An autosomal DNA match with a distant cousin with the surname Landrum in their family tree had me looking into the parentage and ancestors of my 4th great-grandmother Margaret “Patsy” Landrum who married William Dempsey in Amherst County, Virginia, in 1799.
Patsy was the orphan daughter of James Landrum who was mentioned in the will of his mother Elizabeth Landrum in 1755.1
Elizabeth Landrum’s last will and testament was written on 22 October 1755 and presented to be recorded on 18 November 1755. The executors/administrators’ bond followed the will and was dated 18 November 1755. A condition of the bond was the inventory and appraisal of the estate. The inventory ordered on 18 November 1755 was recorded on 16 December 1755.
1755 Appraisal and Inventory of the Estate of Elizabeth Landrum of St. Anne’s Parish in Essex County, Virginia
The inventory included one Negro woman called Hannah and valued at £20.2
Hannah, the enslaved woman mentioned in this inventory, was not mentioned in the estate of Samuel Landrum who predeceased his wife Elizabeth in 1750. He did not leave a will and his wife was the administratrix of his estate.3 An appraisement and inventory of the estate was duly recorded and did not include any enslaved persons. One-third of the estate was allotted to the widow.4
Samuel Landrum predeceased his mother Mary Landrum who wrote a will after his death in which she mentioned his being deceased.5 Neither the will nor the inventory ordered to be made included slaves.6
Samuel did not receive a slave from his father which makes me believe Hannah may have been acquired by Elizabeth after the death of her husband Samuel. Another possibility being that Elizabeth inherited Hannah from her parents. Unfortunately, at this time, the maiden name and parentage of Elizabeth Landrum are not known.
“Virginia, Wills and Probate Records, 1652-1983,” (images), Ancestry.com, citing original data of Virginia County, District, and Probate Courts, Essex Will Books, Vol 8-10, 1747-1757, page 77, image 473 of 519. Last will and testament of Elizabeth Landrum dated 22 October 1755, presented and recorded on 18 November 1755. (Ancestry.com : accessed 25 March 2018). ↩
Ibid., Essex Will Books, Vol 8-10, 1747-1757, pages 81 and 82, images 475 and 476 of 519. Appraisal and inventory of the estate of Elizabeth Landrum. (Ancestry.com : accessed 25 March 2018). ↩
Ibid., Essex Will Books, Vol 8-10, 1747-1757, page 385, image 215 of 519. Administrators’ Bond for the estate of Samuel Landrum. (Ancestry.com : accessed 25 March 2018). ↩
Ibid., Essex Will Books, Vol 8-10, 1747-1757, pages 397-399, images 221-222 of 519. Appraisal and inventory of the estate of Samuel Landrum. (Ancestry.com : accessed 25 March 2018). ↩
Ibid., Essex Will Books, Vol 9-10, 1750-1756, 1760-1761, page 310, image 315 of 539. Last will and testament of Mary Landrum. (Ancestry.com : accessed 25 March 2018). ↩
Ibid., Essex Will Books, Vol 9-10, 1750-1756, 1760-1761, pages 322-323, images 327-328 of 539. Appraisal and inventory of the estate of Mary Landrum. (Ancestry.com : accessed 25 March 2018). ↩
I’m rewriting the biography of my ancestor James Sims. The first set of documents being perused are the census. As I study the pre-1850 census listings of my 5th great-grandfather and his children, I’m paying close attention to ALL persons in the households including enslaved persons.
James Sims was known to have had slaves. They were featured in mythree-part series on the slaves of James Sims during Black History Month in February 2015. Today on the anniversary of these posts, I would like to feature four more enslaved persons found in a Sims household.
RELEASING Kate, Isaac, Charles, and John
James’ oldest son Jeremiah Sims had three colored persons in his household in Clark County, Ohio, in 1820.1 The headings of the columns are nearly impossible to read and do not match up with the census extraction form for 1820.2 There are too few columns for Slaves and Free Colored Persons. On the page with Jeremiah’s entry, there are two columns with the numbers 2 and 1 – separated by a double line. Could this be to distinguish the number of slaves from free colored persons? Or male from female? The ages and gender of these persons cannot be obtained from the sheet due to the lack of columns. Who are these people?
The answer may lie in the history of Ohio. Slavery was abolished in Ohio by the state’s original constitution when it was formed in 1803. Jeremiah did not settle in Ohio until about 1804. The 1810 census for Ohio with the exception of the county of Washington is lost. This means no record of Jeremiah having slaves in 1810. Who could these people be and were they free or enslaved?
Jeremiah Sims’ Relationship to Thomas Milhollin
Jeremiah was married to Sarah Milhollin, daughter of Thomas Milhollin and Jane McClintic, on 26 November 1800.3 Her mother Jane died about 1801 and her father was living at the time Jeremiah and Sarah went to Ohio around 1804. When did Thomas Milhollin die? Did he own slaves? Did he leave a will?
The Will and Codicil
The Last Will and Testament of Thomas Milhollin dated 21 September 1818 was witnessed by Charles Cameron and Charles L. Francisco.4 It was probated in Bath County, Virginia, in the December Court 1818. Executors were Charles Cameron, Robert Kincaid, and Charles L. Francisco. Thomas made the following bequests:
All private property (except slaves) to be sold together with the gristmill, sawmill and everything pertaining thereto
To daughter Mary all other lands adjoining part sold, with the gristmill, sawmill, and everything pertaining thereto. Daughter Mary to pay executors $200 within two years
To Mary featherbed and furniture already claimed by her, all cow beasts claimed by her, falling leaf table and small trunk
To son Thomas all other lands, including the part he lives on, son Thomas to pay executors $300 within two years
Executors to pay $100 each to sons William and Patrick and to daughter Elizabeth
To daughter Sarah $500 “this I give her in compliance with a promise made at the request of her mother”
Executors to pay son William $100 to be applied in schooling a son of Mary Akeman’s (now Mary Hoover) which son Andrew was said to be a child of my son Patrick, on condition of the mother’s consent and the child being bound to son William
(see Bequest Concerning Slaves below)
Balance to daughters Sarah and Margaret and to John Milhollin, a natural son of daughter Esther, dec, who now lives with my brother Patrick Milhollin
Codicil to the will: two tracts being purchased from John Bollar are also to be sold. Dated 8 November 1818 and witnessed by Charles and Rachel Cameron.
