Many of my West Virginia cousins and genealogy acquaintances know my 5th great-grandfather James SIMS (1754-1845) of Nicholas County is one of my favorite ancestors to research. I worked with a group of descendants sixteen years ago and wrote a lengthy biography which is attached to hundreds of trees on Ancestry. It is now time to review the information I used in writing the biography and attempt to find more of the missing pieces.
One question which has not been settled is the year of death of James SIMS. The exact location of his grave in the Simms Memorial Church Cemetery in Swiss is in doubt as the original stone marker was displaced and lost many years ago. Two memorial plaques are in the cemetery.
The marker with the year 1838 was secured from the Veterans Administration in 1979 by George R. Penick, Jr. Mr. Penick who compiled information on the descendants of James Sims spoke with some older family members who assumed James SIMS died in 1838. Mr. Penick did his research over 40 years ago and did not have the resources we have today. He likely did not consult the 1840 census as James SIMS age 80 thru 89 was enumerated with his wife, his youngest son George Washington Sims, and a younger male – perhaps a grandson who was helping on the farm.
I have not been able to find out who placed the marker with the 1845 year of death which is more likely as James was living in 1840.
In 1848 a bill of complaint was filed by attorney John Reynolds in the Circuit Supreme Court of Law and Chancery for Nicholas County with George H. Lee, Judge, seeking to have the court provide for the sale of the 125-acre farm near Beech Glen left by James SIMS when he died. The transcript names heirs who would have been living at the time and has also been referred to as a partition suit. The date of death of the deceased was given in the bill as 1836 which cannot be correct due to his being alive at the time of the 1840 census.
Although FamilySearch now has many records online for Nicholas County, I have yet to locate the original partition suit. The transcript was found by Willard E. Simms of Cozaddale, Ohio, in the DAR file of Virginia Bondurant Johnson and shared in a letter to John T. Simms, of Charleston, West Virginia, in 1947. Without a copy of the original record, I cannot be sure that the information in the transcript is correct.
When did James SIMS die?
FamilySearch now has many “new” browse-only record collections available for Nicholas County, West Virginia.
In the Order books, 1844-1928 I found four documents which mention James SIMS in the volumes for the years 1844-1871.
At a Court continued and held for the County of Nicholas on Wednesday the 13th day of November 1844 present William D. Cottle, Bernard Hendrick, John Mc Hamilton.
A power of attorney from James Sims to John McClung was presented in court and ordered to be recorded.1
This now places the death of James SIMS at after this date, 13 November 1844. Eight months later another record was recorded in the Order Book.
August Term 1845
At a Court held for the County of Nicholas at the Court house by the Justices thereof on Tuesday the 12th day of August 1845. present Bernard Hendrick, William Sims, James G. Neil, David Hanna, Jeremiah Odell & William D. Cottle Gent. Justices.2
James Sims Senr. is released from the payment of County & parish Levies in future.3
As we see here on 12 August 1845 James SIMS was still living. Was he exempted from paying the levies due to his age or infirmity? James was born in 1754 per his own declaration made in 1834 and would turn 91 years old on 8 October 1845.
The last two records found add a new date to the equation.
At a Court held for the County of Nicholas at theCourt house by the Justices thereof on Tuesday the 10th day of March 1846 present John M. Hamilton, William D. Cottle, William Sims & James G. Neil Gent Justices & John McClung Gent Justice.4
On the motion of William Sims who made oath & together with Joshua Stephenson and Dryden Sims his securities entered into and acknowledged a bond in the penalty of Two hundred Dollars conditioned as the Law directs certificate is granted the said William Sims to obtain Letters of administration on the Estate of James Sims decd in due form.
On the motion of William Sims administrator of the Estate of James Sims Decd. George Hardway William Summers & John Morris are appointed appraisers of the personal Estate of the said decd. after being first duly sworn for that purpose and that they return the appraisment under their hands to the Court.5
Sometime between 12 August 1845 and 10 March 1846, James SIMS passed away. He did not leave a will and letters of administration and the appraisement of his estate were ordered.
His son William SIMS was one of the justices of the court. How long after his death would he have waited to start proceedings to have his father’s estate administered and appraised? Previously the court was held on 10 February 1846, 13 January 1846, and 12 November 1845? Could it be he died in 1846 and the year 1836 seen in the partition case was an error of ten years?
