Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING Cate, Jenney, Tom, Fanney, and Anthony

Following my three part series on the slaves of my 5th grand-father James Sims I’ve 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. Today I’m RELEASING Cate, Jenney, Tom, Fanney, and Anthony.

True's statementCate‘s name helped to link several documents and played an important role in proving the parentage of seven Sims brothers.

In 1981 Paul H. Arnot compiled 76 pages on the Sims of Hanover and Louisa Counties in Virginia. The initial objectives of Mr. Arnot’s research project was to develop the parents of Edward Sims, who died about 1790 in Warren County, North Carolina, and the parents of his wife Elizabeth. During his research he discovered errors in a 1940 publication by Henry Upson Sims, The Genealogy of the Sims Family of Virginia, the Carolinas and the Gulf States.

The errors Mr. Arnot found in H. U. Sims’ book were developed with logically presented circumstantial evidence however the conclusions made were wrong as he did not have a key legal document which established John, Matthew, Edward and George Sims of Hanover County Virginia,  as sons of William Symes of James City County, Virginia, as well as William, Robert and James Sims.

Cate and the Key Legal Document

Mr. Arnot found an unindexed document as the last item in Louisa County, Virginia, Deed Book A & B, 1742-1759. Later he also found an abstract of the document in the book Louisa County, Virginia Deed Books A & B, 1742-1759 by Rosalie Edith Davis, 1976.

Arnot “abridged” the important court document as follows:

Sims versus Sims, Detinue

Please before the Court of Louisa County on the 24 December, 1745 John Sims, Matthew Sims, Edward Sims and John Sims (the son of George Sims) with their lawyer William Waller brought into the court their bill against James Sims being in the custody of the sheriff a plea of Detinue to wit: John Sims, Matthew Sims, Edward Sims and John Sims (son of George Sims) complains of James Sims a plea that he renders them of four negroes named (viz.) Jenney, Tom, Fanney, and Anthony of the value of two hundred pounds current money and that on the fifth day of December, 1745 that the plaintiffs were possessd of the said negroes out of their hands.

On the 10 Jan., 1746 the said plaintiffs by their attorney and the said James Sims by his attorney Zackery Lewis, and defends the force and injury and that he doth not detain ye slaves and puts himself upon the Country; and the plaintiff did likewise. A jury was authorized, but the formation was delayed until the 20 August, 1746, when the said plaintiffs and their attorney and the defendant and his attorney appeared before the court and a jury was formed to wit: John Moss, Robert Anderson, John Hall, Thomas Kembrow, Thomas Paulet, Alexander Freeman, James Watson, Richard Brooks, Richard Palmer, Richard Yancey, Benjamin Arnold and (Lewis       ), who being duly elected tried sworn the truth to speak upon the issue joined, upon their oaths do say; that William Sims was seized and possessed of an estate consisting in lands and tenements, slaves, and personal estate and being seized and possessed made his last will and testament bearing the date of eighteenth day of December in the year of our Lord MDCCX (1710) and thereby among other things did bequeath to his four eldest sons (viz.) John, Matthew, Edward and George the offspring of his negro girl Cate and their heirs and by a latter clause did give and bequeath the rest of his personal property to his three youngest sons (viz.) William, Robert and James to be equally divided among them three when they come of age and appointed his son William Sims sole executor of the said will in these words In the Name of God Amen, I Wm. Sims of James City County being very sick and weak but of perfect sense and memory . . . (usual will introduction omitted) . . .  I give and bequeath as followeth (viz.) I give and bequeath to my son William and his heirs of his body male or female lawfully begotten my mannor (manor) plantation that I now live upon (viz.) from the White meadows to Domar’s line to Dismun along a deep bottom called Cooks Springs branch down to Wolf’s swamp: up thence to the South line so away Easterly it comes to road to Phillips path. 2ndly I give and bequeath to my son Robert and his heirs of his body male or female lawfully begotten all the land that is within the bounds of the following (viz.) beginning at the White meadows and so running . . . (balance illegible).

William Symes’ will was made on 18 December 1710. John, Matthew, Edward and John (son of George Sims, dec’d) did not institute the law suit against James Sims for the recovery of the four specific slaves until 35 years later. The death of George Sims before 12 June 1740 may have been a factor. Arnot read the court minutes for the year 1746 but the results of the trial were not recorded.

The rest of the will of William Symes was illegible. As only the offspring of Cate were bequeathed to John, Matthew, Edward and George it is possible that Cate was given to William, Robert or James. James mentioned in the plea of detinue is most likely the one who became her owner and had to assume responsibility for the raising of her offspring to a certain age although they were supposedly owned by the four older brothers.

Cate and the 1774 Will of James Sims of York County, Virginia

The disposition of the slave girl Cate and her offspring were covered by the 1774 will of James Sims presented in detail as follows:

York Co., Va., Will Book No. 22, page 243, James Sims’s will. County of York, Virginia and Parish of Bruton – (the opening phrase omitted) – I give and dispose in the following manner: item, I give and bequeath to Francis Booth of the County of James City and Elizabther Pierce daughter of John Pierce  twenty pound each, item, I give to Mickings Green, William Sims son of Bruster Sims and Mary Green the sum of twenty five pounds each. My further desire that my negro woman Cate and all her children shall be left to her free choice to be sold on my plantation to the person she shall choose to be her master or go up country and be sold there and I do earnestly request my executor which I have after named that he will truely and faithfully fulfill this part of my will and I desire further that my lands and the rest of my slaves with all the rest of my estate may be sold to the best advantage and the money arising from the sale after the above mentioned legacies are paid I give and bequeath to my beloved John Hawkins of Hanover County. Lastly, I do consitute my beloved friend John Hawkins my whole and sole executor . . . signed 16 Sept., 1774 by James Sims. Signed and sealed in the presence of William Eaton, Thomas Bates and Henry Brown. Probated 21 Nov., 1774, York County, Va.

James Sims of York County, Virginia, had possession of a slave named Cate and her children. His special compassion for the future of Cate and her children as clearly expressed in his will as well as his plea that his desires for their future be faithfully fulfilled. Arnot believed that this was unusual treatment for Cate who must have been an old woman by 1774.

