Category Archives: Old Wills

Revolutionary War Veteran John Alexander – Will 1830

Cumberland County, Kentucky, was formed in 1798 from portions of Green County, and named for the Cumberland River.  It shares the border with Tennessee.  Cumberland County is actually larger than my home county of Mercer, but much smaller in population – about 22 people per square mile.  It is a lovely county, much farmland, and we found the small Alexander/Davis Cemetery just south of Hwy 90 on Hwy 100. 

Buried there is Revolutionary War veteran John Alexander and his family.  John was from Goochland County, Virginia, and was a captain in Lee’s Continental Troops.  John moved his family to Cumberland County about 1805.

John Alexander’s will was written in 1825, and he died five years later.  His wife, Lucy, died in 1815.  Eleven children and two grandsons were named in his will.  Given the amount of slaves he owned he must have been a wealthy man.  He died October 17, 1830.

Cumberland County Will Book B   Page 427-428

I, John Alexander, of the county of Cumberland and state of Kentucky, being weak in body but of a perfect and sound mind, do make this my last will and testament.  After my just debts being paid I do hereby dispose of all my worldly goods in the following manner.  To wit, I give to my son Thomas Alexander, two Negroes named Isaac and Polly.  I give to my son John M. Alexander, two Negroes named Jacob and Lewis.  I give to my daughter Sarah C. Barton, two Negroes named Agnes and Jarret, one feather bed and furniture and bedstead.  I give to my son Ingrum Alexander, one Negro man named Peter.  I give in trust to my son John M. Alexander and Reuben Alexander, for the use and benefit of my daughter Elizabeth Smith, one tract of land whereon she now lives containing one hundred and twenty-five acres, more or less, and two Negroes named Jim and Jack Jr., and one featherbed and furniture and one bedstead, and at the decease of Thomas Smith, and his present wife Elizabeth, the said land to be equally divided between his two sons, John M. Smith and Thomas Smith.  I give to my son Robert Alexander, two Negroes named David and Bayson.  I give to my daughter Obediance Gearheart, one Negro man named Jack, Sr., and thirty-five dollars in lieu of one feather bed and furniture.  I give to my son Reuben Alexander, one Negro man named Patrick, and that part of my tract of land whereon I now live, that lies on the upper or west side of the creek that divides the plantation, and my family Bible, and one fourth part of my stock of cattle and one third part of my stock of sheep and one third part of my stock of hogs, in quality.  I give to my son Joseph Alexander, one Negro man named Adam, one cow and calf now in his possession and two hundred dollars in the hands of J M P V R Alexander.  I give to my son Philip Alexander, one Negro man named Valentine and all that part of my tract of land that lies on the south end side of the creek that runs through the plantation whereon Robert Alexander formerly lived.  I give to my daughter Susanna Hall, one Negro woman named Suda, her two children, with all her future increase during her natural life, and at her death to be equally divided amongst the heirs of her body,

one cow and calf, and two ewes, or the value thereof, and two feather beds and furniture, now in her possession.  It is my will and desire that the Negroes hereafter to be devised should not be sold out of the family, and if there should be any money due from one legatee to another in the divisions, the money so coming from one legatee to another shall have the indulgence of the payment thereof eighteen months, and the balance of my estate that is not given away in this instrument of writing shall be equally divided so as to make all their proportions equal with what they have had, equally amongst the following named persons – Thomas Alexander, J. M. Alexander, Sarah C. Barton, Ingrum Alexander, Obediance Gearheart, Susan W. Hall.  It is my will and desire that all the within named legatees should be in harmony amongst themselves, but if any of them attempts to overset or destroy this my last will and testament, he or she or anyone for them, that legatee so attempting shall forever forfeit his or her legacies given them in the above instrument and the same shall be equally divided amongst those peaceful legatees.  I do hereby appoint John Wash, Sr., and James Baker and John M. Alexander to execute this my last will and testament in every part and particular thereof or any two of them, witness my hand this fifteenth day of February one thousand eight hundred and twenty-five.