For now, I will list the death of James SIMS as between 12 August 1845 and 10 March 1846. Previously I had between 1840-1848 as these were the last census year he was found and the year the partition suit was filed. I am quite happy with the range I have been able to narrow down to.
The next question I have may not be as easily answered. If the estate of James SIMS was appraised6 then the appraisement would be found in the West Virginia Will Books collection at FamilySearch. Although I have not checked page by page, I found that at one point in the Nicholas County will book for the period there are records missing between July term in 1844 and 1865 with one will from the October term in 1857 serving as a placeholder between the 1844 and 1865 records. Are the records out of order? Where could the missing years be?
I asked this question in the Nicholas County WV Genealogy group on Facebook. One researcher has been to the Nicholas County courthouse several times to do research. She was told at least two wills books may be missing and was lead to believe they are unsure of what became of the books.
Nicholas County (West Virginia), County Court, Order books, 1844-1928 (images), <i>FamilySearch</i>, (11 microfilm reels of original records at the Nicholas County courthouse, Sommersville, West Virginia), DGS 7617649, Film 1639161, Vols. D,E,D 1844-1871, p 3, image 37 of 840. 13 Nov 1844 Power of attorney from James Sims to John McClung,(https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9V1-FJ1R?i=36&cat=99534 : accessed 6 February 2018). ↩
William Sims adm. of the Estate of James Sims decd. presented in Court an appraisment & Sale Bill of the Estate of the said Decd. which being seen and inspected by the Court is ordered to be Recorded. Ibid., DGS 7617649, Film 1639161, Vols. D,E,D 1844-1871, p 92, image 81 of 840. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9V1-FJY4?i=80&cat=99534 : accessed 7 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.
Linda in Luxembourg and Fabrice in Belgium helped me break down this brick wall with answers to some of the questions I raised in my post. With this update I would like to thank them for paying close attention to my questions and giving me a push in the right direction to get more answers.
Regina HUBERTY and Jacob FRISCH
My fourth great-grandparents Regina HUBERTY (1764-1840) and Jacob FRISCH (d. March 1800) were married in Mamer, Luxembourg, in 1789.1
The record I found for the marriage was a parish record and did not include the ages of the bride and groom or their dates or places of birth. Were they both the same age or was the groom much older than the bride?
The record showed Jacob FRISCH was theson of the deceased Joannis FRISCH and Margaretha ZEIMET of Huncherange. As Fabrice explained, the Latin word defuncti related only to the father. If both parents had been deceased, it would have been defuntorum.
I found a death record for Margaretha SIMON, widow of Joannis FRISCH.2 She died in Mamer in 1792, three years after the marriage of Jacob and Regina. Was she the mother of Jacob? I will come back to this question.
Elisabeta FRISCH’s civil birth record
Linda was more successful than I was in finding a civil birth record for my 3rd great-grandmother Elisabeta FRISCH. The youngest child of Jacob and Regina, she was born after the death of her father. Linda found the birth record as she searched for the date listed in Elisabeta’s 1827 marriage record – 13 Prairial year XIII.3 I had disregarded this date as it converted to 2 June 1800 and I had found a list with the FRISCH baby being born 2 April 1800 and baptized 3 April 1800.4 While church records continued to be dated with the Gregorian calendar, the civil records of the time used the Republican calendar. I suspected a conversion error.
The civil record Linda found included the age of the deceased father, 50 years old, and of the mother, 31 years old.
This answered my question concerning the possibility of Jacob being much older than Regina.
Jacob FRISCH’s baptismal record
I had searched for a baptismal record for him in the records of the parish of Noertzange to which Huncherange belonged for the years 1760 to 1770 without success. Both Linda and Fabrice were able to give me the baptismal date of Jacob FRISCH – 4 September 1755 in Noertzange.5
I had stopped searching too soon. Fabrice also gave me a few clues concerning siblings of Jacob FRISCH.
A brother Pierre married on 10 February 1777 in Dudelange (the marriage record mentioned the same parents).
There may have been another brother named Jean who married Catherine NIDERKORN. A son of this couple participated in the Napoleonic campaigns. She did not mention where she got this information. However, I checked the Matricules Napoléoniens 1802-1815 where I found Jaques FRISCH born 11 September 1784 in Huncherange to Jean FRISCH and Catherine NIDERKORN.
The second couple’s names were familiar as a son Michel was seen marrying in Mamer in 1812. His information was included directly below the entry for Jacob FRISCH and Regina HUBERTY in the family register for the parish of Mamer. I had not yet looked into how the two FRISCH men, both listed as being from Huncherange, may have been related.
