Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING Names Found in the Mecklenburg County, Virginia Tax Lists

Last month I wrote An Example of What You Can Do With the Personal Property Tax Lists. An example of how these lists can be used for researching enslaved persons and their enslavers was not included.

When I found the Personal Property Tax Lists for Virginia were online, I had several paternal ancestors I wanted to find in the lists. Jeremiah Claunch of Mecklenburg County, Virginia, was one of these. Jeremiah was not a slaveholder and this was confirmed in the year-to-year analysis of his PPT entries. While browsing the tax lists I found that Mecklenburg kept exceptional records. The gentlemen enumerating the districts not only noted the number of slaves over 16 and 16 and younger, but also the names of the enslaved persons. Their names were written after the tithable’s name.

I realized having the names of the enslaved persons listed in two age groups could be helpful to people searching for their enslaved ancestors. As a test, I chose a person on the list taken by Bennett Goode in 1782, the district my Claunch ancestor lived in. The page was missing the left edge where the surname of the person of interest was written and was hard to read. However, as I followed him through the years, I found the names of the enslaved persons were being repeated and this must be the first entry in the PPT lists for John Ballard Senr. of Mecklenburg County, Virginia.1

1782 PPT list entry for John Ballard Senr. of Mecklenburg County, Virginia

In 1782, John Ballard Senr. had 20 slaves over 16 years of age and 33 who were 16 or younger. Along with the names of these enslaved persons was the name Jno. Waller. In 1783 the same Jno. Waller was listed with John Ballard which helped to prove this was the same tithable and the surname missing on the 1782 record was Ballard.2

1783 PPT list entry for John Ballard of Mecklenburg County, Virginia

The names on the 1783 PPT list were much more legible in the 1782 entry and included Jacob, Harry, Charles, George, Cate, Phebe, and Fanny who were over 16. Watt, Daniel, Bob, Biddy, Charlotte, Jacob, Stephen, Branch, Jesse, Judy, Jane, Starling, and Eliza were 16 or younger.

1784 PPT list entry for John Ballard Senr. of Mecklenburg County, Virginia

In 1784 Ballard was named with Daniel Daby (overseer) and the enslaved persons over 16 were Jacob, Harry, Charles, George, Watt, Kate, Phebe, and FannyDaniel, Bob, Jacob, Biddy, Jesse, Branch, Eliza, Starling, Sandy, Dick, and Jiminy were 16 and under.3

Watt had been on the 1783 list in the 16 and younger category and was now over 16 or 17 years old in 1783, i.e. born about 1766.

In 1785 no entry was found for John Ballard. I had not been able to find my ancestor Jeremiah Claunch the same year. After reviewing the images I found the district they both lived in was either not counted, lost, or missing.

1786 PPT list entry for John Ballard Junior of Mecklenburg County, Virginia

In 1786 the list was taken by the gentleman William Hepburn. The name of the tithable John Ballard Sr. had disappeared. Instead, a John Ballard Jr. was seen with Poole?, Peter, Absalom, Will, Jim, Pat, Phillis, Betty, Phillis, Lucy, and Judy, all over 16. The 16 and younger names were Bob, Frank, Dick, Simon, Marry, Davy, Tom, Cyrus, Sally, Nancy, Lucy, Liddy, Lukey, Silvia, Lavina, Docina, Hannah, and Milly.4

General Index to Wills and Lists of Heirs – Mecklenburg County, Virginia. Courtesy of Ancestry.com

As the names of the enslaved persons were no longer matching up with the names in the previous years for John Ballard Sr., I checked for a will that would confirm the death of the senior Ballard. In Will Book 2 beginning on page 213A, the will of John Ballard was found.5

The Last Will and Testament of John Ballard of Mecklenburg County, Virginia

In the name of God Amen. I John Ballard of the County of Mecklenburg being of sound and disposing mind and memory do make this my last will and testament in manner and form following.
First and principally I recommend my soul unto God my maker & my body I commit to the earth to be buried in a decent manner at the discretion of my Executor hereafter named and as to my estate I dispose [illegible] in the following manner.

I direct that all my just debts and funeral expenses be first paid and satisfied. I lend to my beloved wife Faitha during her life all my estate both real and personal and at her death to be disposed of as follows.
I lend to my daughter Lucy Holmes during her life a boy named Watt, a Girl called Biddy, a man named Harry and a girl named Lizzy and at the death of my said daughter I direct that the said negroes and the increase of the females be equally divided amongst all my said daughters children to whom and their heirs I give them forever.
I lend to my daughter Becky Hollaway a negro woman named Peib (sic, Phebe) and her children Charlotte, Judy and Doll and a negro man named Charles during her life and at her death, I direct the said negroes and the increase of the females to be disposed of by my executor in such manner as he may think will best contribute to the support of my grandchildren by my said daughter Becky until her youngest surviving child shall arrive at lawful age and at that time, that the said negroes and the increase of the females be equally divided amongst my said daughters children to whom and their heirs I give them forever. I also give to my said daughter Becky a good feather bed and furniture.
I lend to my daughter Martha Hollaway four negroes named Fanny, Cawcy, Jenny, and Dick during her life, and at her death, I direct that the said negroes and the increase of the said females be disposed of by my executor in such manner as he may think will best contribute to the support of my grand children by my said daughter Martha until her youngest surviving child shall arrive at lawful age and at that time that the said negroes & the increase of the said females be equally divided amongst my said daughters children to whom and their heirs. I give them forever.
I lend to my daughter Betty Cook two negro boys named Jacob and Stephen during her life and at her death, I give the said negroes to such child or children as she may then have equally to be divided between them, to them and their heirs forever. But if my said daughter Betty shall die without leaving any child, then I give the said negroes to my son John Ballard and his heirs forever. I also give to my daughter Betty one hundred and twenty five pounds ____.
I give unto my son William Ballard two negro men named Jacob and Jiminy, a negro woman named Kate and a boy named Starling to him and his heirs forever. Further I lend to my said son William a negro boy named Sandy during his life and at his death, I give the said negro boy to my grandson Francis Ballard and his heirs forever. I give and bequeath to my son Robert Ballard two negroes, ____ Anthony and Bob the land and plantation whereon I now live and one new feather bed to him and his heirs forever.
I give to my son Roberts’s oldest son living at the time of my death a negro boy named Jesse to him and his heirs forever; but if my son Robert should have no son alive at my death then I give the said negro boy to my said son Robert and his heirs forever.
I give to my grand daughter Mary Garland Ballard a negroe boy named Branche to her and her heirs forever.
All the rest and residue of my estate I give to my son John Ballard and his heirs forever.
I do nominate and appoint my son John Ballard sole executor of this my last will and testament hereby revoking all former wills by me heretofore made. In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal this 26th day of August 1783.
John Ballard (seal)
Sealed published & declared by the testator as for his last will & testament in our presence
John Brawn
[illegible] Nicholas
[illegible]

At a Court held for Mecklenburg County the 9th day of July 18 This will was proved by the Oaths of John Brawn & Lewis Earham witness thereto and ordered to be recorded. And on the motion of John Ballard the executor therein named who made Oath thereto and together with William Hepborn, William Johnson & David Stokes his securities entered into and acknowledged their bond in the penalty of five Thousand pounds Conditioned as the law directs Certificate was granted him for obtaining a probate of the said will in due form.
Teste
John Brawn

The names released from John Ballard Sr.’ tax lists and will

Jacob, Harry, Charles, George, Cate, Phebe, Fanny, Watt, Daniel, Bob, Biddy, Charlotte, Jacob, Stephen, Branch, Jesse, Judy, Jane, Starling, Eliza, Sandy, Dick, Jiminy, Lizzy, Doll, Cawcy, Jenny, and Anthony

The names put down on paper 235 years ago in the tax lists give more meaning to those found in the last will and testament of John Ballard Sr. Every record counts when so few were produced for enslaved persons.

Click here to go directly to the list of Virginia and West Virginia counties with PPT lists in the Family Search catalog!

Following 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 monthly post 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.