Source:
Paul H. Arnot, compiler, Notes on the Sims of Hanover-Louisa Counties Virginia, 1981. Mr. Arnot donated a copy of the compilation to the North Carolina State Library in Raleigh to assist Sims researchers.

Genealogy Sketch

Name: James SIMS
Parents: William SYMES
Spouse: Elizabeth [maiden name unknown] PARRISH
Children: Edward (stepson), Jeremiah, John, Robert, Bartlett, George
Relationship to Cathy Meder-Dempsey: 7th great-grandfather

  1. James SIMS
  2. Jeremiah SIMS
  3. James SIMS
  4. Nancy Ann SIMS
  5. Huldah JOHSON
  6. Irvin Lewis INGRAM
  7. Laura Belle INGRAM
  8. Fred Rothwell DEMPSEY
  9. Fred Roosevelt DEMPSEY
  10. Cathy Meder-Dempsey

Note: A 5th great-grandson of Jeremiah SIMS had his Y-DNA tested in 2013 (Kit#314849). Results indicate a close match (possibly brothers) to John SIMS of Culpeper, a son of James SIMS of Hanover-Louisa and York.

© 2015 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING Judy, Beck, Dick, and Mourning

Following my three part series on the slaves of my 5th grand-father James Sims I’ve 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. Today I’m RELEASING Judy, Beck, Dick, and Mourning.

In 2014 I wrote about the ancestors in my paternal line from my father to my 4th great-grandparents. None owned slaves – or to be more specific, I have not found documents showing they held slaves. Going back one or two generations further I do find ancestors who left wills with names of slaves. One of these was Edward NIX lastly of Camden District in South Carolina.

I believe that it may be of importance to the slaves’ descendants to know where my ancestor, the slave owner, Edward NIX spent his long life. This is a quick rundown of information Libbie Griffin shared in the article “The Lineage of Frances Nix Doss” in The Doss Connection, Volume 2, No. 1, July 1996. The article was based on information compiled by Wanda Gregory who researched the Nix family for many years.

Edward NIX 1686-1776

Edward NIX was christened on 7 November 1686 in St. Peter’s Parish, New Kent County, Virginia. His father John (seen as James on the christening record) had recently come to Virginia from Barbados. Edward was very likely an only child and his father died about the time of his birth. His mother Elizabeth married Abraham VENABLE Sr. in 1687.

Hanover County was formed in 1721 from part of New Kent County. In 1731, Edward NIX received a patent for 400 acres in Hanover County. In 1734 he was named executor of his father-in-law Thomas Gibson’s will.

In 1745 Edward received a grant for 2977 acres of land in Amelia County. In 1746-1747 Edward was 60 years old and living in Amelia when he sold his land in Hanover. By 1750 numerous deeds can be found in Amelia County showing he transferred ownership of tracts of about 200 acres. Many of these were to his sons and sons-in-law who in the early 1750s moved with their families to Lunenburg County in the area that is now the north east corner of Pittsylvania County. In 1754 Prince Edward County was formed from part of Amelia County. In 1756 Edward NIX began selling his land now in Prince Edward County.

At the age of 70 he was planning to move to South Carolina. He appears in both Prince Edward and South Carolina records until 1762. In 1763 he received a 400 acres grant in South Carolina and lived in the Camden District from 1763 through 1776. He died in 1776 leaving a will.

WILL of Edward NIX

South Carolina, Camden District. In the name of God Amen on this Eighth day of October 1776 I Edward Nix of the Province & Dist aforesaid being sick & weak in body but of perfect mind and memory thanks be to God, therefore calling unto mind the mortality of my body, and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die, do make & ordain this my last Will and Testament, that is to say principally & first of all. I give and recommend my Soul unto the hands of Almighty God that gave it, and my body I recommend to the Earth to be buried in a decent Christian Manner at the discretion of my Executors, nothing doubting but at the general Resassection (sic, Resurrection) I shall receive the same by the mighty power of God, and as touching such worldly Estate where with it hath pleased God to Blefs (sic, Bless) me in this life I give demise & dispose of the same in the following manner & form.

Item: I give & bequeath to my grandson James Nix son of James Nix one shilling sterling.

Item: I give & bequeath to my son Volintine (sic, Valentine) Nix one Shilling Sterling.

Item: I give & bequeath to my son George Nix one Shilling Sterling.

Item: I give & bequeath to my daughter Sabra Lax (sic, Lox) one Shilling Sterling.

Item: I give & bequeath to my daughter Francis Dafs (sic, Doss), one Shilling Sterling.

Item: I give and bequeath to my grand son Ambrose Nix one hundred & twenty five acres of Land lying on the north side of Santee River in Camden District begining (sic) on a Mark’d Hickory & running down the Sd (sic, Santee) River, for the compliment of one hundred & twenty acres be the same more or lefs (sic, less), it being part of a large tract of Land granted By His Excellency Thomas Boone to Edward Nix.

Item: I give & bequeath to my grand son John Lyon & his heirs, after the death of my beloved wife my Plantation whereon, I now live, on the South side of Sandy River with all the Remaining part of my Land it being part of a larger Tract of Land granted by his Excellency Thomas Bonne Esq., the 18th day of August 1763 to Edward Nix.

Item: I give & bequeath to my grandson Jno (sic, John) Lyon to him and his Heirs the following negroes, Judy, Beck, Dick, and mourning (sic, Mourning) after the decease of my wife during her natural Life, & after his decease, to be equally divided between his two sons Elijah and Elisha.

Item: I give to my grandson Jno Lyon all the remaining part of my Stock of Horses, Hogs, and Black Cattle, House hold Furniture, and plantation Tools after paying my just debts Funeral Expenses, and Legacies.

Item: I likewise constitute make & ordain my loving wife Unice Nix and Jno Lyon Executors of this my Present Last Will and Testament, & I do hereby utterly disallow, revoke, and dis annul, all and every other Former Testament Wills Legacies and bequests, & Executors by me in any ways before mentioned Will’d or bequeathed, rectifying & confirming this & no other to be my Last Will & Testament. In witness whereof I have here unto set my hand & seal the day & year first above written.

