Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Peter, Willis, Milly, Sukkey, and Hannah

As with so many of my families in West Virginia, the Clonch family of Mason County did not hold slaves. I’m always on the lookout for records with slave names in the location I’m researching and like to skim through the Wills Book to find other inhabitants of the county who may have been slaveholders. Although Mason County was formed in 1804 the will books begin only in 1833. The first record in Will Book 1 with names of enslaved persons is the will of Elizabeth Bryan.

Elizabeth Bryan wrote her last will and testament on 10 December 1829 and likely lived another four years as it was only proved on 6 March 1833 and 2 April 1833 and ordered to be recorded 2 April 1833.1 She mentions two sons, Robert and Charles, a grandson Robert, and a great-granddaughter Nancy Mason. More importantly, the names of five enslaved persons, Peter, Willis, Milly, Sukkey, and Hannah were given.

1829 Last Will and Testament of Elizabeth Bryan of Mason County, West Virginia

I Elizabeth Bryan of the county of Mason and State of Virginia do hereby make and declare this my last will and Testament hereby revoking and annulling all other wills by me made at any time heretofore.
First I give and bequeath to my son Robert Bryan my Negro Boy Peter and to my Grandson Robert Bryan (son of my said son Robert) my other Negro Boy Willis.
Second I give & bequeath to my Great Grand Daughter Nancy Mason my Negro woman Milly & my negro Girl Sukkey together with my wearing my wearing (sic) apparel of every Kind & It is my futher will that my friend & neighbour John Cantrell & his wife take my said Grand daughter & her negroes hereby bequeathed her and raise and educate her in such decent & industrous manner as may be fitting her circumstances & theirs and have the use of Said negroes for their trouble & expense until my said Great Granddaughter shall arrive at Lawfull age or marry at which time she is to receive said Milly & Suky & the increase of said Sukkey if any to do with them as she may think proper but should my said great Granddaughter die before arriving at Lawfull age or having issue then it is my will that Milly be free & that Sukky & her increase if any Revert to my son Robert Bryan or his proper heirs but should Milly before that time have issue it is my will that all such issue or increase belong to Mrs. Mary Cantrell or her proper heirs it is also my further will that should I die before two years from this time that the negro Milly hereby bequeathed to said Nancy Mason shall remain with my Son Robert for that period counting from this date & then go to John Cantrell as heretofore directed for the purposes aforesaid.
My Negro woman Hannah I leave to my son Charles.
In witness whereof I hereby set my hand and seal this tenth day of December 1829.
Signed Sealed & acknowledged…………….Elizabeth Bryan Searl
in presence of us
William (his mark) Rottenberry
Silas (his mark) Harris
John Cantrell

At A Court continued and held for Mason County March 6th 1833 A writing purporting to be the last will & testament of Elizabeth Bryan decd was this day presented in open Court and was proven in part by the oath of William Rottenberry one of the subscribing witnesses thereto and said over for further proof.
…………………A copy
……………………Teste
………………………Thos. Lewis Clk

And at another day To wit At a Court Continued and held for Mason County April 2nd 1833. A writing purporting to be the last will and testament of Elizabeth Bryan decd which was in part proved at the last March term of this court, was this day further proved by Silas Harris another subscribing witness thereto, which is ordered to be Recorded.
……………..A Copy
………………..Teste
…………………..Thos. Lewis Clk

Discrepancies and Questions

Sukkey was seen as Suky and Sukky in the will but in all cases, Elizabeth appears to refer to the same woman.

I question whether Nancy Mason was a great-granddaughter or more likely a granddaughter. No marriage was found for a Bryan bride to a Mason groom. Without more information on the Bryan family, it is difficult to determine the relationship between Nancy Mason and Elizabeth Bryan. Since Milly and Sukkey were to go with her to the neighbors after Elizabeth’s death, her relationship might be of importance to people seeking Milly and Sukkey.

Bryan in the Mason County Census

Preliminary research on the Bryan family in Mason County around 1830 did not turn up any helpful information. I located possible 1830 and 1820 census listings in which Elizabeth appears to be living in the household of Robert Bryan. In 1830 and 1820 there was a Charles Bryan in Mason County as well as a John Bryan and Andrew Bryan.