© 2021, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. Virginia. Commissioner of the Revenue, “Mecklenburg County, Virginia, Personal property tax lists, 1782-1850,” (browse-only images), <i>FamilySearch</i>, citing Microfilm of original records at the Virginia State Library and Archives in Richmond, Virginia., Personal property tax lists 1782-1805, Film 1854098, DGS 7857023, image 29 of 1116, Taken by Bennett Goode Gent., line 10, ___ John Senr. (surname cutoff). 1782 John Ballard Senr. PPT list entry (2 20 33 6). (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CS73-991R-5?i=28&cat=638357 : accessed 30 April 2021). 
  2. Ibid., image 50 of 1116, Taken by Bennett Goode Gent., line 12, Ballard John. 1783 John Ballard PPT list entry (2 7 13 36). (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CS73-9S96-8?cat=638357 : accessed 30 April 2021). 
  3. Ibid., image 86 of 1116, Taken by William Johnson Gentleman, line 8, Ballard John. 1784 John Ballard PPT list entry (2 8 11 38). (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CS73-991V-V?i=85&cat=638357 : accessed 30 April 2021). 
  4. Ibid., image 158 of 1116, Taken by William Johnson Gentleman, line 8, Ballard John Junior. 1786 John Ballard Junior PPT list entry (1 11 18 22). (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CS73-9SMB-C?cat=638357 : accessed 30 April 2021). 
  5. “Virginia, Wills and Probate Records, 1652-1983,” (images), Ancestry.com, citing original data of Virginia County, District, and Probate Courts, Mecklenburg County, Virginia, Will Books, Vol 1-3, 1765-1798, Will Book 2, p 213A, 214, 214A, and 215, image 352-354 of 619. 1787 Last Will and Testament of John Ballard. (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/9085/images/007645459_00352?dbid=9085&h=1556387&ssrc=pt&tid=11910416&usePUB=true&treeid=11910416&personid=12782146987&hintid=&usePUBJs=true&pId=1556387 : accessed 30 April 2021). Note: The state of Virginia (and its respective counties who originally created these records) did not provide the appropriate permissions for these records to be placed online. The collection was removed from Ancestry‘s Card Catalog before June 2016. The images were accessible up until February 2020 and are once again accessible. 

Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING Kate, Rueben, Margett, and Sam

While searching for court records for one of my ancestors who lived in Kanawha County in 1811-1812, I found a Bill of Sale for four enslaved persons.

At that time, Kanawha was part of Virginia and had the same court jurisdictions as Virginia counties. The primary responsibility of the county court was to serve as the administrative body of the county.

The county court record book and county court records go hand in hand. The record book is similar to a calendar or diary of causes brought before the county court. Entries are mostly short and with little further information. The county court records include records produced during the court case.

The loose papers filed in envelopes have been digitized and include labels describing the cause, a list of the records included in the batch, and, in some cases, further information.

Court Records (Court records, v. 10-11 1809-1811) (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSR9-X7XN-9?i=514&cat=94212 : accessed 3 January 2020)

The names of the enslaved persons on the Bill of Sale were included on the typewritten index cards: Kate, Rueben, Margett, and Sam.1

1809 Bill of Sale

Bill of Sale. Court Records (Court records, v. 10-11 1809-1811) (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSR9-X7XN-9?i=514&cat=94212 : accessed 3 January 2020)

This Indenture made this 4th day of April 1809 Between Thomas Joplan of the One part and Ralph Joplan of the other part. Witnesseth that the said Thomas Joplan for and in Consideration of Six Hundred Dollars to him in hand paid the receipt whereof is hereby Acknowledged hath Bargained & sold and by these presents Doth Bargain sell and deliver unto the said Ralph Joplan the following personal property to wit) One negro woman named Kate, One negro Boy named Rueben, One negro girl named Margett, & One negro child named Sam, One Grey Mare & year old Stone colt, One three year old sorrel Mare, five Milch cows and Two calves; three feather Beds and furniture thereto ____, One Sow and Seven shoats, One large Kittle, one

Bill of Sale. Court Records (Court records, v. 10-11 1809-1811) (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSR9-X7XV-K?i=515&cat=94212 : accessed 3 January 2020)

pot & one Dutch oven, One pewter Bason, One pewter dish and Nine pewter plates, One Man’s saddle, one plough and Geers & four Broad Hoes & One Sprouting hoes all which property as before recited respectively the said Thomas Joplan hereby covenants to Warrant & defend unto the said Ralph Joplan or his assigns against the claims of all and every person or persons whatsoever. In Witness whereof he hath hereunto set his hand and affixed his seal the day and date aforesaid.
Thos. Joplan Seal
Signed sealed and acknowledged In presence of
G. Christian
R. Christian

Bill of Sale. Court Records (Court records, v. 10-11 1809-1811) (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSR9-X7XN-9?i=514&cat=94212 : accessed 3 January 2020)

At a Court held and continued for Kanawha County the 14th day of June 1809.
This deed of trust (or bill of sale) from Thomas Jopling to Ralph Jopling was presented in Court and duly acknowledged by the said Thomas & the same is ordered to record.
A Copy Teste
A. Donnally C.K.C.

A bit of background information

Various spellings of the surname were found in the records, including Joplan, Joplin, and Jopling. Thomas Joplin and Ralph Joplin were either father and son or brothers. I suspect the first and that Ralph was preparing to set up his own household when he bought the enslaved persons, stock, and household goods in 1809.

In 1810 Ralph Joplin married Susanna Casdorph. The exact marriage date is not known as John Lee, the minister of the gospel, kept only a list of the marriages by year without dates of marriage.2

The marriage took place before 27 October 1810 when Ralph was hit over the head with a rifle and killed by William C. Wilson, a Kanawha schoolmaster.3 Wilson was acquitted on 30 April 1811.4

The widow Susanna appears to have married while the case was in court as her name was first seen as Susanna Joplin and later as Susanna Wilson. No marriage record has been found.

This post was written to help the descendants of Kate, Rueben, Margett, and Sam connect and fill in their family tree.

Following 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 monthly post 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.

© 2021, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. Kanawha County Court Records, 1773-1875 (browse-only images), FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the Kanawha County courthouse. Film 189907, DGS 8291458, Court records, v. 10-11 1809-1811, images 513-520, Ralph Joplin, dec’d vs Thomas Joplin, Bill of Sale (images 515-516) (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSR9-X7XN-9?i=514&cat=94212 : accessed 3 January 2020) 
  2. West Virginia Vital Research Records Project (database and images), West Virginia Division of Culture and History, (A collaborative venture between the West Virginia State Archives and the Genealogical Society of Utah to place vital records online via the West Virginia Archives and History Web site accessible at http://www.wvculture.org/vrr). 1810, Kanawha County, (West) Virginia, Ralph Jopling and Susannah Casdorph. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=12565937&Type=Marriage : accessed 2 February 2021). 
  3. Kanawha County Court Records, 1773-1875, Film 189907, DGS 8291458, Court records, v. 10-11 1809-1811, images 524-525, Commonwealth vs William C. Wilson, Murderer of Ralph Jopling. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSR9-X7FW-7?cat=94212 : accessed 25 March 2021) 
  4. Kanawha County County Court record book, 1803-1880 (browse-only images), FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the Kanawha County courthouse. Film 521644, DGS 8613718, Record book, v. 3 1803-1819, image 292 of 857, right page.  (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C34Z-SSVQ-G?mode=g&cat=295049 : accessed 25 March 2021) 

Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: A young girl named Rachael

Following 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 monthly post 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.

A young girl named Rachael

The young girl whose name is being released today was not born into slavery. Rachael was born to a free woman in about 1796. She was orphaned by 1801 when she was bound out at the age of 5. Her name was found in the Record Book of Kanawha County, Virginia (now West Virginia) in 1801.1

Record book, 1788-1803, page 68, top. Image courtesy of FamilySearch.

At a Court Continued and heald for Kanhawa (sic, Kanawha) County the 15th day of April 1801. Present David Robinson, Thomas Rodgers, John Rousch, Obadiah Fugua and William Owans, Gentlemen.

Record book, 1788-1803, page 68, middle. Image courtesy of FamilySearch.

It is Ordered that the overseers of the poor, binds to William Sterritt a poor Orphan Negroe Girl name Rachael, about five years of age according to Law.

It is Ordered that the overseers of the poor, binds to Tramus Wathans, a poor orphan Negroe Girl about two years old according to Law.

The entry following Rachael‘s is for a younger orphaned girl who is unnamed. I’ve included it as there is the possibility that she might be Rachael‘s younger sister.

More information on Rachael was found in another entry dated 1809 when she would have been about 13 years old.2

Record book, v. 3 1803-1819, image 252 of 857. Courtesy of FamilySearch.