Edward Nix His X Mark (LS).

Signed, Sealed, published pronounced & declared by the I Edward Nix as his last Will & Testament in presence of us the subscribers.

Wm. Farr, Richard Crosby, William Crosby

Recorded in Will Book 1774-1779 page 418

Source of transcript of will:
“South Carolina Probate Records, Bound Volumes, 1671-1977,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-19387-5488-91?cc=1919417&wc=M6N4-F68:210905601,211749101 : accessed 30 April 2015), Charleston > Wills, 1774-1779, Vol. 017 > image 171 of 424; citing Department of Archives and History, Columbia.

The original will can be found on p. 418 of the Charleston County Will Book 1774-1779 per the will index found here:
“South Carolina Probate Records, Bound Volumes, 1671-1977,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-19387-6863-0?cc=1919417&wc=M6N4-F68:210905601,211749101 : accessed 30 April 2015), Charleston > Wills, 1774-1779, Vol. 017 > image 12 of 424; citing Department of Archives and History, Columbia.

The inventory of Edward NIX’s estate may help with the ages of Judy, Beck, Dick, and Mourning:

1 old Negroe Wench & a boy about 9 or 10 year old
1 ditto and a Girl about 7 year old

Judy and Beck may have been the older women and Dick and Mourning the two young children.

inventory
Source: “South Carolina Probate Records, Bound Volumes, 1671-1977,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-19424-81785-20?cc=1919417&wc=M6NW-Y3D:210905601,211110101 : accessed 30 April 2015), Charleston > Inventories, 1774-1785, Vol. 098 > image 365 of 425; citing Department of Archives and History, Columbia.

The original inventory is on p. 229 of the Charleston County 1774-1785 A-A Inventories book per the index found on:
“South Carolina Probate Records, Bound Volumes, 1671-1977,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-19424-88508-35?cc=1919417&wc=M6NW-Y3D:210905601,211110101 : accessed 30 April 2015), Charleston > Inventories, 1774-1785, Vol. 098 > image 14 of 425; citing Department of Archives and History, Columbia.

John Lyon, the grandson

I have not researched the descendants of Edward NIX. A quick look at the South Carolina Probate Records in Charleston turns up the will of one John LYON who died in 1781 leaving a wife Elizabeth and three children John, Thomas and Margaret. In the will he names one slave, his negro boy Dick. This may be a coincidence and requires further research.

Genealogy Sketch

Name: Edward NIX
Parents: John NIX and his wife Elizabeth
Spouse: Eunice “Nice” GIBSON
Relationship to Cathy Meder-Dempsey:
7th great-grandfather

  1. Edward NIX
  2. Francis NIX
  3. James DOSS Jr.
  4. Levina DOSS
  5. Mary E. “Polly” DOSS
  6. Alexander CLONCH
  7. Rebecca Jane CLONCH
  8. Myrtle Hazel ROOP
  9. Fred Roosevelt DEMPSEY
  10. Cathy Meder-Dempsey

© 2015 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

I Got An Article Published In a Genealogical Society Journal!!

This morning I received an email from Ginger R. Smith, editor of The Trading Path, the journal of the Durham-Orange Genealogical Society, with the link to their latest issue. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

On February 25, 2015, I wrote the first of three blogposts about the slaves of my ancestor James Sims. Ginger, who blogs at Genealogy by Ginger, was the first to comment:

Hi Cathy, This was a great post about how you can learn the names of slaves held by our ancestors, which can be valuable information for the descendants of those slaves. I was wondering if you would be interested in submitting this post (and part 2?) as an article in our local genealogical society journal called The Trading Path? I am doing a special section on African American Research and I would like to include your post because it illustrates the various resources used in learning the names of slaves….If you are interested, please email me…. I would love to hear from you. Ginger R. Smith

And oh what a comment! It came as quite a surprise. She’d only read the first part and did not even know how many parts I had planned.

Black History Month: The Slaves of James SIMS, Part 1

Black History Month: The Slaves of James SIMS, Part 2

Black History Month: The Slaves of James SIMS, Part 3

I waited until after the last post to email Ginger. I thought it might be too much for a newsletter and left the decision to her. She wrote back:

Your blog posts are exactly what we are looking for to publish in the Durham-Orange Genealogical journal, The Trading Path. You use a great combination of your own personal family history and primary documentation to tell a story about both your own family members and about the lives of the slaves who lived with your family.

By the time that she got back to me Schalene Jennings Dugatis had already started the Slave Name Roll Project. The resonance of my blogposts and Schalene’s project was unbelievable. True A. Lewis of NoTe’s To MySelf and several other bloggers who descend from slaves were very encouraging about everyone who was getting involved. What could I do but allow my article to be published in The Trading Path?

Thank you so much Ginger R. Smith!

This morning I saw “The Slaves of James Sims” in print. What a fantastic feeling! Imagine my amazement as I skimmed through The Trading Path and saw Schalene and Slave Name Roll Project mentioned. And, after a closer look, I was thrilled to see my blog sister True A. Lewis also had an article published in the same issue about her paternal great-grandmother, a daughter of a slave. Please take a moment to visit her blog and read about her Grandma Eddie.

This is a first for me and I had to write about it! I got an article published in a genealogical society journal!!

© 2015 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING Sarah’s Name

True's statementMy series of posts for Black History Month on the slaves owned by my 5th
great-grandfather James SIMS 1754-1845 gave Schalene Jennings Dagutis of
Tangled Roots and Trees the wonderful idea of creating a Slave Name Roll Project. I plan to do a similar post with slaves names on a monthly basis until I’ve been able to RELEASE all of the names of slaves owned by my ancestors. Today I am RELEASING Sarah and 19 other slaves.

My 5th great-grandfather Joseph LIVELY (1735-1793) died intestate in Amherst County, Virginia, in 1793. (Note: The area he lived in is now part of Nelson County, Virginia.) Letters of administration were granted his son Mark LIVELY on 22 October 1793 with John HILL and William HILL as bondsmen.

