 28 February 2020). 
  3. 1830 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Fifth Census of the United States, 1830 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. NARA microfilm publication M19, 201 rolls, NARA microfilm publication M19, Roll 198, Family History Library Film 0029677, Virginia, Mason County, Page: 146, Thomas Hannan entry. The official enumeration day of the 1830 census was 1 June 1830. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 28 February 2020). 

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.

8 thoughts on “Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Silah, Jane, Melacy, Daphney, Agness”

  1. Cathy, For me, wills are one of the only types of records that express so much more than smaller amounts of information of births or marriages. Wills can tell a story of an ancestor and their family. What you have done in releasing the names of those souls that were held in bondage takes the storytelling to another level. I believe this is wonderful thing that you do. Keep releasing those names when you find them. As always, your friend, Brian

    Like

      1. I wonder if the producers on Finding Your Roots know about this project. They do find amazing things, but this resource might be really helpful to them also.

        Liked by 1 person

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