Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING Letty, Cyrus, and Nelson

RELEASING: One old Negro woman, 1 Negro woman named Letty, one Negro boy named Cyrus, one Negro boy named Nelson, and a child born to Letty.
In Nicholas County, (West) Virginia, William Bell died before 10 August 1825. He did not leave a will. An appraisement and inventory of his estate were ordered on 10 August 1825 and a list was made on 24 August 1825 by four commissioners.
“West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-4L57-N?cc=1909099&wc=Q8B7-1PJ%3A179686001%2C179686002 : 22 June 2016), Nicholas > image 23 of 158; county courthouses, West Virginia.
“West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-4L56-X?cc=1909099&wc=Q8B7-1PJ%3A179686001%2C179686002 : 22 June 2016), Nicholas > image 24 of 158; county courthouses, West Virginia.

On the second page of the inventory and appraisement are four slaves who were held by William Bell.

1 old Negro woman valued at nothing from old age
1 Negro woman aged 30 named Letty valued at 250
1 Negro boy named Syrus 150
1 Negro boy named Nelson. Deformed (value blank)

The estate sale took place on 17 November 1825.

“West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-4L56-X?cc=1909099&wc=Q8B7-1PJ%3A179686001%2C179686002 : 22 June 2016), Nicholas > image 24 of 158; county courthouses, West Virginia.

The enslaved people of William Bell were not sold at the estate sale and the estate was not settled until 1833.

“West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-4L59-V?cc=1909099&wc=Q8B7-1PJ%3A179686001%2C179686002 : 22 June 2016), Nicholas > image 51 of 158; county courthouses, West Virginia.
“West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-4L5R-F?cc=1909099&wc=Q8B7-1PJ%3A179686001%2C179686002 : 22 June 2016), Nicholas > image 52 of 158; county courthouses, West Virginia.

On the second page of the 1833 settlement of the estate two slaves named in the inventory, Letty and Cyrus, were found.

By the sale of Letty and her child under a Trust deed 100.-
By sale of Cyrus under Trust deed 100.-

I checked the 1820 census and found William Bell was over 45 years old, with a woman who was also over 45 years old (wife), and seven other persons (2 females under 10, 1 female 10 thru 15, and 4 females 16 thru 25. Slaves in the household were: 2 males under 14, 1 male 14 thru 25, and 1 female 14 thru 25 (Letty).

By 1830, after William Bell had died, there were 2 females 15 thru 19 and 3 females 20 thru 29 in the household of Mary Bell who was 60 thru 69. I assumed Mary was the wife of William Bell. Further research shows this to be the correct household. In her household were five slaves: 2 males under 10 (Cyrus age 9), 1 male 10 thru 23, 1 female 24 thru 35 (Letty), and 1 female 55 thru 99 (old unnamed woman).

In 1840 Mary Bell was found in the newly formed Braxton County. She had 2 females 30 thru 39 in her household and she was seen as 60 thru 69. She still owned slaves: 2 males under 10, 1 male 10 thru 23 (Cyrus age 19), 1 males 36 thru 54, 1 female 10 thru 23, and 1 female 24 thru 35 (Letty).

In 1842 Elizabeth Bell, a daughter of William Bell, married William Hutchison. He was previously married and had children. In 1850 the Hutchison household included Jane T. Bell ge 53, Hutchison’s wife Elizabeth age 50, and his children from the first marriage. On the slave schedule, William Hutchison and Jane Bell are listed one after the other. Jane Bell appears to have Cyrus age 33 and Letty age 52 as well as another male age 54, likely the male seen in her mother’s household in 1840.

Ancestry.com. 1850 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules > Virginia > Braxton

In 1860 Jane Bell was still living in the household of her brother-in-law William and her sister Elizabeth. Although there was an entry for William Hutchison, there was no entry for Jane Bell on the 1860 Slave Schedule. The possible names of the slaves of William Hutchison will be shared in a later post.

