Will of John W.S. Lowe, Rockingham County, North Carolina 1859: Releasing 17 Enslaved People

As part of Black History Month, I am transcribing several records to contribute to Schalene Dagutis’s The Slave Name Roll Project in the hope that my contributions will help descendants trace their family trees.

Today’s subjects are the will and property conveyance of John W. S. Lowe of Rockingham County, North Carolina.

John W. S. Lowe appears in only one census record in his lifetime, that of 1850:


Source: Ancestry

Elizabeth Lowe, likely John’s mother, is head of this household in Rockingham County, North Carolina in 1850. John is 33 years old, so born c1817 in Virginia, as were all the other members of this household.

The 1850 slave schedules included John Lowe with 20 enslaved people:

Source: Ancestry

They also included Jane Sanders, who shows 38 slaves:


Source: Ancestry

Given that one Jane Sanders, in a property conveyance that I will share here, lived in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, it’s possible that this Lowe family was also from Pittsylvania County, which borders Rockingham County along the state lines.

First, I’d like to share an indenture dated 28 May 1849:

Jane Sanders to W.S. Lowe & John W.S. Lowe
Rockingham County, North Carolina
Land and Property Deeds Volume 2Q:9
Source: FamilySearch

Partial Transcription:
Jane Sanders of the 1st part, John W.S. Lowe of the 2nd part and William S. Lowe of the third part all of the county of Rockingham State of North Carolina witnesseth that whereof the said Jane Sanders is full indebted to Thomas B. Wheeler in the sum of one hundred and thirty dollars due bond bearing date the 3rd day of May 1849 & whereas the sd. Wm. S. Lowe is security for the payment of the same, and whereas the said Jane Sanders is desirous to secure the said William S. Lowe against all loss and damage as the security as aforesaid. Now therefore this indenture witnesseth that the said Jane Sanders for and in consideration of the sum of one dollar in hand paid by the said John W.S. Lowe at and before the execution of these presents she the said Jane Sanders hath bargained, sold and conveyed and by these presents doth bargain, sell and convey unto the said J.W.S. Lowe the following property (to wit) one Negro woman named Lucy. . . . . . . if debt is not fully paid on or before the 1st day of July next. . . .it shall be be duty of the said John W.S. Lowe to (?) and to sell the said Negro woman Lucy at public auction. . . Giving ten days’ notice. . . .

There is no indication of whether or not Jane Sanders was able to pay the debt by the deadline. She is likely the woman living in her own household in 1850 Pittsylvania County, with $6650 in real estate:


Source: Ancestry

From the wording of the indenture, I would take this to mean that John Lowe worked as an auctioneer, in  addition to maintaining his farm.

John W.S. Lowe died in October or early November of 1859 in Rockingham County, North Carolina as his will was written on 30 September 1859 and presented at the November 1859 court term. He apparently never married as he distributed his estate to family members.

Rockingham County, North Carolina, C:306-307
Source: FamilySearch

I John W S Lowe of the county of Rockingham & State of North Carolina being weak in body but of sound and disposing min & memory & knowing the uncertainty of my earthly existence do make ordain & publish this my Last Will & Testament in manner & form following, to wit,
Item 1st. It is my will & desire that my body be decently interred according to the wishes of my friends in a perfect plain manner –
Item 2nd It is my will & desire that all my Just debts be paid out of any money that may be on hand or due now at my Deceased (sic) as soon as may be lawful by my Executor hereafter named
Item 3rd I Give & bequeath to my oldest brother Robert A Lowe of Barbour County, Alabama one dollar & no more
Item 4th I give & bequeath to my  brother Richard A Lowe one dollar & no more
Item 5th I give & bequeath to my brother Gilbert A Low one dollar & no more
Item 6 I give & bequeath to my brother Joseph W Loew one dollar & no more
Item 7th I give & bequeath to my sister Catherine E. Godsey wife of David C. Godsey of Kentucky together with her said husband one dollar & no more
Item 8th I give & bequeath to my brother Abraham A Lowe one negro woman named Docia & her three children named Susan Lee & Caroline together with all their increase to him & his heirs forever
Item 9 I give & bequeath to my Sister Mary A. Lowe all my individual interest in a certain tract of land known as the (Poulison?) Place which is one third part of the same containing one hundred & ninety four acres for & during her natural life or so long as she may remain upon or occupy the said land herself. should she leave the said land of her own accord then & in that case I give & devise the said Interest to my brother Thomas W Lowe to him & his heirs forever
Item 10th I give & bequeath to my brother Luther L. Lowe one negro boy named James alias (Gut?) to him & his heirs forever. He the said Luther L. Lowe paying to my brother Thomas W. Lowe at the expiration of ten years from the date therein after named two hundred & fifty dollars to him & his heirs forever
Item 11th I give & bequeath to my brother Thomas W. Lowe one negro woman named Harriet & her two children named Earnest H. (Morrell?) & Mary together with their increase to him & his heirs forever. I also give & devise to my said Brother Thomas W. Lowe my undivided interest in the Tract of land (?) at present occupy known as the Napier tract also one other Tract of land lying on both sides of Big Jacobs Creek containing one hundred & fifty seven acres known as the Loyd tract of land. I also give & devise to my said Brother Thomas W. Lowe my individual interest in a tract of land purchase of S.W. Vaughn containing twenty eight & a half acres. I also give & bequeath to him my said Brother one negro girl named Eliza all my undivided Interest in the following negro slaves (to wit) John Bunyan Jack Malinda & her two children Louisa & Phillis together with all their increase the one fourth part of one negro girl named Cina together with all my stock of every description consisting of Horses Mules Cattle & hogs – farming utensils wagon & cart household & kitchen furniture together with all other property not herein specifically mentioned to him & his heirs forever –
Item 12th I give & bequeath to my two Brothers Abraham A. & Luther L. Lowe the other three fourth parts of the negro girl named Cina as mentioned above one fourth part to my brother Thomas W. Lowe to them & their heirs forever.

And lastly I hereby constitute & appoint my brother Thomas W. Lowe my sole Executor to execute this my las Will & Testament according to the (?) intent and meaning of the same hereby revoking all other wills & Testaments by me heretofore made.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand & seal this the thirtieth day of September & in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred & fifty nine (1859)

John W.S. Lowe  (seal)
Signed sealed & declared to be
the last Will & Testament of the said Testator in our presents * acknowledged to be his act * deed
William S. Lowe
MD King

 

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