Releasing Balzora Ellen and Mariah; Will of Esther Stahl, 1857, Muhlenberg Co., KY

With the approaching Black History Month 2018, I will be contributing one post per week to Schalene Dagutis’s The Slave Name Roll Project. Here is Week 1:

I recently came across the will of Esther Stahl, who died in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky between 3 September and 5 November 1859. Her will was actually recorded on 19 December 1862, during the Civil War. She named two enslaved people – Balzora Ellen and Mariah.

Balzora is a rather uncommon given name and perhaps one of her descendants will come across this will, enabling them to further trace Balzora’s ancestry.

Muhlenberg County, Kentucky Will Book 3: 200-201
Source: FamilySearch

I Esther Stahl do hereby make and ordain this to be my last Will
7 testament revoking all wills heretofore made by me,

Item First, I give to my Nephew Samuel S. Stahl a tract of land in Ohio Count on Rough creek containing about 245 acres the same conveyed to me by John Medkiff this bequest is given upon the express condition that said Samuel Stahl pay off and discharge all debts and liabilities which are now out standing against me or against me such debts as may be outstanding against me at the time of my death — and also my funeral expences and I hereby ratify the gift of personal property heretofore made by me to said Samuel and I also give to him a note which I hold on John W. Stahl for $266.— or thereabouts. with the understanding that my estate is not to be responsible to him in the event said note is not collected and if I should collect said note in my life time, then he is not to have any claim therefor.

Item second I give and bequeath to my niece Rebecca Jane Christian the proceeds of the sale of a tract of land in Ohio County on Green River, sold by me to Patterson & Vickers & for whivh I hold their agreement to pay me four thousand five hundred dollars in several payments. I having  received five hundred dollars on said sum above & I have given the same  to the said Rebecca Jane hereby ratifying that gift, and I now will and desire that my said niece Rebecca Jane and her husband John W. Christian shall control said debts as they see proper, and they are appoin-ted and authorized & empowered to convey said land to the purchasers.

Item third, I also give and bequeath to my niece Rebecca Jane Christian my two slaves, Balzora Ellen — and Mariah and I hereby ratify the gift now in her possession. I will that all my other property be divided equally between the said Samuel & the said Rebecca Jane – and it is understood that the bequest made in the first item of this will is also to be conditioned upon the event that the said Samuel shall make no charge against his sister Rebecca for articles furnished her prior to this date nor for any sum which he may have paid for her schooling, boarding &c. I appoint Samuel Stahl and John W. Christian Executors of this Will — In Testimony where of I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal, this the 29th day of September 1857.
signed and acknowledged Esther Stahl seal
in the presence of
Henry D. McHenry.
Henry W. Harris.
I, Esther Stahl do make and publish this to be a codicil to a
will made by me on the 29th day of September 1857. & which is attached hereto – I will & desire that the note of $266. – on J. W. Stall be given to J.W. Christian & Rebecca Jane Christian. and the bequest made to Samuel Stahl that he should pay my debts & funeral expences & have the tract of land containing 245 acres is hereby ratified & confirmed without the conditions as expressed in the Will.
I desire that the uncollected portion of the land debt on Patterson &
Vickers be given to Rebecca Jane Christian and also a house & lot
in greenville purchased by me of Walton & that she hold the same
(that is the notes & the house & lot) to her own separate use and be-
nefit for & during her life & at her death to the heirs of her body
The said John W. Christian & wife may sell and dispose of the house of the house (sic) & lott, but the proceeds to be invested for the use above specified & the notes may also be collected by them and invested in  same manner & I charge upon Rebecca Jane & her husband to pay off all my just debts & funeral expences. I appoint J.W. Christian my sole Executor. I ratify all Gifts made by me & the remainder of my estate if any I give to my niece Rebecca Jane.
I request my brother Henry W. Harris to have me interred at the
family burying ground in Warren & the expences to be paid as above.
Given under my hand this the third day of September 1859.
signed sealed & acknowledged.
in the presence of Esther Stahl seal
Henry D. McHenry
Henry W. Harris

State of Kentucky
Muhlenberg County Sct
January County Court 1860.
The foregoing last Will and Testament & Codicil of Esther Stahl decd
was produced to court on the 5th day of November 1859, and proved to be the act and deed of said decedent by the oath of H.W. Harris a subscri-bing witness to said last Will and Testament & codicil thereto attached and on the date first aforesaid, the said last Will and Testament together with the Codicil were exhibited into court and fully proved to be the act and deed of the said Esther Stahl deceased, by the Deposition of Henry D. McHenry the other Subscribing witness thereto — which last Will & Testament & Codicil was ordered be to be recorded, Wherefor the same together with this certificate hath been truly recorded in my office – This 19th day of December 1862
att: Tho. J. Jones Clk.

These additional details are included in the hope that they might help descendants with future research:

The 1850 census shows Esther Stahl living in Warren County, Kentucky with Magdalin Stahl, age 85 and born in Pennsylvania, along with 17 year old Samuel S. Stahl and 11 year old Rebecca Stahl. Without Esther’s will, one might easily make the (wrong) assumption that Esther was their widowed mother.

John W. Christian married Rebecca Stahl on 23 May 1857 in Ohio County, Kentucky. In 1860, John W., wife Rebecca J. and two year old son, Charles, were enumberated in Greenville, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky.

Samuel S. Stahl married Dorcas Taylor on 28 December 1854, also in Ohio County, Kentucky.

3 thoughts on “Releasing Balzora Ellen and Mariah; Will of Esther Stahl, 1857, Muhlenberg Co., KY”

  1. Thank you for sharing. And I hope this will help someone, because as an African American, and trying to trace my ancestors I know how important and valuable this can be.

    So thank you so very much for sharing.

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