Women Should Have Written Wills!

Shall I make a declaration?  Women should have written wills instead of men!  This will of Nancy Botts of Montgomery County, gives us a lovely description of the property she leaves to various siblings and their children.  It is a wonderful case example as to what was used during this time period – the will was written and proved in the fall of 1843.  The Delph dishes, plates and shallow plates, tablecloths, linen and cotton sheets and pillow slips, sugar bowl, salt and pepper cellars, tea cups and saucers of china, a hymn book and other books – which I wished she had named.  Nancy Botts lists the patterns of the quilts she gives away – wild geese (a pattern with many triangles), rising sun (envision it just the way it sounds), mountain lily (usually a flower) and a hexagon quilt.  What a vision we can behold as we see all these items laid out to give to family members.

But the most important item in her list was giving freedom to her slave girl – who really is a woman with eight children.  Susan was fifteen in the inventory of Joseph Botts in 1814 – in 1843 a woman of forty-five.  The eight children are to be hired out until the age of twenty-three and at that time they will receive their freedom.  Hired out only to ‘good and humane person’ and not to be sent out of Montgomery County.

Nancy Botts is a sister to Robert Botts, two recent posts have been his will and gravestone.  They were the children of Thomas Joseph Botts and Catherine Butler.  Nancy was a younger child, being fifteen years younger than her brother Robert.  She never married.  The sister from whom she received items at her death was Frances Botts, who married who presumably married a Smith.  Frances’ one son, Aaron Botts Smith, was named for her brother Aaron.  Frances died in 1824 when Aaron was an infant.

In the name of God Amen.  I, Nancy Botts, of the County of Montgomery and State of Kentucky, being of lawful age and sound mind, but calling to mind the mortality of body, do make and constitute this my last will and testament.

First.  My will and desire is that my servant girl, Susan, which I received of my father’s estate as my part thereof, shall be free from the slavery of any person or persons after my decease, provided she should be the longest liver.

Second.  My will and desire is that Lewis, Martha, Daniel, Jane, Zerilda, Maria, Sidney and Nancy, my servants and children of the aforesaid girl, Susan, shall be hired to good and humane persons until they arrive at the age of twenty-three years, at which age they shall be set free from slavery or servitude if my executors may think proper to do so.

Third.  My will and desire is that the aforesaid children shall not be taken out of the County of Montgomery in the State of Kentucky before they are set free.

Fourth.  My will and desire is that all of my just debts shall be paid out of the money accruing from the hire of the aforesaid Negroes, and in case the said girl, Susan, shall become disabled so she is likely to suffer she shall be relieved by reasonable allowance made out of the hire of her children.

Fifth.  My will and desire is that the balance of the money arising from the hire of the said Negroes shall be equally divided between my brother, Robert Botts, and my sister, Sabina O’Rear.

Sixth.  My will and desire is that my brother, Robert Botts, my nephew, Harrison O’Rear, and my nephew, Joseph B. O’Rear, be executors to this my last will and testament, that they have charge and care of the said Negroes until

they arrive at the age of twenty-three years and that they provide and do for them in the best manner, so they shall not be mistreated or abused.

Seventh.  I give and bequeath unto my sister, Sabina O’Rear, my bed, yarn, counterpane and blankets.

Eighth.  I give and bequeath unto my nephew, Aaron B. Smith, the following articles which were given me by his mother, one bureau, two toilets, five tablecloths, six towels, one pair of cotton sheets, one pair of cotton pillow-slips, one pair of linen pillow slips, two quilts, one bed stead, six silver tea spoons, three pitchers, three bowls, three salt cellars, two waiters, one canister, three cream pots, one sugar bowl, five tea cups and saucers of china, five cups and saucers of Delph, two pepper boxes, one cruet, pot, one set of deep plates, one set of blue shallow plates, sixteen blue-edged shallow plates, seven butter plates, one sugar box, one looking glass, one hymn book, three finger rings, one ear ring, one little basket, which I want him to recollect was once his dear mother’s property.

Ninth.  I also give and bequeath unto my nephew, Aaron B. Smith, my toilet waters, rising sun counterpane, hexagon quilt, two pair of cotton pillow slips, two pair of cotton sheets, ten red flowered plates, two white plates, six glass tea plates, two large glass tumblers, two little gilt cups, one pitcher, two trunks, and five towels, one mountain lily quilt, one wild goose quilt, one tea kettle, one brass skillet, one smoothing iron, two brass candlesticks and all of my books.

Tenth.  I give and bequeath unto Sarah Butler all the rest of my property to do as she may think best with.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal this thirty-first day of October one thousand eight hundred and forty three.

Nancy Botts

Witness James R. Botts, Amy G. Botts

State of Kentucky, Montgomery County                               November Term 1842 [1843]

A writing purporting to be the last will and testament of Nancy Botts, deceased, was this day produced in open court and proven by the oaths of James R. Botts and Amy G. Botts, witnesses thereto, to be her act and deed, which was examined by the Court, approved and ordered to be recorded, which is accordingly done.

ATT. James Howard, Montgomery County Clerk

Will Book E, Pages 81-82

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