John Alexander

Test. Isaac McBee, John Wash, Sr., Longston Pace

Kentucky, Cumberland County

I, Milton King, Clerk of the county court for said county, do certify that the foregoing last will and testament of John Alexander, deceased, was produced in open court at the November term, 1830, proven by the oaths of the two subscribing witnesses thereto and ordered to record, and the same is truly copied of record in my office in Will Book B, Page 427.  Given under my hand this 6th of January 1831.

Milton King

John Alexander, Kentucky.  Sgt. Lee’s Legion, Continental Troops, Revolutionary War, October 17, 1830.  Alexander/Davis Cemetery, Cumberland County, Kentucky.

Will of Col. John Hardin – Written 1788

Col. John Hardin was an early Kentuckian – came to the state after serving in the Revolutionary War.  In April of 1786, according to Collins’ History of Kentucky, he settled on his preemption on Pleasant Run, then in Nelson County, but part of Washington County when it was organized in 1792.  That is why he mentions the County of Nelson and State of Virginia when he wrote his will in 1788.

In 1792 Col. Hardin was sent by General Wilkinson to make overtures with the Indians.  At an Indian camp about a day’s journey from the site where Ft. Defiance was afterwards built, he encamped with the Indians for the night, on the promise they would take him in the morning to their chief.  John Hardin never made it home, the Indians murdered him that night and made off with his horses and baggage.  In a letter written by John Hardin May 19, 1792, from Fort Washington (later Cincinnati), he stated they were going to ‘try to form a junction at the mouth of the Miami River, which is called Rosadebra, where we expect to form a treaty with all the Indians we can collect at that place.‘  And later in the letter says he ‘reproaches myself for having left my family, throwing myself into the hands of a cruel, savage enemy.’  (This information taken from Pioneer History of Washington County, Kentucky by Orval W. Baylor.)

Colonel John Hardin’s will is the first in the Washington County Will Book A.

Washington County, Kentucky

Will Book A, Page 4-8

In the name of God amen.  I, John Hardin, of Nelson County and state of Virginia, being in perfect state of health and memory blessed be God for the same,

do make and ordain this my last will and testament, revoking all others.  As far as my worldly goods, I bequeath in the manner following, that is to say, I devise to my beloved wife, Jane, three hundred acres of land, to be taken out of my preemption, including the plantation whereon I now live, binding on the northwest line and not to extend further in Pleasant Run than where the Spring Branch empties.  Also I give to my beloved wife one Negro woman named Camer, but not her future increase, one feather bed and furniture and her choice of all the horses I have.  I devise to my son, Martin, four hundred acres of land binding on the southwest line of my preemption to include the Salt Licks and Mill Seat on Pleasant Run.  I devise to my son Mark, five hundred acres of land to be taken of a fifteen hundred acre survey adjoining my preemption, to be laid out of the east end.  I devise to my son Davis, five hundred acres of land adjoining my son Mark, on the west, it being one third of the fifteen hundred acre survey.  I devise to my daughter Sarah, three hundred acres of land to be laid off of my preemption.  I devise to my daughter

Mary, two hundred and fifty acres of land, part of a five hundred acre tract joining my preemption on the east, to include all the Beech Fork that lies in that survey.  Note, I give to John _____ two hundred and fifty acres of land in consideration for Negro George, to be laid off on the south of the above mentioned five hundred acre tract.  As my beloved wife is likely to have another son or daughter I devise to it five hundred acres of land, part of my fifteen hundred acre survey, adjoining my son Davis’ devised land on the west.  And all other lands that I may be hereafter possessed with I devise to the above mentioned children, to be equally divided amongst them.  Also, Negroes George, Bob and Bet and the future increase of Camer to be equally divided among them in like manner, and all my horses, cattle, household furniture and other estate to be equally divided between my beloved wife and above mentioned children.  Should any of the within mentioned children decease before such part of their estate herein mentioned is given into their possession, it shall be divided equally amongst the living brothers and sisters.