The Inventory of the Estate of Thomas Milhollin was submitted on 18 December 1818 by Adam Givin, Charles Cameron, B. Thomson, and Alexander McClintic.5 It included the following items: cart, farm implements, tools, kitchen furniture, saddle and saddle bags and pair of stillards, household furniture, shoemakers tools, gun and shot pouch, old books, wearing apparel, hemp, rye, broke flax, barrels, still, 2 axle tres, oats, wheat, corn, 5 stacks of hay, 13 hogs, 3 horses, 19 cattle, and Negroes named Kate, Isaac, Charles, and John.
In the middle of page 233 we find:
1 Negro Woman named Kate 150.00
1 negro boy named Isaac 500.00
1 negro boy named Charles 400.00
1 negro boy named John 250.00
The Sale of the Estate
The sale of the estate was on 8 December 1818.6 Three pages of items with the names of the buyers and the price they paid. The enslaved persons were not sold.
A Bequest Concerning Slaves
Thomas Milhollin made the following bequest in his last will and testament concerning the slaves found in his inventory.
As it is my desire that my slaves to wit. Kate and her three children Isaac, Charles, and John, should not be retained in Slavery after my decease I will and direct that my daughter Mary and my son Thomas out of the legacies left them do furnish my said slaves Kate and her three children with two suits of strong new cloths and with money necessary for conveying them to the state of Ohio and that my said son Thomas carry them there and deliver them to my son-in-law Jeremiah Sims and that said Jeremiah Sims bind the said Isaac, Charles, and John to learn some trade agreeable to the Laws of that commonwealth until they severally arrive to the age of twenty one years, at which time it is my will that they be free and that the said Jeremiah Sims have and enjoy the services of the said Kate until her residence there under the laws of that state and my will now intitle her to her freedom and also should it be necessary upon the introduction of my said slaves into the State of Ohio to pay any tax to the commonwealth it is my will that the said Jeremiah Sims pay the same out of the legacies left by me to his wife Sarah.
The three children were to be bound to Jeremiah Sims to learn a trade until the age of 21, then freed. Kate was to work for Jeremiah Sims until freed under the laws of Ohio.
On the 1820 census, three persons of color were in the Sims household in Germantown in Clark County, Ohio. Were they the three sons of Kate? Two sons and Kate? Was Kate living in a different household? Had Isaac already reached the age of 21 and freed?
By 1830 Jeremiah was deceased and his widow Sarah had her own household with 2 sons and a daughter. Next door was her son William. Her oldest son Thomas who had married in 1822 has not been located in 1830. Sarah and William did not have slaves or free colored persons in their household.
Is it possible Jeremiah Sims, who died in 1824, left a will including bequests concerning the young men bound to him?
The Last Will and Testament of Jeremiah Sims
On 8 January 1824, Jeremiah Sims wrote his last will and testament.7 No mention was made of slaves. There was, however, a codicil to the will.
I, Jeremiah Sims, do further add this codicil to my last will and testament, that is to say, it is my will that the two coulered boys living in my family to wit Charlesand Johnshall be bound out at the discretion of my executors aforesaid. Witness my hand and seal to this day above written (8 January 1818). Jeremiah Sims Saul Henkle John Callison James Callison
By 1824, it would appear that Isaac had reached the age of 21 or for some other reason was no longer living in the family of Jeremiah Sims. Charles and John had likely not yet reached the age of 21.
Jeremiah Sims did not include surnames for the two young men living in his family. What surname or surnames did Kate, Isaac, Charles, and John choose to use? Did they remain in Clark County, or even in Ohio?
This was written in hopes of the names of Kate and her sons Isaac, Charles, and John being familiar to a descendant searching for them.
1820 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Fourth Census of the United States, 1820 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M33, 142 rolls, NARA Roll M33_88, image 33, page 18, Ohio, Clark, Green, German, image 3 of 3, line 41. Jeremiah Sims (ancestry.com : accessed 21 February 2018). ↩
Eliza Warwick Wise, Bath County Marriage Bonds and Ministers Returns 1791-1853 (Bath County Historical Society, Inc. 1978). ↩
“Virginia, Wills and Probate Records, 1652-1983,” (images), Ancestry.com, citing original data of Virginia County, District, and Probate Courts, Bath Will Books, Vol 1-3, 1791-1830; Vol 2, pages 229-232, images 439-440 of 746. Last Will and Testament of Thomas Milhollin. (Ancestry.com : accessed 25 February 2018). ↩
Ibid., pages 232-233, images 440-441 of 746. Inventory of Estate of Thomas Milhollin. (Ancestry.com : accessed 25 February 2018). ↩
Ibid., pages 236-238, images 442-443 of 746. Sale of the estate of Thomas Milhollin. (Ancestry.com : accessed 25 February 2018). ↩
“Ohio, Wills and Probate Records, 1786-1998,” (index and images), Ancestry.com, citing original data from Ohio County, District and Probate Courts,, Clark Wills, Vol A1, 1819-1835; Vol 2, 1835-1855, p 94-96, images 56-57 of 565. 1824 Last Will and Testament of Jeremiah Sims and Codicil. (Ancestry.com : accessed 26 February 2018). ↩
In 1837 John Sparr wrote his Last Will and Testament leaving his “Black man Davie” to his wife Mary. After the death of the wife of John Sparr, Davie was to have the liberty of choosing “his master”. 1
The Last Will and Testament of John Sparr Dcd I John Sparr of the County of Fayette and State of Virginia Do make this my Last Will and Testament in Manner and form following that is to say 1st I give and bequeath unto my beloved wife Mary my Black Man Davie Togeather with one cow two head of sheep our feather bed bedstead and bedding p. & and During the Term of her natural life and at her decease To be Equally divided between my two daughters Elizabeth Koontz and Katharine Cart and the said black man Davie is to have liberty to choose his master at the Decease of my Wife and shall be valued by two disinterested men & His said master so chosen shall pay one half of such valuation to Elizabeth Koontz and the other half to Katharine Cart & if the person so chosen shall fail or refuse so t odo then the said Slave shall have liverty to choose untill he shall get one that that (sic) will Perform and the person so performing shall be the sole prorpietor of him the said Slave forever. I also give and bequeath unto my wife fifteen Bushels Wheate Thirty bushels corn and all the Ruffness on the farm. 2nd I give and bequeath on Jacob Cart my son’s old mare. 3rd I desire that immediately after my Decease that all the remaining part of my estate of Every Description be sold and out of the money arising Thereform all my just debts and funeral expenses be paid after which payment I desire that the Remaining part of my Estate not theretofore disposed of be fivided among my children herein named As follows tow wit Samuel five Dollars George five Dollars Susan five Dollars Polly five Dollars then the remainder Whatever it maybe to be divided between my two Daughters Elizabeth Koontz & Katharine Cart giving Elizabeth Twenty dollars more than Katharine
And Lastly I do hereby Constitute and appoint my two sons in law Jacob Koontz and Jacob Cart Executors of This my Last will and Testament hereby revoking all Others or former Wills or Testaments by me heretofore made In Witness Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 24th day of November 1836. John Sparr (his mark) Seal
Signed Sealed published and
Declared as and for the Last
Will and Testament of the said
John Sparr in the presents of
us who have hereunto set our
names as Witnesses in his presents and at his request W Carnafix Henry Crist
Fayette County Court January Term 1837 The Last Will and Testament of John Sparr Deceased was presented in open court proven by the oaths of William Carnafix & Henry Crist the subscribing witnesses thereto and is ordered to be recorded. Test H Hill CFC (Clerk Fayette County)
In 1830 John Sparr and his son George were in Nicholas County. Fayette County would be formed in 1831. John Sparr and his wife were in their seventies and did not have a slave listed on the 1830 census. In 1840 Samuel Sparr, likely the son mentioned in the will, was found in Fayette County and had one male slave aged 55 to 99 years in his household. The sons-in-law, Jacob Koontz and Jacob Carte, did not have any slaves in 1840. None of the surnames seen here were found on the 1850 and 1860 slave schedules.
