John S. Roberts of Nicholas County, Virginia (present-day West Virginia) owned one negro boy named Henry as seen in the appraisal of his estate recorded during the March 1832 term of Nicholas County court.
John S. Roberts – 1832 Appraisement Bill
Nicholas County to wit
In pursuance of the within order of Nicholas County Court We Robert Kelly, Robert Hamilton and William D. Cottle after having been duly sworn proceeded to appraise the Estate of John S. Roberts dec’d and make the following return.
One Cow $8.00
Two bed & furniture at $25 each $50
One folding leaf table $5.00
One dressing table $3.00
One shot gum $10.00
One cupboard furniture knives etc. $6.00 One negro boy named Henry $250.00
One set of bed steads $1.00
One ditto ditto $2.00
A pile of corn in the ears $2.50
4 Bushels of potatoes at 25 cts $1.00
One barrel and boxes $0.50
Half a Doz chairs $3.00
One big wheel $2.00
One weeding hoe $0.50
One pot and hooks $2.00
Two skillets and lids $2.50
One oven and lid $2.25
One tin kettle $2.00
. . . . . . (total) $343.25
all which is respectfully submitted by ous (sic)
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . R. Kelly
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . R. Hamilton
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Wm. D. Cottle
At a court held for Nicholas County March Term 1832 This appraisement bill of the estate of John S. Roberts was returned duly certified by the appraisers and ordered to be recorded.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Teste
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Saml Price C??
Who Was John S. Roberts?
John Shelton Roberts was the son of Alexander Roberts and Sarah Shepherd of Nelson County, Virginia. He married Adeline B. Landcraft, daughter of Nathaniel Landcraft and Sarah B. Hardin, on 6 September 1829 in Nelson County. They very likely came to the Fayette/Nicholas counties area with Adeline’s parents. By 1830 John was living in Nicholas County where he (male 20 thru 29) was seen on the census with his wife (female 20 thru 29) and two young slaves under 10 years of age. Following his death, his widow remarried.
How Did John S. Roberts Become A Slaveholder?
A quick check turned up the names of more slaves as both John’s and Adeline’s parents were slaveholders, as was Rev. Edwin Washington Woodson who married Adeline after John’s death. The names will be shared in several Slave Name Roll Project posts to come.
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.
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.
The enslaved people of William Bell were not sold at the estate sale and the estate was not settled until 1833.
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 age 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
RELEASING: Matt, Egg, Judge (Jude), Jinny, Jack, Rachel Mose, Mary, George, Franky (Frank), and Wilson
The names listed above were found in the Appraisement Bill of the Estate of James Robinson of Nicholas County, (West) Virginia as well as in his Last Will and Testament.
The estate was appraised on the 23rd day of November 1831 by Samuel Price, Samuel McClung, and R. Kelly.
Included in the appraisement (below) were:
Wilson a negro man $450.- Frank a negro girl $300 (sic, Franky per will below) Mary a negro girl $50
The personal property of James Robinson was sold on the 24th and 25th of November 1831. The Bill of Sale was presented to the court held for Nicholas County January Term 1832. No slaves were sold.
The Last Will and Testament was presented and proven during the March Term 1832 and April Term 1832.
James Robinson Will
I James Robinson of the County of Nicholas do hereby make my last will and testament in manner and form following that is to say. 1st I desire the perishable part of my estate be immediately sold after my decease and out of the monies arising therefrom all my just debts and funeral expenses be paid. Should the perishable part of my property prove insufficient for the above purpose then I desire that my executors hereafter names may sell my land that lies between the land of James Reed and David McCay’s survey of five hundred acres on Glade Crick and out the monies arising from the sale of said part of three hundred acres pay and satisfy such of my just debts as remain unpaid out of the sale of the perishable part of my estate. 2dly After the payment of my debts and funeral expenses, I give to my wife Elizabeth Robinson one third part of my estate both real and personal which is to include four negroes to wit my negro man Matt & two black women Egg & Judge her youngest child & Jinny for and during her natural life and after her decease I give the three first mentioned negroes Matt, Egg and Jude to my children herein after mentioned to wit Cynthia Callison, Rebecca Hamilton, Peggy Perkins, Miriam L. Robinson, Agness Robinson and Elizabeth Robinson the three negro’s above mentioned to be sold and the proceeds of their sales to be equally divided among my sid children daughters above named to be enjoyed by them forever. And the last mentioned negro woman Jinny after the decease of my wife Elizabeth Robinson may go to any of my heirs that she the said Jinny may choose to live with. 3dly Whereas I have conveyed to my son John H. Robinson three several parts of land and one negro boy named Jack which is more than his equal part of my estate with my other heirs I therefore or give give no part of my other estate either real or personal to him the said John H. Robinson more than the