Did Jacob FRISCH have siblings?
I checked for baptismal records of FRISCH siblings before and after the 1755 birth of Jacob and found six more children born between 1746 and 1757.
Maria FRISCH born 14 August 1746 and died 27 November 17466
Note: Maria and Nicolas’ deaths were annotated in the margin of the baptismal record.
After finding the information on the seven children of Joannis FRISCH and Margaretha ZEIMET, I checked for marriages for the children who lived to maturity. Four marriages were found which confirmed the parents’ names and that the father was deceased. The marriages took place in 177412, 177613, 177714, and 1789. Two children had died young. For the youngest daughter no death or marriage record was found.
Joannis FRISCH’s death record
A death record for a Joannes FRISCH who died on 12 October 1759 in Huncherange was found.15 I believe it to be the record for Joannis FRISCH, husband of Margaretha ZEIMET. The age of the deceased person is in the gutter of the register and begins with 4. This is not the entry for a child as it would include the names of the parents.
Margaretha ZEIMET (also seen as ZEIMES) raised her children in Huncherange after the death of her husband and did not remarry. I checked all of the marriage cards for Noertzange. Jacob was 33 years old in 1789 and the last of the FRISCH children to marry. His three siblings had married between 12 and 15 years earlier. Being the youngest (other than Joanna who has not been traced), Jacob likely lived at home with his mother in Huncherange. Following his marriage, Margaretha may have moved to Mamer.
Margaretha ZEIMET aka Margaretha SIMON?
In the book on Luxembourg family names16, the names ZEIMES and ZEIMET are seen with the SIMON as a variation of the name.
I believe it is possible that Margaretha SIMON who died in Mamer2 three years after Jacob FRISCH married could likely be the mother of this family. The name of her deceased husband is a match. I reviewed all baptismal and marriage records of their children and none give the occupation of their deceased father. The priest who made the entry wrote ex Mameren for the residence of Joannis FRISCH. This cannot be correct as the family register for Mamer does not include any FRISCH families before Jacob FRISCH (1789) and his nephew Michel FRISCH (1812) married and came to live in Mamer and raise families.
Although more is now known about my 5th great-grandparents Joannis FRISCH and Margaretha ZEIMET and their seven children, it is unlikely their parentage will be found in the parish records of Noertzange.
Fernand G. EMMEL compiled a small book of the families of Noertzange using research of parish records left by Eugène NEY (deceased). The compilation includes families groups with the surnames ZYMETS (baptism in 1700) and SYMONS (baptisms in 1669-1688) as well as FRECHEN (baptisms in 1667 and 1689), a name similar to FRISCH. However due to a gap in the records the connection between Joannis and Margaretha’s generation and these early families cannot be made without certainty.
With this post, all of my children’s known ancestors from their grandparents to their 5th great-grandparents have been featured since I began blogging four years ago. I actually did it in three years as I took a break from the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks in 2016.
Michel and Catharina
Michel TRAUSCH (1792-1869) and Catharina HAMES (1789-1864) married in Mamer, Luxembourg, on 18 February 1817.1 Their marriage record included the groom and bride’s dates and places of birth. His parents were both deceased; their names and dates and places of death were included. Her parents were living, present and consenting to the marriage. Also present were four witnesses. Michel KOLBACH, the bride’s brother-in-law, and three unrelated persons.
Michel was born on 9 May 1792 in Colmar-Berg, Mersch, Luxembourg, to Remacle TRAUSCH (1761-1804) and Theresia BRAUN (COLLING) (1766-1798).2 Catharina was born on 17 May 1789 in Mamer to Johannes HAMES (~1758-1826) and Agnes HERTZ (1755-1836).3 I will come back to the parents and siblings of Michel and Catharina after I have discussed their children.
