Old Wills

Will of William Christian – Killed by Indians in 1786 – Jefferson County

William Christian was one of the early settlers on Bear Grass Creek in Jefferson County, at that time still part of Virginia.  The son of Captain Israel Christian and Elizabeth Starke, William was born in Augusta County, Virginia, in 1743.  About 1768 William Christian married Anne Henry, sister to Patrick Henry – ‘Give me liberty or give me death‘ – and twice governor of the state.  In 1785 the couple, with their five daughters and one son – Priscilla, Sarah Winston, Elizabeth, Anne Henry, John Henry and Dorothea Fleming – made the move to Kentucky.  Unfortunately the unstable state of affairs between new settlers and Indians culminated in the killing of William Christian April 9, 1786.

It was fortuitous that he wrote his will March 13, 1786, less than a month before he died.

Col. William Christian was killed in action with the Indians April 9th, 1786, aged 43.  This monument was erected to his memory by the filial piety of his son, John Henry Christian, who died November 5th 1800, aged 19.  Bullitt Family Cemetery, between Oxmoor Mall and Kohl’s, Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky.

Anne Henry Christian wrote her sister-in-law in November of 1785, ‘The Indians have been continually in the county, and have killed people all around us . . . We propose to leave Bear Grass in February or March and go up to Danville.’  The family did not leave in time to prevent the murder of William.  Anne Christian wrote her brother, Patrick Henry, ‘I think my ever dear deceased friend had frequent thoughts last winter of his time here being but short.  When the fatal wound was given him he behaved with the greatest fortitude.  He never murmured or complained the least, but said, “My wound is mortal tho’ I hope to get home to my family before I die.’  He expired while being carried home on a litter, and was buried in front of his house, on the bank of Bear Grass.  One year and 9 days have at length past since the Savages were permitted to deprive us of my best Friend and dear Husband.’  (Taken from Oxmoor, The Bullitt Family Estate Near Louisville, Kentucky Since 1787, by Samuel W. Thomas.)

Will of William Christian

Jefferson County, Kentucky, Will Book 1, Pages 6-8

I, William Christian, now at Kentucky, do make this my last will and testament as follows.  Having amply and fully given to Mr. Alexander Scott Bullitt and my daughter Priscilla the share of estate intended for her, I have now only to bequeath to my said daughter Priscilla a pair of stone shoe buckles and two gold rings, the whole to cash ten guineas.

I will and devise to my wife Anne five hundred acres of my Bear Grass land to include the improvement whereon I now live, and to be laid off by a line running from the Oxmoor land to Mr. Bullitt’s, parallel with the Dutch Station and Breckinridge’s line which joins me, to her and her heirs assigns forever.  I will and devise to my said wife Anne, my Negroes James Kavanaugh, James Lumpkins, Peter, Lewis, Titus and John and also Dinah and her child Wilson, their future increase, to her and her heirs and assigns forever.  I will and bequeath to my said wife Anne the whole of my household and kitchen furniture and plantation utensils, including one wagon and steers.  I bequeath to her also four work horses and two riding horses and all the cattle and hogs I have to her and her assigns.  This division of the land and Negroes above mentioned, the bequest of furniture is made to my said wife as a full compensation for and in lieu of her dower in my estate, both real and personal.  For should she claim dower, then the devises and bequests in this will shall cease and be void and she is to stand to receive her dower only.

The remaining part of the tract I live on I suppose will be about six hundred and fifty acres and will be bounded by my wife’s

five hundred acres by the Oxmoor, Edmund Taylor, Fleming and Bullitt’s land.  These six hundred acres, be the same more or less, I will and devise to y daughter Sarah Winston Christian to her and her heirs and assigns forever.