The last will and testament documents of William Johnston and his wife Jane included the names of eight slaves. To find out if any of them could be followed I searched for wills of the children of William and Jane.
Following Jane’s death, her sons George and William remained bachelors, lived together, and cared for their sister’s orphaned Terry children as can be seen in the will of William Johnston written in 1849.
1849 Last Will and Testament of William Johnston
I William Johnston of the County of Greenbrier State of Virginia do make this my last will & Tesament as follows. Viz. I give and bequeath to my brother George Johnston the whole of my estate of every kind & description whatever, commanding to his care & kindness my nieces, Rebecca, Martha & Sally Tyree. I appoint my said brother George executor of this my last will & Testament. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand & seal this 29th day of October 1842. ……………………………………………………………………..William Johnston *Seal* Signed sealed & delivered by Wm Johnston as for his last will & Testament in our presence John A. North Samuel Price Johnson Reynolds
Greenbrier County Court September Term 1849 This paper perporting to be the last will & Testament of William Johnston decd was produced in Court and proved by the oaths of Samuel Price & Johnson Reynolds two of the subscribing witnesses thereto, and ordered to be recorded and on the motion of George Johnston the Executor therein made who made oath and together with James Withrow & John A. North his securities entered into and acknowledged a bond in the penalty of $ 14,000 conditioned as the law requires. Certificate is granteed the said Geo. Johnston for obtaining probate of said will. ……………………………………………………………………A copy Test ………………………………………………………………………………..John A. North (Clerk)
William’s entire estate went to his brother George who wrote his will in 1859 when slavery was still practiced.
1859 Last Will and Testament of George Johnston, proven 1866
I, George Johnston, of Greenbrier County, Virginia, being of sound and disposing mind and memory, do make this my last will and testament, hereby revoking all former wills by me at any time heretofore. 1st It is my will that all my funeral expences (sic) and just debts be paid as soon as my executors hereinafter appointed shall be able to collect money enough from others due me to do so. 2nd I give and bequeath to Marth (sic) Wills (former Marthe Tyree) one hundred dollars to her and her heirs forever. 3rd I give and bequeath to George Tyree my three slaves Aggy, Nancy, and Sampson, with this understanding, that he take good care of them so long as they live, and farther that the said George Tyree pay to Samuel Tyree the sum of two hundred and fifty dollars. 4th I give and bequeath to my brother, Andrew D. Johnston all the residue of my estate, personal, real or mixed, or of whatever kind it may be, to him and his heirs forever. 5th I hereby appoint my said brother, Andrew D. Johnston and his son, James William Johnston, executors of this my last will and testament, and hereby request the court not to require of them surety. In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal, this 27th of May, 1859. …………………………………………George Johnston *Seal* Signed by us as witnesses in the presence of each other, and in the pres- ence of the testator and at his request. ……………James Withrow ……………Mark S. Spotts
Recorder’s Office of Greenbrier County, July 9th, 1866: A paper purporting to be the last will and testament of George Johnston, decd, was produced to the Recorder in his office, and proved by the oaths of James Withrow and Mark S. Spotts, subscribing witnesses thereto, and admitted to record. …………………………………….Teste …………………………………………Joel McPherson …………………………………………………………Recorder
George Johnston lived until after the end of the Civil War and the will presented to the court in July 1866, after slavery was abolished, included the names of Aggy, Nancy, and Sampson. The same names seen in the last will and testament of his father William Johnston (Sampson) and of his mother Jane Johnston (Aggy and Nancy).
The same names but were they also the same persons?
The information on the number, gender, and ages of slaves owned by George and William Johnston on the 1820 through 1860 census records did not help to identify Sampson, Aggy, or Nancy in their household. Hopefully, a descendant will recognize their ancestor and be able to answer this question.
The 1810 census of Greenbrier County was “lost” as were those of the counties of Cabell, Hardy, and Tazewell. [Source: Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses, 1790-1920 by Wm. Thorndale and Wm Dollarhide]
By 1820 the only Johnston household in Greenbrier County with slaves was that of William & George Johnston. The men were in one household with both names listed together on the census sheet. They were likely the two oldest of the younger sons of William Johnston (see post). Their mother Jane, the widow of William Johnston, appears to be in this household as well as her two youngest sons and another male. There were 5 slaves in the household: 2 males under 14, 1 male 45 and over, and 2 females under 14. Only the male 45 and older would have been living when the 1802 will was written.
On 7 August 1825 Jane Johnston made her last will and testament. She names her sons William and George Johnston with whom she was likely living in 1820, a daughter Polly Feamster, and son Andrew Johnston. She also names two slaves: Aggy and her daughter Nancy.
