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

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

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

1846 Hix to J. B. Cobbs Indenture

In the margin:

Hix to J.D. Cobbs final

Tax paid J.A.N.

Delivered to
Jno. Clowes for ____
his mother.

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

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

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

About the persons in the indenture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

True's statementFollowing my three-part series on the slaves of my 5th great grandfather James Sims during Black History Month in February 2015 I made a commitment to write a post every month until I’ve RELEASED all of the names of slaves owned by my ancestors or owned by persons I’ve researched who were relatives or neighbors of my ancestors.

These posts are part of the Slave Name Roll Project (About the Project) administered by Schalene Jennings Dagutis who also blogs at Tangled Roots and Trees.

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


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

52 Ancestors: #30 William WOOD died 1835 in Fayette County, (West) Virginia

52ancestors“The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.”

This is entry #30 in Amy Johnson Crow’s Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

I’m starting a new generation of paternal ancestors with my 4th great-grandfather William WOOD. This generation has 23 known of a possible 32 individuals. They will take me to the end of the year and the end of this challenge.

52 Ancestors: #30 William WOOD died 1835 in Fayette County, (West) Virginia

During the early years of the American Revolutionary War (19 Apr 1775-14 Jan 1784) my 4th great-grandfather William WOOD (b. abt. 1776-1779) was born in Greenbrier County, Virginia, to Bailey WOOD (d. 1826) and his wife Nancy (d. aft. 1826). As no date is known I calculated the range for his birth using the year of his marriage and the age groups that he was enumerated in for the 1810 through 1830 census:

1800 age 21 or older at time of marriage->->->born 1779 or earlier
1810 age group 26-44 (i.e. 31-44)->->->->->->born bet. 1766-1779
1820 age group 26-44 (i.e. 41-44)->->->->->->born bet. 1766-1779
1830 age group 50-59 (i.e. 51-54)->->->->->->born bet. 1776-1779

Several family historians list William WOOD as William Hicks WOOD. I haven’t found documentation that shows a middle name or even a middle initial. Recent discussions with other researchers nearly convinced me that Nancy was the daughter of Joseph HICKS (aka HIX) and Melvina COLE. However I found an old post on genforum post from October 2006 by Kitty Steele Barrera in which she wrote, “I know that the Nancy Hicks/Bailey Wood connection is tentative because I was the first to make the connection. I posted “Bailey Wood married Nancy Hicks?” and before long, it was all over the internet as a fact.” Kitty mentioned in another message in the same forum that she can be blamed for starting the rumor and the Hicks part is pure speculation.

For now I would like to emphasize that William WOOD (no middle name or initial) was the son of Bailey WOOD and his wife Nancy (no maiden name). As with all brick walls further research is needed to prove the Wood to Hicks connection. I’m open to discussions and/or suggestions on the subject.

William WOOD’s father died before 21 September 1826 as an indenture with that date mentions the heirs and legal representatives of Bailey WOOD, deceased, as well as Nancy WOOD, his widow. It begins as follows:

This indenture made the 21st day of September one thousand and eight hundred and twenty six between James Wood and Polly his wife, Bailey Wood and Lucertia his wife, William Wood and Mary his wife, Richard Skaggs and Susannah his wife, Martin McGraw and Nancy his wife, Samuel McGraw and Elizabeth his wife, Katherine Wood, heirs and legal representatives of Bailey Wood, deceased, and Nancy Wood widow of Bailey Wood, deceased, of the county of Nicholas and state of Virginia of the one part….
[Source: Fox, Vernon A.  Nicholas County, (West) Virginia Land Deed. Heirs of Bailey Wood to John Alderson. 21 September 1826. e-mail. May 31, 2001].

From this we can “assume” that the following individuals were Bailey’s children:

  • Susannah b. abt 1776 md. Richard SKAGGS 1789
  • William b. abt. 1776-1779 md. Mary Ann McGRAW 1800
  • Nancy b. abt. 1785 md. MARTIN McGRAW 1806
  • Bailey b. abt. 1785 md. Lucretia SKAGGS bef. 1807
  • James b. abt. 1790 md. Mary “Polly” HALSTEAD 1810
  • Elizabeth b. abt. 1796 md. Samuel McGRAW 1812
  • Katherine b. abt. ?? no record of marriage

Lyle Lemasters, who has done an immense amount of work on the WOOD family, suggested that heirs does not neccessarily mean children of the deceased. Heirs could also have been grandchildren. Bailey’s sons James and Bailey Jr. both had daughters named Catherine. Katherine may have been a daughter or a granddaughter (daughter of a deceased son) as the name ran in the family. She may be the Catherine WOOD (born bet. 1794-1800) seen in the 1850 and 1860 census with a younger James C. WOOD (b. bet. 1823-1830). Neither have been located after 1860.

In June 1800 Martin and Margaret McGRAW gave permission for their daughter Mary Ann to marry William WOOD.