On the Petition of William Sterritt, with the approbation of the Court, It is ordered that said Sterritt transfer to Francis Monin the time of Servitude that yet remains of Rachael a negro girl born of a free woman who by an Order of this Court at April Term 1801 was directed to be bound out to said Sterritt until she arrived at the age of 18 years, provided said Monin give Bond with approved Security in the penal sum of six hundred dollars Conditioned for the delivery up from Servitude of the said free negro girl when she arrives at the Age of 18 years and that he will not attempt to reduce her into Absolute and permanent Slavery & not to remove her out of this State.

The records were found while I was searching for entries for the years 1808-1810 for one of my ancestors. These record books are not indexed collections nor is there an index in the front or back of the books.

The names Sterritt and Monin were not found on the Kanawha census in 1810 or 1820.

Rachael would have obtained the age of 18 years about 1814. Even though it is expressly stated that she was not to be reduced into absolute and permanent slavery, I felt the need to share these records with her name in this series.

© 2021, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. “Record book, 1788-1803” (browse-only images), FamilySearch. Microfilm of original records at the Kanawha County courthouse, Charleston, West Virginia. Film 530753, DGS 8218841, image 151 of 291, page 68. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSG6-X9SV-M?cat=55519 : accessed 25 February 2021). 
  2. “County Court record book, 1803-1880” (browse-only images), FamilySearch. Microfilm of original records at the Kanawha County courthouse, Charleston, West Virginia. Record book, v. 3 1803-1819, Film 521643, DGS 8613717, image 252 of 857, left page, middle. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C34Z-SSN9-N?i=251&cat=295049 : accessed 25 February 2021). 

Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Benjamin F. Hopkins b. abt. 1851

My monthly posts for the Slave Name Roll Project have been absent from my blog since the end of March 2020. As many things slowed down or came to a stop during the COVID-19 pandemic, finding names of enslaved persons in records in the US was put on hold.

In February 2020 I released the names of five enslaved persons found in the 1834 Last Will and Testament of Thomas Hannan of Mason County, Virginia (now West Virginia). Thomas had several sons who left wills. One of these was Charles who wrote his will twenty-two years later. In March 2020 I released the names of six enslaved persons found in the 1856 Last Will and Testament of Charles Hannan. Planned for April 2020, but not written, was this post releasing the name of a former enslaved person mentioned in the 1879 will of Charles’ wife Ann W. Fox.1

1879 Last Will and Testament of Ann Hannan of Mason County, Virginia

This last will and testament of Ann W. Hannan of Mason County and State of West Virginia, –
First after the payment of my just debts, I give and bequeath to my three nieces Ann H. Steed, Lucy Butler, and Ida May Fox all my real estate in the State of West Virginia: – Second I give and bequeath to the said Ida May Fox all my personal property in this state – Third I give and bequeath to Benjamin Hopkins (who was formerly my salve, (sic, slave)) one hundred dollars provided he remains with me and is kind and serviceable to me as long as I live – Fourth I give and bequeath to my niece Caroline Goolsby all my estate in the State of Virginia and all debts due me or to which I may be entitled to in law or equity in said State, but out of this legacy she is to pay my sister Jinnie one hundred dollars if my said sister should be then alive. It is my desire that my executor shall sell at public sale all my real and personal estate in the State of West Virginia, and that he shall out of the proceeds of the sale of said realty pay to the said Hopkins the sum aforesaid, divide the remaining proceeds equally between my three nieces first mentioned and shall after the payments of my debts pay over to Ida May the amt. left of the proceeds of the personal estate. I hereby appoint William R. Gunn of Mason County and State of West Virginia sole executor of this my last will and testament. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 11th day of June 1873.
her
Ann W X Hannan
mark
Signed and sealed by the said Anne W. Hannan as and for her last will and testament in our presence and we at the same time in her presence and in the presence of each other witnessed the same at her request.
William R. Gunn
his
John M. X Chapman
mark

Codicil — I Ann W. Hannan whose name is signed to the foregoing will dated dated (sic) the 11th day of June

1873, do hereby make and add this codicil to my said foregoing will and do now hereby revoke and change so much thereof as devises or bequeaths or gives to the said Lucy Butler any part of my said estate and desire that she shall take nothing thereby. I also do hereby further desire and do so will that the said Ida May Fox shall not as provided in any said will take all my personal property in this State but desire that said property shall be equally divided between her and the said Ann H. Steed. As witness my hand and seal this 24th day of June, 1876.
his (sic, her)
Ann W. X Hannan
mark
Signed and sealed by the said Ann W. Hannan in our presence and we at the same time in her presence & the presence of each other witnessed the same at her request & she declared that the same was a codicil to her said foregoing will
Abner McCoy
William Hudson

At a County Court continued and held for the County of Mason at the Court House thereof on Tuesday May 20th 1879.
A writing purporting to be the last Will and testament of Ann W. Hannan deceased late of this County, was this day present in Court and fully proved according to law by the oaths of W. R. Gunn and John W. Chapman, the subscribing witnesses thereto, and the Codicil thereto attached was also fully proved according to law by the oaths of Abner McCoy and William Hudson the subscribing witnesses thereto. It is therefore ordered by the Court that the said writing be recorded as and for the last will and testament of the said Ann W. Hannan decd and on motion of W.R. Gunn the Executor therein named, who made oath and together with Joseph N. Daigh, his security, who justified on oath as to his sufficiency, entered into and acknowledged a bond in the penalty of one thousand dollars conditioned according to law, certificate is granted the said W.R. Gunn for obtaining probate of the said Will in due form, and it is further ordered that Abner McCoy, William Hudson, & Jno. W. Chapman after being first duly sworn for that purpose do truly and justly appraise in current money the personal estate of the said Ann W. Hannan, decd,

and the appraisement so made return under their hands to this Court.
A Copy Teste: J.P.R.B.Smith Clerk
by Jas H. Holloway, Deputy

Benjamin Hopkins

In the 1870 census Anna W. Hannan had her own household with her young niece Ida M. Fox age 12, and six black persons, all named HOPKINS, in Hannan, Mason County, West Virginia.2 Three young boys appear to be children of Matilda HOPKINS but this is assumed as the 1870 census did not include relationships. They were not located in 1880.

Screenshot of the 1870 census index as the image is too light to be legible.

Benjamin HOPKINS, the formerly enslaved man of Anna W. Hannan, was living in her household in 1870. He was 19 years old, i.e. would have been about 10 years old in 1861. Bettie may be the young girl seen in the inventory of Anna’s husband in 1861. [Below, in brackets are the names given in the will.]

Excerpt from the 1861 inventory of Charles Hannan:
one Negro man named Nelson $800 [Nelson Cudyo]
one Negro woman named Milie $650 [Milley]
one Negro girl named Bettie $450
one Negro boy named Ben $500 [Ben Packson]
one Negro boy named Dick $500 [Peter Dicky]
one Negro girl named Hettie $300 [Hetty]

Is it possible that Mathilda, Bettie, and Benjamin were siblings and the children of Nelson and Milley? Or worded differently, were the man and woman and children mentioned in the inventory a family group?

In 1880, Benjamin HOPKINS was found in Huntington, Cabell County, West Virginia, as the head of a household.3 Also in his household were his sister Belle HOPKINS and his nephew Montague ALLEN. Montague was Belle’s son. She would marry his father John Henry ALLEN in 1886. She died in 1913 and the death register did not include the names of her parents.

Belle had at least three children with John Henry ALLEN.

  1. No descendants were found for their son Montague HOPKINS  (1876-1944) who was married twice. His 1944 death certificate names Belle HOPKINS  born in Nelson County, Virginia, and John Henry ALLEN born in Louisa County, Virginia, as his parents.
  2. In 1940 Montague was the head of a household that included his sister Anna Lois ALLEN. She is unaccounted for prior to this census listing other than a marriage record in 1900 to William CALLAWAY. In 1940 her husband was named William SALES. He died in 1949 and she was listed as the informant on the certificate of death. Anna Lois’s 1960 death certificate confirms she was the daughter of John Henry ALLEN and Belle HOPKINS.
  3. The third child was John Henry ALLEN Jr. (1885-1932). He and his wife Susie H. CHADWICK (1890-1978) had three sons. They were all married and had children. I have not taken their lines into the present time.

Belle HOPKINS was not found in 1870. The 1870 census for Anna W. Hannan with the HOPKINS in her household is faint and hard to decipher. Could Belle have been the same person as Bettie?

I was unable to locate Benjamin HOPKINS after the 1880 census. However, working on the assumption that Nelson may have been his father, I searched for a likely candidate.

