Old Wills

1791 Will of John Smart – Mason County

John Smart was aware he didn’t have much longer on this earth when he wrote his will July 22, 1791.  The will was probated three months later, October 25th.  This is the first will probated in Mason County after it was formed May 1, 1789.  This was two months after the county was formed.  There may have been deaths, but no wills were made, thus giving a reason for the two-year time period.

In his will John Smart lists his wife, Elizabeth, and four children – sons James and Richard, and two married daughters, Eleanor Berry and Jane Pemberton.  Two grandchildren are named – none by the last name Smart, but two grandsons, John Peek and Horatio Clift.  Were there two other daughters who died before their father?  There is always the explanation that Eleanor and/or Jane were married first to either a Mr. Peek or Mr. Horatio, and that their last names in 1791 are due to a second marriage.  I could find no information concerning marriages.  I believe the children were old enough to have married before the move to Kentucky.

Will of John Smart

Mason County Will Book A, Pages 6-8

In the name of God, amen.  I, John Smart, of the County of Mason and District of Kentucky, being weak of body but of sound mind and perfect understanding, thanks be to almighty God, therefore, do make, ordain, constitute and appoint this my last will and testament in manner and form following.  Viz.

Imprimis.  I give and bequeath my soul to almighty God who gave it me and my body to the ground to be decently interred at the discretion of my executors hereafter mentioned.

Item.  I give and bequeath unto my beloved wife, Elizabeth

Smart, all my estate, both real and personal, during her natural life.

Item.  I give and bequeath all and singular my Negroes, stock and household furniture after my wife’s decease to be equally divided between my two sons, James Smart and Richard Smart, and my two daughters, Eleanor Berry and Jane Pemberton, to them and their heirs forever, except the legacies hereafter mentioned.

Item.  I give and bequeath unto my beloved son, James Smart, the two five-acre lots in the town of Washington whereon I now live, provided my beloved wife doth not sell the same during her lifetime, to him and his heirs forever.  Also, on large feather bed and furniture and one new feather bed to my daughter Eleanor, and furniture.

Item.  I give and bequeath unto my beloved son, Richard Smart, one-quarter acre lot with the buildings and improvements thereon, situated on the Main Street of the town of Washington, provided as in the last article the same is not sold during his mother’s life, to him and his heirs forever.

Item.  I give and bequeath unto my grandson, John Peek, one Negro girl by name Nan, to him and his heirs forever.

Item.  I nominate my much beloved son James Smart and my beloved wife Elizabeth Smart, Executor and Executrix, of this my last will and testament, hereby revoking all and singular will or wills heretofore by me made and establishing this my only true and genuine last will and testament, willing my executor and executrix, afore named to see all my just debts punctually paid and to receive in all that may be due to me at my decease, before any of the aforesaid divisions take place.

Item.  I give and bequeath unto my grandson Horatio Clift, one Negro girl by name Clary, but in case he should die before he arrives at age the said Negro is to revert back and be

Equally divided with the rest, also one small feather bed and furniture.

In confirmation of all and singular the above items and bequests, I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 22nd day of July in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety-one.

John Smart

Signed, sealed and acknowledged before us – Zacharias Thompson, Joseph Wells, John Laney

At a court held for Mason County the 25th October 1791

The last will and testament of John Smart, deceased, was exhibited into court by the executors who proved the same as executor and proved it by the oaths of the witnesses thereto and was ordered to be recorded, and upon the motion of the said executor, certificate is granted them for obtaining a probate in due form, they giving security which upon that together with Henry Berry, Joseph Berry and Edward Dobyns entered into and acknowledged bond conditioned be.

Teste, Thomas Marshall, Mason County Clerk

2 replies »

    • Hi, Tim! Springfield is the county seat of Washington County. The town of Washington was once very vibrant in Mason County, historically the first town named for George Washington. In 1790 it was the county seat. Since the town of Maysville was on the Ohio River, with better access to river travel, it became the county seat in 1848. Now Washington is a suburb of Maysville, containing many old buildings and is considered a historic district.

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