1830 U.S. Federal Census
Mason County, Virginia
Name: Robert Bryan
Free White Persons – Males – Under 5: 2
Free White Persons – Males – 5 thru 9: 1
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 14: 1
Free White Persons – Males – 40 thru 49: 1 (Robert)
Free White Persons – Females – 5 thru 9: 2
Free White Persons – Females – 30 thru 39: 1 (poss. wife of older male)
Free White Persons – Females – 70 thru 79: 1 (poss. Elizabeth)
Slaves – Males – 10 thru 23: 1 
Slaves – Females – Under 10: 1
Slaves – Females – 10 thru 23: 1 
Slaves – Females – 36 thru 54: 1
Slaves – Females – 55 thru 99: 1
Free White Persons – Under 20: 6
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 2
Total Free White Persons: 9
Total Slaves: 5
Total – All Persons (Free White, Slaves, Free Colored): 14

1820 United States Federal Census
Mason County, Virginia
Name: Robert Bryan
Enumeration Date: August 7, 1820
Free White Persons – Males – Under 10: 2
Free White Persons – Males – 26 thru 44: 1 (Robert)
Free White Persons – Females – 16 thru 25: 1 (poss. wife)
Free White Persons – Females – 45 and over: 1 (poss. Elizabeth)
Slaves – Males – Under 14: 3
Slaves – Males – 14 thru 25: 1
Slaves – Females – Under 14: 1
Slaves – Females – 26 thru 44: 1
Slaves – Females – 45 and over: 1
Number of Persons – Engaged in Agriculture: 4
Free White Persons – Under 16: 2
Free White Persons – Over 25: 2
Total Free White Persons: 5
Total Slaves: 7
Total All Persons – White, Slaves, Colored, Other: 12

In 1810 in Mason County, a James Bryan appears to be a likely match for the husband of Elizabeth Bryan. Two young men and a young woman are also in the household. The two young men are possible matches for Robert and Charles mentioned in the will.

1810 United States Federal Census
Mason County, Virginia
Name: James Bryan
Free White Persons – Males – 16 thru 25: 2 (Robert and Charles)
Free White Persons – Males – 45 and over: 1 (James)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10: 1
Free White Persons – Females – 45 and over: 1 (Elizabeth)
Numbers of Slaves: 5
Number of Household Members Under 16: 1
Number of Household Members Over 25: 2
Number of Household Members: 10

Other Bryan Families in Mason

Another Bryan found in Mason in 1810 was Andrew, a name also seen in the census of 1820 and 1830. An 1809 record for the marriage of Andrew Bryan and Parthenea Meigs in Mason seems to fit. Later he was the only Bryan on the census of Mason County in 1840 (obviously widowed with children) and alone in the 1850 census.

Quick searches at Find A Grave picked up information stating Maj. Andrew Bryan was the brother of John Bryan.2 Andrew’s wife’s maiden name was Clendenin and she was apparently previously married to a Meigs.3

John Bryan died in Mason County before 1 September 1834; a will was found which mentions property including Negroes but does not include names.4

With these names as a reference, I located a family tree on Ancestry which shows James Bryan and Elizabeth Singletary were the parents of sons Robert, Charles, John, and Andrew as well as three daughters who do not have marriages listed. I did not do further research to prove the family relationships.

Robert5 and Charles6, who were not found in Mason in 1840, went west to Washington County, Missouri, in the 1830s according to the tree, i.e. after the death of Elizabeth. In 1850 a Robert Bryan is on the Slave Schedule in the county however there were two men of this name in the county at that time. I have not been able to determine if this person who had a female mulatto age 33, a male mulatto age 10, a male mulatto age 5, a female black age 2, and a male black age 4 is the Robert Bryan who was the son of Elizabeth Bryan seen in the featured will.

I hope my finding the sons of Elizabeth moving to Missouri may help anyone seeking Peter, Willis, Milly, Sukkey, and Hannah.

Slave Name Roll Project is 4 Years Old

It’s been four years since I wrote the original three posts in which I shared the names of enslaved persons of my SIMS family. I have not counted every single name but I estimate about 220 names have been released in the 49 posts I’ve written since 2015.

The purpose of these posts is to share the documents and release the names in hopes of helping a descendant’s search. Personally, I try to do a bit more research when time allows and include it in the post but this is not a criteria.

If your ancestors or their neighbors or anyone you encounter in your research had enslaved persons, please join me by contributing their names to the Slave Name Roll Project.

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 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 (About the Project) administered by Schalene Jennings Dagutis who also blogs at Tangled Roots and Trees.

