Old Wills

1863 Will of William Duncan – Jessamine County

William Duncan was born in Jessamine County, Kentucky, January 15, 1788.  He married Nancy Blackford December 22, 1813.  They were the parents of nine children, six of whom are listed in his will, including his deceased son, Rion, whose children receive his bequest.  Three children died in early adulthood – Margaret on January 3, 1848, at the age of 31; Charles died January 14, 1852, of typhoid fever, at the age of 21; James Blackford died August 14, 1854, of pneumonia, at the age of 28.  The last two children were found in the death records for Jessamine County in 1852 and 1854, respectively.

Nancy Blackford Duncan died June 24, 1860, shortly after the census was taken that year.  She is buried in the Duncan Cemetery located on Main Street in Nicholasville.  To see photos of the cemetery, click here.

William Duncan wrote his will August 25, 1863, and it was probated the next month.  He knew he was going to die and wanted his affairs in good order.  He must have kept impeccable books because he knew to the cents what each child had received from his until that time. 

He makes his grandchildren, children of his oldest son, Rion, heirs, receiving a sixth portion of his estate.  William was guardian to these children.  Rion died September 5, 1849, and his wife followed just five years later in 1853.  Granddaughters Eliza, Nancy and Susan lived with their grandparents, listed in the 1860 census.  At that time grandson John W. lived with his aunt and uncle, Robert G. Carlisle and Sallie A. Duncan Carlisle.

Will of William Duncan

Jessamine County Will Book J, Pages 477-479

I, William Duncan, a citizen of the County of Jessamine and State of Kentucky, being in feeble health, but of sound mind and disposing memory and in view of the uncertainty of life and certainty of death, do make and declare the following as my last will and testament, thereby revoking all former ones.

Item first.  My leading purpose and object is equalization in the gift and disposition of my estate among my children and grandchildren and with that object in view, will and devise as follows, after the payment of all my just debts and obligations and funeral expenses.

Item second.  I have to this date given and advanced to them out of my estate in money and property as follows:

To my son Rion Duncan (now deceased) I have given in his life time the sum of two hundred and twenty-four dollars, fifty cents and I now will and bequeath unto his four children – Nancy B. Hunter, Eliza J. Bagby, Simon M. Duncan and John William Duncan, equally one share or a sixth part of my estate.

To my daughter Catherine Bourne, the sum of Four thousand, two hundred and ninety-five dollars 88 cents and I now also further give and devise unto her one share or a sixth part of my entire estate.

To my daughter Sally Carlisle, the sum of three thousand seven hundred and seventy-five dollars 33 cents and I now also further give and devise unto her one share or a sixth part of my entire estate.

To my son Robert Duncan, I have given and advanced the sum of three hundred fifteen dollars and now also further give and devise unto him one share or a sixth part of my entire estate.

To my son Benjamin Duncan I have given and advanced the sum of eight hundred and three dollars 50 cents and I now also further give and devise unto him one share or a sixth part of my estate.

To my daughter Mary D. Carlisle I have given and advanced the sum of three thousand nine hundred and sixty-three dollars 33 cents and I now also further give and devise unto her one share or a sixth part of my entire estate.

Item third.  As to my entire chattel or personal estate my will is that the same be disposed of at public sale according to law and the proceeds disbursed under this my will and as to my Negro slaves my desire and will is, if it be possible in dividing my estate, that my devisees retain and divide them among themselves in kind according to my will, or if in the opinion of my executors such division be impracticable and not prudent to make at the time it may become necessary to divide or dispose of my said slaves then in that case my said executors will dispose of them as directed in regard to my chattel estate in this item of my will.

Item fourth.  As to my entire real estate consisting of about three hundred and eighty acres of land, be the same more or less, and being the same now occupied by me near the town of Nicholasville, I will and bequeath the same with all its appurtenances, rights and privileges unto my two sons – Robert Duncan and Benjamin Duncan equally, to them and their heirs forever and I charge them therefor the sum of thirty thousand four hundred dollars and in paying which to my estate or devisees they are to be entitled to have deducted from said sum their entire interest going to them as devisees under this my will out of my estate and as to the balance of said sum left after crediting the same with their said interests in my estate they are to pay one-third thereof one year from the first day of January next succeeding my decease, one-third two years from the same time and the other third three years from the same time and without interest thereon until the same be due and payable as above.

Item fifth.  To my sons Benjamin Duncan I am justly indebted in the sum of nineteen hundred thirty-one dollars 50 cents and to my said son Robert Duncan I am likewise indebted the sum of fourteen hundred and sixty-five dollars, for work and labor heretofore done on my farm and legal interest is due and payable on each of said sums from the first day of January last and is to be paid out of my estate as debts thereon.

Item sixth.  I specifically give and devise unto my son Robert Duncan my Negro slave named Jerry, about twenty-two years old and he is not to be charged with said slave in a division of my estate, but have him in addition to the other devisees to him and this I do in consideration of said son’s feeble health and prospects of its continuance.

Item seventh.  My old Negro woman Susan is to be privileged to remain in the house now occupied by her and subject to the control of any of my children that may occupy my house and she is not to be sold or other disposition made of her unless she chooses to leave her house, in which case she is to be disposed of as my other slaves and no hire to be charged her or for her.

Item eighth.  I have no charges to make, none against any of my grandchildren named in the second item of this will for board, rearing, schooling and further than I have been in the habit of doing as shown under my different settlements made with the Jessamine County Court as their guardian and the interest going to them is chargeable with no further advancements than that named in the second item except the sum of twenty-two dollars advanced to Nancy B. Hunter for a saddle and bridle and thirty-five dollars to Eliza Bagby for a cow and calf and the portion of my estate going to my grandson John Wm. Duncan to be

Retained by my executors at legal interest till he becomes twenty years old and then to pay it to him.

Item ninth.  That portion of my estate going to my daughter Sally Carlisle is to be paid and delivered over by my executor to her and held and controlled by her in her own name for her use and benefit and that of her heirs and in nowise subject to the control, liable for the debts or contracts of her husband R. G. Carlisle.

Item tenth.  I hereby constitute and appoint my two sons or either of them my executors to execute this my last will and testament, Robert and Benjamin Duncan.

Witness my hand this 25th August A.D. 1863

                                          William Duncan

Witnesses – M. T. Lowry, J. B. Cook, Martin Deboe

State of Kentucky

Jessamine County Court Sct. September Term 1863 September 16th

I do certify that the foregoing will of William Duncan, deceased, was, this day produced to Court and proven in open court by the oaths of John B. Cook and Melvin T. Loury, the subscribing witnesses thereto as the last will and testament of William Duncan, deceased, which was ordered to record by the court and is with this certificate duly recorded in my office.

Att.  John A. Willis, C. J. C. C.

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