Ramblings…

I found Nelson HOPKINS (1824-1907), a black man, born about 1824 in Virginia living in Mason County, West Virginia, from 1870 until 1907. He was on the 1870 census with a wife named Susan and two young sons, Alfred J. and Thomas. In 1880 he was widowed with two young boys, Alfred J. and Payton. In 1900 he was with a wife of 6 years named Bertha (b. 1872) and two sons, Harry (b. 1883) and Marion (b.  1888). He died 30 June 1907 in Mason County. He was living on the Poor Farm and was married at the time of death. No parents were listed on the record nor the name of a spouse.

The 1927 death certificate of Alfred J. HOPKINS (1867-1927), seen with Nelson in 1870 and 1880, named his parents Nelson HOPKINS and Susan SAUNDERS. He was single at the time of death.

The 1912 marriage record of Marion HOPKINS (1888-1967) named his parents as Nelson HOPKINS and Bertha EARLY. Further searches for Bertha indicate she was likely 10 years older than noted in 1900 and therefore old enough to be the mother of both boys. As her age may be incorrect, it is possible that the number of years married is also wrong.

Marriage records for Nelson HOPKINS were not found nor were death records for Susan or Bertha. The records left by these two children show that the households found in 1870, 1880, and 1900 were the same Nelson HOPKINS.

Although Benjamin HOPKINS, whose name was released in the last will and testament of Anna W. (Fox) Hannan, has not been traced after the 1880 census, his sister Belle has. She left descendants who are living today. My ramblings about the man named Nelson HOPKINS may be helpful to these descendants if they are interested in proving/disproving the parentage of Belle and her brother Benjamin.

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.

© 2021, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch, citing Mason County Clerk, West Virginia. Mason > Will book, v. 002 1874-1896 > image 51 of 242 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-HN92-8P?cc=1909099&wc=Q8B7-1Y5%3A179687901%2C179748201 : accessed 27 January 2021) and image 52 of 242 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-HN92-37?cc=1909099&wc=Q8B7-1Y5%3A179687901%2C179748201 : accessed 27 January 2021) 
  2. 1870 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Ninth Census of the United States, 1870 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration,Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T132, 13 rolls, Roll: M593_1692, Family History Library Film: Film: 553191, West Virginia, Mason, Hannan, page 106A, lines 9-16, HH #17-17, Annie W Hannen. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 27 January 2021). Note: The official enumeration day of the 1870 census was 1 June 1870. 
  3. 1880 U.S. Federal Census; Census Place: Huntington, Cabell, West Virginia; Roll: 1401; Page: 159A; Enumeration District: 016 

Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Milley, Hetty, Nelson, Ben, Bettie, and Dick

Last month I released the names of five enslaved persons found in the 1834 Last Will and Testament of Thomas Hannan of Mason County, Virginia (now West Virginia). Thomas had several sons who left wills. One of these was his son Charles who wrote his will twenty-two years after his father on 4 October 1856.1

1856 Last Will and Testament of Charles Hannan of Mason County, Virginia

1856 Last Will and Testament of Charles Hannan of Mason County, Virginia. Image courtesy of FamilySearch.

In the name God Amen I Charles Hannan of the County of Mason and State of Virginia Being of Sound Mind and disposing Memory Knowing the uncertainty of life and 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 comit my Soul to God who gave it and my body to the earth in hopes of a blessed Imortality on the Reserrection.
I give and bequeath to my wife Ann W. Hannan all my lands in Mason County Virginia to her and her seperate use during her natural life then at her natural death to be disposed of hereafter named all the Negros belonging to wife if she wants them if not to go as hereafter mention. I give and bequeath unto my wife Ann W. Hannan a

1856 Last Will and Testament of Charles Hannan of Mason County, Virginia. Image courtesy of FamilySearch.

Negro girl Slave named Milley and her posterity to her and to dispose of as she sees proper allso a Negro girl Slave named Hetty as she might think proper for her use and benefit and her posterity.
I give and beaquath all the balance of my Slaves in Mason County Va. and lands to the use of the Gospel in said County Va. namely my lands after the death of my wife Ann W. Hannan to go to the benefit of any [Baptist and Southern Methodist – these words are struck through] preacher or preachers Baptist and Southern Methodist rent free forever that might preach to the people in this sourrounding county in succession one after the other forever rent free after the death of my wife allso all my property of every description after the death of my wife to go to the same perpose the Gospel in said County Virginia for the benefit and support of the poor Preachers throughought the said County Except the two named Slaves Milley and Hetty I have bequeathed to my wife Ann W. Hannan to her and sole use and benefit forever.
I give and bequeath the named Slaves to the Baptist and Southern Methodist preachers after the natural death of my wife Ann W. Hannan: Nelson Cudyo and Ben Packson and Bity Bill and Peter Dicky Slaves to be hired out to good Masters and proceeds to go for the building of Meeting houses and for the benefit of the Gospel in the lower district Mason County Virginia.
In witness I hereunto set my hand and Seal Oct the 4. 1856
Attest . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Charles Hannan (Seal)
William C (his x mark) Wray
Andrew (his + mark) Meadows
John O. Butler
Timothy S. Butler
A. J. Waren

At a Court Continued and held for Mason County in the court house thereof on Tuesday February the 8th 1861.
A writing purporting to be the last will and Testament of Charles Hannan deceased was this day produced in Court by Ann W. Hannan principal devisee therein, and John O. Butler and of the subscribing witnesses thereto Stated on oath that he was acquainted with the hand writing of Charles Hannan deceased and that he believed said writing purporting to be the last will and testament of Charles Hannan decd was entirely written and signed by said Charles Hannan decd. and that he at the request of said Charles Hannan decd subscribed his name to said will as an attesting witness in the presence of said Charles Hannan deceased and in the presence of Timothy S. Butler another subscribing witness thereto, and that he believed that said Charles Hannan deceased was at that time of sound mind and disposing memory and the probate of this will is continued for further proof until the first day of the next term of this court and on motion of the propounder it is ordered that Timothy S. Butler and A. J. Warren be summoned to attend at the next term of

1856 Last Will and Testament of Charles Hannan of Mason County, Virginia. Image courtesy of FamilySearch.

this Court to complete the proof of said Will.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Copy Teste James H. Holloway Clk.
At a Court held for Mason County, at the Courthouse thereof on Monday February the 4th 1861.
A writing purporting to be the last Will and Testament of Charles Hannan deceased bearing date on the 4th day of October 1856 was this day produced in Court by Ann W. Hannan, in order to be further proved, whereupon Timothy S. Butler one of the subscribing witnesses thereto stated on oath that he subscribed his name as an attesting witness to said writing at the request of said Charles Hannan decd in his presence and in the presence of John O. Butler another subscribing witness to said writing and that the said Charles Hannan decd acknowledged the same to be his last will & Testament in his presence and in the presence of John O. Butler who were present at the same time, and that he believed said Charles Hannan deceased was at that time of sound mind and disposing memory. It is therefore ordered that said writing of the 4th day of October 1856 be recorded as the last Will and Testament of Charles Hannan deceased.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Copy Teste James H. Holloway Clk.
At a Court continued and held for Mason County, at the Courthouse thereof on Thursday February the 7th 1861.
On the Motion of A. L. Knight who made oath, and together with A. M. Causland, J. V. Newman, W. O. Roseberry and George R. Knight his Securities entered into and acknowledged a bond in open Court in the penalty of $2000 conditioned as the law directs, certificate is granted the said A. L. Knight for obtaining letters of Administration of the Estate of Charles Hannan deceased with his Will annexed in due form. Whereupon on the further motion of the said A. L. Knight it is ordered that David George, John A. Hunter, Jesse Waugh, Augustus Cobb, and Robert M.Hereford or any three of whom, being first duly sworn before a Justice of the peace for that purpose do truly and justly appraise in current money the personal estate of the said Charles Hannan deceased and return the appraisement under their hands to the Court.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Copy Teste James H. Holloway Clk.

Charles Hannan was “killed by crews” on 24 November 1860 in Mason County.2 His will was proven and recorded as noted in the transcript above in February 1861. This is the first record I have found which identifies enslaved persons with what appear to be surnames: Nelson Cudyo and Ben Packson and Bity Bill and Peter Dicky. Only Milley and Hetty were named without surnames.