three tracts of land & the negro boy Jack before mentioned which I conveyed by deed of gift to him but will the residue of my estate to my other heirs in manner following that is to say. 4thly I give to my daughter Cynthia Callison wife of Isaac Callison the part of land whereon the said Isaac Callison now lives containing two hundred acres and all the property & stock which I before gave her for her share of my estate. 5thly I give to my daughter Rebecca Hamilton wife of John McKee Hamilton one negro girl named Rachel. 6thly I give to my daughter Miriam L. Robinson one negro boy named Mose. 7thly I give to my daughter Peggy Perkins wife of David Perkins one negro girl calld Mary. 8thly I give to my daughter Agness Robinson one negro boy called George. 9thly I give my youngest daughter Robinson one negro girl calld Franky. 10thly I desire that my yellow boy Wilson be hired out and and the hire of said Wilson to be applied by my executors to the benefit of my wife Elizabeth Robinson & my youngest daughter Elizabeth. 11thly I desire that all the rest of my estate both real and personal of what nature and kind so were it may be not herein before particularly disposed of may be equally divided between my six daughters Rebecca, Miriam L., Peggy, Agness & Elizabeth (sic, only 5 names) herein before named which I I (sic) give to them their heirs & forever. And lastly I do hereby constitute and appoint my friends John Boggs and Thomas Callaghan Executors to this my last will and testament hereby revoking all other wills and testaments heretofore made. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal this twenty fifth day of February in the year one thousand eight hundred and twenty eight signed sealed and delivered as and for the last will of the above named James Robinson in presence of us
E. R. Hutchison James Robinson *Seal* Samuel Hutchison At a court held for Nicholas County March Term 1832 The execution of this the last will and testament of James Robinson deceased was duly proved by the oath of E. R. Hutchison a subscribing witness thereto and at the April Term of said Court 1832 it was duly proven by the oath of Saml Hutchison the other subscribing witness thereto and ordered to be recorded accordingly. Teste Saml Price *Seal*
Notes for further research
The will was written in 1828, James Robinson died 9 October 1831. In 1830 the census included 3 slaves while in 1820 4 were listed:
1830 U.S. Federal Census
Slaves -Males – 24 thru 35: 1 (Wilson)
Slaves – Females – Under 10: 1 (Mary)
Slaves – Females – 10 thru 23: 1 (Franky)
The appraisement and sale of the estate of the widow Elizabeth Robinson were noted in the same Will Book on pages 73 and 74. No slave names were found.
In 1840 John H. Robinson (Jack) had two slaves, a female under 10 and a female 36 thru 54; Isaac Callison, husband of Cynthia Robinson who received no slave, had no slaves; John Hamilton, husband of Rebecca Robinson (Rachel), had one male slave 10 thru 23; Margaret Perkins, possibly Peggy Robinson (Mary), had no slaves; Miriam (Mose) and Agnes (George) married Rader men who did not have slaves in 1840.
Robert Kelly was found on the Nicholas County, (West) Virginia, slave schedule in 1850 but he was enumerated in his son’s household in the neighboring county of Braxton.
Cato was a young man in 1821 and would have been at least in his late 40s in 1850. From the above slave schedule listing, Cato was very likely no longer owned by Kelly who had 8 slaves in 1850. Robert Kelly’s last will and testament was located in Braxton County and names 8 enslaved persons and mentions one unnamed man.
RELEASING:Mary and her husband; their children Washington, Granville (a girl), Catharine, and Lucinda; Maddison, Callohill, and Granville (a woman).
The Last Will and Testament of Robert Kelly of Braxton County, (West) Virginia
Know all men by These presents that I, Robert Kelly of the County of Nicholas and State of Virginia do hereby make my last will and testament in manner and form following, That is to say, 1st. I desire that the perishable part of my Estate be immediately sold after my decease (with the exception of such property as is hereafter willed) and out of the monies arising Therefrom all my Just debts and funeral expenses be paid. 2ndly. I will and bequeath to my two sons John McH. Kelly and Charles William Kelly my farm on Elk River lately purchased from George Molahon and bind my said two sons to pay to said Mollahon five hundred dollars being the last installment of the purchase money due forsaid land, and also to board, clothe and take care of my daughter Mary Virginia Kelly during her natural life and in the event of my Daughter Mary Virginia Kelly being unwilling to live with either of them then in that event they shall out of the value of my land this day willed to them pay to such person as may board clothe and take care of her in a genteel manner a reasonable amount for such board and clothing. 3rdly. I will and bequeath to my son John McH. Kelly my negro man slave Maddison to him and his heirs forever. 4thly. I will and bequeath to my son Charles William Kelly my negro slave Callohill to him and his heirs forever. 5thly. I will and bequeath to my daughter Rebecca Jane Ann Duffy Two negro girls named Catharine & Lucinda The children of my negro woman slave named Mary to her and her (sic) and the heirs of her own body forever together with the future increase of said negro girls to her and her heirs forever. 6thly. I will and bequeath to my son David O. Kelly my negro boy Washington and my negro girl named Granville two children of my slave Mary. The said negro boy Washington to serve my said son David O. Kelly or his heirs until he arrives at the age of thirty years, and at that age the said negro boy Washington to be free, to him and his heirs forever. 7thly. I will and bequeath to my Daughter Mary Virginia Kelly my negro slave named Granville, one feather bed and bedding to be enjoyed by her during her natural life and at her death I will and desire that the negro woman slave Granville share be free, in consequence of her kindness and attention to my family. 8thly. I will and order that any executors herein after named and my heirs shall if atall in their power conveniently to try and prevent the seperation of my negro woman slave Mary & her husband. 9thly. I will and bequeath to my two sons John McH. Kelly & Charles William Kelly each of them one feather bed and bedding to them and their heirs forever. 10thly. I will and bequeath that all my Estate both real and personal not herein before willed shall after my death be sold and out of the monies arising therefrom first my two sons John McH. Kelly & Charles William Kelly are each to have one hundred dollars and the balance of said proceeds of said sale to be equally divided amongst all my children or their heirs.
