The Ancestors: Martin McGRAW and his wife Margaret (394 & 395)

The parents of my 4th great-grandmother Mary Ann McGRAW were Martin McGRAW and his wife Margaret. This was proven by a tiny slip of paper in which they gave permission for their daughter to marry William WOOD in June 1800.1

June
Sir, this coms (sic) to let you now (sic) that
I Marten and Marget Mcgraw
is willing that William Wood should

have our daughter Mary Ann
To John Hutchason (Clerk)
The above was sworn to by
John Wood one of the witnesses
present.

The bond2 entered 18 June 1800 for the marriage of William and Mary Ann doesn’t give information on their parentage nor does the entry made in the register for marriages performed in the county of Monroe by John ALDERSON.3

Martin McGRAW and his wife Margaret

Very few records link my 5th great-grandparents Martin and Margaret McGRAW to their possible children.

Were Martin and Margaret the only family of this name in the area at the time? Were they or could they be the parents of each of the young McGRAW men and women who married in Greenbrier, Monroe, and Nicholas counties from 1798 to 1820?

[1] Anthony McGRAW married Elizabeth BRYANT 3 October 1798 in Greenbrier4
[2] John McGRAW married Sally ANDERSON 15 February 1799 in Greenbrier5
[3] Mary Ann McGRAW married William WOOD 18 June 1800 in Monroe (see above)
[4] Martin McGRAW Jr. married Nancy WOOD 3 May 1806 in Monroe6
[5] William McGRAW married Lucretia WITHROW 11 March 1813 in Monroe7
[6] Elender McGRAW married Solomon NELSON 1 March 1810 in Greenbrier8
[7] Samuel McGRAW married Elizabeth WOOD 28 May 1812 in Monroe9
[8] Thomas McGRAW married Catherine WITHROW 30 July 1820 in Nicholas10
[9] Henry McGRAW married likely before 1821. No marriage record found.

These marriages took place during a period when census records were lost for Virginia (1800) and Greenbrier County (1810) where Martin and Margaret were living. This makes analyzing the family group(s) in a census impossible. What other records are available to replace the missing records?

Personal Property Tax Lists

The early laws required the tax commissioner in each district to record in “a fair alphabetical list” the names of the person chargeable with the tax, the names of white male tithables over the age of twenty-one, the number of white male tithables between ages sixteen and twenty-one, the number of slaves both above and below age sixteen, various types of animals such as horses and cattle, carriage wheels, ordinary licenses, and even billiard tables.11

Personal property tax records provide important data. Individuals with the same names may be distinguished by a junior or senior or named by the districts or location they resided. Parentage may be inferred by the number of male tithables between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one in the household of the taxpayer. When a free male appeared in his own name rather than in the household of another, he was probably twenty-one years of age. The name of a woman appeared only when owning property in her own right or as the widow of a property owner.

The Personal property tax lists, 1782-1850 for Greenbrier County and the Personal property tax lists, 1831-1850 for Fayette County are presently only available online with additional restrictions, i.e. accessing the FamilySearch site at a family history center or at a FamilySearch affiliate library.

Julie McGrew Ayres accessed these records and shared her transcriptions in February 1999 on USGenWeb Archives Special Projects. I used her lists of McGRAW tithables in Greenbrier County for 1792 to 183312  and in Fayette County for 1831-183913  to form the possible family group of Martin and Margaret.

Martin McGRAW and Anthony McGRAW first appear in the 1796 Greenbrier County, (West) Virginia Personal Property Tax List. In 1792 and 1795 no McGRAW was listed. This would suggest the McGRAWs came to the area just before 1796.