An inventory of the estate of Joseph LIVELY made on 16 December 1793 included a considerable number of livestock, an old negro woman Sarah, a negro woman Betty, and a negro boy George.

I don’t have the original documents or a transcript which would most likely include, if the slaves were sold, the names of the purchasers. Or did they remain with the widow and/or the children? On 19 August 1797 the Joseph LIVELY estate sale was held and a few relatives and many neighbors bought items. Subsequently the estate was settled but no record of final partition was included in the Amherst County probate records.
[Source: Amherst Co. Wills, 3:282, 293, 450]

Moving back in time, Joseph LIVELY paid personal property taxes in Amherst County from 1782 to 1793. Personal property included one slave who was most likely the  “old negro woman Sarah” mentioned in the inventory of his estate in 1793. I believe this name and her being an older woman are important. Was Betty her daughter and George her grandson?

Joseph LIVELY was married to Mary L. CASH, a daughter of Robert Howard CASH and Ruth Walker EPPINGTON. Howard CASH left a very detailed will in 1772 in which he named 17 slaves, including “a negro wench named Sarah” who was given to his daughter Mary LIVELY. Was the “wench named Sarah” in 1772 the same person as the “old woman Sarah” in 1793 and was she sold in 1797? If Betty and George were part of her family, did they remain with her?

Below is the abstract of Robert Howard CASH Sr.’s will which includes the slave names: Joseph, Cate, James, Charles, Sall, Dinah, Dick, David, Phil, Dick, Sarah, James, Fillis, Peg, John, Ralph, and Nell. This brings the total to 20 slave names for this post.

WILL OF HOWARD CASH of Amherst County, Virginia [Will Bk 1:228-231].
As abstracted from microfilm by Thelma Faye Cain Prince (website is no longer online)

In the name of God Amen.  I, Howard CASH, of the county of Amherst, being sick and weak of body, but of sound and perfect state of mind and memory and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die, do make and ordain this my last Will and Testament.

First, I lend my wife, Ruth, eight negroes during her natural life, namely, Joseph, Cate, James, Charles, Sall, Dinah, Dick, and David.

Item.  I lend to my beloved wife during her life the land and plantation whereon I live, which said land and negroes  I lend to my wife during widowhood or natural life.

Item.  I give to my son, Joel, one hundred acres land joining the land on which he lives and 2 negroes named [at this point there is a slight error in the transcription, a condensed version found includes the name Phil. It is possible that more than the name is missing, perhaps an entire line] Dick, a boy, I give to my grandson, Howard, the son of Joel CASH, after the death of my son, Joel, to him and his heirs forever.

Item.  I give to my daughter, Mary LIVELY, a negro wench named Sarah.

Item.  I give to my son, Benjamin, 400 acres land adjacent to land that is at present the property of Capt.  Aaron Higginbotham, and the land whereon I now live, also a negro fellow named James, whom I purchased of W. Thomas Mitchell.

Item.  I lend to my daughter, Rosanna, a negro wench named Fillis during her life and after her decease to my grandson, Micajah (her and her increase to him and his heirs forever).

Item.  I lend to my daughter Ann POWELL, a negro wench named Peg during her life and after her decease to the heirs of her body and if she dies without issue my will is that the said negro her increase may descend to the children of my daughter, Rosanna.

Item.  I give to my son, Robert, 240 acres land lying between the land whereon I live and Stephen Cash’s  land, moreover, I give to my son, Robert, 400 acres land which I left to my wife, after her decease, a negro boy named John and also a bed and furniture and 2 cows.

Item.  I give to my daughter, Mary Ann, a negro boy named Ralph and also a bed and furniture and a cow and a calf.

Item.  My will and desire is that my daughter, Elizabeth NUCKLES, may have 30 pounds to be raised out of my estate which I have willed to my wife, to be paid in ten years by an order for 3 pounds a year upon some merchant as soon as it becomes due.  I give to my daughter, Ruth, a negro girl named Nell and her increase to her and her heirs for ever and also a bed and furniture and a cow and a calf.

Item.  I give to my son, Stephen, 5 shillings and I give to my daughter Sarah MANZE (sic, MAYS), 5 shillings.

Item.  My will after the decease of my wife, Ruth, is that two negroes, James and Charles, may descend to my son,  Joel, and Joseph and Cate to my son, Benjamin, and two negroes, Sall and Davie, to my son, Robert.

Item.  My will is that after the decease of myself and my wife, the increase of Sall if any may be equally divided between my daughters, Mary Ann and Ruth, and if either of said daughters should depart this life unmarried or before they arrive to lawful age, the survivor of them should possess the issue of the negro woman.

Item.  The residue of my estate which I have not already devised may go to my beloved wife during her life and after her decease to be equally divided between my three sons, Joel, Benjamin, and Robert.

Item.  I do not desire that my estate be appraised and I appoint my beloved wife, executrix, and my sons, Joel, Benjamin, and Robert, executors of this last Will and Testament.

Test:  Roderick McCulloch David Crawford           s/Howard CASH (seal)
28 Feb. 1772

Sworn to by the oaths of Roderick McCulloch and David Crawford and ordered to be recorded.  To executors, Ruth CASH, Joel CASH, Benjamin CASH, and Robert CASH, a certificate granted them for obtaining probate in due form, which they with Richard Powell, Gabriel Penn, their securities, entered into and acknowledged bond of 2000 pounds.   s/Edmund Wilcox, Clerk of Court.
6 Oct. 1772.  Amherst Co. Va.

ADMINISTRATION OF RUTH CASH [Amherst Co. Va.  Order Bk 1782-84:205-206] On the motion of Hendrick Arnold, Adm. of the estate of Ruth CASH, Dec’d is granted him, who with Caleb Higginbotham, his Security entered into and acknowledged their bond in the penalty of One Thousand Pounds, took the Oath required by law and ordered to be recorded.
March Court 1784

Jacob Symth, John Karr, Nathaniel Hill and John Hill (or any 3 of them) they being first sworn are appointed to appraise in current money the slaves and personal estate of Ruth CASH deceased and return an inventory thereof to this court.