Michel and Catharina had the following children:
1. Anna Catharina TRAUSCH was born the day after her parents’ first wedding anniversary on 19 February 1818 in Mamer.4 She died on 26 February 1819 in Mamer at the age of a year and a week.5 2. Maria TRAUSCH was born exactly two years after Anna Catharina, on 19 February 1820.6 She married and had one daughter. She died on 13 May 1875. She was my 3rd great-grandmother and her daughter was my 2nd great-granddaughter. 3. Peter TRAUSCH was born on 3 October 1821 in Mamer.7 He was last seen at the age of 34 years in Mamer with his parents in 1855. At this time it is unknown if he married or had children. 4. Elisabeth TRAUSCH was born on 23 July 1823.8 She married and had three sons. She died on 7 March 1877. 5. Susanna TRAUSCH was born on 23 September 1825.9 She married and had three sons. She died on 29 August 1903. 6. Catherine TRAUSCH was born on 13 March 1827 in Mamer.10 She died on 4 April 1900 in Mamer. Catherine never married. 7. Marie Catherine TRAUSCH was born on 26 April 1829 in Mamer.11 She died on 13 May 1832 in Mamer at the age of three years.12
As can be seen above Michel and Catharina had seven children, two of whom died young, one who never married, three who married and gave them seven grandchildren, and one son who has not been traced after 1855. Of the grandchildren, only one was a girl – an important fact as will be seen at the end of this post.
Soon after the birth of their first grandchild, Michel and Catharina saw their daughter Elisabeth marry in Kehlen. She married Jean Henri KLEIN (1811-1866) on 15 December 1852.15 A year later, she gave birth to the second grandchild Johann KLEIN on 7 December 1853 in Nospelt.16
The third daughter to marry was Susanna. She married Pierre KLEES (1823-1903) on 14 February 1855 in Kehlen where her sister Elisabeth had married.17
These marriages in Kehlen were only found with the help of the Marriage Database dedicated members of my genealogy association Luxracines are working on. As a member of the board, I have access to the database which will soon be made available on our website. It will be a real time-saver for all researchers who have ancestors who married in Luxembourg between 1797-1923 as marriage records include so much genealogical information. Lëtz Play! Can You Top This? A Marriage Record With 15 Events
Following Susanna’s marriage five more grandsons were born into the family:
It is unknown if Nicolas, the only son of Catharina and Michel, ever married and had children. Perhaps when the Marriage Database 1797-1923 is finished he will be found. Without this information, it is at this time only possible to note that all known grandchildren of Catharina and Michel were born before their deaths.
Catharina and Michel die in a three-generation house
Catharina HAMES died on 22 November 1864 at the age of 75 years.23 Her husband Michel TRAUSCH died five years later on 28 December 1869 at the age of 77 years.24 They both died in Mamer in the house called Schreinesch where they had raised their family. It had been a three-generation home as their son-in-law Jean MAJERUS, who was the informant at the time of both deaths, lived there with his wife Maria and their only daughter Marie.
Marie would marry Jean FRANTZ (1837-1929) in 1870.25 Her mother Maria TRAUSCH died on 13 May 1875.26 The oldest of the grown siblings, she was the first to die. She was followed by her sisters Elisabeth who died on 7 March 1877 in Goeblange27, Catherine, an old maid, on 4 April 1900 in Mamer28, and Susanna on 29 August 1903 in Kehlen.29
The Parents and Siblings of Michel TRAUSCH
Michel’s parents Remacle TRAUSCH and Theresia BRAUN (also seen as COLLING) were married on 24 July 1787 in Bissen.30 The marriage index cards for marriages in the parish records incorrectly listed the year as 1789. I was searching for a marriage in 1789 and wondering why a child was born in 1788. After not finding the marriage in 1789, I continued back until it was located in 1787. The marriage was recorded twice, by two different persons, first on the 23rd of July and then on the 24th. The later was complete and included signatures.
Remacle and Theresia had six children all born in Colmar-Berg. The oldest three grew to adulthood, married and had children. Franz born in 1788 was the father of 10 children; Catherine born in 1790 was the mother of 14 children; and Michel, as was seen above, was born in 1792 and was the father of 7 children. The three youngest have not been traced past their baptisms: Nicolas b. 1794, Susanna b. 1796, and Maria b. 1798. The mother Theresia died on 16 February 1798 in Berg, a week after the birth of her last child.31 Michel was not yet six years old when he lost his mother. Four of the six children’s baptismal records had their mother’s maiden name listed as COLLING instead of BRAUN(ERS). The different names will hopefully lead to more information on Theresia’s ancestors.