And lastly I do hereby constitute and appoint my two sons John McH. Kelly and Charles William Kelly Executors of this my last will and testament hereby revoking all other or former wills or Testaments by me heretofore made. In Testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal this 2nd day of August 1849. Signed sealed published and declared by R. Kelly *Seal* Robert Kelly as and for his last will and Testament in the presence and hearing of us who at his request and in his presence have subscribed our names as witnesss. David Eagle John McD. Grose Ro. Hamilton Codicil to the foregoing last will & testament of Robert Kelly, viz. when the foregoing will was made I thought that the two slaves viz. Washington and Granville could be freed by me, at the time mentioned in said will without any confliction with the laws of Virginia. But on mature reflection, I have concluded that if the new constitution of Virginia shall be adopted, which I believe it will that in that event the said Washington‘s freedom is hereby revoked by me, and that he shall be and remain the property of the said D. O. Kelly to him & his heirs forever, and the said Granville‘s freedom is revoked so far as this, that she shall remain & live with my daughter Virginia so long as she lives, and at her death she shall have a right to live with any of my children that she choses during her lifetime. And it is my desire that whichever child of mine that she should make choice to live with to pay her revenue tax as a slave, so as to secure to her a right to live in the state, without her being molested or disturbed by the laws of the state. This codicil signed & sealed by me on this 26th day of September 1851. Teste R. Kelly *Seal* Jno. P. Byrne W. Newlon Braxton County Court September Term 1853. The last will and testament of Robert Kelly Deceased, with a codicil Thereto [illegible] was this day produced in Court, and the will was proved by the oaths of David Eagle and John McD. Grose subscribing witnesses thereto, and the codicil was proved by the oaths of William Newlon & John P. Byrne subscribing witnesses thereto, which will together with the codicil thereto is ordered to be recorded. Teste Jno. P. Byrne Clk
Due to blog format I transcribed without line breaks in the main text of the will and placed numbered items at the beginning of a new line.
Robert Kelly a Resident of Nicholas and Braxton Counties
Robert Kelly appears to have lived in the part of Nicholas County which became Braxton County – his land likely lying in both counties. Note: Braxton County was formed in 1836 from parts of Lewis, Kanawha and Nicholas counties.
In 1820 Robert Kelly had 5 slaves in his household: 1 male under 14 and 4 females 14 thru 25. In 1830 he had 7 slaves in his household: 2 males under 10, 1 male 24 thru 35, 2 females under 10, 1 female 10 thru 23, 1 female 24 thru 35. In 1840 he had 6 slaves in his household: 1 male under 10, 1 male 10 thru 23, 1 male 24 thru 35, 1 male 36 thru 54, 2 females 10 thru 23.
From the information on the 1850 slave schedule and the will of Robert Kelly, I believe these are the names and ages of the enslaved persons. The name Granville was mentioned twice in the will, for a girl and for a woman. Mary’s husband’s name was not given.
I analyzed the ages of the slaves in the pre-1850 census, compared with the 1850 schedule and the will. I believe it is possible Cato was the father of Granville, Mary, and Callohill and may have died before the will was written. This is an assumption on my part and I have no documentation to back it up.
In 1860, several of Robert Kelly’s children are on the slave schedule of Braxton and Nicholas counties:
Braxton: Charles William Kelly with a 23 yrs old male mulatto (Callohill)
Braxton: Mary Virginia Kelly with a 40 yrs old female mulatto (Granville) and a 3 yo female mulatto
Braxton: John McHamilton Kelly with a 33 yrs old male black (Maddison)
Nicholas: David Oliver Kelly with a 30 yrs old female mulatto, a 23 yo male mulatto (Washington), a 6 yo male mulatto, 4 yo male mulatto, and a 2 yo male mulatto.
Robert Kelly, at the time he wrote his will, believed he could easily arrange for two of his slaves to be freed. Within two years he was writing a codicil to the will as he expected a new constitution to be adopted by Virginia which would make it impossible to carry out his wishes.
This codicil makes me wonder how many slave holders changed their minds about freeing their enslaved people because of the laws of their state?
On Christmas Day, one hundred and ninety-five years ago, Sophia and her child as well as a boy named Cato were sold in estate sales in Nicholas County, (West) Virginia.
William Hamilton (1795-1821) died about a month after his sister Jane. His inventory and sale were recorded at the same time as Jane’s which were shared last month in the post releasing Sophia and her child.