Note: The will has been found attached to family trees without credit being given to the person who transcribed it. I believe that Thelma Faye Cain Prince originally did the transcription work and would like to give her credit. Permission to use this abstract was requested 28 March 2015 through Thelma F. Prince’s guestbook on her website Our Southern Ancestors (no longer online as of 25 May 2016). The entry does not show up in the guestbook as of 29 March and is most likely awaiting moderation. I also sent an email to Mrs. Prince at an address used in 2006 on the 29th – it has not bounced.

If you have images or photocopies of this will, I would appreciate hearing from you. I believe a line may be missing in the will abstract as noted in red above. I have not done very much research on my CASH and LIVELY lines as documentation is not easily accessible due to my location.

© 2015 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

DISCOVERY: Slave Name Roll Project

Thank you Miss Donna of “Daughter of Slave Ancestry” for this wonderful post. It nearly brought tears to my eyes and made my heart beat faster. And when I saw the image she used I was blown over!! It shows that she knows exactly what Opening Doors in Brick Walls means to me.

Daughter of Slave Ancestry

The 1870 brick wall is no less surmountable in cyberspace than it is in the analog archives of today’s courthouses. Court records from times past divulge varieties of slave/slaveholder relationships. Knowing the records exist is not the same as locating and examining them for myself. I do realize this problem is not exclusive to African Americans. But the fact still remains that it is more difficult due to the fact that my enslaved ancestors were considered chattel property; and, prior to 1870, they had no surnames. And even their given names are inconsistently recorded in the census records that followed.

Some have managed to scramble over their brick walls — only to find . . . yet another. Then what do we do? We dust ourselves off and rescale to the other side to devise another way.

Insurmountable? Maybe. Impenetrable? Not if Cathy Meder-Dempsey and Schalene Jennings Dagutis have anything…

View original post 311 more words

Introducing the Slave Name Roll Project

My series of posts for Black History Month on the slaves owned by my 5th
great-grandfather James SIMS 1754-1845 gave Schalene Jennings Dagutis of
Tangled Roots and Trees the wonderful idea of creating a Slave Name Roll Project.

Please read her post Introducing the Slave Name Roll Project for more information.

True's statement

My series of posts:

Black History Month: The Slaves of James SIMS, Part 1
Black History Month: The Slaves of James SIMS, Part 2
Black History Month: The Slaves of James SIMS, Part 3

© 2015 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

Black History Month: The Slaves of James SIMS, Part 3

Celebrating Black History Month – I did not want February to end without giving recognition to African-Americans in the United States. I hope that by sharing this information I may help someone open the door to their African-American brick wall.

If you missed the first installments, here are Part 1 and Part 2.

Isaac Sims, a Free Man

As seen in the petition drawn up and signed by the residents of Nicholas County, Isaac Sims was considered trustworthy and industrious. He was allowed to reside in Nicholas County where he remained until his death.

Several newspaper articles have been written about Isaac Sims. Some of the information in these articles may have been word of mouth or the storyteller laid it on thick.

Isaac Place On Gauley Settled By Old Slave, a newspaper clipping that was shared with me, does not have a date or name of the newspaper. I believed that it was written before 1951 as it was clipped by Edward Sims (1878-1953), a great-great-grandson of James Sims.  Similar information was found in several articles written by Clarence Shirley Donnelly (1895-1982) in his daily column “Yesterday and Today” for the Beckley Post-Herald.

As the wording of the first article was so similar to Mr. Donnelly’s later writings I searched again for the original source of the information. And I found the same article with a slightly different title, History of “Isaac Place” – A Bit of Pioneer History Relating to Slavery. It was contributed (unknown date) to the Nicholas Republican by A. J. Legg and reprinted in the Raleigh Herald on 4 February 1916. The Nicholas Republican was a weekly paper which started up in 1903. I could not find it on the Newspaper Archives or Chronicling America.

Yesterday Amy from Brotmanblog: A Family Journey wrote this comment:

I do wonder how Isaac managed to obtain the money necessary for emancipation. Did James pay him wages?

I haven’t found documentation to prove this but the pioneer history by A. J. Legg gives a good account of how Isaac (may have) earned the money to buy his freedom.

1916 History of Isaac Place A Bit of Pioneer History Relating to Slavery
The Raleigh Herald (Beckley, West Virginia), Friday February 4, 1916, page 2, column 1 (bottom) and 2 (top). [http://newspaperarchive.com/ : accessed 26 Feb 2015]
I did find one record that confirms that Isaac, when he was still a slave, was allowed to have business dealings. When the storekeeper Mr. Landcraft died his store inventory and appraisal were received and recorded by the Fayette County court at the September 1834 term. Isaac’s account is included on this list, two years before he was emancipated.
[Source: “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-18271-57447-29?cc=1909099&wc=M6DN-5NG:179689901,179689902 : accessed 26 February 2015), Fayette > Will book, v. 001 1832-1866 > image 26 of 292; county courthouses, West Virginia.]

On 20 October 1837 Isaac Sims was granted 17 1/2 acres of land in Nicholas County on both sides of the Gauley River.

By 1850 Isaac was seen on the census in the household of James Sims’ son-in-law Mathew Hughes, widower of Margaret Sims. Next to Isaac’s name in parenthesis is the word Free. His real estate, the 17 1/2 acres he was granted in 1837, are valued at $87.

1850census
1850 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Fayette > 43rd District > Sheet No. 371A > HH #407-407 [ancestry.com]
In 1855 Isaac bought several items at the estate sale of Joseph McNutt. Sadly, also on McNutt’s inventory were Isaac’s children George Addison and Harriett Jane. The estate items sold are found following the inventory however the fate of Isaac’s children is not mentioned. Tradition is (also seen in article above) that they were bought by Robert L. Neil, husband of Jenetta McNutt, a daughter of Joseph McNutt.
[Source: “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-18271-57923-52?cc=1909099&wc=M6DN-5NG:179689901,179689902 : accessed 26 February 2015), Fayette > Will book, v. 001 1832-1866 > image 273 of 292; county courthouses, West Virginia.]