Remacle remarried six months later on 26 August 1798 in Berg to Anne Marie WIROTH.32 They had one known daughter, Peternelle born in 1799. Remacle and Anne Marie had removed to Luxembourg City from Colmar-Berg sometime after the birth of their daughter and before Remacle’s death on 31 August 1804.33
Two years later Catherine, sixteen years and six months, was in a family way and the conseil de famille, or family counsel, gave their permission for her to marry Peter OLINGER. This was necessary as she was under age and both parents were deceased. Catherine’s uncle Nicolas COLLING, a witness to the marriage, was likely one of the family counsel. It was not mentioned in the marriage record dated 29 November 180634 that she was expecting but four months later on 2 April 1807 she gave birth to a son François.35
By 1813 Franz, the oldest of Remacle and Theresia’s children, was living in Schieren near Ettelbrück where he would marry Eva MERTZ and raise a large family.36 His brother Michel remained in Colmar-Berg until 1817 when he married Catharina HAMES of Mamer.
The Parents and Siblings of Catharina HAMES
Catharina’s parents, Johannes HAMES and Agnes HERTZ were married in Mamer on 18 January 1785.37 They were the parents of six known children. Three sons died as infants, one son died at the age of 18, leaving only two daughters who would marry and raise families. Catharina was the younger of the two. Her sister Susanne was the first to marry. She married Michel KOLBACH, son of Michel KOLBACH and Susanne KIEFFER, on 11 January 1815 in Mamer.38 Her mother-in-law Susanne KIEFFER was one of my 4th great-grandmothers. She had married Paulus FRANTZ after the death of the elder Michel KOLBACH. Susanne and Michel (the younger couple) were the parents of six, two of whom died in infancy. Their four children married and had children.
Agnes HERTZ, her daughter Catharina HAMES, her granddaughter Maria TRAUSCH, and her great-granddaughter Marie MAJERUS are my mitochondrial line down from Agnes’ mother Anna Catharina RONAS. The parents of Anna Catharina are at this time unknown to me. A couple of years ago I talked to a person who appears to have been “on to something” concerning the RONAS family but did not want to make the research public at the time.
Family history research will never be finished or ready to publish. Share what you have, make corrections and additions, write about your ancestors. Yes, it probably will remain a work in progress or a draft of a family book. By sharing what you think is incomplete, you may reach someone who has the missing information or the key to open the door in your brick wall.
P.S. A special thank you to Amberly Peterson Beck, The Genealogy Girl, for letting me know I can enable Markdown in WordPress.com posts, pages, and comments for easier styling, including footnotes – see below, aren’t they beautiful? Note: Footnotes in numbered and bulleted lists did not seem to work until I tricked the editor into not using html formatting for the lists.
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?
In 1756 two children were born in Bertrange, in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, one on September 20th and the other on October 2nd. Their baptismal records are on the same page in the parish register, the second right below the first. The twelve days between no children were born in Bertrange.
A little over twenty years later, on 10 February 1777, the two children were once again seen in the parish register, this time getting married – to each other.
Peter SCHMIT (1756-1816) and Rosa CLEMENS (1756-1815), the children who were baptized in 1756 and the couple who married in 1777, had ten children born between 1778 and 1799. Their second son Peter SCHMIT, my children’s 5th great-grandfather, was born and baptized on 3 April 1779 in Bertrange. His godparents were Petrus KREMER and Catharina SCHMIT. His father was present and signed the record in longhand.
Peter SCHMIT married Margaretha WEICKER before 1811. Their marriage took place before their first child was born however a marriage record has not been found. The couple was always referred to as legally married when their children were born. The marriage record was not found in Bertrange parish records from 1802-1811 or in the tables décennales (10-year lists) for the years 1802-1812 for Bertrange and Steinfort. Records were usually very well kept and I believe one day Peter and Margaretha’s marriage will turn up. Perhaps sooner than later as my genealogy society Luxracines has dedicated members working on a marriage project – indexing all marriages in Luxembourg from 1802 to 1923.
Why is Margaretha WEICKER’s Parentage Unknown?
Margaretha, my children’s 5th great-grandmother, was born about 1795 in Hoën (Hagen), Sterpenich, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. The year of birth was estimated from her age at the time of death. Records for Hagen, a village in the Steinfort area, are not in the FamilySearch collection for Luxembourg for this period.
The Grand Duchy was under a double administration for about eight years before the Treaty of London was passed in 1839 when the present borders of Luxembourg were defined. Repatriation of the records (return to the country of origin) was not simple. Records for Steinfort for the period before the borders were changed can be found in Autelbas in the Province of Luxembourg in Belgium. Civil records beginning in 1796 for Autelbas are online at FamilySearch.
