Category Archives: Old Wills

1787-1790 Estate Settlement of Cornelius Cozine

This estate settlement of Cornelius Cozine is very interesting.  Cornelius’ will was written February 9, 1787, and he must have died within a few days or weeks.  In it he names wife, Mary, sons Daniel and Cornelius, and daughters Anne and Sarah.  Executors Abraham Banta and Samuel Demeree are listed.  Evidently Samuel Demeree married the widow, Mary Cozine, within a year or two, since he is named as ‘husband to the widow of the decedent’ in 1789.

The estate sales must have been somewhat of a party with the whisky that was on hand.  I love the term ‘crying the sale’ – what would our auctioneers think of that today?  Did you notice that the clerk of Mercer County, Thomas Allin, was paid in tobacco and money?

All men listed are early Kentucky settlers.

Mercer County Probate Records, Book 1, Pages 65-66

The Estate of Cornelius Cozine, Deceased

Amounts in pounds, shillings and pence

Abraham Banta and Samuel Demeree, Executors


  • Paid the Clerk of Mercer his ticket 320 lb tobacco & 12 tenth of lb – 2-12-0


  • Paid James Overton for advice – 0-12-6
  • Paid James Dunbar for schooling children – 0-7-6
  • Paid John Furman for subscription by Cozine for Cane Run Meeting House – 1-0-0


  • Paid William Rue Clerk of the sale – 0-12-0
  • Paid George Smith for 5 gallons of whisky for the sale – 1-0-0
  • Paid John Banta for a cow bought of him to pay George Scott which cow is dead – 3-0-0
  • Paid John Banta for Sharpening plow irons – 0-1-0
  • Paid Cornelius Bogart for whisky for the sale – 0-7-6
  • Paid William Alexander for crying the sale – 1-4-0
  • Paid John Thomas for surveying Cozine’s part of the land bought of Scott – 0-12-0
  • Paid George Scott a cow and calf in part of the price of the land – 4-10-0
  • Paid Cornelius Bogart for judging land in Jefferson County – 0-3-8
  • Paid Samuel Demeree, husband to the widow of the decedent in part – 63-7-5
  • Paid Job Hale for a season(?) of the horse – 0-12-0
  • Paid George Scott in part for land – 18-9-0

This amount is paid by Abraham Banta – 99-10-7


  • Paid for attendance on the child Cornelius to Doctor Kline, paid to him by Samuel Demeree – 7-10-0


Balance due from the Executors – 297-15-6

Total 404-16-1

A balance due by Cornelius Cozine in his lifetime to Samuel Deremee – 2-15-3

To balance due as per Contra – 295-0-9

Contra – 297-15-6

February 28th 1788 – By amounts of the Sales of the Estate as per account returned, bearing interest from the 28th of February 1789, in the hands of Abraham Banta – 374-8-10

July 6th 1790 – By money received of the decedent’s Estate from John Cozine of the State of Pennsylvania – 20-0-0

By received from of the decedents Estate from Simon Vanarsdall – 16-14-11

By received from of the decedent’s Estate from Garrid Cozine – 3-12-4                              Total 30-7-3

This 30-7-3 in the hands of Samuel Demeree

Total amount is 404-16-1

By balance due 297-15-6

By balance as per contra 295-0-3

Agreeable to an order of the worshipful Court of Mercer County, we the subscribers have examined the accounts of the estate of Cornelius cosine, deceased, and also the vouchers for the payments made by the Executors, which are herewith returned and also a coy of the accounts of Sales and find the balance due by the Executor to said Estate to be two hundred and ninety-five pounds and three pence, as stated in the above account as witness our hands this 23rd day of August 1791

William Kennedy, James Speed, Will Buckner

Mercer County                         August Court 1791

This account of the settlement of the Executors of the Estate of Cornelius Cozine, deceased, was returned into Court and being examined by the court the same is ordered to be recorded.

Teste – Thomas Allin, C.C.

Couple Celebrating Anniversary?

Isn’t this an excellent photograph?  The older couple is still very handsome.  Due to the flowers pinned to their clothes I feel this must be an important event for them – such as an anniversary celebration.