In the name of God amen I Jane Johnston of the County of Greenbrier and State of Virginia being of sound & disposing mind and memory but sick in body do make & ordain this my Last will and Testament. In the first place I will and bequeath to my son George and William Johnson (sic) my Negro Woman Aggy to them & their heirs forever. In the second place I bequeath to my daughter Polly the wife of Johan Feamster and to Andrew Johnston my son my Negro Girl Nancydaughter of said Aggyto them & their heirs forever. I do hereby appoint my sons George and William Johnston Executors of this my Last will and Testament & do hereby revoke any and Every former will heretofore made by me In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal this 7th day of August Eighteen Hundred & Twenty five. Jane X (her mark) Johnson *Seal* Signed Sealed and acknowledged in the presence of us Ballard Smith Polly Smith Greenbrier County Court October Term 1825 This paper purporting to be the Last will and Testament of Jane Johnston decd. was presented in Court & proved by the oath of Ballard Smith and Polly Smith the subscribing Witnesses thereto to have been duly Executed & acknowledged by the within decedent and the same is ordered to be recorded. Teste Lewis Stuart CGC (Clerk Greenbrier County)
Was Aggy one of the two females under 14 years old in the 1820 census listing for Jane’s sons George and William? Was her daughter Nancy born between 1820-1825? Or were they older and living in a different household?
Did any of the Johnston siblings mentioned in Jane Johnston’s will also leave wills or other documents which can be used to trace Aggy and Nancy?
There’s no need to wait until you find an ancestor who was a slaveholder to be part of the Slave Name Roll Project.
A distant cousin and descendant of our Johnson common ancestor wondered if the will entered into the Greenbrier County, West Virginia, Will Book 1 in 1803 for one William Johnston was for our 5th great-grandfather. Since our ancestor William Johnson died in 1805 in Nicholas County, I quickly replied it was most likely not the same person.
To be sure I looked up the Last Will and Testament and the Appraisement in the Greenbrier Will Book. The name of the wife of the deceased did not match our ancestor’s wife’s name nor did the children named. However, since the documents included the names of several slaves, I saved the link to share in this post.
Wm Johnston’s Last Will
In the Name of God Amen ~ I William Johnston of Greenbrier County and State of Virginia, being at present in a doubtfull State of health, and well aware of my Mortallity, and the uncertainty of Life, Doin (sic) Duty to my Family and such Creditors as has pleased to indulge me in just Debts, Make ordain and Declare this Instrument of willing to be my last Will and Testatment revolking all other by me before made. 1st Item. To my well beloved wife Jane I give and bequeath the plantation whereon I now live during her natural Life time, on the condition that the profits and Encoluments from the same shall be applied as well to her own use as to the use of my Children; as long as they or such of them as shall continue to live with her, in such manner as she may deem most equitable and necessary to their respective Circumstances, and Conditions; and I also leave to her in the same manner and for the same purpose aforesaid my three Negroes, To wit, Litt, Giles, & Eby. But if my said wife sould (sic) die before the said Negroes, or any of them, then the said Negroes or the Survivors of them shall be sold by my Executors and the money arising from such Sale to be divided between my four oldest Children. To wit James, Polly, Samuel, and Sally. 2d Item. To my son James I bequeath my little negroe Boy Sampson, which I have heretofore disposed of to him in consignance of much Services rendered by him to me this small recompense I hope will be accepted by him as the only reward in my ___fore his many Services. I also bequeath to him the Bay horse now his riding Horse and a sorrel mare which is at present in the possession of my Brother Silas in Kentucky. 3d Item. To my Daughter Polly I Bequeath my little negroe Girl named Bridgett and her bay riding Mare known now to be her claim, and the Panteloon Philly which came of the said mare, & three Cows the Choice of my Stock. 4th Item. To my son Samuel I bequeath a young black horse and dark bay Mare both rising four years old and of the blood of the stud Horse kept by Joseph McNut. Also a sorrel horse of the Bachelor bread now four year old. 5th Item. To my Daughter Sally I bequeath my little negro child named Levill, also a Mare and Colt now at my Brother James Johnstons, and the same that was the claim of my Daughter Rebecka Deceased. 6th Item. To my four youngest sons, to wit, William, George, John & Andrew I bequeath my plantation whereon I now live, after the Decease of their Mother allowing the same to be sold and the money divided equally between them and the Title to be conveyed by my Executors to the purchaseor, or by their legal representatives in case of their Decease. But if my wife should die before my youngest son Andrew should arrive to full age of twenty one years the sale of the said Land to be suspended until he shall be of full age, or the youngest survivor of them shall be of such age, and not before. But the rents and profits of the said place shall be applied while such period as is heretofore directed in the 1st Item in this INstrument. Item 7th. All my household and Kitchen Furniture with plantation Utensils to remain in the use and possession of my wife with my waggon and gears and necessary working Horses such as are no occupied in Labouring the plantation, all which are to be kept by my wife for the use of the plantation and disposed of at her Discression for her use and the use of the Children. 8th Item. To my son William I bequeath a young last spring’s Colt that came of the mare heretofore bequeathed to my son Samuel in the fourth Item of this Instrument. 9th Item. All the rest of my Stock of Horses and Cattle of every kind to be kept on my plantation to be sold annually by my Executors as they may become felt for market, and applied by my said Executors to the use of my
Family in as equal and Just a manner to each of them as they __ convocunity(?) do, so to the discharge of my Just debts. 10th Item. All my Land lying on Anthony’s Creek in this County, and such lands as I hold in partnership with Patrick Boyd in Monroe County or any other Lands whereof I am now possed and not here before mentioned to be sold by my Executors or their legal representatives and the money arising with all Debts due to me by Bond Bill or open accounts to be applied to the discharged of my Just Debts and the overplus if any to be divided equally amongst my four oldest Children or otherwise to Educate my my (sic) son John as in the Judgement of my said Executors shall be thought best. But if applied to the Education of John the same to be reimbursed by him out of his part of the Land Bequeathed in the 6th Item of this Instrument. 11th Item. My panteloon Stud Horse to be sold and the money applied as in the 10th Item next above. And this I do declare to be my last will and for the Due Execution of the same I do hereby appoint my trusty and well blessed Friend Majr. William Renick and my son James Johnston Executors hoping & trusting that all things done by them will oblige the rec___ and reward of the Just. In Testimoney whereof I have hereonto set my Seal and Subscribed my name this 25th day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand eight Hundred and two. Wm Johnston *Seal* Signed Sealed & acknowledged in the presence of us Jame Davis Charles Arbuckle James Withrow
At a Court held for Green (sic, Greenbrier) County the 25th day of January 1803 This last will and Testament of William Johnston Deceasd was presented in County & proven by the Oaths of Charles Arbuckle and James Withrow, who also made oath that they seen James Davis the other Witness sign the same in their presence & William Renick and James Johnston the Executors named in the said Will made oath according to Law and thereupon entered into Bond with Joseph Mathews and Christopher Vanhab their Securities in the penal sum of 4000 Dollars with condition as the Law directs. Teste John Stuart C.G.C.