As Margaretha’s birth may have been earlier I checked the parish records for Sterpenich in the FamilySearch catalog. The parish records of Sterpenich for the years 1779-1793 are conformed copies made from the originals by the Luxembourg authorities and given to the Belgium government in December 1844 per the convention of Utrecht signed in 1843, i.e. repatriation. I have no idea where the records for the years 1794-1795 may be found and am at a standstill on my research for Margaretha, her birth, and parentage.
Not only are the records missing, Margaretha’s name has been found with several variations. Her family name was spelled WEIKER or WEICKER and also seen as WIKERT. Her first name was Margaretha in early documents and Anne Marguerite in later years. These are all things which need to be considered when future research is done on her parentage.
Peter and Margaretha’s Children
Peter and Margaretha were the parents of seven children. Two died before their 2nd birthdays while the five others grew to adulthood, married, and had their own children. These are the SCHMIT children:
Magdalena SCHMIT was born on 10 February 1811 in domo Donnen in Bertrange. She was baptized the same day. Her godfather was Joannes SCHMIDT from Bertrange and her godmother was Magdalena KÜNSCH from Hohen (or Hagen) in the parish of Sterpenich. Was her godmother her grandmother, an aunt, or cousin? This may be a clue to solving the question of her mother’s parentage.
Rosa SCHMIT was born on 7 Feb 1815 in domo Bour in Bertrange and baptized the same day. Her godmother was her paternal grandmother Rosa CLEMENS. Her godfather was Nicolaus WEICKER of Hohen. Could he have been her maternal grandfather or an uncle?
Rosa’s godmother and paternal grandmother Rosa CLEMENS died only a few months later on 22 May 1815. Her paternal grandfather Peter SCHMIT died on 11 February 1816.
Rosa died two weeks later on 26 February 1816 in domo Donnen in Bertrange shortly after her first birthday. She was buried the following day. Her religious death and burial record has her mother’s name as Anna Margaretha Hinnicker instead of Weicker.
Nicolas SCHMIT was born at seven in the morning on 8 April 1817 in Bertrange. His father reported the birth two hours later. As baptismal records for Bertrange are only available online up to 1816 the godparents of Nicolas and his younger siblings were not found as they were for Magdalena and Rosa.
Michel SCHMIT was born at two in the morning on 10 February 1819 in Bertrange. His father reported the birth eight hours later.
Following their youngest child Michel’s first birthday, Peter and Margaretha lost their second child, son Nicolas. He died on 21 February 1820 in Bertrange at the age of nearly three years.
Jean SCHMIT* was born at three in the afternoon on 12 July 1820. His father reported the birth two days later at eight in the morning on the 14th. This child’s birth record was only found after this post was ready to be published. While reading through the final draft I realized something was wrong and checked again on SCHMIT children born in Bertrange.
Maria Catharina SCHMIT was born at two in the morning on 25 February 1822 in Bertrange. Her father reported the birth the same day at nine in the morning.
Jean SCHMIT was born at 9:30 in the morning on 3 September 1825 in Bertrange. His father reported the birth the same day at eleven in the morning. As was the case with all of his children’s births, Peter declared not being able to write. I found this strange, his being the second born of a father who was able to write as seen above at the time of his own baptism in 1779.
Margaretha WEICKER’s Death in 1826
The mother of the five living children, Margaretha WEICKER, died on 17 January 1826 in Bartringen. She was 31 years old at the time of her death. Her youngest child was only four months old and her oldest would shortly be turning fifteen. Her name on the record was Anne Marguerithe WEICKER. The addition of Anne to her name was also seen on the birth records of her two youngest children.
Widowed Peter Remarries
Following the death of his wife, Peter waited two years before taking a second wife. This seems unusual as he had been left with five children, one still a baby. Magdalena, his oldest child, likely took on the responsibilities of a little mother, helping care for her younger siblings.
Peter married Anne Marie SCHOLER, daughter of Jean SCHOLER and Susanne BOURENS, on 22 March 1828 in Bertrange. Anne Marie was born on 4 June 1792 in Obersyren (Schuttrange).
Peter and his second wife Anne Marie had only one child, a daughter, Madelaine born four years into the marriage on 16 July 1832 in Bertrange. Her half-siblings were by this time 7, 10, 12, 13, and 21 years old. She did not, however, grow up without a playmate.