From their clothing I would date this photo to late 1880’s or early 1890’s – the high collar of the woman’s dress, and her slightly enhanced upper sleeves are from that date, as well as the man’s high-buttoned suit coat.  From the bottom of the card we see they were from Geneva, Indiana.  A Mr. Gregg took the photo, but I could find nothing about him.

The foil stamped imprint of the photographer’s name dates this photo to 1890-1900, which corresponds to the date of their clothing.

1839 Will of Isaac W. Walker of Livingston County

Isaac W. Walker, born October 31, 1780, died August 10, 1839.  Deborah O. Walker, born October 24, 1779, died November 2, 1839.  Erected by G. S. Walker.  ‘Our father and mother are gone, they may become the sod.  Death awaits, tho we miss you, we know you rest with God.’  Landrum Cemetery, Livingston County, Kentucky.

Isaac William Walker and Deborah Oliver Walker are Ritchey’s fourth great-grandparents – twice!  He is descended from two daughters, Sarah H. Walker who married Andrew Ross, and Rachel Margaret Walker who married Thomas Jones. 

August the 8th 1839

I, Isaac W. Walker, of sound mind, do hereby make my last will and testament in manner and same following, that is to say,

1st After the payment of my debts and funeral expenses I give my wife, Deborah O. Walker, all of my estate, both real and personal for and during the time of her natural life and after her death give the same to my children hereafter mentioned.  To wit, Sarah H. Ross, Rachel Jones, George S. Walker, Martha A. Walker, Mary E. Walker and Jefferson Walker, equally, to be divided among them and to be enjoyed by them forever, with the exception of Martha A. Walker, who is to have one hundred dollars to be in a horse and other personal property, more than the rest of the children.

2nd I wish for George S. Walker to have the place he lives on at this time, the price of it is five hundred dollars, to be out of his part of the estate.  And lastly, I do hereby constitute and appoint my friend, Henry S. Harman, and my son-in-law, Thomas Jones, my executors of this my last will and testament, hereby revoking all other or former wills or testaments by me heretofore made.  In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal the day and date above written.

Isaac Walker

Signed, sealed, published and declared as the last will and testament of the above named Isaac W. Walker in the presence of us.

Attest – Jesse Jones, W. W. Jones

Kentucky 0 Livingston County

I, James S. Dallam, clerk of the Court for the county and state aforesaid, do hereby certify that the within and foregoing last will and testament of

Isaac W. Walker, deceased, was on this day produced in Open Court and proven by the oath of W. W. Jones, subscribing witness thereto, and ordered to be recorded.  Whereupon I have truly recorded the same and this certificate in my said office.

Given under my hand this 7th day of October 1839.

James S. Dallam

Will Book B, Pages 69-70

The Life of Lucy Neville Blakemore Bragg

I’ve never been as interested in the life of a woman before meeting Lucy Neville Blakemore Bragg – metaphorically speaking.  We met at her gravestone in Vanceburg, Lewis County, Kentucky, two years ago.  Lucy died 156 years ago – but what a life she lived.  And the most important dates and information are on her stone for all to know a part of her story.

Lucy was the daughter of Thomas Blakemore and Ann Gibbs Neville, born in Frederick County, Virginia, April 8, 1764.  She married Thomas Bragg – a captain during the Revolutionary War.  They eventually moved their family to Lewis County, Kentucky.  Thomas Bragg died October 14, 1820.  Lucy lived on for another 42 years.

Lucy began life as a British subject, the daughter of Thomas Blakemore and Ann Gibbs Neville, born April 8, 1764, giving allegiance to King George III, and being a loyal subject until the war.  Her father and at least one brother fought during the Revolution, as well as her future husband, Captain Thomas Bragg, whom she married September 20, 1781.

Thomas and Lucy Bragg were in Lewis County before 1810, when they appeared in the census of that year.  This is twenty-seven years after the war, Lucy was 46 years of age.  In 1819 Thomas Bragg petitioned the court to open a tavern at his home in Vanceburg, and after his death in 1820, Lucy continued to keep the tavern.