1800permission
Martin and Margaret McGraw give permission for their daughter Mary Ann to marry William Wood. West Virginia Division of Culture and History http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=11370465&Type=Marriage

On the 3rd of June 1800 William WOOD and John WOOD went bond on the marriage of William WOOD and Mary Ann McGRAW in Monroe County, (West) Virginia.

1800bond
Marriage Bond of Wiliam WOOD and Mary Ann McGRAW. West Virginia Division of Culture and History. http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=11370480&Type=Marriage

Who was John WOOD who witnessed the permission slip and went bond with William WOOD when he married Mary Ann McGRAW? John WOOD and Stephen WOOD were in the same area as William in 1820. Could he have been an older brother?

William and Mary Ann were married by Rev. John Alderson on the 18th of June 1800.

1800marriage
Entry in the marriage register. West Virginia Division of Culture and History. http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=11369625&Type=Marriage

Six months after his marriage on 16 January 1801 William was granted 109 acres in the Valley and on Peters Mountain adjoining his own land called the Cave Survey &c in Greenbrier County. [Source: Land Office Grants No. 46, 1797-1801, p. 624-625 (Reel 112)]

On 21 February 1809 David GRAHAM sold to William WOOD 214 acres for $1.00 on Hunget Creek adj. Henry Bank’s surveys. [Source: “Monroe Co., WV Abstracts” by Larry G. Shuck]

As the amount of land he owned grew, so did the family of William and Mary Ann:

  • Enoch J. abt. 1801
  • Margaret “Peggy” abt. 1801
  • [–?–] (female) bet. 1804-1809
  • Elijah abt. 1806
  • Amos abt. 1807
  • Allen abt. 1814
  • Bailey bet. 1816-1819
  • [–?–] (female) bet. 1816-1819
  • Mary Ann “Polly” 5 June 1824

1810 U.S. Federal Census
Monroe County, (West) Virginia
William Wood
Free White Persons – Males – Under 10: 2 (Elijah 4 and Amos 3)
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 15: 1 (Enoch 9)
Free White Persons – Males – 26 thru 44 : 1 (William 33)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10: 2 (Margaret 9 and [–?–] <10)
Free White Persons – Females – 26 thru 44: 1 (wife, Mary Ann)
Number of Household Members Under 16: 5
Number of Household Members Over 25: 2
Number of Household Members: 7

On 9 September 1812 William WOOD, grantee, received 200 acres: 1) 100 acres on the Trace Fork of Mud River adjoining and above a survey made for John McCalister called the Bridge Creek Survey in Kanawha County [Land Office Grants No. 63, 1812-1813, p. 195 (Reel 129)] and 2) 100 acres on Bryans Fork of Browns Creek in Kanawha [Land Office Grants No. 63, 1812-1813, p. 196 (Reel 129)]

1820 U.S. Federal Census
Nicholas County, (West) Virginia
William Wood (pg. 205)
Free White Persons – Males – Under 10: 3 (Bailey, Allen, and ?)
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 15:  2 (Elijah 14 and Amos 13)
Free White Persons – Males – 26 thru 44 : 1 (William 43)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 5: ([–?–] <5)
Free White Persons – Females – 16 thru 25: ([–?–] 16-19)
Free White Persons – Females – 26 thru 44 : 1 (wife, Mary Ann)
Note: On same sheet are Bailey, Stephen and John!!!

On 22 March 1822 William WOOD was granted 50 acres on the waters of New River in Nicholas County. [Land Office Grants No. 71, 1822-1824, p. 47 (Reel 137)]

A little over seven months later, on 1 November 1822 William WOOD, James SKAGGS and Samuel WISEMAN were granted 75 acres on the Sugar Camp Creek a south branch of Gauley River in Nicholas County. [Land Office Grants No. 71, 1822-1824, p. 408 (Reel 137)]

By this time William had acquired nearly 650 acres of land. Did he still own all of it or did he sell some or give parcels to his children?

Six months after the birth of his youngest child Mary Ann, William’s son Elijah WOOD married Rachel HONAKER (1804-1860) on 4 January 1825 in Nicholas County, (West) Virginia.

A year later William’s father Bailey WOOD was dead. We do not know when he died but his legal heirs sold his land on 21 September 1826 in Monroe County, (West) Virginia to John ALDERSON. William’s mother Nancy was still living; it is not known when she died.

At about the same time two more of William’s children married: 1) Margaret “Peggy” WOOD married Thomas WITHROW (1806-1880) on 12 October 1826 in Nicholas County and 2) Enoch J. WOOD married Margaret JOHSON (1800-1850) bef. 1827.

