Category Archives: The Slave Name Roll Project

Releasing Rebecca, Tobias, Betsey & Lucy, Caswell Co. NC 1860

While browsing through probate records of Caswell County, North Carolina, I came across this deed of conveyance, dated 30 March 1860, which mentioned enslaved persons Rebecca, Tobias, Betsey and Lucy. The estate of Benjamin C. West was also mentioned. Sarah E. Watlington, wife of James M. Watlington, was to have sole use and benefit of these people.

As this conveyance was filed just before the start of the Civil War, I dug a bit deeper to learn more about the family. Sarah Elizabeth West, born 1831 and died 1896, was the daughter of Benjamin C. West. She married James Monroe Watlington on 1 March 1850 in Caswell County, but lived nearby in Guilford County, North Carolina.

Benjamin C. West wrote his will on 11 September 1849 and died very soon afterwards as the will was presented in court at the October 1849 term.

Other enslaved persons are mentioned in Benjamin’s will, so I have transcribed both the deed of conveyance and the will, which might help descendants piece together the families of their enslaved ancestors.

Deed of Conveyance
Caswell County, North Carolina
DB JJ:7 (right side of image)
30 March 1860
Source: FamilySearch

This indenture made and entered into this the 30th day of March 1860 Between Romulus S. Boswell William Y Stokes and sarah E Watlington Witnesseth that where as a conveyance was executed on 4th Septr 1856 Between James m waltington and Romulus S Boswell; wherein the said watlington of the one part aliened & transfered his interest right and title to certain slaves vix Rebecca Tobias Betsey and Lucy to Romulus S Boswell of the second part in the special trust and confidence that he the said Boswell should hold and keep the same for the following purposes and none other. that is to say that sarah E Watlington wife of said James m Watlington is to have the sold and separate use and benifit of all the aforesaid property during her life and after her death it is to be equally divided Between the children of the said James m waltington and sarah E his wife And the said Watlington did also convey in the same conveyance his interest in the Estate of Benjamin C. West. to the said Boswell in the special trust & confidence that the said Sarah E. the wife of said James M Wattington should have the sole use & benefit of said property as above described Now therefore in consideration of the promises and also in consideration of one dollar paid by the said William Y. Stokes to the said Romulus S Boswell the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged before the signing & sealing of this Indenture the said Romulus S. Boswell doth bargain and sell alien & transfer his right interest & title of the aforesaid property viz Rebeca Tobias Betsey & Lucy Also his interest in the Estate of Benjamin C. West to William Y Stokes in the special trust and confidence that he shall so manage the said property that Sarah E Watlington wife of James M Watlington shall have the separate & sole benifit during her life & afterwards her children that the said William Y Stokes shall buy the property her in convenyed on the same terms as the said Romulus Boswell held it to be subject to the same charges & encumbrances as it was in the hand of said Boswell
the said Sarah E Watlington doth hereby signify her assent to
said sale by her seal & hand In witness wereof we have hereto set
our hands & seal the date aforesaid.

R.S Boswell (seal)
William Y stokes (seal)
Sarah E Watlington (seal)

John W. Graves
E.O. Jones
This conveyance was duly proven before me by the oath
of John W. Graves one of the subscribing witnesses on the 30th
of March 1860.
ThoW Graves Clk
By Allin Harralson D.C.

N. Carolina
county of Caswell The foregoing deed of conveyance was
duly registered March 30th 1860
A. McAlpin P.R

Benjamin C. West’s will:

Will of Benjamin C. West
Caswell County Probate Records Q:281-282
Source: FamilySearch

In the name of God amen. I Benjamin C. West of the County of
Caswell in the State of North Carolina being of sound mind and disposing memory; do make and ordain this my last Will and Testament in manner and form as follows to wit.
Item It is my will and desire that my funeral expenses, and all of my just debts, be paid out of my money on hand at the time of my death
or such amount as may arise from the Sale of my personal Estate not being specifically devised.
Item I give and bequeath unto my beloved wife Mary C. West, two Cows and Calves one Feather bed, Bedstead and Furniture, one Walnut chest one bureau, one horse worth at least fifty dollars and provisions sufficient for her and her family one year.
Item I give to my Said wife the following Slaves to wit Creasy and her youngest Child (space with no name entered. . .then) Rebecca, Ned, Henry, Margaret, (Byers?), Huldy, Archer, Decia and her children, William, John, Betty, Lucy, Nancy and all the future increase of the females thereof, to be held by her with the (?) and profits arising from said Slaves, during her natural life