[1] Anthony McGRAW b. abt. 1775

As Anthony married in 1798 and was the only McGRAW other than Martin on the tax list of 1796, he was likely the oldest son. He was continuously seen on the tax list up until 1812. From 1813 to 1816 there were no McGRAW men on the lists for Greenbrier. Anthony served as a Private in Capt. McClung’s Company of the 4th Regiment of the Virginia Militia during the War of 1812. He died on 1 August 1814 per documents in his widow’s War of 1812 widow’s pension application.14 It may have been later in the month as she gave in this statement in her an application in 1853:

 …that her said husband the aforesaid Anthony McGraw died at Norfork about the last days of August 1814 in consequence of decease contracted while in the Service of the United States and in the line of his duty…

[2] John McGRAW b. abt. 1776 in Pennsylvania

John shows up on the 1797 tax list which would suggest he was born about 1776. He was seen on the tax list until 1800, the year after his marriage. In 1810 he was found on a tax list for Russell County, Virginia.15 According to descendants of the Russell County McGRAWs, his wife Sally died in 1805.  If this is the case, John must have remarried as there are children born after 1805. In 1850 he was listed as born in Pennsylvania.16

[3] Mary Ann McGRAW b. abt. 1781

Mary Ann’s age can only be determined by the year of her marriage. She married in 1800 and was likely not yet 21 years of age as her parents gave their permission. This record proves she was a child of Martin and Margaret.

[4] Martin McGRAW Jr. b. abt. 1785 in Pennsylvania

Note: Martin McGRAW, son of Martin, has not been seen with the suffix Jr. following his name. It is used here to distinguish him from his father Martin.)

Martin Jr. was married in 1806. He was likely the second white tithable in his father’s tax listing from 1803 to 1805. His father Martin was last listed on the 1805 tax list. His mother Margaret was listed from 1810. Martin Jr. lived in Monroe County in 1810 and was on the census as a male white age 26 thru 44.17 He died 25 October 1858 in Fayette County per his widow’s War of 1812 widow’s application.18 His widow was his second wife Sarah JOHNSON who died about July 1890. His first wife Nancy WOOD died 1 July 1833 (proven by Neighbors’ Affidavits in the pension file). In 1850 Martin was listed on a census in Putnam County as born in Pennsylvania.19 Ages weren’t listed for persons enumerated in this area of the county in 1850. His year of birth has been estimated at about 1785.

[5] William McGRAW b. abt. 1787-1788

William first showed up on the tax list in 1809 and 1811. No tax was collected in 1808 as no law was passed. As he was on the 1809 list he must have been born 1787-1788. William has not been traced after his marriage in 1813.

[6] Elender McGRAW b. abt. 1789

Elender was likely 21 years of age when she married in 1810. She died in 1846 in her 57th year per her tombstone.20

[7] Samuel McGRAW abt. 1792 in Augusta County, Virginia

Samuel, born about 1792, may have been one of the two tithables noted on his mother’s tax list in 1810. His age was consistent on the census of 1850 to 1870, allowing his year of birth to be estimated at about 1792.21,22,23 Samuel gave his age as 74 years and his place of birth as Augusta County, Virginia, on 15 September 1866 on a voters’ list.24

[8] Thomas McGRAW b. abt. 1795 in Virginia

Thomas’ wife gave the names of his parents as Martin and Margaret McGRAW when she reported his death in 1855. He died at the age of 60.25 Using this record, his birth was estimated at about 1795 making him 22 years old when he was first seen on a tax list in Greenbrier on 11 April 1817 with 1 white male over 16, no slaves, 1 horse. He was born in Virginia per the 1850 census26 but unknown was listed on the death register by his wife.

[9] Henry McGRAW abt. 1797 in Greenbrier County

Henry was seen on the census from 1850 to 1870 with the ages 52, 63, and 72 which places his birth at about 1797.27,28,29 In 1820 he was the head of household in Monroe in the age category 16 thru 25. Also in the household was an older woman age 45 and over, likely his mother, and a younger boy age 10 thru 15.30 Henry may have married in late 1820 after the census was enumerated as his first child was born in 1821. In 1830 Henry had an older woman in his household age 70 thru 79.31 This was the last time an older woman was seen in the household of the presumable youngest child of Martin and Margaret.