Peter’s oldest daughter Magdalena gave birth to a natural daughter on 7 November 1835. Anne’s father’s name was not on the birth record. Natural was the term used for children born out of wedlock. Anne appears to have been raised in her maternal grandfather’s household as she was listed with Peter and Anne Marie on the 1843 and 1846 census.
Peter’s second wife Anne Marie had a sister Margaretha SCHOLER (1802-1842) who was married to Jacob RUCKERT (1787-1856). Margaretha gave Jacob eight children, six of whom were living when she died after giving birth to the last on 20 March 1842.. Peter’s brother-in-law Jacob became his son-in-law eight months later.
At eleven in the morning of 27 March 1847 Peter SCHMIT age 22 reported the death of his father Peter SCHMIT who had died only two hours earlier at his home in the neighborhood called Eichels in Bertrange.
I have a small problem with this death record as Peter did not have a son named Peter. Both of Peter’s wives are correctly named on the death record. Is the signature of the informant that of Jean SCHMIT the youngest son who was 22 years old at the time? The younger Jean was the only child to remain in his father’s household in 1843 and 1846 and was seen with his step-mother in 1847. Due to the fact that I found another son named Jean born in 1820, I believe the younger son may have been known as Johann Peter (Jean Pierre) to distinguish him from his older brother Jean.
Widow Anne SCHOLER last seen in 1847 census
In the 1847 census, Peter’s widow Anne SCHOLER was the head of household with her stepsons Michel, Jean (26), Jean (22) and stepdaughter Maria Catharina (children from Peter’s first marriage) and her only child, daughter Madelaine from her marriage to Peter. This entry in the census led me to search once again for children of Peter and Margaretha but only after I had finished the research and written this post.
Michel, the elder Jean, and Maria Catharina were not in their father’s household in 1843 or 1846. This was not unusual as they were of an age to be working outside of the home. I had wrongly assumed the elder Jean found in the 1847 census was an error or relative other than child.
Peter’s widow Anne Marie SCHOLER and their daughter Madelaine have not found after the 1847 census.
The SCHMIT children lived in the three districts of Luxembourg
The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is divided into three districts: Luxembourg, Diekirch, and Grevenmacher (dark gray areas in the maps below). Each district is divided into cantons (red areas in the maps below) and each canton is divided into communes. Several towns and villages may be part of a commune.
The District of Luxembourg
Peter SCHMIT and Margaretha WEICKER’s children grew up in the town of Bertrange. Peter had deep roots in the town as his parents and grandparents all came from the town.
Their oldest daughter Magdalena SCHMIT raised her family in Bertrange. She was likely the first of the siblings to pass away.* She died on 30 September 1870 in Bertrange. Other than her natural daughter Anne, she had a son and three daughters with Jacob RUCKERT. The son has not been found after he turned 21 in 1864. One daughter died as an infant. The youngest daughter had a natural son (1867-1868) and it is not known if she ever married or where she lived after her mother’s death. The older daughter Margaretha, my children’s 3rd great-grandmother, married but there is still the mystery of what happened to her and of her family after 1895. It is only through the marriage of her daughter Maria MERTES in 1894 and the census of 1895 that I know that Margaretha and her husband Michel MERTES were still living in 1895.
Peter and Margaretha’s youngest son Jean SCHMIT (b. 1825) also spent his married life in Bertrange. But before this, he was living and working in other places. One residence was Mondercange where he was in May 1852 when his brother Michel married. He was one of the four witnesses and signed “Jang Schmit.” Six years later he was living and working in Noertzange (Bettembourg) when he made plans to marry. Jean married Maria RISCHARD on 20 January 1858 in Schuttrange. Maria was born on 16 March 1827 in Uebersyren (Schuttrange), the same place Jean’s step-mother was born. They lived in Bertrange their entire married life. They were the parents of 6 children, three of whom died at a young age. Of the three living children, a daughter married and had children. The two sons were working in Lothringen (France) in the late 1890s – they have not been traced.
Jean SCHMIT died on 28 November 1892 in Bertrange. His death record has the right wife but the wrong parents. The information was given by his son-in-law Mathias HANSEN. Jean’s wife died six years later on 30 April 1898 in Bertrange.
The District of Diekirch
The second daughter of Peter and Margaretha, Maria Catharina married Joseph POECKER on 20 February 1852 in Bettendorf. Joseph was born on 25 February 1819 in Bettendorf.