Item I also loan to my Said Wife one hundred acres of land including
the Mansion house, to be laid off, in Such manner as shall be most
Convenient for her, and Shall least affect the value of the other (function?)of Said tract of land, to be held by her during her natural life and provided my Executors Shall thereafter Consider and believe that the Sale of the whole Tract would be promoted by effecting a compromise with my Said wife for that purpose — Then in that event they Shall be at liberty to effect (?) Same with her Consent and if in their judgment it will be best and most
advantageous in selling the intire tract either in whole or in later to suit purchasers, that the Said Executors shall have full power to make such Sale and pay over to my Said wife and equivalent for Said dower, which amount when paid to her, Shall be at her own disposal. . .But if She Shall be unwilling to dispose of the Said one hundred acres of land as aforesaid and shall prefer to claim it as her home, then my will and desire is that her wishes be regarded in that respect and agreed to by my executors.
Item. I give and bequeath to my three Children namely Robert J. West, Sarah E. West and Louisa J. West one Feather bed stead & furniture each, and it is my will and desire for them to receive at the death of my wife an equal proportion of the Salves and increase of the females thereof which I have loaned to my Said wife But in view of her surviving me, and she shall afterwards contemplate a second marriage, in any such event I desire that She Shall first divide the negroes loaned to her and assign one fourth part thereof to each of her Said Children last above mentioned, and retain one fourth part thereof for her own use, which past mentioned portion at her death Shall be divided equally between the Said Children as above named . . . .
Item. all the remaining portion of my Said Estate Costs real and funeral including the lot & house in the Town of Danville lying on the
east Side of (Wilson Street?) I will that my Executors shall
have power at their discretion to Sell (?) at public or private Sale.
dividing the Tract of land in Caswell into lots or parcels if they Shall
think best to do or Sell the whole or intire tract with the (Dane?) of
one hundred acres if Consented to by Mrs. West, and if Consented to by her and She Shall have received he Dower money. Then the proceeds of Said Sale with any money in hand or left after paying my
just debts and all proper Expenses of the Said Estate. . .I will to be divided in the following manner to wit. I give to my Son Benjamin C. West one seventh part of the Same— I give to Cary W. West and Thomas H.  Hatchett in trust for the benefit of Mahala J. Overby and Judith T. Rohr, one Seventh each of the Said Estate to be held by them for their Seperate use, and benefit, to be paid unto them as their Situation and circumstances Shall require from time to time, so that the best possible advantage Shall accrue to them for a Support etc. and should they or either of them die without issue leaving no heir of their body, then their Said portion or either of them of whatever Shall be remaining Shall be divided as devised among their own brothers and sisters, and Children of my first wife. —Cary’s portion being intended to be held by Thomas H. Hatchett as in his part devised for his Children—

I give to Thomas H. Hatchett in Trust for the benefit of Martha Ann
Mary Jane William, Judith, and all other Children of my Son Cary W. West, born and hereafter to be born—one Seventh part of my Said Estate to be divided with Benjamin C. West, –and others of my Children and grand Children.

I give to my three daughters Martha T. Harris, Ann Pickerings, and Mary B. Travis,  each of them one Seventh part of the said Estate remaining and arising from the Sale of lands Lots etc. to be divided between Benjamin C. West & others.
Lastly I appoint my Son Cary W. West and my friend Thomas H.
Hatchett my Executor to this my last Will and Testament hereby revoking all others heretofore made by me. Requiring them to give bond and  Security to the Court for their faithful performance etc.
And for the purpose of making an equal distribution between my
Children and the Children and heirs of Cary W West, I have
account of advancements to them, and require that my Said Executors have reference thereto, before making the division intended between them and during in the latter Clause of this will—
In Testimony whereof I have hereunto Set my land and seal
this 11th day of September 1849.

B.C. West (seal)

Obadiah Woodson
James G. Rainey

The (intertinention?) of the word each received timely
notice by the Testator, and was acknowledged by him before us the Subscribing
Obadiah Woodson
James G. Rainey

Benjamin C. West appears in the 1850 mortality schedule for Caswell County. He was much older than his wife (if his age is correct), as it is given as 77 years, born in Virginia. Cause of death just says “Suden” as several other entries state. His year of birth then would be 1773.

He may be the Benjamin C. West who married Judith Burnett on 11 or 14 December 1797 in Goochland County, Virginia, as Benjamin was born in Virginia.

Source: FamilySearch

The 1850 slave schedules of Caswell County included a listing for Mary C. West, widow of Benjamin C. West:

Mary C. West, 1850 Slave Schedule of Caswell County, NC
Source: FamilySearch

On the 1850 schedule:

Female, 39
Female, 26
Male, 10
Female, 8
Male, 6
Male, 3
Female, 1

Male, 9
Male, 8
Female, 3
Female, 2
Female, 3/12

By the way they are listed, an educated guess is that the two adult women were listed first, followed by the five children of the elder female (aged 39) and then the five children of the younger female (26).

NOTE: The following is a working hypothesis, not proven fact!