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-HN9F-D8?cc=1909099&wc=Q8B7-1YL%3A179687901%2C179729801 : accessed 26 January 2019), Mason > Will book, v. 001A 1833-1875 > image 25 of 165; citing Mason County, County Clerk, West Virginia. 
  2. Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 23 February 2019), memorial page for Maj Andrew Bryan (1790–25 Jul 1851), Find A Grave Memorial no. 140252499, citing McCulloch Cemetery, Southside, Mason County, West Virginia, USA; Maintained by Katie Litchfield (contributor 47758703). 
  3. FAG, memorial page for Parthenia Clendenin Bryan (1779–9 Aug 1839), Find A Grave Memorial no. 140252263, citing McCulloch Cemetery, Southside, Mason County, West Virginia, USA; Maintained by Katie Litchfield (contributor 47758703). 
  4. “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-HN9F-9Z?cc=1909099&wc=Q8B7-1YL%3A179687901%2C179729801 : 22 June 2016), Mason > Will book, v. 001A 1833-1875 > image 26 of 165; citing Mason County, County Clerk, West Virginia. 
  5. FAG, memorial page for Robert Bryan, Sr (unknown–7 Dec 1871), Find A Grave Memorial no. 5262866, citing Bennett Bryan Cemetery, Cadet, Washington County, Missouri, USA; Maintained by Larry G. Flesher (contributor 43207742). 
  6. FAG, memorial page for Charles Bryan (16 Jul 1809–17 Oct 1897), Find A Grave Memorial no. 5262850, citing Bennett Bryan Cemetery, Cadet, Washington County, Missouri, USA; Maintained by Larry G. Flesher (contributor 43207742). 

Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Leonisa, Leodina, Emily, Harriet, Anjaline, Margaret, and [illegible]

During the past three months, I broke my commitment of writing posts on a monthly basis releasing the names of enslaved persons. Actually, I didn’t blog at all from the end of October to the beginning of January. The Slave Name Roll Project is dear to my heart. I’ll continue to release the names of enslaved persons found in records while researching my own families.

In July 2018 I wrote about the last will and testament of Elizabeth Squires, releasing Sarah and Benjamin. In September 2018 I shared the last will and testament of Elizabeth’s youngest son Elijah Squires, releasing a man named Alfred. Elizabeth Squires had another son who also left a will in Braxton County, West Virginia.1

The Last Will and Testament of Asa Squires, written in 1854 and recorded in 1865

“West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-HYLL-K?cc=1909099&wc=Q8BW-MZJ%3A179688701%2C179750901 : 22 June 2016), Braxton > Will book, v. 003 1862-1879 > image 13 of 215; county courthouses, West Virginia.

I Asa Squires of the County of Braxton and State of Virginia Being of Sound mind and disposing memory for which I thank the Lord, and calling to mind the uncertainty of human life and being desirous to dispose of all such worldly estate as it hath pleased God to bless one with:
First: I devise to my beloved wife Sarah C. Squires all the personal property (Slaves only excepted) of my estate including horses, cattle and other stock on the premises together with all the household and kitchen furniture and farming utensils and library and whatever money, bonds and accounts may be due me at my decease after paying my funeral expenses and just debts for her my beloved Sarah C. Squires, to keep to give and dispose of amongst her children, as she may see fit proper to do or have done.
Secondly: I bequeath to my beloved wife Sarah C. Squires during her natural lifetime, All my home Sted place to wit: The 120 acres tract of land deeded to me by Uriah Byrne also the 22 acre tract patented to me the 12 Augt 1818 adjoining the Reeder tracts; also, the residue of the 222 acre of patent not deeded to Shadrack Chaney & wife, also, that portion of the 300 acre tract of patent, lying from the top of the ridge between the John Steel place and my home place, bordering on with the 222 acre tract before named, including them all as parcels above named, will as I suppose make 400 acres, more or less, to her during her natural lifetime, also, I bequeath to my beloved wife Sarah C. Squires, Those I warrant to wit: Leonisa, Emily, Harriet, Anjaline, [illegible], and Margaret during her natural lifetime to be taken care of by her on the place or hired out, as she may think best.
Thirdly: Immediately after the death of my beloved wife Sara C. Squires the land allotted to her as just above described ?? to for, my son Daniel S. Squires, his heirs and assigns, for his vigilant care and attention to his parents during their natural lifetime, and also to see that the three old colored women Leodina, Emily and Harriet are comfortably provided for after his parents death, their taxes paid, kept at home to enjoy their freedom as well as the laws of the State may permit them to do. Also that to remain with D.S.S. or some of the other heirs (my children, as they may choose

“West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-HYL5-D?cc=1909099&wc=Q8BW-MZJ%3A179688701%2C179750901 : 22 June 2016), Braxton > Will book, v. 003 1862-1879 > image 14 of 215; citing Jackson County, County Clerk, West Virginia.