Martin McGRAW and Margaret McGRAW on the Tax Lists

As can be seen on the list below, Martin was in Greenbrier County as early as 1796 and up until at least 1805. From 180332 to 1805 he had at least one son who was over 16 and under 21 years of age. This was likely Martin Jr. The sons William, Samuel, Thomas, and Henry were all under 17 years of age in 1805.

1796 April 17 – Martin Mgraw, 1 white tithable, 3 horses
1798 May 4 – Martin Megraw, 1 white tithable, 1 horse
1799 April 19 – Martin Megraw, 1 white tithable
1802 May 22 – Martin McGraw, 1 white tithable
1803 April 5 – Martin McGraw, 2 white tithables, 1 horse
1804 March 14 – Martin McGraw, 2 white tithables, 2 horses
1805 – Martin Magraw, 2 white tithables, 3 horses

Margaret McGRAW, the widow of Martin, showed up on the Tax List in 1810 with 2 white tithables and 4 horses.33 Her sons Samuel and Thomas were likely these tithables. Henry was younger than 17 and not counted. In 1811 Margaret was on the Tax List with only 3 horses. No tithables. Her three unmarried sons would have been between 14 and 19 years of age and two tithables would have been enumerated if they were living at home. Were the two older boys accounted for in someone else’s household in Greenbrier or Monroe?

Missing Land and Probate Records

Land deeds in the area were consulted. Martin McGRAW did not own land in Greenbrier or in Monroe (the counties of Nicholas and Fayette were formed after his demise). He did not leave a will nor was there an estate administered, inventoried, or sold. All of these records which might have included information about the children of Martin and Margaret were not produced.

Proven Children

The parentage of my fourth great-grandmother Mary Ann McGRAW and her brother Thomas McGRAW is proven as seen above. As Martin and Margaret were the only McGRAW couple in the area at the time can it be inferred that the other seven children were theirs as well?

More Questions

With the proven and assumed children of Martin and Margaret established, several more questions remain. Where did they come from? Who were the parents of Martin McGRAW? What was Margaret’s maiden name? Who were Margaret’s parents?

Martin’s older sons John b. abt. 1776 and Martin b. abt. 1785 both claim to have been born in Pennsylvania. His son Samuel claimed to have been born in Augusta County in 1792. Martin was first seen on a tax list in Greenbrier in 1796. Can it be assumed the McGRAWs came from Pennsylvania after 1785 via Augusta County in 1792 to Greenbrier by 1796?

Learning more about Pennsylvania research appears to be one of the next steps in solving the question of the parentage of my 5th great-grandparents Martin McGRAW and his wife Margaret.

Confirming Relationships with DNA

Can DNA open the door in this brick wall? How much work needs to be put into analyzing DNA matches to confirm the assumed relationships seen above?

Ancestry’s ThruLines™ is showing 159 matches for Martin McGRAW’s children for my test and 187 for my brother’s. Matches for each child are (mine/his): Anthony (15/24), John (27/32), Mary Ann (45/32), Martin (21/48), William (1/1), Ellender (2/2), Samuel (26/17),  Thomas (8/11), and Henry (14/19).

Interesting is the high number of matches for John who left the area and raised his family in Russell County, Virginia. Also interesting is the very low number of matches for William and Ellender. I suspect William is a false match. Ellender’s matches are close family members and one of them is showing up on Gedmatch. The chromosome segment overlaps the segment shared with a known descendant of Henry McGRAW.

Three of the McGRAW children (in bold) married WOOD siblings. This produces many double cousins through the McGRAW and the WOOD lines. This will make walking the segments back to the common ancestors more challenging – if the matches transfer their raw DNA to sites with chromosomes browsers.

And now it’s your turn, dear McGRAW descendants, to comment and question the family group established for my 5th great-grandparents, Martin and Margaret McGRAW.

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


  1. West Virginia Vital Research Records Project (database and images), West Virginia Division of Culture and History (A collaborative venture between the West Virginia State Archives and the Genealogical Society of Utah to place vital records online via the West Virginia Archives and History Web site accessible at http://www.wvculture.org/vrr), West Virginia, Monroe County, June 1800, William Wood and Mary Ann McGraw, permission slip from her parents. 1800 Marriage Permission Slip. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=11370465&Type=Marriage : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  2. Ibid., West Virginia, Monroe County, Marriage Bond dated 18 June 1800 for the marriage of William Wood and Mary Ann McGraw. “Marriage Bond #39
    William Wood and John Wood went bond on the marriage of William Wood and Mary Anne McGraw (both of Monroe) on 18 June 1800 in Monroe County, Virginia.” 1800 Marriage Bond (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=11370480&Type=Marriage : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  3. Ibid., West Virginia, Monroe County, 18 June 1800 William Wood and Mary Ann McGraw married by John Alderson. 1800 Marriage Record entry (right page, 1st entry under Alderson). (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=11369625&Type=Marriage : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  4. Ibid., West Virginia, Greenbrier County, 3 October 1799 marriage entry for Anthony McGraw and Betsy Brien married by John Alderson. 1799 Marriage Entry (right page, 11th entry from bottom). (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=10975169&Type=Marriage : accessed 10 January 2020). 
  5. Ibid., West Virginia, Greenbrier County, 15 February 1799 marriage entry for John McGraw and Sally Anderson married by B. Grigsby. 1799 Marriage Entry (right page, 12th entry from bottom).
    (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=10975169&Type=Marriage : accessed 10 January 2020). 
  6. Ibid., West Virginia, Monroe County, 3 May 1806, Nancy Wood and Martin McGraw married by John Alderson, banns were published. 1806 Marriage Record (right page, 4th entry from bottom). (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=11369727&Type=Marriage : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  7. Ibid., West Virginia, Monroe County, 11 March 1813, William McGraw and Lucretia Withrow married by John Alderson. 1813 Marriage entry (right side, middle). (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=11369506&Type=Marriage : accessed 10 January 2020). 
  8. Ibid., West Virginia, Greenbrier County, 1 March 1810, Solomon Nelson and El McGraw married by Joshua Osborn. 1810 Marriage entry (right page, second to last entry)
    (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=10976269&Type=Marriage : accessed 10 January 2020). 
  9. Ibid., West Virginia, Monroe County, marriage bond dated 19 May 1812, Samuel McGraw and Bailey Wood went bond on the marriage of Bailey’s daughter Elizabeth Wood and Samuel McGraw. 1812 Marriage Bond. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=11371819&Type=Marriage : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  10. Ibid., West Virginia, Nicholas County, 31 July 1820, Thomas McGraw and Caty Withrow married by James Ellison. 1820 Marriage Register (line 2). (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=11432815&Type=Marriage : accessed 10 January 2020). 
  11. Using Personal Property Tax Records in the Archives at the Library of Virginia, Library of Virginia (https://www.lva.virginia.gov/public/guides/rn3_persprop.pdf : accessed 18 January 2020) 
  12. Julie McGrew-Ayres, “Greenbrier County, WV – McGraw’s in the Greenbrier Co. Tax Lists – 1792-1833,” abstract of the tax lists submitted in February 1999, USGenWeb Archives Special Projects,  (http://files.usgwarchives.net/wv/greenbrier/taxlists/mcgraw.txt : accessed 9 January 2020). 
  13. Julie McGrew-Ayres, “Fayette County, WV – McGraw’s in the Fayette Co. Tax Lists – 1831-1839,” abstract of the tax lists submitted in February 1999, USGenWeb Archives Special Projects, (http://files.usgwarchives.net/wv/fayette/taxlists/mcgrawtx.txt : accessed 9 January 2020). 
  14. “War of 1812 Pension Files,” database and images, Fold3, citing “War of 1812 Pension and Bounty land Warrant Application Files, compiled ca. 1871–1900, documenting the period 1812–ca.1900, National Archives, Washington, D.C., original data from The National Archives (http://www.archives.gov), Record Group 15, Roll RG15-1812PB-Bx2276, National Archives Catalog ID: 564415, service of Anthony McGraw (Capt McClung 4th Reg’t, Virginia Militia, War of 1812), widow Elizabeth Gill formerly Elizabeth McGraw. (https://www.fold3.com/image/316993307 : accessed 4 January 2020). 
  15. 1790 / 1800 / 1810 Virginia Tax List Censuses, (reconstructed 1790, 1800, and 1810 federal censuses using tax list, microfilm images with every name indexes), Binns Genealogy (http://www.binnsgenealogy.com/VirginiaTaxListCensuses/) citing original records from Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia or Family History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, Russell County, Virginia, 1810 Personal Tax List A, page 13, right line, line 12, John McGraw. 1810 Russell County, Virginia Tax List. (http://www.binnsgenealogy.com/FreeSample/CDR-000497/1810/1810PersonalA/13.pdf : accessed 16 January 2020). 
  16. 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, Year: 1850; Census Place: District 54, Russell, Virginia; Roll: M432_975; Page: 307A; Image: 184. John McGraw (head of household) listed as born in Pennsylvania. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 9 January 2020). 
  17. 1810 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), <i>Ancestry</i>, citing Third Census of the United States, 1810 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. NARA microfilm publication M252, 71 rolls, Year: 1810; Census Place: Monroe, Monroe, Virginia; Roll: 70; Page: 575; Image: 00022; Family History Library Film: 0181430Family History Library Film: 0181420. “.” (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  18. War of 1812 Pension Files, Roll RG15-1812PB-Bx2276, National Archives Catalog ID: 564415, service of Martin McGraw (5th Regiment, Capt. James R. Nemal’s Company, Virginia Militia, War of 1812), widow Sarah Jane (Johnson) McGraw. (https://www.fold3.com/image/316993473 : accessed 4 January 2020). 
  19. 1850 U.S. Federal Census, Year: 1850; Census Place: District 46, Putnam, Virginia; Roll: M432_971; Page: 287A; Image: 243. Martin McGraw (head of household) born in Pennsylvania. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 22 January 2020). 
  20. Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 22 January 2020), memorial page for Elender “Nellie” McGraw Nelson (1788–2 Aug 1845), Find A Grave Memorial no. 55298224, citing Nelson Cemetery, Richland Township, Madison County, Indiana, USA; Maintained by Bonnie Morris Conrad (contributor 46480766). 
  21. 1850 U.S. Federal Census, Year: 1850; Census Place: District 14, Fayette, Virginia; Roll: M432_943; Page: 351A; Image: 307. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 22 January 2020). 
