Category Archives: Old Wills

1751 Will of Charles Yates – Charles County, Maryland

I believe this may be part of my Yates family that came from Maryland.

Charles County, Maryland

Will Book 1752-1767, Pages 1-2

Charles Yates Will

In the name of God, amen.  I, Charles Yates, of Charles County and state of Maryland, being in good health of body and of sound and disposing mind and memory, calling to remembrance the uncertainty of this life, think it meet and proper to settle my worldly affairs and to dispose of such worldly goods as it hath pleased God to give me.  After recommending my soul to the merits of its dear redeemer, Jesus Christ, and my body to the Earth there to be decently buried, I do make, ordain, constitute and appoint this my last will and testament in manner and form following.

Imprimis.  I give and bequeath unto my loving son, Charles Yates, one Negro girl named Sue and one feather bed and furniture, more than what I have before given him.

Item.  I give and bequeath to my loving son Francis Yates, one Negro man called Seymore, one Negro woman known by the names of Cates Mole and one Negro girl named Phia, and one feather bed bolster, two pillows, rugs, blankets and one pair of sheets and bedstead.

Item.  I give and bequeath unto my loving son Theophilus Yates one negro man named Tom, one Negro woman known by the name of Lydia Mole and one Negro girl named Judith and one featherbed bolster, pillows, rugs, blankets and pair of sheets and bedstead.

Item.  I give and bequeath unto my loving son Robert Yates over and above what I have already given him fifteen shillings sterling to buy him a ring.

Item.  I give and bequeath unto my three daughters Elizabeth Gwinn, Jane Bruce and Rebecca Barber over and above what I have already given them and each of them fifteen shillings to buy each of them a ring, like money with my son Robert.

Item.  I give and bequeath unto my grandson Benjamin Gwinn, son of Joseph and Elizabeth Gwinn, five thousand pounds of tobacco to buy him a Negro with.

Item.  Al the rest and residue of my personal estate I will and devise to be and remain on my now dwelling plantation for the use and support of my loving wife Jane during her natural life, and at her death such residue and the then increase to be equally divided amongst my three sons first named in this will, Charles, Francis

and Theophilus.

Item.  I also will and devise my now dwelling plantation, together with all the lands adjoining thereto which I now hold and possess unto my loving wife for and during her natural life without any molestation or interruption of my proper heir.

Lastly, I hereby constitute and appoint my loving son Charles Yates sole Executor of this my last will and testament, hereby revoking all other former will or wills by me heretofore made and executed.  In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal this 20th day of December 1751.  Signed, sealed and published in the presence of us who have hereunto subscribed as witnesses at the request of the testator.  John Harris, Robert Yates, William Bruce

Charles Yates

Amend to the foregoing will was the following note.  Charles County.  To wit, the 1st of June 1752.  Robert Yates and William Bruce, being duly and solemnly sworn on the holy Evangelists of Almighty God, do depose and say that they saw Charles Yates, the testator, sign and seal the foregoing  will and heard him publish and declare the same to be his last will and testament, that at the time of his doing he was to the best of their apprehension of sound and disposing mind and memory and that they, with John Harris, the other subscribing witness, subscribed their names as witnesses to the same will in the presence of the testator and at his request which probate was taken. In the presence of Charles Yates, heir at law to the deceased, who did not object thereto and at the same time Jane Yates, widow and relict of said deceased, signified by note from under hand that she would not accept of the legacy left her in said will and in leave thereof would take what the law allows widows in such cases.

Test.  Daniel Jenifer, Deputy Clerk of Charles County

Bourbon County Will of Thomas Champ

It appears this will was hastily written.  There is no flowery beginning about death being certain or mention of sound mind.  There is mention of Thomas Champ’s mother, Sarah, but although his wife is mentioned she is not named.  Four sons are listed, but no daughters.  Did he have daughters, or perhaps they received no legacy?

Will of Thomas Champ, Bourbon County, Kentucky, Will Book J, Pages 82-83

This my last will and testament made the twenty-fifth day of June 1832.  To all whom it may come ?  I leave to my eldest son, Robert, one hundred and twenty-seven and a half acres of land willed to him heretofore by his grandfather.

I also will to my son Thomas the plantation where my mother, Sarah Champ, now resides, at her death.  Those two pieces of land to be valued by two disinterested persons appointed by the County Court.

I also will to my wife one third of plantation and house where she now resides, all during her lifetime.  The balance of the property lands and Negroes to be

equally divided amongst my four sons, Robert, Thomas, George and Henry, after the price of Robert and Thomas’ land heretofore mentioned is deducted out of said remainder.

I also will all my just debts to be paid out of my personal estate.  I also wish my wife to finish the house in decent manner.

I wish to have George Hughes and George Redmon appointed executors to my estate.

To which I hereunto fix my hand and seal this 25 day of June eighteen hundred and thirty-two.

Thomas Champ

Teste. B. H. Hall, James H. Gentry

Commonwealth of Kentucky and County of Bourbon

I, Thomas P. Smith, Clerk of the County Court of said county, do certify that his last will and testament of Thomas Champ, deceased, was proven in open court by the oath of James H. Gentry, a subscribing witness thereto and sworn to by George Hughes and George Redmon, the Executors therein named and presented to be recorded.  Whereupon the same, with this certificate has been duly recorded in my office.  Given under my hand this third day of September 1832.

Thomas P. Smith, Clerk

Will of Thomas Woolfolk of Ballard County

Thomas Woolfolk, originally from Virginia, married Nancy Jennings December 24, 1820, in Gallatin County, Kentucky.  He is noted as ‘Col.’; she is listed as the daughter of Jonathan Jennings.  In the 1850 Ballard County census Thomas is listed as 68, a farmer with $3500 worth of real estate, and was born in Virginia.  This census lists the other members of the family by initial only, but since we have Thomas’ will to go by we know their full names.  Wife Nancy is 48.  Children listed are Augustine, 25; John, 16; Frances Mosby, 23, a married daughter living with her parents; Susan Frances Mosby, an infant of nine months, granddaughter mentioned in Thomas’ will.  Daughter Ann Eliza, 26, is married to William Webb, 28, and together they are listed in their own household with their children:  Thomas, 9, who died October 1, 1852, of typhoid fever, according to the death records for that year; Catherine, 7, listed in her grandfather’s will; and Henry, 2.

Ballard County was formed from portions of Hickman and McCracken counties in 1842.  When I first read the following will I was heartily confused with a just quick scan of this will, because it was written in 1858, mentioned slaves in the bequests, but was listed in Will Book A, 1879-1924, pages 3-5.  With a little research I found that the Ballard County Courthouse was destroyed by fire on February 17, 1880, along with most of the early records.  Persons living in the county were most likely asked to bring in copies of records that went up in flames, adding these to the will book as they were brought in.

Will of Thomas Woolfolk

I, Thomas Woolfolk, of the County of Ballard and State of Kentucky, being of sound mind and disposing memory, calling to mind the certainty of death and the uncertainty of life, I therefore deem it expedient to make some disposition of the goods of this life that it has pleased God to give me, under these considerations, I do make this my last will and testament, revoking all others previously made by me, either verbal or written.

First.  I give my soul to God who gave it and recommend my body to be buried in a decent Christian like manner, nothing doubting upon the part of my executor.

Second.  I wish all of my debts paid.

Third.  I wish my beloved wife Nancy to have my home farm containing 200 acres and my three grown slaves, Cook and Killy and Sophia, to have the use of to use as she may think proper, during her natural life and after her death to return to my estate.  It is further my wish that

that all of my perishable property be appraised, and my wife Nancy shall be entitled to take one third of that at the appraisement.

Fourth.  It is my will that my daughter Ann Eliza Webb have the land which she now lives on, containing 250 acres.  I also give my daughter Ann Eliza Webb my Negro girl Minty.

Fifth.  I give to my granddaughter Catherine Webb 150 acres of land lying on the east side of the tract that I gave to Ann Eliza Webb and joining of Killgore, also one Negro girl named Fanny.

Sixth.  I give to my son Augustine Woolfolk the tract of land on which he lives or as has possession joining the land on the west of the tract that his house is on, containing 160 acres; also, a Negro boy named Charles.