The Appraisement of the Estate of the late William Johnston deceased was returned into Court and ordered to be recorded at the Greenbrier June Court 1803. Included in the appraisement were Giles, Litt, Hebe, Sampson, Briget, and Lewisa. The names appear to be the same as those seen in the will except that Ebe is seen here as Hebe and the child named Levill may be Lewisa. Since the will was written by the slaveholder I have used his version of the names for the time of this post.
Following the death of William Johnston, the next census was the 1810. From Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses, 1790-1920 by Wm. Thorndale and Wm Dollarhide, the 1810 censuses for Cabell, Greenbrier, Hardy and Tazewell counties were “lost”–no details as to how.
By 1817 son Samuel had died and left a will naming his sister Mary (seen as Polly in the 1803 will of father) and his brother William. Samuel, who had not received an enslaved person from his father, mentioned only leaving his real and personal property to his sister.
By 1820 the only Johnston household in Greenbrier County with slaves was that of William & George Johnston who were in one household with both names. They were likely the two oldest of the younger sons of William Johnston who died in 1803. Their mother appears to be in this household as well as the two youngest sons and another male. There are 5 slaves in the household.
1820 U.S. Federal Census
Greenbrier County, Virginia
Free White Persons – Males – 16 thru 18: 1
Free White Persons – Males – 16 thru 25: 2
Free White Persons – Males – 26 thru 44: 3
Free White Persons – Females – 26 thru 44: 1
Free White Persons – Females – 45 and over : 1
Slaves – Males – Under 14: 2
Slaves – Males – 45 and over: 1
Slaves – Females – Under 14: 2
Total Slaves: 5
Total All Persons – White, Slaves, Colored, Other: 12
Could Giles, Litt, and Eby be three of the five slaves in the household? When did William Johnston’s widow die? Did she leave a will?
Today, I’m especially pleased to bring to you a guest article written by Susan Speers. She reached out to me by sending a message to my Facebook page Opening Doors in Brick Walls. She’d found the image of the last will and testament of an ancestor in Georgia which included names of slaves and thought I would be interested in using it. I doubt I could bring across the connectivity I feel when writing about the names I find in West Virginia and Virginia as I have no experience researching families in Georgia. I believe the post will be much more powerful coming from a descendant of the slaveholder. Susan was a bit “blown away” when I asked her to be my first guest writer. After taking a day to consider, she came back thanking me “for offering the space and platform.”
Take it away, Susan…..
The Slaves of John Nicholson, Scriven County, Georgia, 1817
In searching for my maternal ancestors on Ancestry.com, I came across the last will and testament of John Nicholson, Jr. (born about 1768, South Carolina – died after 12 March 1817) of Screven County, Georgia. Nicholson’s will lists the names of nine enslaved people which may be of interest to anyone looking for enslaved ancestors in this part of Georgia.
Screven County (formerly called “Scriven” County) is on the Savannah River; the first county seat was Jacksonboro but it was moved to Sylvania in about 1847. German immigrants who arrived on the coast in the 1740s pushed inland to establish farms along the Savannah River in the second half of the 18th Century. Nicholson’s family was originally from Scotland.
From his will and a later deed, it appears that John Nicholson and his heirs were working several hundred acres in Scriven County, but I am not yet sure where his home farm was located. According to Wikipedia and local sources, cotton was the main crop by the turn of the century. For those searching for their ancestors in this part of Georgia, there are apparently additional wills on record in the Screven County Courthouse which may be helpful to search.
I have attempted to transcribe the will to make reading easier.
Will of John Nicholson
In the name of God, Amen. I, John Nicholson, of the state of Georgia & County of Scriven, Planter, being very sick & weak in body but of perfect mind & memory thanks be given unto God, calling into mind the mortality of my body & knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die, do make & ordain this my last will & Testament; That is to say principally & first of all, I Give & recommend my soul into the hand of Almighty God that gave it & my body I recommend to the Earth to be buried in decent Christian Burial at the discretion of my Executors nothing doubting but at the general resurrection I shall receive the same again by the Almighty power of God; and as touching such worldly state wherewith it hath pleased God to bless me in this life. I give demise & dispose of the same in the following manner & form. First I give & bequeath to Elizabeth my dearly beloved wife during her natural life_ the following property namely one hundred acres more or less lying & being in the state & County aforesaid, bounded by Sarah Nicholson’s land on the south & Thomas Nicholson’s land on the north_ Also five negroes namely Tom or McKinney, Larry, Ame, Silvia & Nan, to have & to hold the said property during her natural life, at the expiration of which the aforesaid property shall be equally divided betwixt my three beloved children, Sarah, Thomas & Mary for their individual & particular use severally forever__ I also order & ordain that the present negroes which are deeded off say York, Tom, Jack & Jenny do remain in the present situation they are now in until the Debts are paid off__
I also demise & bequeath unto my daughter in law Margaret Streigle one hundred Dollars__ Also to her daughter Mary Streigle fifty_Dollars_ I also bequeath unto Sarah Streigle daughter to Martha Herrington fifty dollars _ Also to my Grandson John Sewall [Sowell] fifty dollars___ I Do hereby utterly disallow revoke & disannul all & every other former Testaments, Wills, Legacies, bequests & so forth, by me in any wise before named willed & bequeathed, ratifying & confirming this & no other to be my last will & testament, In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand & seal this twelfth day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred & Seventeen__ Signed, Sealed published pronounced & declared by the said John Nicholson as his last will & testament in the presence of us – who in his presence and in the presence of each other have hereto subscribed our names. __
Nicholas Streigle Joby Herrington John his mark Nicholson Georgia Scriven County Personally appeared in open Court Nicholas Streigle, who being duly sworn on the Holy Evangelist of Almighty God, deposeth & saith that he was present & saw John Nicholson Dec.d acknowledge & make his mark to the within written will & T. [the] deponent further saith that he saw Job Herrington together with himself subscribe the same as witness thereto Sworn to in open Court of 7th July 1817. Nicholas Streigle.
Seaborn Goodall Cl’k, Recorded this 8th day of July 1817 by me S. Goodall, CCOSC
[Transcribed by Susan Speers]
Nicholson named five men and women who would remain with his widow Elizabeth Streigle (originally Streagle) Nicholson after his death and four others who were working out in 1817 but may have been sold as soon as his debts were paid.
The people listed to remain with Elizabeth Nicholson were: “Tom or McKinney, Larry, Ame, Silvia and Nan.” Nicholson stated that after his widow passed, these people were to be included in the division of the rest of his estate and divided among his three children: Thomas Nicholson, Sarah Nicholson, and Mary Nicholson, who later married James Gamble.