1861 Inventory of the Estate of Charles Hannan

The personal estate of Charles Hannan was appraised the 20th day of February 1861.3 The following list of the property was made and each item valued. At the top of the list are:

one Negro man named Nelson $800
one Negro woman named Milie $650
one Negro girl named Bettie $450
one Negro boy named Ben $500
one Negro boy named Dick $500
one Negro girl named Hettie $300

The appraisement and inventory of the personal estate of Charles Hannan of Mason County, Virginia. Image courtesy of FamilySearch.
The appraisement and inventory of the personal estate of Charles Hannan of Mason County, Virginia. Image courtesy of FamilySearch.

1867 Settlement of the Estate of Charles Hannan

The estate of Charles Hannan was not settled until 15 July 1867. The settlement was confirmed and ordered to be recorded on 9 September 1867.4 It included $3,200, the appraised value of six Negroes.

The settlement of the estate of Charles Hannan. Image courtesy of FamilySearch.

Charles Hannan and his wife Ann W. Fox were not located in the 1850 or 1860 census nor was Charles on the slave schedule of Mason County, Virginia. Charles’ wife Ann died in 1879 and left a will mentioning her former slave. His name will be featured in next month’s post.

I hope one or the other descendant will recognize his/her ancestor’s name and be able to open the door in their brick wall.

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-K6?cc=1909099&wc=Q8B7-1YL%3A179687901%2C179729801 : accessed 29 March 2020), Mason > Will book, v. 001A 1833-1875 > image 93+94 of 165; pages 146-148, citing Mason County Clerk, West Virginia. 
  2. West Virginia Vital Research Records Project (database and images), West Virginia Division of Culture and History (A collaborative venture between the West Virginia State Archives and the Genealogical Society of Utah to place vital records online via the West Virginia Archives and History Web site accessible at http://www.wvculture.org/vrr), Virginia, Mason County, 24 November 1860, Charles Hannan, age 54 years 20 days, son of Thomas and Mary, consort Ann Hannan, informant George W. Grobe, nephew. 1860 Death Record. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=5269843&Type=Death : accessed 29 March 2020). 
  3. West Virginia County Court (Mason County), “Appraisement and settlement, 1854-1927,” database with images, FamilySearch, Film 567424 Item 2, DGS 7618497, pages 136-137 (bottom) 138-139 (top), images 328-329 of 423. The entry in this register is recorded across two pages. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99K9-3G5V?i=327&cat=66225 : accessed 29 March 2020) 
  4. Ibid., pages 294-295, image 407 of 423. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99K9-3G2K?i=406&cat=66225 : accessed 29 March 2020) 

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). 

Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Mary and her child Esther

While researching my families who lived in Greenbrier County, Virginia (now West Virginia) I found the following record which names two enslaved persons.

This indenture names female slave Mary & her child Esther, together with all and singular the natural increase of both said slaves.1

1846 Hix to J. B. Cobbs Indenture

In the margin:

Hix to J.D. Cobbs final

Tax paid J.A.N.

Delivered to
Jno. Clowes for ____
his mother.

This Indenture made and entered into this 22nd day of September 1845 by and between William Hicks of Amherst County of the first part. Emma Clowes the wife of Sidney B. Clowes and James M. Cobbs of the Town of Lynchburg of the second and third parts. Witnesseth: that whereas the said William Hicks is desirous to settle upon and secure to the sole & separate use of the said Emma Clowes, one female slave named Mary and her child Esther, together with the increase of both said slaves, to be held and enjoyed by the said Emma for and during her natural life, and at her death to go to & belong to the child or children of said Emma, share & share alike or the survivors of them by the present or any future husband, and the descendants of any who may die before the mother, such descendants taking such share or shares as their parents or parents would have taken, had he she or they survived the said Emma. Now therefore in considerations of the premises, and the further consideration of the sum of one dollar in hand paid to the said William Hicks, at & before the enscaling and delivery of these presents, the receipts of which is hereby fully acknowledged, he the said Hicks hath bargained & sold & delivered and by these presents do bargain sell and deliver unto the said James M. Cobbs, the said female slave Mary & her child Esther, together with all and singular the natural increase of both said slaves. To have & to hold the said slaves together with their increase, the said William Hicks for himself his Exors & admins doth hereby warrant & defend a good lawful and sufficient right & titles as against himself his executors & admrs. & as against all & every person or persons, claiming by through or under him and not otherwise. In trust nevertheless that it shall be the duty of the said James M. Cobbs to permit the said Emma Clowes to have take & enjoy the hires use & profits of the said slaves & their increase for and during her natural life as a sole and separate estate free from the actual contracts or liabilities of her said husband or of any future husband. And at her death shall cause the said slaves together with all & singular their future increase to be equally divided amongst the children or child of said Emma who may survive her, and amongst the descendants of any child who may have died before her, giving to such descendant or descendants only such share as their parent or parents would have taken had he or she survived her or her mother. In testimony of all which the parties hereto have signed their names sealed with their seals the day & year above written.
Witness
J. J. Watson

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . William Hix
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Emma Clowes
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . James M. Cobbs
In the Clerks Office of the Lynchburg Hustings? Court, March 10th 1846.
. . . . . . This deed from William Hix to James M. Cobbs for the benefit of Emma Clowes, which was acknowledged by all the parties before the clerk on the 15th January 1846, was this day admitted to record, the tax thereon being paid.
. . . . . . . Teste
. . . . . . . . . James Benagh clk

Clerks Office of Greenbrier
County Court October 13th 1847
. . . . . . . . This deed was this day presented in the office and with the above certificates of the acknowledgments, is admitted to record.
. . . . . . . Teste
. . . . . . . . . John A. North D.C

About the persons in the indenture

William Hicks was found in Amherst County in 1840 as William Hix with 12 slaves.2

Emma Clowes was born Emma Handley, daughter of Alexander Handley. She married Sydney Bailey Clowes in Botetourt County, Virginia, in 1833.3 Both of her parents were deceased when the indenture was drawn up.

In 1850 S. B. Clowes was on the Slave Schedule of Greenbrier County, Virginia, with one 25 years old female black and one 7 years old female black.4

By 1860 the Clowes family had moved to Lexington, Rockbridge County, Virginia. S. B. Clowes was on the Slave Schedule with four black females ages: 35, 18, 9, and 6.5 Could they be Mary and her daughter Esther as well as two daughters born to Mary after 1850?

Sydney B. Clowes was listed on the 18506, 18607, and 18708 census as a Stage Agent.

As the slave schedule does not give names of the enslaved persons it is a guess on my part that Mary may have been born about 1825 and Esther may have been born about 1843 and seen on the 1850 schedule. Mary was the mother of Esther per the indenture. Mary may have also been the mother of the two younger girls born about 1851 and 1854 and seen on the 1860 schedule.

It has been a while since I’ve been able to release the names found in records as I am only now getting back to doing US research. In hopes that Mary and Esther will be recognized by descendants and this will help them to break through their brick wall.

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 every month 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. Greenbrier County (West Virginia) County Clerk, “Deeds (Greenbrier County, West Virginia), 1780-1901” (non-indexed images), FamilySearch (Microfilm of original records at the Greenbrier County Courthouse in Lewisburg, West Virginia), Film 593555, DGS #8152881, Deeds, v. 17-18 1843-1851, image 174+175 of 612, page 333-334. Hix to J. D. Cobb Indenture. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSKV-J7MX-8?i=173&cat=98577 : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  2. 1840 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Sixth Census of the United States, 1840 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M704, 580 rolls, Roll: 550, Family History Library Film: 0029683, Virginia, Amherst, Page: 209, line 3, William Hix. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  3.   “Virginia, Marriages, 1785-1940” (index), Ancestry, citing FamilySearch, Index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City., FHL Film Number: 30734, page 366. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  4. 1850 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry, citing Seventh Census of the United States, 1850 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M432, 1009 rolls, Slave Schedule, Virginia, Greenbrier, image 2 of 7, line 1-2, S. B. Clews. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  5. 1860 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Eighth Census of the United States, 1860 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M653, 1,438 rolls, Slave Schedule, Virginia, Rockbridge, Lexington, page 6, line 14-17, S. B. Clowes. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  6. 1850 U.S. Federal Census, Virginia, Greenbrier, District 18, image 252, page 283A, S. B. Clows household. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  7. 1860 U.S. Federal Census, Virginia, Rockbridge, Lexington, page 24, Sidney B. Clowes household. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  8. 1870 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Ninth Census of the United States, 1870 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T132, 13 rolls, Roll: M593_1675, Family History Library Film: 553174, Virginia, Rockbridge, Lexington, page 477B, Sydnor Clows household. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 2 January 2020). 

Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Harvey and Hariett

Last week Edmond‘s name was released from the last will and testament of Elizabeth Clark written in 1841 and recorded in 1844. Elizabeth mentioned Frances C. Harrison and her husband John in the will.1

As I tried to follow Edmond either forward in time or back, I found John Harrison was listed in the 1840 census of Mason County. In his household were one male 10 thru 14, one male 50 thru 59, one female 50 thru 59, one female 70 thru 79, and 4 slaves. The enslaved persons in the household were 2 males under 10, a male 24 thru 35, and a female 10 thru 23.2

Was the older woman in the household Elizabeth Clark? If this was the household Elizabeth was living in, would Edmond be the young man age 24 thru 35? Or was John Harrison the holder of all four slaves?

There is a reason I looked into the Elizabeth Clark will. In 1850 my 4th great-grandmother Nancy Beasley, widow of Dennis Clonch (also seen as Claunch), was enumerated as Nancy Clonch age 75 in the household of John W. Clark age 56. Also in the household was her 12 years old grandson Dennis Clonch.3 Nancy died in the 1850s. John W. Clark was seen in the household of her son William Clonch in 1860.4 Who was this John W. Clark and was there a family connection between him and the Clonch family? Could there be other records which would clear up the matter? Those were the questions I asked as I searched for other Clark persons in the county.

At this point, I found the will of Elizabeth Clark and the census record in which she may have been enumerated. Who were John Harrison and his wife Frances C. and why were they mentioned in the Clark will?

A marriage record was found in Mason County for John Harrison and Frances Oldakers. They were married by B. K. Craig in 1834.5 As both persons were in their 50s in the 1840 household, there was the possibility one or the other was widowed prior to 1834.

Off to the Will Book for another will

John Oldaker wrote his last will and testament in June 1833 and it was recorded in November 1833.6 Did he leave a widow?

The Last Will & Testament of John Oldaker of Mason County, Virginia – 1833

I John Oldaker of the county of Mason & State of Virginia do hereby make my last will & testament in manner & form following that is to Say.
I give and bequeath all my estate that shall remain after my Just debts are paid to be disposed of as hereinafter mentioned. I give and bequeath to my beloved wife Frances C. Oldaker all my estate real & personal (except Items hereinafter disposed of) for & during her natural life & after her deceas (sic) I give and bequeath the same to my grandaughter (sic) Frances J. McMullin (except Items hereinafter disposed of). I give & bequeath to my beloved wife Frances C. Oldaker in fee Simple to make any disposition of (during her natural life or at her Decease) she may think proper my negro man named Harvey & my Negro Girl named Hariett with her future of spring together with the sum of one Hundred Dollars.
I give and bequeath to my friend & brother in law Benjamin K. Craig my Rifle gun with the aparatus thereto belonging. In case my Grandaugher Frances J. McMullin should die under the age of twenty one years old & without a Servicing heir of her body, I give & bequeath all that otherwise would be her right & title in and to my estate to my friends Benjamin K. Craig & Polly A. Craig, his wife & their heirs. It is my will & I do hereby give & bequeath to my beloved wife Frances C. Oldaker the wright & power to convey by warrantee Deeds certain tracts of land sold by me viz. one tract to Carter Newcomb lying on Eighteen mile creek for which the said Newcomb holds my Title Bond with conditions, one other Tract to Robert Summers lying also on Eighteen mile creek for which the Said Summers holds my Title bond with conditions on their the Said Newcomb & Summers complying with the conditions in Said title bonds their Deeds are to be made. And Lastly I do hereby constitute and appoint my friends Benjamin K. Craig & Matthew D. Brower executors of this my last will & testament. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my Seal this 15th day of June 1833.
. . . . . his
John X Oldaker Seal
 . . . .mark
Signed Sealed published & declared by John
Oldaker, as & for his last will & testament
in the presence & hearing of us at his request and in his
presence here subscribed our names as witnesses.
Henry Harriss
R. Summers
Wiliam Wallace
At a court held for Mason county Nov. 4th 1833
The last will and Testament of John Oldaker decd was proved by the oaths of Henry Harriss and William Wallace subscribing witnesses thereto. And is ordered to be Recorded. Upon the motion of Benjamin K. Craig an executor named in the will of Jno. Oldaker decd who made oath thereto & together with James Craik his Securety who entered into & acknowledged their Bond in the penalty of Two thousand dollars conditioned as the law directs certificate is granted him for obtaining a probat of the Said will in due form of Law.
Teste
Thos. Lewis clerk

New Relationships

Frances C. Oldaker was the widow of John Oldaker. What was her maiden name? John Oldaker mentions his brother-in-law Benjamin K. Craig and his wife Polly A. Craig. Was this the same B. K. Craig who married Frances C. Oldaker and John Harrison in 1834?

Benjamin K. Craig married Mary A. Clark in 1826.7 If Benjamin was John’s brother-in-law, could his wife Polly A. (Mary A.) have been Frances’ sister?

This would explain Frances C. Harrison aka Frances C. Oldaker being mentioned in the will of Elizabeth Clark. There was no mention of children in the 1841 will nor did Elizabeth include a relationship descriptor for Frances other than her being the wife of John Harrison. Was Elizabeth an unmarried sister of Frances and Polly? Or an aunt or even their mother?

John Oldaker left Harvey and Hariett to his wife Frances C. in his will in 1833. Frances married John Harrison the following year. In 1840 enslaved persons were found in the household of John Harrison – a man and a woman along with two young boys. Could this couple be Harvey and Hariett whose fate was left in Frances’ hands per her first husband’s will? Or could the man be Edmond mentioned in Elizabeth’s will and the other three enslaved persons of Harrison?

The Census and Slave Schedules

No entry was found in the index of the will books of Mason County for John Harrison or Benjamin K. Craig. Neither were found in Mason the 1850 census.

Polly A. Craig died in Putnam County, West Virginia, on 10 November 1865. Her death was reported by her son Lewis Craig. He gave her deceased husband’s name as Benj. K. Craig and her parents as William & E. Clark. Polly, per her son’s information, was born in Culpepper County, Virginia.8

With this information I located the widowed Polly A. Craig in Putnam in 1850 with three children.9 She was also on the Slave Schedule with two children, an 8 yo male mulatto and a 6 yo female mulatto.10

While browsing the schedule I noticed the name John Harrison with a 32 yo black female, 11 yo black male, and a 3 yo black female. 11 Checking the census, I found John and Frances C. were living in Putnam County in 1850.12

There is a known anomality on the 1860 census of Putnam County. The enumerator recorded all persons with an initial instead of first name and middle initals. This makes it difficult to find persons when searching for first names. However by limiting the search to the surname only, I found Polly A. Craig with her children13 as well as John and Frances C. Harrison. 14 Polly and John were also on the slave schedule. Polly with a 15 yo female mulatto (possibly the 6 yo from 1850)15 and John Harrison with a 12 yo female black (possibly the 3 yo from 1850).16

The will of John Harrison was written 11 April 1867 and recorded 10 May 1867 in Putnam County.17 He mentioned his wife Frances C. Due to the lateness of this will he did not mention enslaved persons.

Edmond, who was supposed to be freed per the 1841 will of Elizabeth Clark, was not with either the Craig or Harrison families as a free person. There is no male old enough to be Edmond on the slave schedule for either Polly A. Craig or John Harrison.

From the numbers found on the slave schedules in 1850 and 1860 for John Harrison it is possible Harriet named in the Oldaker will was with John and Frances C. in 1850 with two children. She is not with them in 1860. As with Edmond, there were no males old enough to be Harvey.

Frances was found in the 1870 census in the household of her step-son Josiah Harrison.18 Frances’ first husband had given her in fee Simple to make any disposition of (during her natural life or at her Decease) she may think proper my negro man named Harvey & my Negro Girl named Hariett with her future of spring. It would seem that Harvey and Hariett were no longer with Frances C. at the time of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.

One final note for anyone searching for Edmond, Harvey, and Hariett. The Craig and Harrison families likely did not move from the time of the above mentioned will until 1850 as Putnam County was created on 11 March 1848 from Kanawha, Mason and Cabell Counties.

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.