William Hamilton owned a man named Cato as seen in the Inventory & Appraisal of his personal estate:
William Hamilton Inventory & Appraisal (in margin)
We the Subscribers agreeable to an an order of the Worshipfull the County Court of Nicholas County, the November term 1821 of Said Court being first Duly Sworn have proceed to appraise the personal estate of William Hamilton Dec’d as produced to us by Robert Kelly & John Mc. Hamilton the administrators on said Estate to wit, on the 18th day of December 1821 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $ – Cts one Negro man named Cato . . . . . 400 – 00 Watch & Chain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20 – 00 one pair of Saddle Bags . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 – 00 one horse . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 – 00 one Bed & furniture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 – 00 one Book History of America . . . . . . . . – 75 one Sword & Belt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 – 00 tow appletts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 – 00 one pair of spears . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . – 75 one Saddle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 – 00 two Books . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 – 50 Razor Box & Razor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 – 00
Jane Laverty Hamilton (1793-1821) and William Hamilton (1795-1821) were two children of John Hamilton (1748-1818) and Rebekah Laverty (1765-1811). In 1820 their older married brother Robert Hamilton had three slaves in his household, two males under 14 years of age and one male 45 years or older. There were several white adults in the household but since Jane had a female slave she was probably not in this household. Robert was the only Hamilton on the 1820 census. One or more of his unmarried brothers, perhaps William, may have been in this household.
Jane and William’s older sister Margaret was married to Robert Kelly who had five slaves in his household, one male under 14 years of age and four females between 14 and 25 years of age. As in Robert Hamilton’s household, there were several white adults in Robert Kelly’s. It is more than likely that Jane was in this household as it also included a female enslaved person who may have been Sophia who was released in last month’s post.
William may have been in either household as both included male slaves under the age of 14 years. As Cato was seen as a man in the inventory and then as a boy when he was sold, he could have been nearly 14 in 1820. It is more than likely that William and Cato were in the household of Robert Kelly as the brothers-in-law were partners in the firm Kelly & Hamilton. The inventory and appraisal of the estate of the firm Kelly & Hamilton followed the inventory and appraisal of the estate of William Hamilton and did not include any slaves. As seen above in the sale of the estate, Robert Kelly became the slave holder of Cato.
Releasing one Negro Woman and child mentioned in the inventory of the estate of Jane Hamilton presented to the Court of Nicholas County, (West) Virginia, during the November term of 1821.
In the left margin: Jane Hamilton Inventory & appt
We the Subscribers agreeable to an order of the Worshipful the County Court of Nicholas at the November term 1821 of Said Court being first duly sworn have proceeded to appraise the personal Estate of Jane Hamilton Dec’d – as produced to us by Robert Kelly & John Mc. Hamilton The administra- =tors on said Estate to wit, on the 18th day of December 1821 $ – Cents one Negro woman & child 425=00 Saddle Sddle (sic) bags & Bridle 17=00 Bed Stead Bed & beding 40=00 one Wheel 3=00 one Set of Silver tea spoons 6=00 one trunk 2=00 Morses Geography 0=75 Wool & Cotton & thread 11=00 Callico for a quilt 3=00 one Umbrilla 2=50
Samuel Neil John Groves Nathaniel Foster John Fitzwater Sworn to before me Edward Rion
The inventory of the Estate of Jane Hamilton was sold on 25 December 1821. The enslaved woman and child are seen as Sophia & child and were sold to Jane’s brother John Hamilton for $585.
Jane Laverty Hamilton (1793-1821) was the daughter of John Hamilton (1748-1818) and Rebekah Laverty (1765-1811). In 1820 her older married brother Robert Hamilton had three slaves in his household, two males under 14 years of age and one male 45 years or older. There were several white adults in the household but since Jane had a female slave she was probably not in this household. Robert was the only Hamilton on the 1820 census. One or more of his unmarried brothers may have been in this household.
Jane’s older sister Margaret was married to Robert Kelly who had five slaves in his household, one male under 14 years of age and four females between 14 and 25 years of age. As in Robert Hamilton’s household, there were several white adults in Robert Kelly’s. It is more than likely that Jane was in this household as it also included a female enslaved person who may have been Sophia.
William Hamilton died about a month after his sister Jane. His inventory and sale were recorded at the same time as Jane’s and will be shared next month.
Week 52 (December 24-31) – Resolution. A resolution can be something that you resolve to do. It can also be the end or conclusion of something. What ancestor do you resolve to find more about in 2016? What ancestor have you resolved conflicting evidence about?
We’ve come to the end of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks : 2015 Edition. 2015 was the year of my children’s ancestors in Luxembourg. It’s been a wonderful year of discovery, correcting errors, adding new information and SOURCES, finding even more distant ancestors, and, best of all, stories were written for nearly 100 ancestors. Two weeks were dedicated to my cousin Joe Rooney’s ancestors as I could not pass up the chance to feature them and the wonderful collection of old photographs he shared with me. It may be the end of the challenge but I resolve to continue researching and writing about my genealogical discoveries in the year to come.
There are no favorites but one of my American ancestors, James SIMS 1754-1845 of Nicholas County, (West) Virginia, has placed himself in the limelight several times this year. Early in 2002 I wrote his biography with the help of several cousins. I posted an updated version of the biography on my blog, backdated 25 March 2013 as I began my blog on 23 January 2014.