The people who were deeded out at the time Nicholson wrote his will in March of 1817 were: “York, Tom, Jack & Jenny.” It is not clear where they were working out or what would have happened to these people when Nicholson’s debts were paid.
In the 1830 U.S. Federal Census, Thomas Nicholson appears in “District 37” Scriven County with a total of 7 enslaved people and 11 free colored people. The ages range from children under 10 to adults. Other property owners on the same page include John Meades, who did not own slaves; James Gamble (2 female slaves and 9 free colored); and Robert M. Williamson (21 enslaved boys and men; 11 enslaved girls and women.)
In 1836, John Nicholson’s heirs Sarah Nicholson and James Gamble, who had married Mary Nicholson about 1816 and thus owns the land she inherited, sold three parcels of land totaling 375 acres to Thomas Nicholson. The deed description includes the names of adjacent owners which may be helpful to note: Thomas Green, James Meades, Alexander Herrington and Richard Herrington, Sr. The Herringtons were related by marriage to the Nicholsons; public trees on Ancestry indicate that Martha Striggles/Streagle Nicholson, born in 1787, had married Richard Herrington, Sr. in 1807. I have found no record that Sarah Nicholson ever married and no record for her past 1840.
Sarah Nicholson had a total household of 25 people, including of whom 21 were slaves. At this time, Sarah’s age is reported to be between 20 and 30 years old.
Thomas Nicholson had a larger immediate family of 10 with 6 slaves.
Richard M. Herrington reported a family of 4 with one slave. Richard M. would die before the end of the year.
Martha Herrington, between 30 and 40 years old, had a household of 23 people, including 15 slaves. This Martha could be the daughter of Richard M. and Martha, born about 1806.
This one page of Scriven County lists 31 households with a total of 503 people on these 31 farms, of whom 310 were slaves. 61% of the area residents were enslaved, and 108 of those people were children under age 10, fully 21% of the overall population and 34% of the enslaved population.
I come into this tree because my mother was a descendant of Martha Gamble Carter, who I believe was a daughter of James Gamble and Mary Nicholson, although the records are not clear. I continue to research this line and would be interested in hearing from anyone in the Gamble, Carter, Streagle/Strigle or Nicholson families.
 Nicholson was a Revolutionary War soldier and his service is the basis for several membership applications to The Sons of the Revolution society.
 In 1840, in contrast to the 1830 census for members of the Nicholson family, there were no free blacks listed.
 The 1840 census form had different age brackets for white and slaves: white children were counted in columns for under 5, 5-10, 10-15, and 15-20 while enslaved children were counted as under 10, 10-24, on up. The census taker was asked to report how many individuals were actively working in agriculture or a trade. In Scriven County, anyone who worked worked in agriculture. These property owners did not report (or the taker did not enumerate) that the enslaved children were working in the fields.
Thank you, Susan, for releasing the names of Tom or McKinney, Larry, Ame, Silvia, Nan, York, Tom, Jack, and Jenny. If you are interested in getting in touch with Susan, please leave a comment for her below.
About the time Nathaniel Landcraft died, his daughter Adaline, widow of John S. Roberts, married the Baptist minister Edwin W. Woodson. They made their home in Monroe County, (West) Virginia. In 1840 Woodson had two slaves in his household, a male and a female, both were 10 thru 23 years old. Could either of them be one of the slaves mentioned in the Landcraft appraisement?
In 1850 E W Woodson owned one female slave age 20. In 1860 Adaline Woodson owned one female slave age 30. Who was this female slave?
Edwin W. Woodson died on 14 May 1853 leaving a will and an appraisement which named the enslaved person, Evaline.
Last Will and Testament of Edwin W. Woodson of Monroe County, (West) Virginia
In the name of God Amen. I Edwin W. Woodson of the County of Monroe and State of Virginia being of sound mind and disposing memory do make this my last will and testament in manner and form following to wit Item 1st. I desire that after my death my representatives may sell all of my personal property that can be spared from the support of my family my library and Tobacco excepted, the latter of which is to remain in a partnership concern with N. H. Roberts and Andrew Campbell and myself for twelve months as per partnership agreement, at the expiration of which time, my interest in the Tobacco concern the amount of sale for my personal property and amt. from any debts due me is to be appropriated to my debts. Item 2d. Any deficit in the payment of my debts after the appropriation of the above funds as above named is to be made up out of my negro gril & her increase & my tract of Land on on (sic) which Nehemiah Bonham now lives, or either as my representatives may deem most expedient. Item 3d. In the event that the funds already named above & set apart for the payment of my debts should not be sufficient to pay the same, in that event I desire my home tract of land to be sold on a reasonable credit & the whole of my debts to be paid out of the same, & the residue if any remaining together with that arising or remaining from any other portion of my estate to be divided as follows, one third to my wife Adaline and the ballance equaly amongst my children. Item 4th. Any of my lands that may be left after the payment of my debts, I give to my wife Adaline until the youngest child has arrived at the age of twenty one years at which time it is to be equally divided amongst my children subject to the dower of my wife Adaline. Item 5th. In the event that my negro girl Evaline and her increase in part or whole should not be appropriated to the payment of my debts in that case, I give the same to my wife Adaline so long as she may live and at her death to be equally divided amongst my children. Item 6th. I desire that my Library shall not be sold, but equally apportioned between my children
