Category Archives: African-American Research

Estate Inventory of Benjamin S. Allen, Bourbon County, KY, 6 Feb 1865

Benjamin S. Allen of Bourbon County, Kentucky is NOT an ancestor in my family tree. However, his estate inventory might help descendants of some of his enslaved persons as he died near the end of the Civil War.

Ben, as he was called, is found with his family in the 1860 census of Bourbon County.

1860 Census, Bourbon County, Kentucky
Source: Ancestry

Ben Allen, 64, born Georgia
Margaret, 37, born KY (if her age is correct, this would be a daughter. If age is 57, then she is his wife, Margaret Coil, married 17 April 1830 in Bourbon County, KY)
W.H., male, 22, born KY
James B., 19, born KY
Margaret, 16, born KY
Elijah, 13, born KY
Jno., 11, born KY
Belle, 8, born KY
Alfred, 5, born KY

Here is his inventory, dated September 1864 and recorded on 5 February 1865:

Benjamin S. Allen Estate Inventory
Bourbon County, KY Will Records R: 32-33
Source: FamilySearch

The pertinent portion of Benjamin’s inventory is the bottom section of the left page;

“Slaves” Bill 200 Tom 150 Henry 200 Frank 250                   800.00
Willis 50.00 Emmanuel 200 Mitchell 200 Dennis 200       650.00
Adam 200 Saml 100 Emily 250 Sharlott 250                           800.00
Julia 150.00 Molly 150 Fanny 100 Lizzie 50                            450.00
Nancy 100 Sarah 250 Child not named 16                                366.00

Ben Allen appears in the 1860 census slave schedule:

Ben Allen, left column, 20 slaves
Source: Ancestry

More research needs to be done to account for 20 enslaved people in 1860, but 19 in the inventory four years later, one of whom is a newborn child.

Be aware that I had to manually read the 1860 census slave schedules, as no hits came up for any Allen in Bourbon County, Kentucky.

However, this is a start to piecing together possible enslaved ancestors who were part of the estate of Benjamin S. Allen.

Releasing Ned: 1794 in Surry County, NC

While researching Spear family lines in North Carolina, I came across this bill of sale in the probates and inventories of Surry County. Since all parties were living, I’m not sure why it was filed there, but it might be of interest to other Spear researchers.

It’s always disheartening to come across these documents, but it’s even sadder that the enslaved was a young eleven year old boy and the sale was finalized on Christmas Eve.

Henry Spear was likely the brother of my husband’s ancestor, Benjamin Spear. If so, Henry was born around 1760.

Source: North Carolina Probate Records, Surry County
Accounts, Inventories, Sales 1784-1809, Pages 40-41

This Indenture made the 24th day of December in the year of our Lord One thousand Seven Hundred and Ninty-four, between Charles Hunt of the County of Surry and Stat of North Carolina of the one part and Henry Speer of the County & State aforesaid of the other part, witnesseth that the said Henry Speer hath this day bargained, sold, & delivered unto the said Charles Hunt a certain negro boy by the name of Ned about eleven years old for and in consideration of the sum of Eighty-two pounds ten Shillings current money of the State aforesaid in hand paid by the said Charley Hunt the receipt where of the said Henry Speer doth herby acknowledge to have and to hold free and clear from the lawful claim or claims of all persons whatsoever and further doth hereby warrant the said negro boy to be sound and well and free frm any impediment whatever for the true and faithful performance of the above. I hereby (bing?) myself, my Heirs, Executors, Administrators and Assigns to the Charles Hunt his Heirs and Assigns. In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal the day and year above within. H. Speer (seal)

Done before,
H. Yong
J. Hunt

North Carolina Surry County February Term 1795
The within Bill of Sale from Henry Speer to Charles Hunt was proved by the oath of John Hunt a Subscribing Witness thereto and ordered to be recorded at large.
Recorded accordingly by P. Jo Williams CC


Estate Inventory of Hannah Grimes, Widow of Philip Grimes, Bourbon County, KY 2 Jan 1865

If you suspect that your enslaved family members might have lived in Bourbon county, Kentucky, I strongly suggest that you begin digging through the county records, which are rich with documents.

Hannah Grimes, born c1798 in Kentucky, was the long time widow of Philip grimes, as she appears as head of household as early as 1840 in Bourbon County. It appears that she was born Hannah Scobee and married Philip Grimes on 20 June 1815 in Clark County, Kentucky, which borders Bourbon on its south side.

The 1840 census shows Hannah as head of household and four children, one boy and three girls, at home. Rebecca, who is enumerated at home in 1850, was born c1839, so Philip likely died in 1838 or 1839.

Hannah Grimes, 1850 Census
Source: FamilySearch

Also at home in 1850 with Hannah was Robert Grimes, aged 26 years. The 1850 census for this family is interesting – I don’t know that I’ve ever come across a minor – in this case Rebecca – who is enumerated with real estate holdings ($1150.00).

By 1860, Rebecca was probably married and Hannah lived with R.P. Grimes, aged 30, and the local school teacher and his probable wife, W.J. and Catherine White.

Hannah Grimes, 1860 Census
Source: FamilySearch

The 1860 census slave schedule shows Hannah Grimes with seven enslaved people, with one manumitted, a baby girl aged 6 months old in June 1860, so born about December 1859.

Hannah Grimes’ estate sale inventory recorded on 2 January 1865 was several pages long. Only one small portion mentioned human beings.

Hannah Grimes’ Multi-Page Inventory, Page 24
Bourbon County, KY Will Records R: 22-25

What boggles my mind is that 14 weeks from the close of the Civil War, life in Bourbon County was going on as if nothing was going to change.

Mrs. Taft one woman Matilda 50.
J.H. McCoy do. Liz and 2 children 300
W.J. White one boy Lewis 205
C.A. White one girl Belle 226
W.J. White gets for keeping Milly $325

The school teacher and possibly wife Catherine (C.A.?) paid quite a bit of (Confederate?) money in this transaction. I guess they still thought the South was going to win even in the war’s last days.

Only six people are included in this sale list, but there were seven slaves enumerated in 1860. If the infant was truly manumitted, then the numbers match. However, The boy Lewis in 1864 doesn’t appear in 1860.

My educated guess would be that the 60 year old woman is Matilda and the 38 year old is probably Liz. What became of the 59 year old male is undetermined. Milly might be the 32 year old woman and Belle the 8 year old girl, but this is all speculation – perhaps a starting point for further research.

1860 Census Slave Schedules
Source: Ancestry

As with the other estate records, further investigation needs to be done to possibly determine the ages of these soon-to-be free people and if they are among those found in 1860.

As African-American History Month 2020 comes to a close, I want to remind researchers that estate inventories and, at times, tax lists (I’ve actually seen names & ages of enslaved people written into tax lists) are excellent resources to use if you have an idea of the county where your ancestors were living.