These posts have become chapters in James SIMS’ life and times. This week I’m happy to share with you another chapter written by my 5th cousin Jason N. Lombardi.
A Visit to the James SIMS Property
In August, I had the pleasure of making an impromptu four-hour trip to visit a home built by James SIMS near Swiss in Nicholas County, West Virginia. It has been on my to-do list since I first saw a post published on the Fayette County West Virginia Genealogy Facebook group detailing its existence.
Even though I was battling a summertime cold bug that had bitten me, complete with runny nose and cough, the genealogy bug had bitten me as well….and it prevailed! It’s amazing what a genealogist will overcome in effort to search out history when, under similar circumstances, might afford a day off of work or school.
What an experience! Seeing firsthand the property that once belonged to my 4th great-grandfather was without words. Knowing that he was here….his family was here….my people were here. Little did James know that 200 years later, seven generations down the line, someone would be standing in awe at a place he owned.
A perfect last-minute trip. I stood at the front corner of the home and placed my hand on the paint-deprived door frame of the ancient building. The awesome power of family seemed to rush through my veins. At that moment I was connected to James and his family. It was a phenomenal experience as a genealogist for 25 years as many of the homes occupied by my family in the past have been destroyed to time.
James SIMS….you have family that still care and are breathing new life into your legacy.
This is my LAST weekly entry for Amy Johnson Crow’s challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – 2015 Edition. It was so successful in 2014 that genealogists wanted to continue or join in on the fun in 2015. Be sure to check out the other great posts by visiting Amy’s blog No Story Too Small where she’ll be posting the weekly recap on Thurdays and allowing all participants to leave a link to their post(s) in the comments.
Celebrating Black History Month – I did not want February to end without giving recognition to African-Americans in the United States. I hope that by sharing this information I may help someone open the door to their African-American brick wall.
If you missed the first installments, here are Part 1 and Part 2.
Isaac Sims, a Free Man
As seen in the petition drawn up and signed by the residents of Nicholas County, Isaac Sims was considered trustworthy and industrious. He was allowed to reside in Nicholas County where he remained until his death.
Several newspaper articles have been written about Isaac Sims. Some of the information in these articles may have been word of mouth or the storyteller laid it on thick.
Isaac Place On Gauley Settled By Old Slave, a newspaper clipping that was shared with me, does not have a date or name of the newspaper. I believed that it was written before 1951 as it was clipped by Edward Sims (1878-1953), a great-great-grandson of James Sims. Similar information was found in several articles written by Clarence Shirley Donnelly (1895-1982) in his daily column “Yesterday and Today” for the Beckley Post-Herald.
As the wording of the first article was so similar to Mr. Donnelly’s later writings I searched again for the original source of the information. And I found the same article with a slightly different title, History of “Isaac Place” – A Bit of Pioneer History Relating to Slavery. It was contributed (unknown date) to the Nicholas Republican by A. J. Legg and reprinted in the Raleigh Herald on 4 February 1916. The Nicholas Republican was a weekly paper which started up in 1903. I could not find it on the Newspaper Archives or Chronicling America.
I do wonder how Isaac managed to obtain the money necessary for emancipation. Did James pay him wages?
I haven’t found documentation to prove this but the pioneer history by A. J. Legg gives a good account of how Isaac (may have) earned the money to buy his freedom.
I did find one record that confirms that Isaac, when he was still a slave, was allowed to have business dealings. When the storekeeper Mr. Landcraft died his store inventory and appraisal were received and recorded by the Fayette County court at the September 1834 term. Isaac’s account is included on this list, two years before he was emancipated.
[Source: “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-18271-57447-29?cc=1909099&wc=M6DN-5NG:179689901,179689902 : accessed 26 February 2015), Fayette > Will book, v. 001 1832-1866 > image 26 of 292; county courthouses, West Virginia.]
By 1850 Isaac was seen on the census in the household of James Sims’ son-in-law Mathew Hughes, widower of Margaret Sims. Next to Isaac’s name in parenthesis is the word Free. His real estate, the 17 1/2 acres he was granted in 1837, are valued at $87.
In 1855 Isaac bought several items at the estate sale of Joseph McNutt. Sadly, also on McNutt’s inventory were Isaac’s children George Addison and Harriett Jane. The estate items sold are found following the inventory however the fate of Isaac’s children is not mentioned. Tradition is (also seen in article above) that they were bought by Robert L. Neil, husband of Jenetta McNutt, a daughter of Joseph McNutt.
[Source: “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-18271-57923-52?cc=1909099&wc=M6DN-5NG:179689901,179689902 : accessed 26 February 2015), Fayette > Will book, v. 001 1832-1866 > image 273 of 292; county courthouses, West Virginia.]
In 1860 and in 1870 Isaac Sims was listed on the census in his own household. He did not have anyone living with him. In 1870 he was listed as a mulatto instead of a black person as seen in 1850 and 1860. His real estate was valued at $1000 in 1860 and $500 in 1870; his personal estate was valued at $200 in 1860 and $400 in 1870.