the oldest to have choice of lots. Item 7th. I do hereby appoint my dearly beloved wife Adaline to be my Executrix and Grandison C. Landcraft my Executor of this my last will & testament. In Testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal this the 12th day of May 1853. Edwin W. Woodson *seal* Teste Boswell Vass John Woodram N.H. Roberts At Monroe June Court 1853. The Last Will and Testament of Edwin W. Woodson decd was presented in Court by Grandison C. Landcraft one of the Executors therein named and was proved by the oaths of John Woodram and Nathaniel H. Roberts two of the subscribing witneses thereto and the same is ordered to be recorded and thereupon the said Landcraft together with Rufus Pack, Robert L. Shanklin, Mathew Campbell and Nathaniel H. Roberts his securities entered into & acknowledged his bond in the penalty of $5000 with condition according to the law, probate of the said will in due form is granted him, reserving the liverty to Mrs. Woodson the Executrix named in said will to join in the probate hereafter if she choose. A Copy Teste Geo W. Hutchinson CMC (Clerk, Monroe County)
Appraisement of the Estate of Edwin W. Woodson
In Obedience to an order made at the June term to us directed John Vass, Boswell Vass and Nathaniel H. Roberts who were appointed to appraise the personal Estate of Edwin W. Woodson decd do now proceed as follows after being duly sworn
1 Negro Girl named Evaline $ 600.00 1 White Mare 50.00 1 Brown Horse 65.00 1 Grey Yearling Colt 45.00 1 Iron Gray Mare 85.00 1 Black Cow 12.00 1 Spotted Do. 12.00 1 Mewly Heifer 10.00 1 White face Do. 10.00 1 Speckled Cow 15.00 (subtotal 904.00) 20 head of Sheep at $1 20.00 2 Calves at $4 8.00 15 Hogs at $2 30.00 5 shrats at $1 5.00 1 wheat Fan 22.00 1 Scythe & Cradle 1.50 1 mowing sythe & snaith 0.75 2 Sets Plow Gears at $1.37 1/2 2.75 1 two Horse Wagon & 3 Bodys 65.00 (subtotal 155.00) 2 Single Trees & 1 Double do 1.00 1 Sog chain 1.50 1 Big Plow 5.00 1 shovel Plow, clevis do. 1.25 1 Bull Tounge Do. 0.75 1 Coalter Plow & Clevis 1.25 1 Plow shovel 0.37 1 Choping Axe 1.25 1 mattock 2.75 1 Iron Tooth Harrow 3.00 (subtotal 18.12) $1077.12 Amount brot. over $1,077.12 2 Hilling Hoes 1.50 1 Weeding do 0.25 1 Bee stand 1.50 1 Brass Clock 4.00 5 feather Beds & Bedding 50.00 2 New Bed steads at $5.00 Ea. 10.00 2 old do at $2.00 Ea 4.00 2 old do at $1.00 Ea 2.00 1 shot gun 2.50 (subtotal 75.75) 1 Jack Reel 0.75 1 Flax spinning wheel 3.00
1 big wheel 1.50 1 man’s saddle & 2 riding bridles 12.00 1 Cupboard & contents 16.00 1 Beauro & Book Case 8.00 1 small table with drawer 1.00 1 Cooking glass 0.50 (subtotal 42.75) 1 Dining Table 2.50 10 Chairs 5.00 1 pr. small steelyears 0.34 1 old Hand saw 0.25 1 drawing Knife 0.25 2 Iron Wedges 0.50 Kitchen furniture including Pots, Ovens, Skillets Kettles, Buckets, Pans & & & 5.00 (subtotal 13.84) July 29th 1853 $1,209.46 Boswell Vass John Vass N.H. Roberts Boswell Vass, John Vass, N. H. Roberts appeared before me and was duly sworn by me a justice of the peace for said County. Given under my hand. Joseph Ellis J.O. At Monroe County Court Octo. Tm. 1853 An appraisment of the Estate of E. W. Woodson decd was returned & ordered to be recorded A Copy Teste Geo W. Hutchinson CMC
I do not normally go to Ancestry to check on wills etc. for West Virginia as they are on FamilySearch. In this case I discoved fiduciary records for the estate of Edwin W. Woodson which included 200 images in the West Virginia, Wills and Probate Records, 1724-1985 database.
I only skimmed through the images until I found this record which shows Evaline was included in the personal property which went to the widow Adaline B. Woodson.
Received from G. C. Landcraft Exr. of E. W. Woodson decd., as of the 29th day of July 1853, nine hundred and forty one dollars & 46 cents, in personal property belonging to the estate of said E. W. Woodson decd. at its appreaised value. The above includes one negro girl named Evaline, appraised at $600.00. Given under my hand this 25 day of April 1873 A.B. Woodson Widow of E. W. Woodson decd.
Evaline was most likely the young girl Evoline mentioned in Landcraft’s appraisement in 1835. By 1870 she would have been about 40 years old (1850 age 20 and 1860 age 30 as seen in the slave schedules). I was not able to locate her in the 1870 census but hope that by releasing her name a descendant may recognize her, make the connection, and leave a comment.
In Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Henry, a Slave in Nicholas County, (West) Virginia, the slaveholder of the enslaved Henry was John S. Roberts. Further research turned up connections to others who owned slaved. John Shelton Roberts was the son of Alexander Roberts and Sarah Shepherd of Nelson County, Virginia. He married Adeline B. Landcraft, daughter of Nathaniel Landcraft and Sarah B. Hardin, on 6 September 1829 in Nelson County. John and Adeline very likely came to the Fayette/Nicholas counties area with Adeline’s parents. By 1830 John was living in Nicholas County where he (male 20 thru 29) was seen on the census with his wife (female 20 thru 29) and two young slaves under 10 years of age. When he died the appraisement of his estate included only the enslaved Henry. Was it possible the other slave belonged to his widow Adeline B. Landcraft? Did she receive the enslaved person in their 1830 household from her parents?
Nathaniel Landcraft was seen in Nelson County, Virginia, with the following household in 1820:
1820 United States Federal Census
Home in 1820 (City, County, State):
Buckingham, Nelson, Virginia
August 7, 1820
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 15:
Free White Persons – Males – 16 thru 25:
Free White Persons – Males – 45 and over:
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10:
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 15:
Free White Persons – Females – 26 thru 44:
Slaves – Males – Under 14:
Slaves – Males – 14 thru 25:
Slaves – Females – Under 14:
Slaves – Females – 14 thru 25:
Slaves – Females – 26 thru 44:
Number of Persons – Engaged in Agriculture:
Number of Persons – Engaged in Manufactures:
Free White Persons – Under 16:
Free White Persons – Over 25:
Total Free White Persons:
Total All Persons – White, Slaves, Colored, Other:
Source: 1820 U S Census; Census Place: Buckingham, Nelson, Virginia; Page: 196; NARA Roll: M33_130; Image: 374; Ancestry.com
In 1830 Nathaniel Landcraft was found in Summersville, Nicholas County, (West) Virginia, where his daughter Adeline and son-in-law John S. Roberts were also living. The image is very light, however, I was able to confirm the entry is for Nathaniel Landcraft and not Sanderson as indexed below.