Lastly, I do constitute and appoint my beloved wife, Jane, Executrix, and my brothers Mark Hardin and Martin Hardin, my Executors to this my last will and devise they will collect all debts due and pay all my lawful demands.  In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this twenty-second day of July, anno domini one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight.

John Hardin

Signed and sealed in the presence of Samuel Robertson, John Hardin, Mary Robertson

Note the words ‘hundred’ in the twenty-fourth line underlined on the other side and words ‘and other estate’ as mentioned in the third line on this side was underlined before signed.  Samuel Robertson, John Hardin, Mary Robertson

At a County Court held for Washington County the 4th day of April 1793

This will was proved by the oaths of Samuel Robertson, John Hardin and Mary Robertson, witnesses thereto and ordered to be recorded and on the motion of Martin Hardin, Mark Hardin and Mary Hardin, the Executrix and Executors, who made oath and

acknowledged bond as the law directs, a certificate is granted them for obtaining a probate thereof in due form.

Will of Zachariah Green

Bath County Wills

In the name of God, I, Zachariah Green, being in my reasonable health and sound mind and disposing memory, do make and ordain this my last will and testament in manner and form following.  First, I commend my soul to God and my body to the dust, to be buried in Christian form and after all my just debts and funeral expenses are paid I leave all my real and personal estate to my beloved wife, Mary Ann Green, so long as she remains my widow or chose her thirds or a child’s part.  And after her decease to return to our heirs.  Rachael Janes heirs to have one dollar each and Leaney Osburn to have ten dollars, and Peggy Vice, my daughter, to have one dollar and my daughter Orrah Mitchell, to have one dollar.  The balance of my heirs, namely, Zachariah Green, Goldsberry Green, Anna Green and Winea Lynam, to have an equal share of the balance of all my estate after selling the plantation on which I now live and all the rest of my property at twelve months credit, and should my daughter Winea Lynam die without issue of her body, her part of the estate to fall to my lawful heirs, except those which are portioned.  The plantation on which John Gorrel now lives to remain his and his wife’s, Anna Gorrel, during their natural life and after their decease, the land to be sold and money to be divided equally between James Gorrel, Mariah Gorrel, Sally Gorrel and George Gorrel.  Also, I appoint Mary Ann Green and my son, Zachariah Green, to be my executors of this my last will, acknowledged to be my last will and testament, revoking all other wills or bequests heretofore made by me, this the twenty-seventh day of October, in the year of our Lord 1834, not B interlined before signed.

Zachariah Green

Attest.  William F. Routt, James Gregg

Bath County, November Court 1835

This instrument of writing, purporting to be the last will and testament of Zachariah Green, deceased, was produced and proven in open Court by the oaths of William F. Routt and James Gregg, witnesses thereto, subscribed and ordered to be recorded, whereupon the same hath been truly recorded in my office as the law directs.

Att. W. M. Sudduth, Clerk

By Lewis E. Sudduth, Deputy Clerk

1803 Will of Michael Blain – Breckinridge County

The surname was written Blain and Blane within the will.

Breckinridge County, Kentucky

Will Book 1, Pages 2-3

In the name of God, amen.  I, Michael Blain, of the County of Breckinridge and State of Kentucky, being sick and weak in body but of sound mind and disposing memory, for which I thank God, and calling to mind the uncertainty of human life, and being desirous to dispose of all such worldly estate as it hath pleased God to bless me with, I give and bequeath unto my loving wife, Mary Blain, the plantation I now live on, containing one hundred and fifty acres, be the quantity within the lines laid off for me more or less, that is to say the said Mary is to have the whole use and benefit of the improved lands, house, cabins, barns, etc., during the life of the said Mary and further I desire that the said Mary shall have all my personal estate so long as the said Mary shall live, or until the legatees of the said Michael shall arrive at age or marry.  I give and bequeath to my son, James Blain, ten pounds in property to be paid to him at the time when my son John Blain gets possession of the plantation I now live on.  I give and bequeath to my son Michael Blain one hundred and fifty acres of land, it being the land  where the said Michael now lives and I give and bequeath to  my daughter, Mary Wilson, one cow and calf to the value of five pounds in property.  I give and bequeath unto my daughter, Elizabeth Blain, an equal division of my personal property which I not willed away, with the two legatees that are younger than her.  I give and bequeath unto my son, John Blain, the plantation whereon I now live at the death of my wife, Mary, or if the said John should want to improve any uncleared lands within the said trace before the death of the said Mary,