In 1860 and in 1870 Isaac Sims was listed on the census in his own household. He did not have anyone living with him. In 1870 he was listed as a mulatto instead of a black person as seen in 1850 and 1860. His real estate was valued at $1000 in 1860 and $500 in 1870; his personal estate was valued at $200 in 1860 and $400 in 1870.

Isaac Sims died before 9 Jun 1875 leaving a last will and testament in which he lists more land that he acquired after the 17 1/2 acres in 1837. He left the land to Robert L. Neil in exchange for his supporting Isaac’s granddaughter Rebecca Jane (Sims) Johnson. He also named Mr. Neil his executor. I have not transcribed or extracted all facts from the will.
[Source: “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-18231-22175-57?cc=1909099&wc=M6DN-5MS:179686001,179686002 : accessed 26 February 2015), Nicholas > Will book, v. 001 1820-1899 > image 90 of 158; county courthouses, West Virginia. and
“West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-18231-22099-66?cc=1909099&wc=M6DN-5MS:179686001,179686002 : accessed 26 February 2015), Nicholas > Will book, v. 001 1820-1899 > image 91 of 158; county courthouses, West Virginia.]

Rebecca Jane Sims, daughter of one of Isaac’s two children, was raised in the Robert L. Neil family. She was listed as a mulatto on the 1870 census in his household. She married David Johnson on 1 May 1874. It is possible that the 5 year old mulatto child named Myrta E. Johnson, living in the Robert L. Neil household in 1880, was the daughter of Rebecca Jane who died in childbirth on 1 November 1878 as reported by her neighbor Robert L. Neil.

I have not been able to locate Rebecca’s husband in 1880 or later. No trace of Myrta E. Johnson, who I believe was Isaac’s great-granddaughter, has been found.

Hopefully, if Tom, Juda, George, Jinncy, Jude, Fanny, July Hulen, Robert and Isaac Sims’ lines did not die out, a descendant will find this and be able to fill in the missing pieces in their family tree.

My blog sister True A. Lewis of NoTe’s To MySeLf… commented on my post:

“It’s Honorable to do… You’re RELEASING their Names and their Souls for their Descendants to hopefully find them one day. Every time this Happens they are Rejoicing. They have been in a book or what have you for so long.”

True’s statement about this being honorable may change people’s minds about sharing what they might be ashamed of.

© 2015 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

Black History Month: The Slaves of James SIMS, Part 2

Celebrating Black History Month – I did not want February to end without giving recognition to African-Americans in the United States. I hope that by sharing this information I may help someone open the door to their African-American brick wall.

If you missed the first installment, go here.

Isaac Sims, a Slave

James Sims to Isaac Sims Deed

By March 1836 James Sims had disposed of all his real and personal estate including his slave property except for his Negro man Isaac who he intended to emancipate and set free. The steps he took were not as easy as one would think.

James had a deed drawn up detailing the conditions. Isaac had to pay James $150 in three instalments of $50 for his freedom. This sounds like a lot however he continues to note that if he (James) should die before all three instalments were paid Isaac would not have to pay the rest. Further if Isaac should die before him then James would use the monies received for Isaac’s children who were mentioned in this document as was their deceased mother Emily.

MRIN02312 1836-03-09 James Sims to Isaac Sims 1MRIN02312 1836-03-09 James Sims to Isaac Sims 2MRIN02312 1836-03-09 James Sims to Isaac Sims 3 cropped“1836 James Sims to Isaac Sims
(note in margin “Delivered to Isaac Sims Sept. 9th 1842”)

Know all men by these presents that I James Simms Sr. of the County
of Nicholas and State of Virginia having heretofore made my last
Will and Testament in which I have disposed of all my Estate real
and personal including my slave property except one slave ….
my Negro man Isaac which said Negro slave Isaac I heretofore
intended to emancipate and set free according to the laws of this
Commonwealth upon certain Conditions thereafter to be mentioned
and put to writing. Now this Instrument of writing Witnesseth
that in Consideration of the premises and for others ……
good causes moving me thereto. I do hereby and by virtue and force of these
presents emancipate and set free forever my aforesaid Negro slave Isaac upon
the following condition to wit that is to say that the said Isaac causes to be
paid to me one hundred and fifty dollars good and lawful money of Virginia
fifty dollars of which is to be paid in hand which said fifty dollars is this
day paid to me and the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged fifty dollars
of which the said Isaac shall cause to be paid on or before the 1st day of
April 1836 and fifty dollars the last payment thereof the said Isaac
shall cause to be paid to me on or before the first day of May 1836 and
it is furthermore agreed to on my part and which I hereby in addition
to the foregoing make known that in the event of my death before the
payment of the fifty dollars which is next due after the date of this writing
that then and in that case the said fifty dollars nor the aforesaid fifty
dollars the last instalment or payment above mentioned nor either of
said payments or instalments shall be required or exacted by my heirs,
Executors, administrators or assigns nor shall they or either of them
cause the said Isaac to pay either of said payments or instalments of fifty
dollars nor shall his failure to pay the same in any manner affect or
do away with the force of these presents in emancipating and setting free
the said Isaac after my death according to the laws of this Commonwealth
now in force. And it is furthermore agreed to on my part that in the
event of my death after the payment to me of the aforesaid fifty dollars
which next becomes due after the date of this writing as above mentioned
that then and in that case the last payment or instalment of fifty dollars
the said Isaac shall be exempt from the payment of in the same manner
and to the same effect as I have exempted him from the payment of the
fifty dollars which first becomes due as is mentioned and set forth in the
preceding paragraph. And it is furthermore agreed upon my part
that in the event of the death of the said Isaac before my death that then
and in that case I do hereby promise and agree that any money or monies
or payments which the said Isaac may cause to be made paid to me
or which may have been in any way paid to me on account of the promises
shall be appropriated by me or my heirs Executors ? in cause of my
death, in the following manner: That is to say that whereas the said Isaac
has two children named George Addison and Harriett Jane by his wife
Emily now dead and owned in her life time by Joseph McNutt
and feeling a natural love and affection for his aforesaid children and wishing
to provide for the comfort and happiness of the same I do hereby
promise and agree as before mentioned to appropriate the money
paid to me after his death that happening before mine as above
stated to such use or uses for the benefit of the above named children
of the said Isaac as will best promote their spiritual and temporal
welfare agreeable to their condition and character in this state and
according to the Laws and usages of this Commonwealth. To the
true performance of the above I do hereby bind myself my
heirs Executors Administrators
as witness my hand and seal this 19th day of March 1836
James Sims
Witness
Joseph McNutt
John Huddleston
Bernard Hendrick

I have this day received this full consideration
in good and lawful money cald for in this foregoing Instrument of
writing as witness my hand & Seal
James Sims
Witness
Joseph McNutt
John Huddleston
Bernard Hendrick”

Isaac Sims Manumission Letter

Below the “Information” sign at the Nicholas County Courthouse in Summersville, West Virginia, there is a framed letter written by James Sims freeing his slave named Isaac.