Seventh.  I give to my daughter Frances Violet two promissory notes that I hold against Dr. J. D. Clardy, for eight hundred dollars, each one due the 25th day of December 1858, the other due the 25th day of December 1859; also, one Negro girl named Harih.

Eighth.  I give to my son John Woolfolk 150 acres of land lying west of the tract of land on which I now live one and joining of the land on which P. R. Jennings lives on, also one Negro boy named John William.

Ninth.  I give to my granddaughter Susan Frances Mosby 50 acres of land adjoining the 200 acres that I gave my wife on the west side to be laid off between that and the 190 acres that I gave to my son John.

Tenth.  I appoint my son Augustine Woolfolk my executor to this my last will and testament whereof I have hereunto subscribed my name this 9th day of October 1858.

Thomas Woolfolk

Attest.  G. W. Martin, John Paine, Glenn Jennings

I, J. Corbett, Clerk of the Ballard County Court, in the State of Kentucky, do certify that the foregoing last will and testament of Thomas Woolfolk, deceased, was presented in open court on the 22nd day of November 1858 and fully proven by the

Oaths of John Paine and Glenn Jennings, subscribing witnesses thereto to be the last will and testament of said testator, that he was of sound mind and memory at the time of signing and thereupon said will was established, filed and ordered to be recorded, whereupon the same, together with this certificate stands truly recorded.  Given under my hand this 25th day of November 1858.

  1. Corbett, Clerk

State of Kentucky, Ballard County

I, T. L. Glenn, Clerk of Ballard County Court, do certify that the foregoing copy of the will of Thomas Woolfolk was on the 27th day of May 1886 lodged in my office for record and the same with this certificate and that of J. Corbett, Ex. Clerk, has been duly recorded in my office.

Witness my hand this 27th day of May 1886.  T. L. Glenn, CBCC by Geo. R. Armistead, D. C.

Sweet Little Cherubs

Nothing like photos of sweet little babes.  My mood is baby-minded since I will again become a grandmother any day now.  Kate’s due date is June 22nd, but sweet Persephone will come when she is ready.  And if Kate is 8 days later, as she was with Julian, I will have a perfect birthday present.  Only time will tell.  We can enjoy these photos of little ones from days gone by.

Look at those curls!  This sweet little one sports a dark jacket and skirt with a plaid bow.  This photo was taken in Covington, Kentucky, by Hodgson Photography.  Finding Kentucky photos is a bonus for me!

This photo is very faint, but I still wanted to share it.  This little one wears a long white dress with bits of lace.  Again, this photo was taken in Kentucky – in Elkton, Todd County, by W. H. Ebeling.

Look at those eyes!  The sweet face and hair!  What an adorable child.  This was taken at The Novelty Studio in Lebanon, Tennessee.

Another wee one in a long white dress.  I believe there must be a mother’s arm under that blanket – holding on to her precious child while the photo was taken by I. E. Hall, 208 Arch Street, Meadville, Pennsylvania.

Two little ones in this photo.  Look at the tiny boots!  These sweet babes were photographed by Notestein Photography located on Olive Street in Columbus, Nebraska.

Our last little one is just as precious as the others!  Look at the tiny fists!  Photo was taken at Lamson Studio, 313 S. Spring Street, Los Angeles, California.


1825 Will of James Downey, Senior – Anderson County

James Downey, Sr., was evidently a resident of Mercer County, but in the area that would be Anderson County in 1827, when the county was formed.  Marriage records from Mercer County confirm the marriage of his children.  William Morris married Martha Downey October 15, 1804.  James Downey, Jr., married Mary Riley July 30, 1805.  Joel Downey married Sally T. Adams December 22, 1807.  John Downey married Nancy Wingate December 20, 1824.  Nancy Downey married David Owts (possibly Oats) April 5, 1825.  Since James, Sr., made his will less than two months after Nancy’s marriage, he evidently had his opinion of his new son-in-law, leaving land strictly for the personal use of his daughter, ‘free from the control of her husband’, and naming son James as trustee for his sister.