he has the privilege of improving it and receiving the benefits thereof, also to receive an equal division of my personal property with my daughters Elizabeth and Deborah.  I desire that my son, John Blain, shall pay the before mentioned ten pounds to the said James Blain at the time mentioned.  I give and bequeath unto my daughter, Deborah Blain, an equal division of my personal property with my daughter, Elizabeth, and my son, John.  I desire that should there be increase of my stock it shall be equally divided amongst the three last mentioned and lastly, I do hereby constitute and appoint my loving wife, Mary Blain, Thomas Kincheloe and James Ferry, Executrix and 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 this first day of May in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and three.

Michael Blain

Signed, sealed and delivered as and for the last will and testament of the above named Michael Blain in presence of us:  James Ferry, Thomas Kincheloe

At a Court held for Breckinridge County on Monday the nineteenth day of September 1803.  The within writing purporting the last will and testament of Michael Blain, deceased, was proved by the oath of Thomas Kincheloe, a witness thereto and ordered to be certified.  And at a Court held for said county on Monday the seventeenth day of October 1803.  The said will was fully proved by the oath of James Ferry, a witness thereto and sworn to by Mary Blain, the Executrix therein named and ordered to be recorded.

Attest.  J. Allen

1811 Will of George Gray Tyler – Prince William County Virginia

George Gray Tyler, son of William Tyler, of Prince William County, Virginia, was a brother to the Sarah Tyler that married John Augustine Linton in the same county.  John Augustine Linton was a cousin to my Captain John Hancock Linton.  Captain John was a grandson of John Linton and Anne Barton; John Augustine was a great-grandson. 

Occoquan Bay Area

Since they lived in the same area, the upper portion of Occoquan Bay, which is now the area known as the Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, it seems only natural that John Augustine would be an executor and manager of George G. Tyler’s estate after his decease.  This land was originally owned by Martin Scarlett, and was devised to his wife, Ann Green Scarlett, at his death, ‘To wife, Ann, land of Occoquan and Marumsco Creek.’  Land on the southmost branch of Marumsco Creek to Edward Barton.  Edward Barton’s daughter married John Linton and thus the land passed to them and their descendants. Martin Scarlett’s gravestone is on this property – he died in 1696.

John Augustine Linton Family Cemetery

George Tyler died in 1811; John Augustine Linton died eleven years later.  There are documents signed after that date by Sarah Tyler Linton concerning the estate.

This will was written September 29, 1811, and proved in court November 4, 1811.  George Tyler must have been very ill and knew he was going to die.  The will mentions children, but only one son, William Tyler, is named. 

I, George Gray Tyler, of the County of Prince William and State of Virginia, do make the following my last will and testament.

It is my wish and desire after my just debts are paid that the whole of my estate, both real and personal, should be kept together and managed as it has been heretofore by myself, and my children be educated and supported out of the profit, thereof, and as they arrive at age or get married or at any other period my Executor hereinafter named shall think proper to allot off such part of my real or personal Estate as they or a majority of them or their survivors in their discretion may judge advisable so that in a final division of my property my children shall all have an equal share.  It is my wish and desire that whenever my son William has his part given up to himself that his part of the land should be laid off so as to take in my dwelling house and other out houses belonging thereto, the new part of the dwelling house I wish to be underpinned and the chimney finished and such other parts finished as my Executor may think proper.  It is my desire that if any estate should yield more profit than will maintain and educate my children that my Executor should lay out such profit or overplus in any kind of property they may think proper for the benefit of my children.