How Maria Catharina came to marry in Bettendorf is unknown at this time. She and her husband raised their family on Fooshof. They had seven children, four of whom died in infancy. A daughter who never married died at the age of 38 years. The youngest living son born in 1864 was unmarried at the time of the 1900 census. He was living with his brother Nicolas who had married in 1893 and continued the line.
Maria Catharina died on 1 September 1879 on the family farm, Fooshof in Bettendorf. Her husband Joseph died on 19 January 1895 on Fooshof.
The District of Grevenmacher
Peter and Margaretha’s oldest son Michel married Anna Margretha BRAUN on 5 May 1852 in Waldbillig. Anna was born on 12 May 1826 in Bettange-sur-Mess (Dippach). Michel and Anna Margretha started their family when they were working on the Wolperhof in the commune of Consdorf. Three of their children were born here.
The District of Diekirch
The third child’s birth at Wolper was followed by a move to the western part of Luxembourg in the commune of Bettborn. Three more children were born in Pratz, part of the commune of Bettborn.
Michel and Anna Margretha lived in Horaz from 1885. Not far from Pratz, Horaz, which is also spelled Horass, only had two households.
Michel SCHMIT was the oldest son and last living child of Peter and Margaretha. He died on 26 December 1898 in Horaz. His wife Anna Margretha predeceased him on 12 November 1890 in Horaz.
Still Not Quite Done
* Due to my only learning of the existence of the elder son Jean born in 1820 after writing this post, I have not had the time to research where he may have lived and worked, if he ever married and had children, and when and where he died. Considering his name Jean SCHMIT – just another John Smith – the search may take a while.
This is the last post on my children’s paternal 5th great-grandparents. I already wrote about half of their maternal 5th great-grandparents (my paternal 4th great-grandparents) in 2014 when I did the first round of Amy Johnson Crow‘s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge.
Next up will be 16 sets of my maternal 4th great-grandparents. The first eight being from small towns and villages which are now part of Germany near the Luxembourg border. The last eight will be from Luxembourg. I hope to finish up this series by the end of the year even though there are only 13 weeks left. Wish me luck and lots of free time.
Maps used are in the Public domain (Wikimedia Commons) and were annotated using Evernote.
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.
What do you do when you make one of those monumental discoveries about a genealogy collection you have been waiting and waiting and waiting to get access to?
Do you keep it a secret? Or do you shout it out for all to know?
This year I’ve been concentrating on the Luxembourg families in my family tree, specifically the fifth-great-grandparents of my children. Three more posts and I will finish their paternal side. Only half of their maternal side is Luxembourgish, or coming from villages on the other side of the border in Germany and France, and will hopefully be completed by the end of the year.
Most of these ancestors from this generation were living, or their parents were living, when Maria Theresa of Austria implemented the first modern cadastre and census in 1766 in a large part of the territories under the rule of the House of Habsburg. This included Luxembourg, along with Belgium, a part of the Netherlands.
The census of 1766 for Luxembourg has only been available through FamilySearch’s microfilm circulation service which as we all know is being discontinued.
Thursday, September 7, 2017, marks the closing of an 80-year era of historic records access to usher in a new, digital model. FamilySearch is discontinuing its microfilm circulation services in concert with its commitment to make billions of the world’s historic records readily accessible digitally online. ~ FamilySearch blog
Amberly Beck who blogs at The Genealogy Girl has made several comments on my posts about the collections available online at FamilySearch.
FamilySearch is working at the fastest pace I have ever seen. I can’t keep up with the new records coming available that I am interested in. It’s a great time to be a genealogist! ~ thegenealogygirl
It’s a great time to be a genealogist!
On the FamilySearch blog, I learned that all microfilm which has been rented by patrons in the past 5 years have now been digitized by FamilySearch.
While researching my upcoming post, I checked on the 1766 census availability and found a little camera icon next to the films for the Decanat of Mersch, Remich, Bitburg, and Stavelot.
In 2003, with a very slow internet modem, my husband’s 7th cousin Cyndi sent me the 1766 census listing I used for the featured image of this post. Now, fourteen years later, I was able to access the digital image online and download a much clearer copy of the over 250 years old document.
Click this link to see the list of films available online for the 1766 census of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
Luxembourg researchers, we have a new key to open the doors in our brick walls!
Amberly, thank you for telling me to check the FamilySearch catalog more often. It really paid off this time!
What? You aren’t checking the catalog at FamilySearch? Take a moment to read these articles: