Family Stories

First Will In Mercer County Books – 1786!

Mercer County Will Book One – Page One

Will of Thomas Prather

In my 34+ years of living in Harrodsburg I have never been to the county clerk’s office for genealogy research – I have only one ancestor from Mercer County.  Thursday I went to the courthouse to release liens, part of my job, and the lady who helps with that was out of the office for a few minutes.  I decided to look at the old records while waiting – and now ask – Why Did I Wait So Long?  There is a wealth of information there, and within the ten minutes I waited made copies of twelve original marriage records from 1786-1792, and the first three wills of book one.  What a surprise when I actually sat down to read.  In Thomas Prather’s will, which is what I share with you today, the codicil is witnessed by James Harrod – THE James Harrod who started Fort Harrod, was the founder of Harrodsburg!  Notice he speaks of the ‘Parish of Kentucky’ – we were still Virginia at the time! – and County of Lincoln – one of the three original counties!  And our old friend, Thomas Allin, signs at the bottom as county clerk – Thomas died in 1833 during the cholera epidemic and was county clerk for many years before.  Guess where I will be spending much more of my time?  Hard to tell what other treasures I will find!

Scan_Pic1549 1In the name of God, Amen. I, Thomas Prather, of the Parish of Kentucky and County of Lincoln, being weak in body but of sound mind and memory do make this my last Will and Testament. I will and bequeath to Theophilus Philips eight hundred acres of land which I hold by Pattent bearing date the first day of June 1782, on Warrant Number 2590 and on survey made 4th September 1781, which said 800 acres he has right to as my partner in 2000 acres granted to me on the same warrant and of the same date of patents which said eight hundred acres is to be laid off to said Philips on the upper part of my upper tract on Hardin’s Creek, so as to leave my remaining two hundred acres in a convenient form adjoining to my tract of 1000 acres which his, this land I give (but do not warrant) to the said Theophilus Philips, and to heirs and assigns forever.

I lend to my beloved wife, Mary Prather, the use of the tract of land whereon I live and all stock and furniture and movable estate of any kind during her widowhood for the maintenance of herself and the support and education of my children while she remains a widow.

If my said wife should marry, I give her all my household furniture and one best horse and saddle.

I will and devise that my whole estate not heretofore given shall be divided between my children, from that my sons shall have

Scan_Pic1550two shares and my daughters one share, that is one son shall have twice as much as one daughter. The above division shall take place as soon as any one of my children comes of age or marries.

I appoint my wife, Mary Prather, to be Executrix of this my last Will and Testament. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this sixteenth day of May one thousand seven hundred and eighty six, 1786.

Thomas Prather

Acknowledged before us – James Speed, Malcolm Worley, Thomas Speed, John Speed

Codicil to this will made 25th of June 1786.

I do hereby appoint James Coburn and Henry Prather to be Executers of this my last will and Testament with my wife who is appointed Executrix. Witness my hand and seal.

Thomas Prather

Acknowledged in presence of – James Speed, James Harrod, John Chiles, Jr.

At a Court held for Mercer County at the courthouse on 1st day of August 1786.

This last will and testament of Thomas Prather, deceased, was produced in Court and proved by the oaths of James Speed and John Speed, tow of the subscribing witnesses.


Hereto with the Codicil endorsed proved by the oath of James Speed, which together with the said will is ordered to be recorded.

Teste Thomas Allin, County Clerk

5 replies »

  1. My husband and I were there a few months ago for the first time researching the Noel family and the Burks. It is an excellent Clerk’s office. Organized, spacious, and clean. We will be going back soon. The public library across the street has a genealogy room and it is very well done along with a helpful staff.

  2. I am so glad you found the records in the County Courthouse. They are a wonderful resource for old documents. Also the Harrodsburg Historical Society has some wonderful records as well. At one point a few years ago the courthouse was going to throw out their old records which were not collated and they did not have room for. The Historical Society agreed to take them. The society also has many old family Bibles, research done by noted genealogists and many other records – not just from Mercer County. Two cemeteries worth visiting are the South Fork Separate Baptist Church Cemetery on South Fork Ridge in Casey County KY and the Williams Cemetery on Williams Road in Dixville,Mercer County KY. They both are old and beautiful. By the way i was reading a book about the Medieval Period in England and found that cemetery comes from the Latin cemeterium and means dormitory and therefore was used in the sense of a sleeping place for the dead. Marilyn

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