© 2019, 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-HN9N-LP?cc=1909099&wc=Q8B7-1YB%3A179687901%2C179707301 : accessed 19 March 2019), Mason > Will book, v. 001 1834-1880 > image 36 of 206; citing Jackson County, County Clerk, West Virginia. 
  2. 1840 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Sixth Census of the United States, 1840 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M704, 580 rolls, FHL Film 0029689; NARA Roll M704_571, Virginia, Mason; image 44+41 of 69, Sheet 232A+B, Line 9, John Harrison. ‎(http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 March 2019). 
  3. 1850 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Seventh Census of the United States, 1850 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration,Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M432, 1009 rolls, Roll: M432_959; Image 297; Virginia, Mason, District 38, image 47 of 165, Sheet No. 385A, Lines 28-30, HH #333-334, John W. Clark household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 13 January 2019). 
  4. 1860 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Eighth Census of the United States, 1860 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M653, 1,438 rolls, Roll: M653_1361; FHL Film: 805361; Virginia, Mason County, District 2, image 25 of 68; Page No. 46, Lines 21-30, HH #345-316, Wm Claunch household. “.” (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 13 January 2019). 
  5. West Virginia Vital Research Records Project (database and images), West Virginia Division of Culture and History (A collaborative venture between the West Virginia State Archives and the Genealogical Society of Utah to place vital records online via the West Virginia Archives and History Web site accessible at http://www.wvculture.org/vrr), West Virginia Marriages 1853-1970. Marriage of John Harrison and Frances C. Aldakers (sic, spelling per index) (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=12175291&Type=Marriage : accessed 20 March 2019) 
  6. “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-HN9F-9Z?cc=1909099&wc=Q8B7-1YL%3A179687901%2C179729801 : 22 June 2016), Mason > Will book, v. 001A 1833-1875 > image 26 of 165; citing Jackson County, County Clerk, West Virginia. 
  7. WVCulture.org, (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_mcdetail.aspx?Id=12175454 : accessed 24 March 2019) and http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=12175454&Type=Marriage : accessed 24 March 2019) 
  8. WVCulture.org, 1865 Death Record of Polly A. Craig (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_dcdetail.aspx?Id=4787281 : accessed 26 March 2019) and (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=4787281&Type=Death : accessed 26 March 2019) 
  9. Ancestry.com. 1850 U.S. Federal Census, Year: 1850; Census Place: District 46, Putnam, Virginia; Roll: M432_971; Page: 272A; Image: 213 
  10. Ancestry.com. 1850 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules, Virginia, Putnam, District 46, page 8 of 8 
  11. Ancestry.com. 1850 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules, Virginia, Putnam, District 46, page 3 of 8 
  12. Ancestry.com. 1850 U.S. Federal Census, Year: 1850; Census Place: District 46, Putnam, Virginia; Roll: M432_971; Page: 280B; Image: 230 
  13. Ancestry.com. 1860 U.S. Federal Census, Year: 1860; Census Place: District 4, Putnam, Virginia; Roll: M653_1373; Page: 893; Family History Library Film: 805373 
  14. Ancestry.com. 1860 U.S. Federal Census, Year: 1860; Census Place: Buffalo, Putnam, Virginia; Roll: M653_1373; Page: 794; Family History Library Film: 805373 
  15. Ancestry.com. 1860 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules, Virginia, Putnam, District 4, page 3 of 4, right line 32 
  16. Ancestry.com. 1860 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules, Virginia, Putnam, District 4, page 2 of 4, left, line 14 
  17. “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-H19H-5?cc=1909099&wc=Q816-MNG%3A179687101%2C179700701 : 21 June 2016), Putnam > Will book, v. 001 1847-1937 > image 45 of 204; citing Putnam County Clerk, West Virginia. 
  18. Ancestry.com. 1870 U.S. Federal Census, Year: 1870; Census Place: Buffalo, Putnam, West Virginia; Roll: M593_1698; Page: 248A; Family History Library Film: 553197 

Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Edmond

The Last Will and Testament of Elizabeth Clark of Mason County, Virginia – 1841

1841 Will of Elizabeth Clark of Mason County, Virginia

I Elizabeth Clark of the county of Mason & state of Virginia do hereby make my last will & testament.
I give and bequeath all my estate except Edmond who shall be free at my decease & a bond against Zachariah Garten of twenty five dollars with interest for three years to Frances C. Harrison.
The above named bond I bequeath to John Harrison husband of the said Frances C. Harrison of the county of Mason & state of Virginia. In witness whereof I hereby set my hand and seal this 30th day of Sept. 1841.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . her

. . . . . . . . . . .Elizabeth + Clark Seal
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . mark
Signed Sealed & publicly declared by Elizabeth Clark as & for her last will and testament in the presence & hearing of us, at her request & in her presence have subscribed our names as witnesses.
James Koontz
William Harrison
William Oldakers

At a Circuit Superior Court of Law & Chancery for Mason county held at the Courthouse thereof April 16, 1844.
The last will and testament of Elizabeth Clark deceased was proved by the oaths of James Koontz and William Harrison two of the subscribing

1841 Will of Elizabeth Clark of Mason County, Virginia

witnesses thereto and is ordered to be recorded.
And there being no executors named in said last will & testament, and the said testatrix having died more than three months ago, and no person applying for administration it is ordered that administration of the estate of said decedent with her will annexed in due form be committed to Peter H. Steenbergen sheriff of this county.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .A Copy Teste
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Georg W. Stribling clk

The Last Will and Testament of Elizabeth Clark was written in 1841 in Mason County1 during the time when the county was part of Virginia. Mason County borders on Ohio, a state which abolished slavery in its original constitution when it was formed in 1803.

Edmond who shall be free at my decease

I found it heartwarming that Elizabeth Clark did not give any further description of Edmond as was usual in records of the time. She wrote simply that he should be free after her demise.

No trace of Elizabeth Clark was found in the 1840 census. John Harrison was found in Mason County in 1840.2 Both he and his wife were 50 thru 59 years old. There was a young boy aged 10 thru 14 as well as four enslaved persons in the household: 2 males under 10, 1 male 24 thru 35, and 1 female 10 thru 23. There was also an older woman, age 70 thru 79 years. Could this have been Elizabeth Clark?

Also on the same census sheet are Thomas Garton mentioned in the will, as well as two of the three witnesses, William Harrison and William Oldakers.

Mrs. Clark died about the end of 1843 or the beginning of the year 1844. Was Edmond mentioned in her will still living? Did he have family living with a slaveholder in the area? What became of him when she died?

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.

© 2019, 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-HN9N-LP?cc=1909099&wc=Q8B7-1YB%3A179687901%2C179707301 : accessed 19 March 2019), Mason > Will book, v. 001 1834-1880 > image 36 of 206; citing Jackson County, County Clerk, West Virginia. 
  2. 1840 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Sixth Census of the United States, 1840 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M704, 580 rolls, FHL Film 0029689; NARA Roll M704_571, Virginia, Mason; image 44+41 of 69, Sheet 232A+B, Line 9, John Harrison. ‎(http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 March 2019). 

Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Peter, Willis, Milly, Sukkey, and Hannah

As with so many of my families in West Virginia, the Clonch family of Mason County did not hold slaves. I’m always on the lookout for records with slave names in the location I’m researching and like to skim through the Wills Book to find other inhabitants of the county who may have been slaveholders. Although Mason County was formed in 1804 the will books begin only in 1833. The first record in Will Book 1 with names of enslaved persons is the will of Elizabeth Bryan.

Elizabeth Bryan wrote her last will and testament on 10 December 1829 and likely lived another four years as it was only proved on 6 March 1833 and 2 April 1833 and ordered to be recorded 2 April 1833.1 She mentions two sons, Robert and Charles, a grandson Robert, and a great-granddaughter Nancy Mason. More importantly, the names of five enslaved persons, Peter, Willis, Milly, Sukkey, and Hannah were given.