Rebecca Jane Sims, daughter of one of Isaac’s two children, was raised in the Robert L. Neil family. She was listed as a mulatto on the 1870 census in his household. She married David Johnson on 1 May 1874. It is possible that the 5 year old mulatto child named Myrta E. Johnson, living in the Robert L. Neil household in 1880, was the daughter of Rebecca Jane who died in childbirth on 1 November 1878 as reported by her neighbor Robert L. Neil.
I have not been able to locate Rebecca’s husband in 1880 or later. No trace of Myrta E. Johnson, who I believe was Isaac’s great-granddaughter, has been found.
Hopefully, if Tom, Juda, George, Jinncy, Jude, Fanny, July Hulen, Robert and Isaac Sims’ lines did not die out, a descendant will find this and be able to fill in the missing pieces in their family tree.
“It’s Honorable to do… You’re RELEASING their Names and their Souls for their Descendants to hopefully find them one day. Every time this Happens they are Rejoicing. They have been in a book or what have you for so long.”
True’s statement about this being honorable may change people’s minds about sharing what they might be ashamed of.
Celebrating Black History Month – I did not want February to end without giving recognition to African-Americans in the United States. I hope that by sharing this information I may help someone open the door to their African-American brick wall.
By March 1836 James Sims had disposed of all his real and personal estate including his slave property except for his Negro man Isaac who he intended to emancipate and set free. The steps he took were not as easy as one would think.
James had a deed drawn up detailing the conditions. Isaac had to pay James $150 in three instalments of $50 for his freedom. This sounds like a lot however he continues to note that if he (James) should die before all three instalments were paid Isaac would not have to pay the rest. Further if Isaac should die before him then James would use the monies received for Isaac’s children who were mentioned in this document as was their deceased mother Emily.
“1836 James Sims to Isaac Sims (note in margin “Delivered to Isaac Sims Sept. 9th 1842”)
Know all men by these presents that I James Simms Sr. of the County of Nicholas and State of Virginia having heretofore made my last Will and Testament in which I have disposed of all my Estate real and personal including my slave property except one slave …. my Negro man Isaac which said Negro slave Isaac I heretofore intended to emancipate and set free according to the laws of this Commonwealth upon certain Conditions thereafter to be mentioned and put to writing. Now this Instrument of writing Witnesseth that in Consideration of the premises and for others …… good causes moving me thereto. I do hereby and by virtue and force of these presents emancipate and set free forever my aforesaid Negro slave Isaac upon the following condition to wit that is to say that the said Isaac causes to be paid to me one hundred and fifty dollars good and lawful money of Virginia fifty dollars of which is to be paid in hand which said fifty dollars is this day paid to me and the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged fifty dollars of which the said Isaac shall cause to be paid on or before the 1st day of April 1836 and fifty dollars the last payment thereof the said Isaac shall cause to be paid to me on or before the first day of May 1836 and it is furthermore agreed to on my part and which I hereby in addition to the foregoing make known that in the event of my death before the payment of the fifty dollars which is next due after the date of this writing that then and in that case the said fifty dollars nor the aforesaid fifty dollars the last instalment or payment above mentioned nor either of said payments or instalments shall be required or exacted by my heirs, Executors, administrators or assigns nor shall they or either of them cause the said Isaac to pay either of said payments or instalments of fifty dollars nor shall his failure to pay the same in any manner affect or do away with the force of these presents in emancipating and setting free the said Isaac after my death according to the laws of this Commonwealth now in force. And it is furthermore agreed to on my part that in the event of my death after the payment to me of the aforesaid fifty dollars which next becomes due after the date of this writing as above mentioned that then and in that case the last payment or instalment of fifty dollars the said Isaac shall be exempt from the payment of in the same manner and to the same effect as I have exempted him from the payment of the fifty dollars which first becomes due as is mentioned and set forth in the preceding paragraph. And it is furthermore agreed upon my part that in the event of the death of the said Isaac before my death that then and in that case I do hereby promise and agree that any money or monies or payments which the said Isaac may cause to be made paid to me or which may have been in any way paid to me on account of the promises shall be appropriated by me or my heirs Executors ? in cause of my death, in the following manner: That is to say that whereas the said Isaac has two children named George Addison and Harriett Jane by his wife Emily now dead and owned in her life time by Joseph McNutt and feeling a natural love and affection for his aforesaid children and wishing to provide for the comfort and happiness of the same I do hereby promise and agree as before mentioned to appropriate the money paid to me after his death that happening before mine as above stated to such use or uses for the benefit of the above named children of the said Isaac as will best promote their spiritual and temporal welfare agreeable to their condition and character in this state and according to the Laws and usages of this Commonwealth. To the true performance of the above I do hereby bind myself my heirs Executors Administrators as witness my hand and seal this 19th day of March 1836
I have this day received this full consideration in good and lawful money cald for in this foregoing Instrument of writing as witness my hand & Seal
Isaac Sims Manumission Letter
Below the “Information” sign at the Nicholas County Courthouse in Summersville, West Virginia, there is a framed letter written by James Sims freeing his slave named Isaac.