And lastly, I constitute and appoint my brothers, Charles Tyler and William Tyler, my friend John Linton, and my son William Tyler, Executors to this my last will and testament, hereby vesting them or their survivors with the Executorship of my said Estate and further it is my wish that my friend John Linton should be the superintender and manager of my said estate until it is given up to my children.  In witness whereof I have hereunto fixed my seal and subscribed my name this 29th day of September 1811.

George G. Tyler

Acknowledged to be the last will and testament of the subscriber, George Gray Tyler, in the presence of us, G Stith, John E. Cooke, Solomon Ewelt, Jr.

At a Court of Quarterly Sessions held for Prince William County, November 4, 1811.

This last will and testament of George G. Tyler, deceased, was presented to the Court and being proved by the oath of G. Stith, is ordered to be certified.  And at a Court of Quarterly Sessions held for said County, March 2, 1812.  This said will was fully proved by the oath of Solomon Ewelt, Jr., and ordered to be recorded.

At a Court of Quarterly Sessions continued and held for Prince William County June 6, 1815

John Linton, one of the Executors named in the last will and testament of George G. Tyler, Deceased, came into Court and made oath to the same according to law and having performed what is usual in such cases certificate is granted him for obtaining a probate thereof in due form.

1790 Will of John Jones of Bourbon County

Bourbon County Clerk, Will Book A, Pages 37-39

In the name of God amen.  The sixteenth day of August in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety, I, John Jones, of the County of Bourbon and district of Kentucky, being very sick of body but of perfect mind and memory, thanks be given to God, therefore calling unto mind the mortality of my body and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die, do make and ordain this my last will and testament.  That is to say, principally and first of all, I give and recommend my soul unto the hands of God that gave it and for my body I recommend it to the Earth to be buried in a Christian-like and decent manner at the discretion of my executors, nothing doubting but at the general resurrection I shall receive the same again by the might power of God and as touching such worldly estate is herewith it hath pleased God to bless me in this life, I give, devise and deign in the following manner and form.

Imprimis.  It is my will and I do order that in the first, all my just debts and funeral charges be paid and satisfied.

Item.  I give and bequeath to my well-beloved son, John Jones, a young black mare and two hundred acres of land lying on the waters of Mill Creek and a rifle gun when he comes to the age of twenty-one years, and to his heirs and assigns forever.

I leave my dwelling plantation to be equally divided between my two sons, Jacob and Benjamin Jones, when they come to the age of twenty-one years, also a mare for each of them and their heirs and assigns forever.

I lease to my wife, Susanna Jones, to have her living, devising her being unmarried, on my dwelling place and to have possession of said house and plantation as long as she lives a single life, but if she should marry she is to stay no longer on the place, but if she should marry she is to have the third part of all the stock, household furniture and money, land excepted.

I give and bequeath to my four daughters, Christiana, Betsey, Susanna and Catherine Jones, my whole estate except three mares I left for the boys, such as stock, household furniture, to be equally divided amongst them when they come of age except my wife’s thirds, which is to come out of my estate.  I likewise constitute and ordain my wife, Susanna Jones, and Jacob Jones, my brother, my only and whole executors of this my last will and testament of all my lands and moveables and all and singular, every individual, and I do hereby utterly disallow, revoke and disannul all and every other testaments, wills, legacies and executors by me in any ways before this time named, willed and bequeathed, ratifying and confirming this and no other to be my last will and testament.  In witness to hereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal the day and year above written.

John Jones

Signed, sealed in presence of us

Susanna Keison, Christopher Keison, Henry Speaks, James Creen

Bourbon December Court 1790

The last will and testament of John Jones, deceased, is as produced to Court and proved by the oaths of Henry Speaks and James Creen, witnesses thereto and ordered to be recorded.

Teste. John Edwards, Clerk

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