Will of Richard Scruggs of Spartanburg County, SC, 1855

NOTE: My family is not related to Richard Scruggs. I came across his will while researching my husband’s Woodruff family, who lived in South Carolina.

The 1850 census gives a tiny glimpse of Richard Scruggs and his wife, Mary, who are elderly and living in Spartanburg County, South Carolina:

Given that R. Scruggs, as he is enumerated, is 81, born in South Carolina, is living with wife Mary, aged 83 with no birth place noted and apparently owns property valued at $100, it doesn’t appear that Richard was particularly well-to-do. However, John Timm is living in the household and his occupation is listed as overseer. Whether he worked for the Scruggs or someone else isn’t evident from the census taker’s list.

The 1850 slave schedule for Spartanburg County includes but a few listings for Scruggs. There is Robert with one 11 year old male, W. Scruggs with one 15 year old female and D. Scruggs with 8 enslaved people.

Question then – Is D. Scruggs Richard’s son, Drury, or could D. Scruggs be Dick Scruggs, as that is a nickname for Richard?

In any case, in 1853, Richard Scruggs wrote his will and named seven enslaved people. If he is, indeed, D. Scruggs, then one male enumerated in 1850 is not named in his will.

The court ordered Richard Scruggs will recorded on 19 June 1855. Gravestones for Richard and Mary Scruggs indicate that he died on 4 March 1855, but Mary predeceased him on 14 October 1854.

As Richard died but six years before the start of the Civil War, his will might help descendants of his slaves to add another branch to their family tree.

Will of Richard Scruggs
Spartanburg, SC WB: D-429431
Source: FamilySearch

The last Will and Testament of
Richard Scruggs Deceased
ordered on the 30th June 1855
to be Entered of record in common form

I Richard Scruggs of the State of South Carolina and Spartanburg District being this day in Feble health but in sense memory Sound and of good disposing mind to ordain and set apart this my last Will & Testament in form and manner as Follows:

First I give and bequeath unto my Eldest son Jesse Scruggs my Negro boy Madisson – also I give to my son Robert Scruggs my negro boy Jefferson also I give to my son Drury Scruggs my my (sic) negro boy Lawson.

Second I give to my Daughter Sarah Young my negro Girl Malissa during her life not Subject to the debts or contracts of her husband but after her death said negro Girl with her increase If any to return and be Equally divided amongst my Five Children that have Children.

Also I give to my Daughter Temperance Durham my negro Girl Lucinda during her life not subject to the debts or contracts of her husband but after her death said negro Girl with her increase If any to be Equally divided amongst all her Children (crossed out) Living Children that there (crossed out) and If any of them be dead leaving Children that Those children receave (sic) the parents Distributive I have of such Estate

Also I give to my Daughter Mary Durham my Negro Girl Jane for her use and bennefit (sic) during her life not subject to the debts or contracts of her husband but after her death said Negro Girl with her increase If any to be Equally divided amongst her Children and If any of them be dead leaving Children Those Children receave (sic) the parents distributive Share.

Also I give Robert my Rifle Gun and the Smith tooles (sic) he now has and Twenty Five Dollars in property Also I desire that my son Jesse pay to my son Drury one hundred Dollars out of his part of property after the Division of the Negros – also I give to my son Drury the Smith Tools that he now has and Fifty Dollars Extra out of the Balance of my Estate – My desire is that the remainder part of my personal Estate be Equally divided amongst all my Children. If they can divide to their Sattisfaction (sic) If not to be sold and divide the money – as to my Land my desire is that it be Equally Divided amongst all my Children or over take it at Valuation and pay the Balance their part.

My desire is that my wife Mary Scruggs live where she chooses and that She have a comfortable support out of my Estate and that my Negro Woman Liza to Live with her and wait on her and at the death of my wife Liza choose her home amongst my Children and that out take her at Valuation also that my wife have the use of any part of my household Furniture that she may during her Life and to be disposed of as above prescribed.

I do herby (sic) nominate and appoint my three sons Jessee – Robert & Drury Scruggs my Executors and my wish is for them to See that their Mother has a Good support and proper attention –

Richard (his X mark) Scruggs (Seal)

Signed Sealed and published in presence of us 27 June 1853
A. Wray
Ira Philips
A.H. Williams

The Last Will and Testament of Richard Scruggs Deceased was this day proved in common Form by the Evidence of A. Wray one of the Subscribing Witnesses to the same and ordered to be Entered of record. At the same time Drury one of the named Executors in the said Will qualified and Took Letters Testamentary and a Warrant of Appraisement.
This 30th June 1855                R. Bowden Asst.

Richard’s inventory, returned to the court on 18 August 1855,  was lengthy. The total value of Richard Scruggs’ estate was $1235.10, which is approximately $36,000 in today’s money. However, only one enslaved person was listed in this inventory – Jesse Scruggs had possession of one Negro woman Eliza, valued at $100.00. Since “Liza” was bequeathed to Richard’s wife Mary, who predeceased him, it is possible that Eliza is the same woman.

Possible clues to freed slaves’ later identities:

The 1870 census of Glenn Springs, Spartanburg County includes one Lawson Marron, aged 40, married to Eliza Marron, also 40, and three children: Frank, 12, Frances, 8 and Baby, 1.

The 1870 census of Cross Anchor, Spartanburg County includes one Madison Bennet, 35, married to Martha Bennet, 36 and children: Julia, 18, Georgianna, 14, Palina, 12, Henry 10, Madison, 6, Richard, 1 and John 5/12.

There are too many black men named Jefferson in Spartanburg in 1870 to even venture a guess if one might be the person named in Richard’s will. The others’ names – Malissa, Lucinda and Jane – are also way too common.





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