Sims Manumission Letter-1836
Know all men by these presents that I James Sims of the County of Nicholas in consideration of a large sum of money paid to me by my slave Isaac as for the additional considerations of his fidelity to me I have on this day manumitted and let him the said Isaac free. To remain and continue from hence forward to all intents and purposes entirely free and discharged from servitude to me my heirs and assigns forever. And for the purpose of removing any difficulty as to the identity of the said Isaac and to enable him to enjoy his Freedom in the most absolute and perfect manner. I also hereby certify and state that the said Isaac was born my slave, that he has resided with me up to this date that he is very black, his stature about five feet five inches, of slender make and about forty three years old, that he has had his right leg broken just above his ankle. In testimony whereof I have hereto set my hand and seal this 26th day of September 1836. James Sims
in the presence of
Andrew M. Dickinson
Petition to Grant Residence to Isaac Sims
Nicholas County residents signed a petition to the Legislature of Virginia to grant permanent residence to Isaac Sims. The original can be found in the archives division of the Virginia State Library. It reads as follows:
A PETITION FROM NICHOLAS COUNTY, VIRGINIA TO GRANT PERMANENT RESIDENCE TO ISAAC SIMS 1836
To the Legislature of Virginia
Your Petitioners humbly represent that JAMES SIMS of the County of Nicholas has recently emancipated ISAAC a blackman who is desirous of remaining in the Commonwealth, your Petitioners represent that there are but very few slaves in the County of Nicholas not exceeding sixty – nor is there more than one other coloured person in the County who is free — your Petitioners further state the said black man ISAAC is an exceedingly honest industrious and useful man addicted to no vicious habits whatsoever, but peaceful & inoffensive & meek in all his intercourse & business with the country — your Petitioners would be truly gratified should this Legislature in its wisdom think proper to grant his application — your Petitioners are well convinced that no mischief can result to the country by doing so and as a precedent in this part of the state nothing of evil is to be apprehended.
Saml Price David Mays
John H. Robinson William Sims
E. S. Duncan Robert Hughes Jr
Johnson Reynolds Edward Sims Jr
Benj. H. Smith Jeremiah Sims
P. B. Wethered Martin Sims
John McWhorter Co. John Sims
Ro Hamilton Anderson Sims
L. D. Wilson Charles Sims
Addison McLaughlin William Morris
John McDermott Joshua Morris
Thomas Miller John H. Morris
Jacob D. McClain Thomas Elliott
Thm. Hill Aron Loyd
Mathew Hughes G. C. Landcraft
Charley Reynolds William Sims
Robert Hill Edward Rion
Harrison A. Low William R. Summers
George Reynolds Edward Campbell
Andrew Odle George Rader Sr
John Kincaid John Foster
James Nichols Jas. G. Murray
James Walkub James Bryant
William Hamrick G. W. Grose
John Dunbar David Bare
Robert McCutchen Lemasters Stephenson
William Miller Jacob C. Chapman
Allen Ewing John Groves
Jacob Drennen John G. Stephenson
Joseph Darlington Jacob Chapman
J. D. Sutton Michael Rader
J. M. Alderson John Linch
J. McClung Andre Skidmore
James R. Henderson Isaac Gregory
James a. Walker Fielding McClung
R. Duffield Abner Stephenson
Seth Thayer Wm. Bell
Thomas Legg Cortes Stephenson
Joshua Stephenson John Rader
Wm. D. Cottle J. G. Neel
Samuel Nichols T. B. Thomas
Joel Hamrick Alexander Grove
David Stuart James Simany
Jefferson Grose Joseph McClung
(?) Dorsey Daniel Falkler
J. Warren Henry (?)
Richard A. Arters William Chapman
William Taylor David Moore
Wilson Arters David R. Hamilton
Philip Duffy Moses Hill
R. Kelly Ira Davis
Elij. Lightner Jacob Odell
James Lightner Wm. Hughs
James Kelly Wm. Bryant
J. M. Hamilton George Fitzwatters
John McCue Andrew Neil
John McClung Robert Neil
S. A. Hamilton Samuel Hutchison
Edward McClung George Hardweg
Nathan Groves John Morris
Peter Duffy John Duffy
J. McMillian B. L. Boggs
Wm. Livesay M. A. Triplett
Jacob Hutchison William M. Boggs
David Hanna John Trout
David Peebles James Grose
Adam Given Robert Keenan
Elverton T. Walker Isaac Fitzwater
Thomas M. Fitzwater Nathaniel Hughes
Thomas B. Morris Hiram S. Marsh
W. Summers Sr. S. Backhouse
Henry Morris Jos. Montgomry
John Smith L. C. Buster
Thomas T. Marton Thos. Hawkins
Peter Coleman Thos. Hines
John Backhouse Cyrus Hedge
William Bird John Slack
Cornelius Dorsey James B. Cole
Pascal Backhouse Austin McCorgil
Joseph Backhouse Nathan Huddleston
Jeremy G. Odel William Kincaid
Joseph Backhouse James Settle
William Hillard Bolen Ballenger
William Smith John Johnson Jr.