And whereas I own a large tract of land upon Elkhorn, containing by patent 3,000 acres but which I expect will measure 4,000 adjoining Flourney and Meredith’s, I will and devise to my daughter Elizabeth one thousand acres out of the said tract to be laid off so as to include a big spring, called formerly Bryan’s Spring, and which lies near the road from Bryan’s Station to Robert Johnston’s, to her and her heirs and assigns forever.  It is to be laid off to join Meredith’s line as well as to include the Spring.  All the rest of the said track of Elkhorn, after laying off the thousand acres for my daughter Elizabeth, I will and devise to my executors or such of them as may act to be sold for the payment of my debts.  I also will and devise to my executors to be sold for the payment of my debts my four hundred acres of land in Mercer County upon Shawnee Run, purchased from Daniel Trigg, to them and their assigns forever or to such of them as may act.

I will and devise to my daughters Anne and Dorothea my tract of land upon the Ohio, joining Peachey’s land at the Mouth of Kentucky) containing by patent one thousand acres, which tract be the quantity more or less I will and bequeath to my said two daughters and to their heirs and assigns forever.

I will and devise to  my son John, Saltsburg and my adjoining land with this condition that the profits arising therefrom shall for the first seven years be wholly disposed of for the payment of my debts and necessary in aid of the lands I have ordered to be sold for that purpose and in the next place for the maintaining and supporting, clothing and educating my family.  That is to say my single and unmarried children and my wife while she remains a widow.  The disposal of said profits to be solely at the disposal of my wife while she remains widow, without control or being called to any account therefore, at any future period, but should she marry she is from thenceforward to be considered as an alien in my family and give up all directions and power in it and betake herself to the estate I have given her in lieu of dower.

To my dear mother during her natural life I will and bequeath Tom Body, Sarah and Hannah.

Should my wife or executors as the case may be, be able to save any part of the profits of Saltsburg or monies arising from the sale of

Lands I have ordered to be sold after paying my debts and maintaining and supporting, clothing and educating my family as above, such overplus is then to be applied to the equal benefit in future of my children that may be unmarried.  Whenever a daughter marries, she is to have her fortune and to have no more to do with my estate as she is neither to gain or lose by misfortunes or advantages therein.

The whole of my Negroes is to be kept together as common stock until the marriages or arrival of age of a child, when such child is to take off its share.

Besides the eight Negroes above willed to my wife I will her besides Edinburg and Cloe to her and her assigns forever.

I will and devise to my daughter Sarah Winston Christian, Charles (got from her grandmother), little James, Jenny and their children, Sarah, Adam, Betty and Jenny and Moses to her and her assigns forever.

I will and devise to my daughter Betsey, Noah and York, also James and his wife Ruth and their children, Bill, Poll, Luke, Tom and little Sam to her and her assigns forever.

I will and devise to my daughter Annie, Phebe, Reah, Ben, Delphie, Simon and Lydia, also Hannibal and Caesar to her and her assigns forever.

I will and devise to Dorothea, Will Trigg, Charles Trigg, James Trigg, also Venus, Ben, Billy, Melissa and Betty.

I will and devise to my son John, Harry and at my mother’s death I will and devise to him Tom Body.

At my mother’s death I will and devise to my daughter Sally, Sarah and Hannah to her and her assigns forever.

To each of my unmarried children I bequeath a good saddle and bridle, to my son, my guns and pistols and clothes.

The rest of my wagons not mentioned and horses and steers and kettles and furniture and utensils at Saltsburg I will to be employed for the advantage and promotion of the works.  My wife is as soon as it can be spared to lay out 200 pounds in building for herself.

I appoint and ordain Alexander Scott Bullitt, James McCorkle and John Brown, Esqrs., my executors, hereby investing all or whoever may act with the full power to execute this will.  Given under my hand and written with my own hand this 13th day of March 1786.

William Christian

At a Court held for Jefferson County in May 1786

The foregoing instrument of writing was produced in Court and by the oath of John ?, T. Gites and Frederick Edwards proven to be the handwriting of William Christian, deceased, and ordered to be recorded.

Test.  William Johnston, Clerk

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