1830 United States Federal Census
Nathaniel Sanderson [Nathaniel Snderapt]
Home in 1830 (City, County, State):
Summersville, Nicholas, Virginia
Free White Persons – Males – 15 thru 19:
Free White Persons – Males – 20 thru 29:
Free White Persons – Males – 50 thru 59:
Free White Persons – Females – 15 thru 19:
Free White Persons – Females – 50 thru 59:
Slaves – Males – Under 10:
Slaves – Males – 24 thru 35:
Slaves – Females – Under 10:
Slaves – Females – 24 thru 35:
Free White Persons – Under 20:
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49:
Total Free White Persons:
Total – All Persons (Free White, Slaves, Free Colored):
Source: 1830; Census Place: Summersville, Nicholas, Virginia; Series: M19; Roll: 198; Page: 193; Family History Library Film: 0029677; Ancestry.com
As can be seen in the census listings above, Landcraft had 11 slaves in his household in 1820 and 9 (6 of whom were born after 1820) in 1830. At the time of his death, the appraisement of his estate included only three enslaved persons: Violate, Evoline and Samuel.
1835 Appraisement of the Estate of Nathaniel Landcraft
We the undersigned (after first duly sworn)
have proceeded to appraise in Current money the
person (sic) estate and Negro Belonging to the Estate
of Nathaniel Landcraft decd as followeth, to wit.
One Negro Woman named Violate $375
One Do Girle ” Evoline 150
One Do Boy ” Samuel 125
One Cupboard & Furniture 35
One Safe & furniture 10
One Sideboard & Table 5
One Clock 10
One Bed & furniture 30
Two Beds, Bedsteads & furniture 60
One Trunk, Chist & Bedstead 4
One Looking Glass 2
Two Waiters 1.50
Nine Chairs 4.50
One Tea Kittle and Irons & Shovels & Tongs 3
Kitchen furniture 15
Given under our hand this 2nd day
of January 1855_
. . . . . . . . . . . .T.B. Hamilton
. . . . . . . . . . . .P. Keenan Appraisers
. . . . . . . . . . . .Wm. Morris
Fayette County Court Clerks Office Jany Term 1835
The Appraisement Bill of the Estate of Nathaniel Land-
craft decd was Recd and ordered to be recorded_
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Test
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Hiram Hill CK
End of transcription
About the time Nathaniel Landcraft died, his daughter Adeline, widow of John S. Roberts, married the Baptist minister Edwin W. Woodson. They made their home in Monroe County, (West) Virginia. In 1840 Woodson had two slaves in his household, a male and a female, both were 10 thru 23 years old. Could either of them be one of the slaves mentioned in the Landcraft appraisement?
In 1850 E W Woodson owned one female slave age 20. In 1860 Adeline Woodson owned one female slave age 30. Who was this female slave? Did Rev. Woodson die before 1860? Did he leave a will, inventory, or appraisement mentioning the slave enumerated under his name in 1850?
Earlier this month I discovered a wonderful batch of pre-Civil War records for the counties in the western Virginia which would become West Virginia in 1863. FamilySearch’s collections of digital images have been growing at an amazing speed in recent years. Every now and then I will do fairly simple searches for birth, marriage, and/or death records in Fayette County, West Virginia, for the surname DEMPSEY. This surname is in two branches of my family tree. I am always looking for new information to possibly connect the two lines or to fill in some blanks in either line.
I was not disappointed when something new showed up in a search for births in Fayette County, (West) Virginia. The hit indicated a son born to my 3rd great-grand uncle Wilson M. DEMPSEY. A son I did not have in my database. When I opened up the details of the search results, I found the birth record was not for a son but for a slave.
From experience, I know when FamilySearch shows a record is not available (see camera icon with the notation in the above image) this actually means there is no image attached to the indexed material. However, the film may be available online and browse-only. I checked their catalog for the FHL microfilm number given and found Vital statistics, 1853-1860 of West Virginia, microreproduction of original manuscripts at the Virginia State Library, Richmond, Virginia, for West Virginia counties.
I spend hours working with the browse-only records at FamilySearch. Being experienced made it easy for me to find the image to the record indexed above. This post deals with the content of the record, not how I found it. If you are interested, please ask, and I will explain how in a comment to this post.
The birth of William, a son of Mary, was recorded in the birth register of Fayette County. He was born at Meadow Fork on 11 February 1857. The column for the name of the father is titled: Father’s Name in full if Child be free and born in wedlock, or Name of Owner if Child born a Slave. Wilson M. Dempsey’s name is in this column as well as the column for the informant. In the column, Relationship of Informant, he is noted as Owner.
I took a bit of time to browse through the entire batch of registers for Fayette County and found another entry with Wilson M. Dempsey as the informant. This one did not turn up in my original search which made me wonder if the entire collection has been indexed. Different search criteria turned up this indexed record in the Virginia Births and Christenings, 1584-1917.
This indexed record shows “Orange Dempsy” was a child of “Wilson Dempsy” and “Mary.” A closer look at the actual entry in the register shows Orange was a slave.
On this entry, the child Orange was born in June 1855 on the Loop in Fayette County. He was a slave owned by Wilson Dempsey. The mother’s name was Mary. The occupation of the father is blank and his residence is listed as Amherst. Another child born as a slave of another slaveholder on the same page has blanks for the occupation and residence of the father. It’s possible Amherst refers to the residence of the father of Orange, indicating the enslaved family was separated due to Wilson Dempsey’s recent move to Fayette County. Or, Wilson Dempsey had not yet moved his family and may have taken his slave(s) there to prepare for his move.
In 1840 Wilson Dempsey was recently married to Evalina Carolyn Rhodes, a daughter of Reuben Rhodes and Tabitha Rowsie of Amherst County, Virginia. In the 1840 census of the same county, Wilson was seen with his bride and two slaves, one male 10 thru 23 and one female under 10 years. In 1850 Wilson was listed as an overseer in the Eastern District of Amherst. His wife had died in the 1840s and he’d remarried. His second wife’s maiden name is not known. The 1850 slave schedule does not have a listing for him and it is unknown for whom he was working as an overseer.
Before finding the above records, we knew Wilson moved to Fayette County in western Virginia in the 1850s. The records place him in the county in 1855, either setting up his household or permanently settled.
In 1860 the slave schedule of Fayette County includes the following enslaved black persons for Wilson M. Dempsey:
one male age 35 (possibly the male seen in 1840?)
one female age 30 (possibly Mary)
one female age 22 (or, possibly Mary)
one female age 12
one female age 8
two females age 7
one male age 3 (possibly William)
one male age 1
I have known since I first began researching my 3rd great-grandfather Seaton Y. Dempsey that his brother Wilson had slaves as well as their father William Dempsey of Amherst. However, the only indication of their keeping enslaved persons had been the 1810 census for William (3 slaves), the 1840 census for Wilson (2 slaves), and the 1860 census for Wilson (9 slaves). The birth records found this month help to name at least three of the enslaved people: Orange, William, and their mother Mary.