Bernard Hendrick James Likens
Mathew Kaincaid John P. Huddleston
John Dorsey W. Tyree
John Fitzwater Hiram Curry
John Dorsey Sr P. Keenan
Dryden Sims E. Hutson
Hudson N. Dickenson Henry Montgomery
Miles Hansen John Huddleston
Jas. H. Miller John Hill
P. W. Buster Joseph Huddleston
Pleasant Hawkins Henry Tritt
Seaton B. Prowsy William Huggins
James B. Murray Robert Huggins
James J. Sims Robert Heuse
(Name Illegible) John Heuse
Leonard Cury S. A. Masterson
William Johnson Joseph W. Nutt
Jno. McNutt Jno. Carton
F. T. Hughes Adam Johnson
Fenton McMorrow Wm. Kelly
Job Huddleston Taswell W. Hues
Nelson Sims Andrew Kenan
Joseph Reams (?) Price
Francis Cincaid E. R. Hutchison
William Loyd Joseph Young
Thos. S. Buster Edda Young
Moses Coleman William Martin
T. B. Hamilton Thos. L. Lewis
John Kincaid Wm. Myles
Thos. J. Huddleston William Kincaid Jr.
John Johnson Gataspher Kincaid
Me_?_ J. Conly Benjamin Darlington
Levi B. Murrey H_?_ Long
Edward Hughs Joel Alexander
Joshua Foster [Source: Webster County Historical Society, Nicholas County, (West) Virginia Records of the Pioneers, 1818-1860. Upper Glade, West Virginia, Webster County Historical Society, Inc., 1985. 929.3 N597w.]
Celebrating Black History Month – I did not want February to end without giving recognition to African-Americans in the United States. I hope that by sharing this information I may help someone open the door to their African-American brick wall.
My 5th great-grandfather James Sims (1754-1845) of Nicholas County, (West) Virginia was a former slaveholder at the time of his death. Over a dozen years ago I had the privilege to work with several other researchers who shared their information and documentation that I used to write a detailed biography for James SIMS in 2002.
James, born in Culpeper County, reportedly brought eighteen slaves with him to Nicholas County (then Kanawha County) when he moved there from Bath County, Virginia, sometime around 1798-1800. The number may be exaggerated as he had 5 slaves in 1810, 9 slaves in 1820, 5 slaves in 1830, and 1 in 1840.
The known names of nine slaves owned by James SIMS are:
Tom, Juda and George
Jeremiah SIMS, the father of James SIMS, wrote his will on 4 March 1768, it was probated on 18 August 1768 in Culpeper County, Virginia. In his will he left one half of his estate to his wife Agatha and the other half to his son James. There was no mention of slaves in the will however the inventory returned to the court on 19 October 1769 listed:
One Negro man Tom £60. One negro Woman Juda & her child George £70
The slaves were valued at £130. The entire inventory totaled £195 making Tom, Juda, and George the most valuable part of Jeremiah’s estate.
John Nalle, the maternal grandfather of James Sims, wrote his will on 16 September 1780. It was probated in Culpeper County, Virginia, on 19 August 1782, and mentions amongst his legatees his daughter Agatha Hill, wife of Russell Hill and widow of Jeremiah Sims, and mother of James Sims.
“Item. I Lend to my daughter Agatha Hill half the Service of a Negro Woman named Jinncy During my Daughters life the other half of the said Negroes Service to my Grandson James Sims from the time of My Daughters marriage to Russel Hill, and after My Daughters Descease I give the Said Negro Woman Jinncy and her Increase to my Grandson James Sims to him and his Heirs for Ever also Ten Shillings to my Daughter Agatha Hill and her Heirs for Ever.”
[Source: Culpeper County, Virginia Will Book B, pg. 519.]
Jude and Fanny
William Griffee Brown in his History of Nicholas County, West Virginia (Dietz Press, 1954, 425 pages) mentions on pgs. 165-166 while discussing the Bethel Methodist church that he owned an old class-book dated 1821 which includes the names of members of the class in 1821 including black Jude and black Fanny, slaves of the Sims family. James Sims “brought the first negro slaves to Nicholas County” according to Mr. Brown on pg. 30. Note: Jude and Fanny were “slaves belonging to William Simms,” a son of James Sims.
July Hulen and her mother
Lawrence M. Huddleston, author of The Huddlestons My Kin had in his possession the original bill of sale from James Sims to John Huddleston for the slave July Hulen when June Settle Ciocca visited him at home in 1990. At the time she did not realize her relationship to James Sims. On 9 February 2002 in an e-mail in which she shared the photo of this bill of sale, she wrote: “Larry told me that James Sims had previously sold July Helen’s mother to the Huddlestons and that both mother and daughter were so heart-broken, he agreed to sell them the child also. Larry had no children and my understanding is that his immense genealogical collection was donated to the archives in Charleston. I would assume that is where this document can now be found.”
Clarence Shirley Donnelly (1895-1982) wrote in his column “Yesterday and Today” in the Beckley-Post Herald:
“Isaac’s brother, Robert Simms, ‘flew the coop,’ as a saying of that day had it. Keeping his eye on the north star as he traveled at night, he reached Canada and freedom.”