1829 Last Will and Testament of Elizabeth Bryan of Mason County, West Virginia

I Elizabeth Bryan of the county of Mason and State of Virginia do hereby make and declare this my last will and Testament hereby revoking and annulling all other wills by me made at any time heretofore.
First I give and bequeath to my son Robert Bryan my Negro Boy Peter and to my Grandson Robert Bryan (son of my said son Robert) my other Negro Boy Willis.
Second I give & bequeath to my Great Grand Daughter Nancy Mason my Negro woman Milly & my negro Girl Sukkey together with my wearing my wearing (sic) apparel of every Kind & It is my futher will that my friend & neighbour John Cantrell & his wife take my said Grand daughter & her negroes hereby bequeathed her and raise and educate her in such decent & industrous manner as may be fitting her circumstances & theirs and have the use of Said negroes for their trouble & expense until my said Great Granddaughter shall arrive at Lawfull age or marry at which time she is to receive said Milly & Suky & the increase of said Sukkey if any to do with them as she may think proper but should my said great Granddaughter die before arriving at Lawfull age or having issue then it is my will that Milly be free & that Sukky & her increase if any Revert to my son Robert Bryan or his proper heirs but should Milly before that time have issue it is my will that all such issue or increase belong to Mrs. Mary Cantrell or her proper heirs it is also my further will that should I die before two years from this time that the negro Milly hereby bequeathed to said Nancy Mason shall remain with my Son Robert for that period counting from this date & then go to John Cantrell as heretofore directed for the purposes aforesaid.
My Negro woman Hannah I leave to my son Charles.
In witness whereof I hereby set my hand and seal this tenth day of December 1829.
Signed Sealed & acknowledged…………….Elizabeth Bryan Searl
in presence of us
William (his mark) Rottenberry
Silas (his mark) Harris
John Cantrell

At A Court continued and held for Mason County March 6th 1833 A writing purporting to be the last will & testament of Elizabeth Bryan decd was this day presented in open Court and was proven in part by the oath of William Rottenberry one of the subscribing witnesses thereto and said over for further proof.
…………………A copy
……………………Teste
………………………Thos. Lewis Clk

And at another day To wit At a Court Continued and held for Mason County April 2nd 1833. A writing purporting to be the last will and testament of Elizabeth Bryan decd which was in part proved at the last March term of this court, was this day further proved by Silas Harris another subscribing witness thereto, which is ordered to be Recorded.
……………..A Copy
………………..Teste
…………………..Thos. Lewis Clk

Discrepancies and Questions

Sukkey was seen as Suky and Sukky in the will but in all cases, Elizabeth appears to refer to the same woman.

I question whether Nancy Mason was a great-granddaughter or more likely a granddaughter. No marriage was found for a Bryan bride to a Mason groom. Without more information on the Bryan family, it is difficult to determine the relationship between Nancy Mason and Elizabeth Bryan. Since Milly and Sukkey were to go with her to the neighbors after Elizabeth’s death, her relationship might be of importance to people seeking Milly and Sukkey.

Bryan in the Mason County Census

Preliminary research on the Bryan family in Mason County around 1830 did not turn up any helpful information. I located possible 1830 and 1820 census listings in which Elizabeth appears to be living in the household of Robert Bryan. In 1830 and 1820 there was a Charles Bryan in Mason County as well as a John Bryan and Andrew Bryan.

1830 U.S. Federal Census
Mason County, Virginia
Name: Robert Bryan
Free White Persons – Males – Under 5: 2
Free White Persons – Males – 5 thru 9: 1
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 14: 1
Free White Persons – Males – 40 thru 49: 1 (Robert)
Free White Persons – Females – 5 thru 9: 2
Free White Persons – Females – 30 thru 39: 1 (poss. wife of older male)
Free White Persons – Females – 70 thru 79: 1 (poss. Elizabeth)
Slaves – Males – 10 thru 23: 1 
Slaves – Females – Under 10: 1
Slaves – Females – 10 thru 23: 1 
Slaves – Females – 36 thru 54: 1
Slaves – Females – 55 thru 99: 1
Free White Persons – Under 20: 6
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 2
Total Free White Persons: 9
Total Slaves: 5
Total – All Persons (Free White, Slaves, Free Colored): 14

1820 United States Federal Census
Mason County, Virginia
Name: Robert Bryan
Enumeration Date: August 7, 1820
Free White Persons – Males – Under 10: 2
Free White Persons – Males – 26 thru 44: 1 (Robert)
Free White Persons – Females – 16 thru 25: 1 (poss. wife)
Free White Persons – Females – 45 and over: 1 (poss. Elizabeth)
Slaves – Males – Under 14: 3
Slaves – Males – 14 thru 25: 1
Slaves – Females – Under 14: 1
Slaves – Females – 26 thru 44: 1
Slaves – Females – 45 and over: 1
Number of Persons – Engaged in Agriculture: 4
Free White Persons – Under 16: 2
Free White Persons – Over 25: 2
Total Free White Persons: 5
Total Slaves: 7
Total All Persons – White, Slaves, Colored, Other: 12

In 1810 in Mason County, a James Bryan appears to be a likely match for the husband of Elizabeth Bryan. Two young men and a young woman are also in the household. The two young men are possible matches for Robert and Charles mentioned in the will.

1810 United States Federal Census
Mason County, Virginia
Name: James Bryan
Free White Persons – Males – 16 thru 25: 2 (Robert and Charles)
Free White Persons – Males – 45 and over: 1 (James)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10: 1
Free White Persons – Females – 45 and over: 1 (Elizabeth)
Numbers of Slaves: 5
Number of Household Members Under 16: 1
Number of Household Members Over 25: 2
Number of Household Members: 10

Other Bryan Families in Mason

Another Bryan found in Mason in 1810 was Andrew, a name also seen in the census of 1820 and 1830. An 1809 record for the marriage of Andrew Bryan and Parthenea Meigs in Mason seems to fit. Later he was the only Bryan on the census of Mason County in 1840 (obviously widowed with children) and alone in the 1850 census.

Quick searches at Find A Grave picked up information stating Maj. Andrew Bryan was the brother of John Bryan.2 Andrew’s wife’s maiden name was Clendenin and she was apparently previously married to a Meigs.3

John Bryan died in Mason County before 1 September 1834; a will was found which mentions property including Negroes but does not include names.4

With these names as a reference, I located a family tree on Ancestry which shows James Bryan and Elizabeth Singletary were the parents of sons Robert, Charles, John, and Andrew as well as three daughters who do not have marriages listed. I did not do further research to prove the family relationships.

Robert5 and Charles6, who were not found in Mason in 1840, went west to Washington County, Missouri, in the 1830s according to the tree, i.e. after the death of Elizabeth. In 1850 a Robert Bryan is on the Slave Schedule in the county however there were two men of this name in the county at that time. I have not been able to determine if this person who had a female mulatto age 33, a male mulatto age 10, a male mulatto age 5, a female black age 2, and a male black age 4 is the Robert Bryan who was the son of Elizabeth Bryan seen in the featured will.

I hope my finding the sons of Elizabeth moving to Missouri may help anyone seeking Peter, Willis, Milly, Sukkey, and Hannah.

Slave Name Roll Project is 4 Years Old

It’s been four years since I wrote the original three posts in which I shared the names of enslaved persons of my SIMS family. I have not counted every single name but I estimate about 220 names have been released in the 49 posts I’ve written since 2015.

The purpose of these posts is to share the documents and release the names in hopes of helping a descendant’s search. Personally, I try to do a bit more research when time allows and include it in the post but this is not a criteria.

If your ancestors or their neighbors or anyone you encounter in your research had enslaved persons, please join me by contributing their names to the Slave Name Roll Project.

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.

© 2019, 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-HN9F-D8?cc=1909099&wc=Q8B7-1YL%3A179687901%2C179729801 : accessed 26 January 2019), Mason > Will book, v. 001A 1833-1875 > image 25 of 165; citing Mason County, County Clerk, West Virginia. 
  2. Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 23 February 2019), memorial page for Maj Andrew Bryan (1790–25 Jul 1851), Find A Grave Memorial no. 140252499, citing McCulloch Cemetery, Southside, Mason County, West Virginia, USA; Maintained by Katie Litchfield (contributor 47758703). 
  3. FAG, memorial page for Parthenia Clendenin Bryan (1779–9 Aug 1839), Find A Grave Memorial no. 140252263, citing McCulloch Cemetery, Southside, Mason County, West Virginia, USA; Maintained by Katie Litchfield (contributor 47758703). 
  4. “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-HN9F-9Z?cc=1909099&wc=Q8B7-1YL%3A179687901%2C179729801 : 22 June 2016), Mason > Will book, v. 001A 1833-1875 > image 26 of 165; citing Mason County, County Clerk, West Virginia. 
  5. FAG, memorial page for Robert Bryan, Sr (unknown–7 Dec 1871), Find A Grave Memorial no. 5262866, citing Bennett Bryan Cemetery, Cadet, Washington County, Missouri, USA; Maintained by Larry G. Flesher (contributor 43207742). 
  6. FAG, memorial page for Charles Bryan (16 Jul 1809–17 Oct 1897), Find A Grave Memorial no. 5262850, citing Bennett Bryan Cemetery, Cadet, Washington County, Missouri, USA; Maintained by Larry G. Flesher (contributor 43207742).