Isaac Simms emancipation
Photo © Rock Foster. Used with permission.

Sims Manumission Letter-1836

Know all men by these presents that I James Sims
of the County of Nicholas in consideration of a large
sum of money paid to me by my slave Isaac
as for the additional considerations of his fidelity
to me I have on this day manumitted and let
him the said Isaac free. To remain and continue
from hence forward to all intents and purposes
entirely free and discharged from servitude to
me my heirs and assigns forever. And for the purpose
of removing any difficulty as to the identity of the said
Isaac and to enable him to enjoy his Freedom in
the most absolute and perfect manner. I also hereby
certify and state that the said Isaac was born my
slave, that he has resided with me up to this date
that he is very black, his stature about five feet
five inches, of slender make and about forty three
years old, that he has had his right leg broken
just above his ankle. In testimony whereof I
have hereto set my hand and seal this 26th day of
September 1836.
                                                       James Sims
in the presence of
Andrew M. Dickinson
Joseph McNutt
John Huddleston
Edward Rion
Bernerd Hendrick
John Hill”

Petition to Grant Residence to Isaac Sims

Nicholas County residents signed a petition to the Legislature of Virginia to grant permanent residence to Isaac Sims. The original can be found in the archives division of the Virginia State Library. It reads as follows:

A PETITION FROM NICHOLAS COUNTY, VIRGINIA
TO GRANT PERMANENT RESIDENCE TO ISAAC SIMS
1836

To the Legislature of Virginia

Your Petitioners humbly represent that JAMES SIMS
of the County of Nicholas has recently emancipated ISAAC
a blackman who is desirous of remaining in the Commonwealth,
your Petitioners represent that there are but very few
slaves in the County of Nicholas not exceeding sixty –
nor is there more than one other coloured person in the
County who is free — your Petitioners further state the
said black man ISAAC is an exceedingly honest industrious
and useful man addicted to no vicious habits whatsoever,
but peaceful & inoffensive & meek in all his intercourse
& business with the country — your Petitioners would be
truly gratified should this Legislature in its wisdom think
proper to grant his application — your Petitioners are
well convinced that no mischief can result to the country
by doing so and as a precedent in this part of the state
nothing of evil is to be apprehended.

Saml Price                              David Mays
John H. Robinson                 William Sims
E. S. Duncan                          Robert Hughes Jr
Johnson Reynolds               Edward Sims Jr
Benj. H. Smith                       Jeremiah Sims
P. B. Wethered                       Martin Sims
John McWhorter                   Co. John Sims
Ro Hamilton                          Anderson Sims
L. D. Wilson                           Charles Sims
Addison McLaughlin         William Morris
John McDermott                   Joshua Morris
Thomas Miller                      John H. Morris
Jacob D. McClain                  Thomas Elliott
Thm. Hill                                Aron Loyd
Mathew Hughes                   G. C. Landcraft
Charley Reynolds                William Sims
Robert Hill                              Edward Rion
Harrison A. Low                  William R. Summers
George Reynolds                  Edward Campbell
Andrew Odle                         George Rader Sr
John Kincaid                          John Foster
James Nichols                       Jas. G. Murray
James Walkub                       James Bryant
William Hamrick                 G. W. Grose
John Dunbar                          David Bare
Robert McCutchen               Lemasters Stephenson
William Miller                      Jacob C. Chapman
Allen Ewing                           John Groves
Jacob Drennen                       John G. Stephenson
Joseph Darlington               Jacob Chapman
J. D. Sutton                              Michael Rader
J. M. Alderson                        John Linch
J. McClung                              Andre Skidmore
James R. Henderson           Isaac Gregory
James a. Walker                    Fielding McClung
R. Duffield                              Abner Stephenson
Seth Thayer                            Wm. Bell
Thomas Legg                         Cortes Stephenson
Joshua Stephenson              John Rader
Wm. D. Cottle                        J. G. Neel
Samuel Nichols                    T. B. Thomas
Joel Hamrick                          Alexander Grove
David Stuart                          James Simany
Jefferson Grose                      Joseph McClung
(?) Dorsey                                Daniel Falkler
J. Warren                                Henry (?)
Richard A. Arters                 William Chapman
William Taylor                     David Moore
Wilson Arters                        David R. Hamilton
Philip Duffy                           Moses Hill
R. Kelly                                   Ira Davis
Elij. Lightner                          Jacob Odell
James Lightner                      Wm. Hughs
James Kelly                            Wm. Bryant
J. M. Hamilton                       George Fitzwatters
John McCue                           Andrew Neil
John McClung                       Robert Neil
S. A. Hamilton                      Samuel Hutchison
Edward McClung                George Hardweg
Nathan Groves                     John Morris
Peter Duffy                             John Duffy
J. McMillian                           B. L. Boggs
Wm. Livesay                          M. A. Triplett
Jacob Hutchison                   William M. Boggs
David Hanna                        John Trout
David Peebles                        James Grose
Adam Given                          Robert Keenan
Elverton T. Walker               Isaac Fitzwater
Thomas M. Fitzwater         Nathaniel Hughes
Thomas B. Morris                Hiram S. Marsh
W. Summers Sr.                    S. Backhouse
Henry Morris                         Jos. Montgomry
John Smith                             L. C. Buster
Thomas T. Marton               Thos. Hawkins
Peter Coleman                       Thos. Hines
John Backhouse                    Cyrus Hedge
William Bird                          John Slack
Cornelius Dorsey                 James B. Cole
Pascal Backhouse               Austin McCorgil
Joseph Backhouse                Nathan Huddleston
Jeremy G. Odel                      William Kincaid
Joseph Backhouse                James Settle
William Hillard                    Bolen Ballenger
William Smith                      John Johnson Jr.
Bernard Hendrick                James Likens
Mathew Kaincaid              John P. Huddleston
John Dorsey                           W. Tyree
John Fitzwater                       Hiram Curry
John Dorsey Sr                      P. Keenan
Dryden Sims                          E. Hutson
Hudson N. Dickenson       Henry Montgomery
Miles Hansen                        John Huddleston
Jas. H. Miller                          John Hill
P. W. Buster                            Joseph Huddleston
Pleasant Hawkins               Henry Tritt
Seaton B. Prowsy                  William Huggins
James B. Murray                   Robert Huggins
James J. Sims                         Robert Heuse
(Name Illegible)                    John Heuse
Leonard Cury                        S. A. Masterson
William Johnson                  Joseph W. Nutt
Jno. McNutt                            Jno. Carton
F. T. Hughes                           Adam Johnson
Fenton McMorrow               Wm. Kelly
Job Huddleston                     Taswell W. Hues
Nelson Sims                          Andrew Kenan
Joseph Reams                        (?) Price
Francis Cincaid                    E. R. Hutchison
William Loyd                        Joseph Young
Thos. S. Buster                       Edda Young
Moses Coleman                    William Martin
T. B. Hamilton                       Thos. L. Lewis
John Kincaid                          Wm. Myles
Thos. J. Huddleston            William Kincaid Jr.
John Johnson                         Gataspher Kincaid
Me_?_ J. Conly                      Benjamin Darlington
Levi B. Murrey                       H_?_ Long
Edward Hughs                     Joel Alexander
Joshua Foster
[Source: Webster County Historical Society, Nicholas County, (West) Virginia Records of the Pioneers, 1818-1860. Upper Glade, West Virginia, Webster County Historical Society, Inc., 1985. 929.3 N597w.]