  22. 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, Year: 1860; Census Place: District 3, Fayette, Virginia; Roll: M653_1344; Page: 367; Family History Library Film: 805344. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 22 January 2020). 
  23. 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, Year: 1870; Census Place: Mountain Cove, Fayette, West Virginia; Roll: M593_1686; Page: 140B; Family History Library Film: 553185. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 22 January 2020). 
  24. County Clerk, Register of the Names of Voters in Fayette County, West Virginia 1866, FamilySearch, Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1958 (Microfilm of originals at the West Virginia University Library, Morgantown), Names of persons voting and tally of votes, Item 7, Mountain Cove, image 130 of 154, last line. 15 September 1866 Samuel McGraw gave his age as 74 years and his place of birth as Augusta County, Virginia. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C34W-543H?i=129&cat=220730 : accessed 16 January 2020). 
  25. West Virginia Vital Research Records Project (database and images), West Virginia Division of Culture and History, (A collaborative venture between the West Virginia State Archives and the Genealogical Society of Utah to place vital records online via the West Virginia Archives and History Web site accessible at http://www.wvculture.org/vrr). 1855 Death Register entry for Thomas McGraw line 68. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=4786546&Type=Death : accessed 22 January 2020). 
  26. 1850 U.S. Federal Census, Census Place: District 46, Putnam, Virginia; Roll: M432_971; Page: 281B; Image: 232. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 22 January 2020). 
  27. 1850 U.S. Federal Census, Census Place: District 14, Fayette, Virginia; Roll: M432_943; Page: 338A; Image: 281+282. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 7 September 2014). 
  28. 1860 U.S. Federal Census, Census Place: District 3, Fayette, Virginia; Roll: M653_1344; Page: 410; Family History Library Film: 805344. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 7 September 2014). 
  29. 1870 U.S. Federal Census, Census Place: Mountain Cove, Fayette, West Virginia; Roll: M593_1686; Page: 156A; Family History Library Film: 553185. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 7 September 2014). 
  30. 1820 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), <i>Ancestry</i>, citing Fourth Census of the United States, 1820 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M33, 142 rolls, 1820 U Census Place: Peterstown, Monroe, Virginia; Page: 179; NARA Roll: M33_133; Image: 218. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 8 January 2020). 
  31. 1830 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), <i>Ancestry</i>, citing Fifth Census of the United States, 1830 population schedule, National Archive and Records Administration, Washington D.C. NARA microfilm publication M19, 201 rolls, Census Place: Greenbrier, Virginia; Series: M19; Roll: 190; Page: 192; Family History Library Film: 0029669. “.” (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 7 September 2014). 
  32. Virginia Tax List (Binnsgenealogy), Greenbrier, 1803 Personal Tax List B, page 14, line 18, Martin McGraw. (http://www.binnsgenealogy.com/VirginiaTaxListCensuses/Greenbrier/1803PersonalB/14.jpg : accessed 7 September 2014). 
  33. Ibid., Virginia, Greenbrier County, 1810 Personal Tax List B, page 8, right side, line 2, Margaret McGraw. (http://www.binnsgenealogy.com/FreeSample/CDR-000484/1810/1810PersonalB/08.pdf : accessed 16 January 2020). 

Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING Jordan (Gordon), Hannah, John, Creasy, Hill, and Disy

In the Chancery Records Index (with images), a collection on the Library of Virginia site, slave names are indexed with a tilde (~) after their name – usually first name only. To search for a slave without a name, under surnames limit the search to “includes” and place only a tilde in the surname box. You can narrow the search to a county and/or a specific surname, plaintiff, or defendant mentioned in the case. Very often when slave names are involved there may be wills included in the packet.

In Nelson County, Virginia, I found a small chancery case from 1825 which mentioned Jordan and Hannah, slaves willed to Pamelia Smith, wife of James Smith, daughter of Elizabeth Wills, and granddaughter of James Wills Senr.

1825jamssmithchancery1
Image 2 of 6 in the Chancery case: http://www.lva.virginia.gov/chancery/case_detail.asp?CFN=125-1825-006
1825jamssmithchancery2
Image 3 of 6 in the Chancery case: http://www.lva.virginia.gov/chancery/case_detail.asp?CFN=125-1825-006

                To the Court of Nelson County in Chancery sitting
Your Petitioner John Moss respectfully represents to the Court that one James Smith whom your Orator prays may be taken as Defendant hereto stands justly indebted to him in the sum of Sixty Dollars with Interest thereon fixed the first day of January 1820 due by an Instrument of writing commonly called a penal bill under the proper hand and seal of him the said James Smith which is herewith filed and prayed to be taken as a part of this bill. Your petitioner further represents to the Court, that the said James Smith hath removed himself without the limits of this Commonwealth so that the ordinary process of Law cannot be served upon him and that he hath a life estate in a certain tract of Land lying in this County willed to his wife Pamela Smith by her Grand father James Wills Senr. decd. which will is duly recorded in this County and is to be taken and considered as a part of this bill, also two Negroes namely Jordan and Hannah which is now in the possession of his said wife Pamelia or her mother Elizabeth Wills and which was willed to her by her Grand father, the said James Wills Senr. decd. your  petitioner prays that this said Pamelia and Elizabeth may be considered and taken also as Defts hereto. Your petitioner further states that there is no Executions in the hand of the Sheriff of this county sufficient to consume the whole value of the personal property belonging to the said James Smith and Pamelia his wife in this state. Your petitioner therefore prays that he Court will Decree to him his debt aforesaid, against the said James Smith and that the said Pamelia his wife and Elizabeth be restrained from carrying away or otherwise disposing of any property which she may have in her possession untill the further order and decree of this Court and that should there not be a sufficiency in her hands to satisfy the said debt and Executions aforesaid that the Court will make such disposition of the land aforesaid for the purpose of paying his debt aforesaid as may seem just and equitable and such as is agreeable to the laws of the land and for the purpose of bringing the parties properly before the Court your petitioner prays that an order of publication may be awarded against the Deft James according to law and that a writ of subpoena and a restraining order be awarded against the Defts Pamelia and Elizabeth who is (sic) an inhabitant of this state and within the Jurisdiction of this Court. Your Orator prays for such other and further and releif (sic) as the justice of his case entitled him to and in duty borned will ever pray.
Perrow for Plt

James Wills Sr. family of Nelson County, Virginia, is not one of my ancestral or collateral lines. However I could not post this without taken a bit of time to do a few quick searches. The abstracted information from the 1820 census on Ancestry shows he owned 40 slaves.

1820jameswillscensusA search for the will of said slave holder turned up an obsolete site with the last will and testament of James Wills, Senior (Nelson County, Virginia, Will Book B, pages 178-77-78) dated 29 September 1820 and probated 26 February 1821. It mentions slaves in the possession of some of his children but not by name.

James’ son James Wills Jr. was deceased at the time of the will and his two children, including his daughter mention in the chancery record above, were mentioned in item 2 of the will:

2nd. 1 give, devise and bequeath to my grandson. Jefferson L. Wills, son of my son, James Wills Jr. dec’d,, two-hundred and filly acres of the tract of land on which his mother now resides, the entire tract containing four-hundred acres, three hundred and sixty-seven of which was purchased under deed of trust made by my said son James to Murphy, Brown & Co., and thirty-three acres residue was purchased by me of my said son by deed of record in the Court of Nelson County which said two-hundred and fly acres having been intended to be given to my said grandson, I wish land of such manner by my said executors as to include the dwelling house to him and to his heirs forever, reserving the liberty to his Mother to use the said land and enjoy, the benefits thereof jointly with him during her natural life or widowhood. The residue of the tract being one hundred and fifty acres. I devise and bequeath to my granddaughter Pamela Smith, the wife of James Smith, to her and to the heirs of her body forever. I also give my said granddaughter the negroes (2) namely, Gordon and Hannah now in the possession of her mother, Elizabeth Wills, to her and the heirs of her body forever. The residue of my negroes on said plantation, consisting of John, Creasy, Hill and Disy (and) now in the possession of my said daughter-in-law, Elizabeth Wills (wife of James Wills, Jr. Dec’d.), 1 give and devise and bequeath to my grandson, Jefferson L. Wills and to his heirs forever, allowing to his mother the liberty as to use and profit in the same manner as the land left them during her life or widowhood. Having advanced considerable sum of money for my said son, James in his lifetime it is not my will and desire that his children should have any more of my estate nor do I wish them to be held responsible for any such advancement made to their said father.

With the above document of the chancery case and this partial abstract of the will of James Wills Sr. I RELEASE the names of his known slaves in the possession of his son James Jr.’s family in 1820: Jordan (Gordon), Hannah, John, Creasy, Hill, and Disy.

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. At this point in time I’ve done all the ancestors I know of who owned slaves. There are likely more as I move back in time but, at the moment, I will share names of slaves I find who were not owned by one of my ancestors.

bestwishescathy1

© 2016, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

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