Will Book A, Pages 1-2, Anderson County, Kentucky

In the name of God, Amen.  I, James Downey, Senior., of the County of Mercer and State of Kentucky, being of sound mind and memory, and knowing that it is appointed for all men to die, do make and ordain this writing to be my last will and testament.  It is my will that my just debts and funeral expenses be first paid, and that my executor make sale of one cow, upon reasonable credit, and the money arising from such sale shall be equally divided between my sons Joseph A. Downey, John Downey, James Downey, Jr., and my daughter, Martha Morris, which is to be in full of all I intend for them.

Second.  It is my will and desire that my wife, Martha Downey, shall enjoy the peaceable and uninterrupted possession of my land, houses, stock and household furniture, to dispose of as she thinks properly, as long as she lives, except my daughter Nancy Owts is to have her horse, bed and furniture and clothes, and at the decease of my said wife Martha, it is my will and desire that all that part of my tract of land which lies on the northeast side of Fox Creek, where I now live and the one eighth of an acre, including a spring I use water site of, on the south side of the said creek, to be laid off in a square, making the said creek the base line, shall be, and the same is hereby vested in my son James, as trustee for my said daughter Nancy and her heirs, to be applied solely to her use and benefit, free from the control of her husband.  But it is to be understood, that my said daughter Nancy, with the consent of her said trustee, may sell the said tract of land and the proceed thereof shall be laid out in such way as my said son James may direct, to the sole use of my said daughter, and her heirs forever.  And in case my said son James should die, the County Court of Mercer, in their discretion, may appoint another trustee, who shall have all the power vested in my said son, James.  Also, my daughter Nancy, at the decease

Of her mother, is to have all my stock and personal property to her and her heirs forever, that is to say, such of it as remains undisposed of by my said wife, who is to have the same at her absolute disposal as long as she lives.

Third.  The balance of my land on the southwest side of Fox Creek, shall after the decease of my wife, Martha, it is my will that the same shall go to my son Joel and his heirs forever.

Fourth.  It is my will that my son James shall be my sole executor of this my last will and testament, who is to see the same faithfully carried into execution.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 31st day of May 1825.

James Downey

Signed, sealed and acknowledged before Robert B. McAfee, Susan J. Boyce, Sally C. McAfee

Anderson County Court – September Term 1827

I, Nelson C. Johnson, Clerk of the County Court for the County aforesaid, do certify, that his last will and testament of James Downey, Senior., deceased, was this day produced in open court, and proven by the oaths of Robert B. McAfee and Sally C. McAfee, two of the subscribing witnesses to said will, and ordered by the court to be recorded.  Whereupon, the said will, together with the foregoing certificate hath been duly admitted to record in my office.  Given under my hand this 3rd day of September 1827.

N. C. Johnson, Clerk


1788 Will of Francis Lucas Jacoby

Francis Lucas Jacoby, born in Germany, came to America about 1764 via England.  Married Frederica Lotspeich, a fellow passenger, in 1764 in London.  The family lived in Culpeper County, Virginia, during the Revolutionary War, in which Francis was part of the militia.  Moved to Kentucky after 1783.

Bourbon County, Kentucky – Will Book A, Pages 8-9

In the name of God, amen.  I, Francis Lucas Jacoby, of the County of Bourbon and State of Virginia, of sound sense and memory, do make, constitute and ordain this my last will and testament, and hereby revoke all and every will heretofore by me made or ordered to be made.  I first desire that all the debts which I justly owe to all men be faithfully paid agreed to contract.  I secondly dispose of my worldly property, both real and personal,in the following manner.  I leave in possession of my beloved wife, Frederica, during her real life, the plantation whereon I now live, with the appurtenances thereon for the purpose of raising my small children.

Item.  It is my will that my hereafter mentioned shall proceed to have all my personal estate, valued immediately after my death.  And after giving my wife her first choice of a part equal to that the estimate be equally made and that each of my following children as respectively come of age and choose shall of my Executor hereafter named the sum such valuation shall amount to provided that no such demand during the natural lifetime of my wife as it is my will that all the property she is to keep for the purpose of raising my small children, be continued in her possession, disposal at will.

