52 Documents in 52 Weeks #5 – Probate Packets & Moses Woosley’s Heirs

Moses Woosley was a Revolutionary War soldier, born, bred and died in Virginia. The exact date of his death is unknown, but probate on his estate was in progress by the summer of 1844 and continued on for over ten years.

There is a ton of misinformation to be found online about Moses’s children and his purported father and siblings, partly because the surname is not common and there is a second spelling – Ousley or Owsley – which researchers keep trying to make into one big happy Woosley/Ousley/Owsley family when there is no proof to support the theory.

Even in pre-internet days, I was overwhelmed with all of the Woosley queries and articles to be found in newsletters and journals, but few cited any sources. Therefore, I was quite amazed when I contacted the Halifax County, Virginia probate court to ask if there was a will or estate administration for Moses and was told there was an 87 page packet sitting there, waiting to be discovered!

This was one of my more expensive genealogical purchases, especially for the time, as the courthouse charged $1.00 per page copy. I bit the bullet and received a goldmine in return.

Here is the most important page in terms of genealogical information:

Page 42 (not numbered) of 87 Pages

Here is the transcription of about 2/3 of the page:

To the Worshipful Court of Halifax County in Chan
cery sitting humbly complaining shew unto your
Worships your orators >Holman Ousley, Samuel Ousley, James T. Ousley, that some short time since
a certain Moses Ousley of this County died intestate
and seized and possessed of a small tract of poor
land containing as it is estimated about 400 acres
and eight slaves – that the said Moses Ousley left the
following children & grand-children his heirs & distribu
tees viz. Holman H. Ousley, Samuel S. Ousley, James T.
Ousley, Nancy (the) Tribble the wife of David Tribble,
Nancy F. Keeling, Harrison B. Keeling, James C. Keeling,
Sarah Ann Keeling, Mary W. Keeling, Albert P. Keeling
Alexander Keeling, Martha E. Keeling & Susan F. Keeling
an infant the children of William Keeling and Sally B.
formerly Ousley his wife both of whom died in the
life time of Moses Ousley, Elijah S. Perkins, Constance
H. Perkins, Moses E. Perkins, Samuel H. Perkins, Elizabeth
Ann Perkins & George V. Perkins (the last two infants) the
children of John Perkins and Rhoda W his wife former
ly Ousley which said Rhoda died in the life time of
Moses Ousley, & Johnson M. Hancock the husband of
Elizabeth Hancock formerly Ousley who has died since
the death of Moses Ousley. . . .

There is absolutely no doubt about the names of the children of Moses Woosley – Holman H., Samuel S., James T., Nancy, Sally B. and Rhoda W. and Elizabeth. There is also no doubt as to which children predeceased Moses – Sally B. Keeling and Rhoda W. – and daughter Elizabeth died not long after her father. There is also no doubt as to who the surviving grandchildren were. It is all there in black and white.

Other pages even state to where the various children migrated. I wish all probate packets contained this kind of information!

Not all probate records are complete and many don’t bother to look them up because “it’s not a will.” That doesn’t mean that there is no genealogical treasure to be found.

One thought on “52 Documents in 52 Weeks #5 – Probate Packets & Moses Woosley’s Heirs”

  1. What a wonderful document! Great job on looking for and finding it.

    And, though this all looks very “black and white,” I would like to remind you that any document can contain errors. Hopefully there are additional documents that can confirm all of these children, their spouse, and his grandchildren. But, this is a wonderful document any genealogist would love to find!

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