or allot, as the other servants and in the same ways & on the same principles the other servants are.
And Fourthly: Having a wish for the welfare & happiness of the servants (all of them, and some of my heirs not wishing to have anything to do with them, ??? have or expect to have any claim on those of my heirs that do or may take care of them and further I entail those Servants to my children and to their bodily heirs not to be liable to be Sold for any debt of theirs ??? Execution or otherwise at any time from among the children & their bodily heirs, Also it is my wish that those of my children who do take care of them and raise them, that at some proper age, Say from 2 to 28 years old, with their consent, they be sent to Liberia Colonized & see appendage to this last will, Having disposed of what property it has pleased the Lord to bless me with in that way and named, that seems the best to me at this time.
I now appoint my beloved wife Sara C. Squires, together with my son Danl S. Squires my legal Executors to carry out and Settle this my last will and testament as above witness, expressed and directed fully confiding in their probity? & integrity would not wish them to be bound in any other security for the ?? performance of this my last will and testament.
And further I ask that if any one of the children or heirs should not be satisfied with these my views of bequest should attempt to alter the same by a law I wish they attempting to do so by actual suit shall be disinherited and their portion of my Estate & divided with the other heirs.
I now commend my Soul and body to God, the Giver and Governer of them, resting fully satisfied in the atonement and merits of Jesus Christ in a full and free salvation. Given under my hand and seal the 15th day of November in the year of our Lord 1854.
………………………………………Asa Squires (Seal)
Witness be this my last
will & testament
Allen S. Berry
Asa Squires Jr.
William H. Berry

“West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-HYL5-D?cc=1909099&wc=Q8BW-MZJ%3A179688701%2C179750901 : 22 June 2016), Braxton > Will book, v. 003 1862-1879 > image 14 of 215; citing Jackson County, County Clerk, West Virginia.

The within will and bequeath was acknowledged before the subscribing witnesses the 22nd April 1856

Braxton County to wit:
Recorders Office December 11th 1865
The last will and testament of Asa Squires deceased was this day presented to me as Recorder and proven by the oaths of Allen S. Berry and Asa Squires Jr. Subscribing witness thereto, and ordered to be recorded.
………………………………………Teste G. F. Taylor Recorder

Releasing the Names

In the above will we see: Leonisa, Emily, Harriet, Anjaline, [illegible], and Margaret as well as Leodina, Emily and Harriet. Are the women named Leonisa and Leodina actually the same person? Was the name written incorrectly the first or the second time? It would appear the names were listed from oldest to youngest. If the first three were the oldest, were they also the women referred to as the three old colored women?

There is one name which I found too illegible to read. It looks like Tom with a squiggle and then osi. Unless someone else can read this, this enslaved person’s name cannot be released.

The U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedule

Ancestry.com : accessed 27 Janaury 2019

Asa Squires was living at the time of the 1850 and the 1860 census. Slave Schedules are available for both of these census years. In the 1850 listing for Asa Squires there are two older women age 60 and 42.2

Ancestry.com : accessed 27 Janaury 2019

In the 1860 listing we see three older women age 65, 50, and 48.3 The three males below 10 years would not have been on the 1850. The ages of the remaining five females and one male don’t exactly match with those in 1850. Who gave the ages of the enslaved persons in 1850 and 1860? Could the three women aged 65, 50, and 48 be Leodina, Emily and Harriet?

Ancestry.com : accessed 27 Janaury 2019

In 1870 there was a mulatto woman named Harriet Squires living in Braxton County.4 She was 59 years old. Could she be one of the two women seen in 1860 as 50 and 48 years old? Having the same first name as the third named in the will, would she more likely be the 48 years old woman in 1860 and now 58, only a year off?

I have no proof Harriet Squires was one of women named in Asa Squires will. However, in HH#23-23, two households after Harriet’s, we find Asa’s son Daniel S. Squires with his family. There are no other black or mulatto families in the immediate area.

Does anyone recognize these ladies’ names? Can someone help decipher the name of the woman who is listed as [illegible] in the title of this post?

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 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 (About the Project) administered by Schalene Jennings Dagutis who also blogs at Tangled Roots and Trees.

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1.  “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch , originals in county courthouses, West Virginia. Braxton > Will book, v. 003 1862-1879 > image 13+14 of 215 > Last Will and Testament of Asa Squires.(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-HYLL-K?cc=1909099&wc=Q8BW-MZJ%3A179688701%2C179750901 : accessed 26 January 2019) 
  2. 1850 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules (part of United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Seventh Census of the United States, 1850) original records in  Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M432, 1,009 rolls. Virginia > Braxton > District 4 > image 1 of 2 > lines 11-18 > Asa Squires. (http://ancestry.com : accessed 27 January 2019). 
  3.   1860 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules (part of United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Seventh Census of the United States, 1860) original records in  Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration.  M653, 1,438 rolls. Virginia > Braxton > District not stated > image 2 of 2 > lines 13-21 > Asa Squires. (http://ancestry.com : accessed 27 January 2019). 
  4.  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_1685; History Library Film: 553184; West Virginia, Braxton, Clay, image 4 of 55, Page No. 4, Sheet No. 388B, line 11, HH #21-21, Harriet Squires household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 27 January 2018).