In the 1850 census Lucy is head of her household, aged 86 years.  With her lives her son-in-law, Alexander Bruce, who married her daughter Amanda (who is deceased by this time).  Also in the household are two grandsons, children of Alexander and Amanda – Thomas J., 28, a boatman, and his new wife, Mary, 20; and Henry C., 26, also a boatman, and his new wife, Mary, 20.  Vanceburg sits right on the river and I’m sure many in the town and county worked on the water.  In the 1860 census Lucy is 96, Mary Bragg, 18, living with her – probably a great-granddaughter.

And she was living life to the very end.  In February of 1862, nine months before her death, she changed her will in favor of her grandson, Henry C. Bruce, in stead of grandson Horatio W. Bruce.  At first I thought there must have been a tiff in the family, but read that Horatio W. Bruce moved to Louisville, and perhaps Lucy decided Henry, living in the county, would keep the land and slaves in the family.  Just a guess.

Going from a British subject to a citizen of the United States, Lucy Blakemore Bragg lived through sixteen presidents!  From our first president, George Washington, down the line to Abraham Lincoln.  What an amount of history this woman experienced!  She lived through four major wars – Revolutionary War, 1775-1783; War of 1812, 1812-1815; Mexican War, 1846-1848; and the first two years of the Civil War. 

Think of the amount of changes and events that came about in her lifetime – a new country that was given ‘certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’ – Lewis and Clark explored the Louisiana Purchase – the steamboat was invented – the city of Washington was burned by British troops in 1814 – James Monroe proclaimed his doctrine of manifest destiny – the California gold rush – the slavery issue is debated – the country grew from the original 13 states to 34 – the South secedes from the Union and the Civil War begins.  And that’s just to name a few.

Lucy outlived her husband, Thomas Bragg, by 42 years.  She outlived all but two of her children and they died within three years – John in 1863 and Harriet in 1865. 

How I would love to sit and talk with this woman!  What interesting things she could tell us about the infant days of our country and the way it changed in the ensuing 80 years!

Lewis County, Kentucky Will Book F, Pages 270-271

In the name of God, amen.

I Lucy Bragg, of Lewis County, State of Kentucky, knowing the uncertainty of life, the certainty of death, being frail in body though sound in mind, do make the following disposition of a part of my property.  I give to my grandson, Henry C. Bruce, of Blackrock Bottom, my Negro woman Minerva, her three children, or more if she has more children, and all their increase.  Also I give to my said grandson Henry C. Bruce a piece of land adjoining the town of Vanceburg and bounded on the north by the town of Vanceburg, on the east

by the state road, on the south by the lands belonging to the heirs of my late husband at my death, and on the west by the land of W. C. Halbert; said parcel of land namely bequeathed to Henry C. Bruce is the same land heretofore claimed by my grandson H. W. Bruce, and I ever give and bequeath said land and slaves or other to said H. W. Bruce in any former will I may have made heretofore I hereby revoke said will as far as it gives any property of any kind to said H. W. Bruce and all gifts or bequests heretofore made by me to said H. W. Bruce are hereby changed and said property of every kind thus given or bequeathed to said H. W. Bruce is hereby given to my grandson Henry C. Bruce, hereby revoking all former wills and testaments so far as may conflict with this.

In testimony hereby I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal this 14th day of February A.D. 1862.

Lucy Bragg

Signed, sealed, declared, published and delivered in presence of the undersigned who witnessed this in the presence and at the request of Mrs. Lucy Bragg:  W. C. Harnett, R. F. Waring

Lucy Blakemore, born in Frederick County, Virginia, April 8, 1764, married Thomas Bragg, September 20, 1781, and died in Lewis County, Kentucky, November 1, 1862, aged 98 years, 6 months and 23 days.  Vanceburg Cemetery, Lewis County, Kentucky.


1829 Will of John Duncan of Nelson County

The Duncan and Lewis families were relatives of my Linton family.  They settled in northern Nelson County, in the Bloomfield area, near the Spencer County line.  Port Gibson, mentioned in the will, is located in Mississippi.