I had a hard time with the 1830 census. In the early days I’d found an abstract of the census 1830 by Neva Jane Stout Bryant. The numbers for William WOOD fit the family group. However when I checked ancestry.com years later I found that their abstract did not match Neva’s and the image was not legible enough to see which was correct. Last week I checked the Internet Archive [Caroline tells you how] and found a much better image and was able to get this transcription which was the same as Neva’s:

1830census
1830 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Nicholas > William Wood. [Internet Archive https://archive.org/stream/populationsc18300198unit#page/n387/mode/1up%5D
1830 U.S. Federal Census
Nicholas County, (West) Virginia
William Woods (sic)
Home in 1830 (City, County, State): Nicholas, Virginia
Free White Persons – Males – Under 5: 1 ([–?–])
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 14: 1 (Bailey)
Free White Persons – Males – 15 thru 19: 1 (Allen)
Free White Persons – Males – 20 thru 29 : 1 (Amos)
Free White Persons – Males – 50 thru 59: 1 (William)
Free White Persons – Females – 5 thru 9: 1 (Mary Ann)
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 14: 1 ([–?–] 10-14)
Free White Persons – Females – 30 thru 39: 1 ([–?–] 26-35)
Free White Persons – Females – 40 thru 49: 1 (wife, Mary Ann)
Free White Persons – Under 20: 5
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 4
Total Free White Persons: 9
Total – All Persons (Free White, Slaves, Free Colored): 9
(in file)

Proprietors of the Famous Stage Stands
“It is interesting to know the names of the houses and of the proprietors who made famous the great state stands along the James River and Kanawha Turnpike.”
The list includes William WOOD at Dogwood Gap.
[J. T. Peters and H.B. Carden; “History of Fayette County, West Virginia” pg. 135]

1831 Tax Lists
Fayette County, Virginia
June 5, 1831
Wm. Wood

William WOOD was not moving around from 1800 until this 1831 tax list. The formation of the Virginia counties were at fault that he was seen living in Monroe, Nicholas and finally Fayette County.

Before William’s death in 1835 his sons Amos and Allen married. Amos WOOD married Susan PARRISH (d. bef. 1845) on 12 May 1831 in Nicholas County and Allen WOOD married Elizabeth JOHNSON (1808-1881) on 14 November 1832 in Monroe County.

William WOOD died about September 1835. To date no will has been found. His sons Elijah and Amos were administrators of his estate per the 1836 Bill of Sale found in Fayette County. At the time that William died his son Enoch was living in Ohio. Bailey, Polly, and an unknown daughter may have been under age. His widow Mary and sons Elijah and Amos bought items on his inventory.

The Appraisement Bill of the Estate of Wm Wood decd Fayette County September 14th 1835. In compliance with an order made by the County Court of Fayette at the August term. We Jones McCutcheon, William S. McVey and George Hunter after having been duly sworn by James Skaggs a Justice of the Peace for said County proceeded to appraise the following property, to-wit:

1 table 4.00
1 cutting knife and steel 1.50
1 foot adds .50
1 jug .371/2
1 Hoe and shovel .871/2
1 grindstone .50
2 old sickles .50
300 feet of plank 3.00
1 hoe .371/2
1 pig in the pen 1.00
1 man’s saddle 6.00
1 Books .75
1 pail .25
1 chain log hook and ox yoke 1.75
1 pair hames and chains 1.25
1 half bushel .25
1 wind mill 16.00
1 lot of wheat in the sheaf 10.00
1 lot of oats in the sheaf 75.00
unbroke flax 1.00
1 Barshear plow 5.00
12 head of sheape 10.50
1 yearling heifer 3.50
1 ox 20.00
1 small black bull 8.00
1 cow with a bull 12.00
1 large spotted cow 10.00
1 muly cow 8.00
9 geese 2.25
13 head of hogs 34.00
1 gray filly 35.00
1 bay mare 15.00
2 1/2 acres of corn 8.00
9 acres of corn 20.00
1 calf 1.00
1 mattock 1.25
1 axe 2.00
1 kittle 3.00
1 oven and lid 1.50
1 pot .50
1 oven 1.00
1 tub and churn 1.00
1 barrel and pail .62 1/2
1 shovel plow 1.00
1 pot rack 1.00
1 tub .50
1 woman’s saddle 3.00
1 hand saw 1 auger and two chisels 2.00
1 shovel .50
1 meal sifter .37 1/2
1 rifle gun and shot pouch 10.00
1 big wheel 2.00
1 spinning wheel 1.00
1 clock 15.00
1 press 8.00
1 small chest .25
1 old table .25
1 looking glass .75
1 smoothing iron, blowing horn and strainer .50
1 coffee mill .37 1/2
1 skillet and lid 1.00
1 pot and two pair of hooks 1.00
4 chairs 1.00
1 coffee pot .37 1/2
1 pair cords .37 1/2
1 cooler .25
Cupboard ware 2.75
1 loom 2.00
3 beads and bedding 50.00
1 due bill on Samuel Shawver .75
1 note on John Gwinn Signr. 10.00
1 note on Samuel Withrow 2.25
1 oald ax and tomahawk .25
Chairs and iron wedge .50
——————————— 429.41
James McCutcheon, William S. McVey, George Hunter Appraisers Fayette County Court-The Appraisement Bill of the Estate of William Wood deceased was received in open court and ordered to be recorded. Teste: Hiram Hill cfc.

© 2014 Cathy Meder-Dempsey