Isaac Sims, a Free Man

continued in Part 3…..

© 2015 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

Black History Month: The Slaves of James SIMS, Part 1

Celebrating Black History Month – I did not want February to end without giving recognition to African-Americans in the United States. I hope that by sharing this information I may help someone open the door to their African-American brick wall.

My 5th great-grandfather James Sims (1754-1845) of Nicholas County, (West) Virginia was a former slaveholder at the time of his death. Over a dozen years ago I had the privilege to work with several other researchers who shared their information and documentation that I used to write a detailed biography for James SIMS in 2002.

James, born in Culpeper County, reportedly brought eighteen slaves with him to Nicholas County (then Kanawha County) when he moved there from Bath County, Virginia, sometime around 1798-1800. The number may be exaggerated as he had 5 slaves in 1810, 9 slaves in 1820, 5 slaves in 1830, and 1 in 1840.

The known names of nine slaves owned by James SIMS are:

Tom, Juda and George

Jeremiah SIMS, the father of James SIMS, wrote his will on 4 March 1768, it was probated on 18 August 1768 in Culpeper County, Virginia. In his will he left one half of his estate to his wife Agatha and the other half to his son James. There was no mention of slaves in the will however the inventory returned to the court on 19 October 1769 listed:

One Negro man Tom £60. One negro Woman Juda & her child George £70

The slaves were valued at £130. The entire inventory totaled £195 making Tom, Juda, and George the most valuable part of Jeremiah’s estate.

Jinncy

John Nalle, the maternal grandfather of James Sims, wrote his will on 16 September 1780. It was probated in Culpeper County, Virginia, on 19 August 1782, and mentions amongst his legatees his daughter Agatha Hill, wife of Russell Hill and widow of Jeremiah Sims, and mother of James Sims.

“Item. I Lend to my daughter Agatha Hill half the Service of a Negro Woman named Jinncy During my Daughters life the other half of the said Negroes Service to my Grandson James Sims from the time of My Daughters marriage to Russel Hill, and after My Daughters Descease I give the Said Negro Woman Jinncy and her Increase to my Grandson James Sims to him and his Heirs for Ever also Ten Shillings to my Daughter Agatha Hill and her Heirs for Ever.”
[Source: Culpeper County, Virginia Will Book B, pg. 519.]

Jude and Fanny

William Griffee Brown in his History of Nicholas County, West Virginia (Dietz Press, 1954, 425 pages) mentions on pgs. 165-166 while discussing the Bethel Methodist church that he owned an old class-book dated 1821 which includes the names of members of the class in 1821 including black Jude and black Fanny, slaves of the Sims family. James Sims “brought the first negro slaves to Nicholas County” according to Mr. Brown on pg. 30. Note: Jude and Fanny were “slaves belonging to William Simms,” a son of James Sims.

July Hulen and her mother

Lawrence M. Huddleston, author of The Huddlestons My Kin had in his possession the original bill of sale from James Sims to John Huddleston for the slave July Hulen when June Settle Ciocca visited him at home in 1990. At the time she did not realize her relationship to James Sims. On 9 February 2002 in an e-mail in which she shared the photo of this bill of sale, she wrote: “Larry told me that James Sims had previously sold July Helen’s mother to the Huddlestons and that both mother and daughter were so heart-broken, he agreed to sell them the child also. Larry had no children and my understanding is that his immense genealogical collection was donated to the archives in Charleston. I would assume that is where this document can now be found.”

MRIN02312 1833 Sims bill of sale for slave

Robert Sims

Clarence Shirley Donnelly (1895-1982) wrote in his column “Yesterday and Today” in the Beckley-Post Herald:

“Isaac’s brother, Robert Simms, ‘flew the coop,’ as a saying of that day had it. Keeping his eye on the north star as he traveled at night, he reached Canada and freedom.”

Isaac Sims, a Slave

continued in Part 2….

© 2015 Cathy Meder-Dempsey