In the name of God amen.  I, John Duncan, of the county of Nelson and state of Kentucky, knowing that it is appointed once for all men to die, being weak in body but of good mind and memory, blessed be Almighty God for the same, do make and publish this my last will and testament, in the manner and form following.  First of all, I recommend my body to the earth to be buried in a decent Christian-like manner.  As it respects such worldly property with which it has pleased God to bless me, first, I give and bequeath unto my beloved wife, Mary Duncan, all of my estate during her life, both real and personal, of which I die seized or possessed with, or whatever part she chooses to keep, if she sees cause not to keep all, whatever part she sees cause not to keep, to be divided among my children equally at my death, and as for my estate both real and personal, of which I die seized or possessed, I do at my beloved wife’s death give, will and bequeath to each and all my children an equal proportion of all my money, goods and chattles, both real and personal, of which I may die seized or possessed.  At the death of my beloved wife, I do give, will and bequeath to my son, Charles Duncan, a Negro woman by the name of Eliza, about nineteen years old, which is now in my daughter Rebecca Dye’s possession, John Dye, her husband, has hired and her time is not yet out.  I do also give, will and bequeath the said negro woman Eliza and her increase forever to my son Charles Duncan, for my daughter Rebecca Dye’s particular use, during her natural life, and at her death to descend to her children, and the remainder, whatever more come to her, my daughter Rebecca Dye.  I do give, will and bequeath to my son Charles Duncan, for my daughter Rebecca Dye’s particular use during her natural life, and at her death to descend to her children.  And it is my will and desire that the whole of the land shall be divided equally in quantity and quality, as there is a great difference in the value of the land, and for the remainder of my estates, both real and personal, of which I may die seized or possessed with I do give, will and bequeath each and every one of my children an equal proportion of all my money, goods and chattels, both real and personal of which

I may die seized or possessed, my daughter Elizabeth Coursey that is now living near Gibsonport, it is my will and desire that her part shall be in money or something else to suit her as I do not wish for any of the Negroes to go down to that country.  I give and bequeath unto my daughter Elizabeth Coursey her proportion of my estate during her life and at her death to descend to her children, and I do hereby constitute, ordain and make this my last will and testament, and I do hereby disannul, disallow and revoke all other wills by me formerly written.  And I do appoint my beloved wife, Mary Duncan, my two sons, Robert and Charles Duncan, my Executrix and Executors, to this my last will and testament.  In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this twenty-first day of July in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and twenty-nine.

John Duncan

Signed, sealed, published and declared by the above named John Duncan to be his last will and testament in the presence of us:

John Saunders, Thomas Dawson, Searles Lewis

At a County Court held for Nelson County at the courthouse in Bardstown on Monday the 12th day of April 1830.

This last will and testament of john Duncan, deceased, was presented in court and proved by the oaths of John Saunders, Thomas Dawson and Searles Lewis, the subscribing witnesses thereto and ordered to be recorded and on the motion of Charles Duncan, one of the executors therein named (the other two having refused to act), he, having given bond with Robert Duncan, John Duncan, Robert Smither, Thomas Huston, James Tyler, Alexander McMeekin and James Thomas, his securities, gives bond in the penalty of $20,000 conditioned according to law and took the oath the law in  such case directs.  It is ordered that a certificate of probate of said will be granted him.  Attest.  Nathaniel Wickliffe, Clerk of the Nelson County Court, appointed by said court 12th day of May 1830.

Will Book F, Pages 438-439

The Second John McMurtry and His Will

In pulling a will to use for today’s blog I did a second take when I read the name John McMurtry.  If you recall, I wrote a blog for John McMurtry’s will June 18, 2016.  Needless to say I had to re-read what I had written.  The John McMurtry of the 2016 blog lived in Mercer County, in the far east central part of the county, near where Shaker Village is located today.  He owned a mill at the junction of the Dix (originally Dick’s) and Kentucky rivers.