Item.  It is my will and desire that my lands be equally as near as may be in value among all my children, viz., Katrina, Elizabeth,

Susanna, Ralph of ?, Frank, Henry, Frederick, Daniel, Betsey, Jacob, Rachel, John and Adam, and that after such division each legatee as they come of age may have full and free possession of such part as shall fall to their respective lot.  I further constitute and appoint as Executor, to this my will for the sole purpose of executing the true intent and meaning thereof, my beloved wife, Frederica, my trusty friends, John Grant and William Butler.  In witness whereof I have set my hand and seal this twenty-seventh day of May in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight.

Francis Lucas Jacoby

Signed in the presence of John Hopper, Joe Mosby, Catherine Butler

At a Court held for Bourbon County at the Courthouse on Tuesday the 15th day of July 1788.

The last will and testament of Francis Lucas Jacoby, deceased, was proved by the oaths of John Hopper and Catherine Butler, witnesses thereto and ordered to be recorded.  And on the motion of Frederica Jacoby, named and appointed executrix in the last will and testament of Francis Lucas Jacoby, and also John Grant, gentleman, and William Butler, who were also named executors in said will, they having agreeable to law qualified as Executors of said Jacoby, deceased, and together with John Hopper, their security, entered into and acknowledged bond in the penalty of one thousand pounds.  Certificate is granted them for obtaining Probate thereof in due form.

Test. John Edwards, Cl. B. C.

1812 Will of Henry Rhoads of Muhlenberg County

Henry Rhoads, known as the ‘Godfather of Muhlenberg County,’ was born in Germany in 1739.  He and three of his brothers came to America about 1757, and settled in Bedford County, Pennsylvania.  In 1760 he married Elizabeth Stoner of Maryland.  He fought for his adopted country under the leadership of General Muhlenberg.  After the war, he and his brothers decided to move to Kentucky.  They stopped first at Bardstown, where they left their wives and children, and headed further west to build a town.  They selected a place at the falls of the Green River and began Rhoadsville.  When the land they lived on was in dispute, and after losing their court case, they moved into Logan County, in what is now Muhlenberg County.  Here the Rhoads brothers raised their families and lived fruitful lives.

When you read the will you notice a wife is mentioned, Barbara.  She is evidently a second wife as to mentioning all the property she brought with her to the marriage, agreeable to contract.  I do find it odd that he gave her the family Bible.

In a later blog there will be more information on this family, who married into the Linton family.

In the name of God, Amen.  I, Henry Rhoads, of the County of Muhlenberg and State of Kentucky, begin weak in body but of perfect mind and memory do make and ordain this my last will and testament.

First.  I recommend my soul to the Almighty God and as touching my worldly effects wherewith he has blessed me, I give and dispose of them in the following manner.

1st.  I give and bequeath to my beloved wife Barbara Rhoads all the property she brought with her after we were married, agreeable to contract and one cow, a large heifer and one iron pot, and the common cupboard and chest, my large Bible and the law post-bed bedstead, one large and one small wheel, including all the furniture we have got since we were married.  I also give and bequeath to my beloved wife, Barbary, all that is allowed to her agreeable to the courts of a bond on my son Daniel Rhoads, bearing date August 23, 1810.

Second.  I give and bequeath all my debts, dues and demands, and all the property I own in this world, except what is especially mentioned in this my last will, to my children, namely, my sons, Jacob Rhoads, Daniel Rhoads, Henry Rhoads, Solomon Rhoads

and David Rhoads, Susannah Nighmyoir, Caty Jackson, Elizabeth Vanmeter, and Hannah Jackson, all my daughters, to be equally divided among them at the discretion of my executors at my decease.

Lastly, I do hereby nominate and appoint my brothers Daniel Rhoads and Solomon Rhoads and David Rhoads, as executors of this my last will and testament, hereby ratifying and confirming this and no other to be my last will and testament, hereby revoking all other wills by me made, as witness and seal, this the 13th day of April in the year of our Lord, 1812, and in the presence of us.

Henry Rhoads

Test.  J. W. Connell, William Sumner

Muhlenberg County, August County Court – 1813

The within instrument of writing purporting to be the last will and testament of Henry Rhoads, Sr., deceased, was exhibited into court and acknowledged by the said Rhoads (in his lifetime) to be his act and deed and ordered to be recorded.

Attest.  Charles Wing, C.M.C.