Ancestry.com. 1860 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules > Virginia > Braxton > page 1 of 2

In 1866 Hannah J. Hutchison was the informant on the death of her step-mother Elizabeth on 28 February, for Jane T. Bell on 21 March, and for her father William on 16 May.

The last will and testament of Jane T. Bell was located in Braxton County, West Virginia. She mentions Letty and Cyrus.

“West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-HY21-J?cc=1909099&wc=Q8BW-MZJ%3A179688701%2C179750901 : 21 June 2016), Braxton > Will book, v. 003 1862-1879 > image 52 of 215; county courthouses, West Virginia.

                                               Jane T. Bell’s Will
I, Jane T. Bell of Braxton County, Virginia being of sound mind do make this my last will & testatment. First. I give and bequeath unto my two slaves Letty and Cyrus their freedom if they will accept of it according to the laws of Virginia. And if the said slaves do no make choice of Emancipation my will and desire is that they may have the right to make choice of their masters. 2nd. I give and bequeath unto my sister Elizabeth Hutchison all the real and personal property of every kind that I may have at the time of my decease & all money or bonds that is due me at that time except the two above named slaves. Signed and sealed this first day of November 1858.
In the presence of                                                            Jane T. Bell *Seal*
Nathan Hutchison                                                                 her + mark
Felix Hutchison
Braxton County SS.
Recorders Office October 9th 1866. A writing purporting to be the last will and testament of Jane T. Bell decd was this day proven before the undersigned Recorder of Braxton County by the oaths of Nathan Hutchison & Felix Hutchison the subscribing witnesses thereto who declared on oath that the testator acknowledged this will in their presence and that each of said witnesses subscribed the said will in the presence of the testator. And thereupon the said will is admitted to record.
                                                                Teste. M. H. Morrison Recorder

By 1870, Cyrus and Letty were free persons and using the Bell surname. Although not free at the time Jane wrote her will, they became free people with the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865 when slavery was abolished. In 1870 Cyrus was seen with Sarah E. 34 and children Eliza A. 15, Mary J. 12, Margaret E. 6, and Cora 2. Also in his household were John Alexander age 68 and Letty B. Bell age 70.

Year: 1870; Census Place: Clay, Braxton, West Virginia; Roll: M593_1685; Page: 400A; Image: 140850; Family History Library Film: 553184 (Ancestry.com : accesssed 26 March 2017)

Letty‘s 1876 death record shows she died at the age of 84 years 4 months in October 1876. Her parents were unknown and she was born in Augusta County, Virginia. She was a farmer and died of old age. Cyrus Bell was the informant and his relationship is seen as son of the deceased.

By 1880 the family of Cyrus Bell had increased by four with the births of William 1871, Ruskia 1874, Julia 1877, and Alison 1880. Sarah and Cyrus were not legally married until 11 May 1877. Sarah died 6 October 1887. Marriages were found for several daughters, three married men with the surname Johnson. I was not able to find them in 1900 or later. No death record was found for Cyrus who died after the 1900 census.

After finishing this post, I did a quick search for Letty and Cyrus to see if I had overlooked any kind of information already on the internet. I found a page with information on Braxton County African Americans in the Census and African Americans in the Braxton County 1880 Census.

I began this post, intending to share only the transcription of the documents with the names of the slaves. However, I could not leave it there. The genealogist wanted to follow the people. And because I did, I learned Letty was Cyrus’ mother. And this in turn makes me wonder if the older woman mentioned in the inventory and appraisement may have been Letty’s mother.

bestwishescathy1

True's statementFollowing my three part series on the slaves of my 5th grand-father James Sims during Black History Month in February 2015 I made a commitment to write a post on a monthly basis until I’ve RELEASED all of the names of slaves owned by my ancestors or owned by persons I’ve researched who were relatives or neighbors of my ancestors. These posts are part of the Slave Name Roll Project which can be found on Schalene Jennings Dagutis’ blog Tangled Roots and Trees

© 2017, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

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