The will I share with you today is for John McMurtry who lived near Cove Spring.  This spring is located in the extreme south central part of Mercer County, at the border of Mercer and Boyle counties on US 127, south of Harrodsburg.  When his will was written, in 1780, it was Kentucky County – or as he wrote it – Caintuckey County.  By the time the will  was probated in 1783, his property was part of Lincoln County.  At that time Mercer County was part of Lincoln.  In the will John McMurtry mentions, but doesn’t name, his father.  Sons James, Alexander, Samuel and William.  Other children are mentioned, but not named.  His wife’s name was Mary. 

I believe the two John McMurtry’s are cousins.  In the September 1907 Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, it says that, ‘A cousin, William McMurtry, accompanied Captain John McMurtry.’ (the first mentioned).  It is very likely the second John McMurtry was a son of this William.  Another coincidence are the three men who witnessed this second will – John Hutton, James Hutton and William McMurtry.  The first John McMurtry married Mary Todd Hutton.  Both families, McMurtry and Hutton, were from Rockbridge County, Virginia.  Quite easy for the two families to intermarry.

Lincoln County Will Book 1, Pages 35-36

In the name of God, amen.  I, John McMurtry, of Caintuckey County in the state of Virginia, being in perfect health praised be God, do make this my last will and testament as followeth.  I allow father his hundred acres of land in the southeast corner of my survey – with the spring called William McMurtry’s Spring.  I give my son James one hundred and fifty acres of land with the buffer spring joining his grandfather’s line and extending along the south line of my survey, and a good mare bought with the money

at Holston for him.  And to my son Alexander I give the Cove Spring with a hundred and fifty acres of land, joining the north line of my survey.  And to my son Samuel I give an improvement towards the west line with one hundred and fifty acres of land, joining the west line.  And to my son William I give the little spring with the remainder of the land.  And to my wife, Mary, I give a full privilege of my son William’s land and all its conveyances during her lifetime, tho not to hinder him of a privilege of water and woodland when he comes of age, and for the movable assets I leave to my wife to school and support the children with and to distribute as she sees proper.  In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal the 7th day of July and in the year of our Lord 1780.

Sealed and declared by the above named John McMurty, for and as his last will and testament in the presence of us, John Hutton, James Hutton, William McMurtry.

At a Court held for Lincoln County the 18 February 1783

This instrument of writing was exhibited in Court as the last will and testament of John McMurtry, deceased, and proved by the oaths of James Hutton and William McMurtry, an ordered to be recorded.

Teste.  William May


1781 Will of Captain James Estill

In 1779, James Estill was a member of Captain John Holder’s Company which formed a part of the militia of the County of Kentucky, under the command of Colonel John Bowman.  Thus, James Estill was engaged in the Indian wars of 1781 and 1782, and was killed in battle March 22, 1782, near what is now Mount Sterling, Kentucky, during the Battle of Little Mountain.  This was a bloody battle in which both sides lost many men.  Captain James Estill was the last white man killed in battle, and his Indian attacker was shot after the captain fell.

This will was written shortly before Captain Estill left for battle.  It mentions the possibility of a child his wife might be carrying.  He was correct.  A daughter, Sarah, was born.  I can’t say if James saw this child, it is very likely he was killed before she was born.

The last will of James Estill, May 4 1781

First, I leave my wife Rachel the one half of all my moveable estate as her own property and all my slaves and the plantation whereon I now live, called and known by the name of the Locust Thicket.  The said tract containing one thousand acres, the whole of which is to be at her disposal and direction during her widowhood and either death or marriage, the same land and house to be equally divided amongst Benjamin, Wallace, James and Jonathan Estill, and if my wife should now be with child I allow an equal division amongst the whole tract of the land and slaves already mentioned, but also my part of all the other land now lying in a partnership between me and Samuel Estill, and the remainder of my personal estate, being one half their devise, to be equally shared amongst my children.

James Estill

Witnesses present – David Gass, Samuel Estill

At a Court held for Lincoln County 22 January 178_

This instrument of writing was exhibited in Court as the last will and testament of James Estill and proved by the oath of Samuel Estill one of the witnesses.  And a County Court held for the said county the 14 day of January 1800 the same was proved by the oath of David Gass, a witness thereto, and ordered to be recorded.

Teste.  Willis Green, Clerk