If Benjamin named the enslaved people in his will with the eldest female first, then Creasy would be the 39 year old female in 1850. Her children named in the will don’t directly match up by male and female in the census schedule, but her children living in 1849 would be Rebecca, Henry, Ned, Margaret, Byers?, Huldy and Archer.

Decia then would be the 26 year old female and her children, in terms of sons and daughters, would align with the list in the slave schedule. We then would have William 9, John 8, Betty 3, Lucy 2 and Nancy, 3 months old in 1850 (assuming Nancy was born just before Benjamin C. West died.)

Note, too, that Tobias,  named in the deed of conveyance in March 1860, was not named in Benjamin West’s 1849 will, so he was born sometime in the intervening 11 years.

Caswell County marriage records include:

Ann West married John D. Stratton, 4 December 1829
Benjamin C. West married Mary C. Hatchett, 21 February 1824
Martha T. West married James O. Harris, 10 September 1825
Mahala J. West married Thomas Overby, 5 February 1833
Cary W. West married Mary Hodges, 10 May 1834
Judith J. West married William M. Rohr, 26 May 1830
Mary B. West married John Travis, 26 June 1843

It isn’t known whether Ann who married John D. Stratton is Benjamin’s daughter who might then have later married a second time. No marriage to a Pickering has been found.

More work needs to be done in post-Civil War records, but this is a start towards piecing together descendants of Creasy and Decia.


William Dungee vs. Charles Williams, 1799, Cumberland Co., VA: Releasing David & Mourning

I am always on the search for details to fill in the lives of my husband’s Williams ancestors in the pre-1800 time period, especially as they lived in Virginia and migrated to eastern Tennessee about 1805.

The Virginia Memory Chancery Court records are a huge favorite of mine. More and more files are being digitized and added to the online collection of the Library of Virginia.

Recently, I came across a new record – Charles Williams was sued by William Dungee in Cumberland County Chancery Court in 1799. It’s interesting because I think Charles knew he was wrong (whatever the circumstances were) because it is noted that he didn’t bother to show up for court in spite of the fact that the sheriff had served him notice.

William Dungee vs. Charles Williams, 1799, Cumberland County, VA
Virginia Memory: Chancery Court Records, File 1799-003

Cumberland July Term 1799

William Dungee Pltff
Charles Williams Deft. In Chancery

On hearing the Pltfs bill, the defendant having failed to answer the same altho duly served with process – the Court are of opinion and the (?) is accordingly decreed and ordered that the defendant be forever foreclosed of all equity of redemption to two negroes viz: a boy named David & a girl named Mourning which said negroes were mortgaged to the plaintiff by the said deft. to secure the payment of £96 with its Interest. unless the Defendant makes payment thereof or unless he answers the plaintiff’s bill on or before the 4th Monday in October next.

A Copy
J. Woodson D.C.

By the beginning of the 19th century, the Williams clan had spread far and wide in Virginia with ties not only to Cumberland County, but to Amelia, Buckingham, Bedford and Campbell Counties. I’m familiar with many of the surnames in the Williams FAN club, but Dungee is not a name I’ve ever come across until now.

Apparently, Charles Williams owed £96 to William Dungee. Since there are no further papers decreeing an alternate outcome to this case, it appears Charles must have accepted the court’s decision.


Will of Capt. John Scott, Revolutionary War Veteran, born Culpeper County, VA, died 1815, Scott County, KY

While reading probate records in Scott County, Kentucky, I came across the will of John Scott, written on 19 November 1815 and proved less than three weeks later on 6 December 1815.

John Scott is NOT an ancestor, although my husband does have a Scott line. However, this man is in the DAR Patriot Index and found in online family trees, of course with varying information.

DAR cites his birth date as 256 June 1748 in Culpeper County, Virginia, while others state he was born in Madison or Orange County, Virginia. Here is the scoop with the counties. Madison County was formed in 1792 from Culpeper, while Culpeper was formed on 28 March 1748 (three months’ before John Scott’s birth) from Orange County. Therefore, at the time of John’s birth, Culpeper County would be the correct county name.

However, I don’t know the source of John’s exact birth date, so if you are one of his descendants, further research should be done. DAR might have a family Bible entry – it’s worth checking out.

DAR also cites John Scott’s place of death as “near Frankfort, KY.” Frankfort isn’t in Scott County, but it is in the county just west of Scott County so it is close to Frankfurt.

While I see mentions of John Scott online, I did not see any mention of his will or a transcription of it. Scott County has lost some records and some are fire-damaged. This will is a transcription from the original book, which was either damaged or the ink faded so badly, it was impossible to read:

Will of John Scott, 1815
Scott County, KY Will Book B:236-237
Source: FamilySearch

In the Name of God Amen I John Scott of the County of Scott & Stae of Kentucky being indisposed in body but sound Judgment & recollection do make and constitute this to be my last will & Testament revoking all other wills heretofore made by me

Item all the property that I have given & delivered to my sons and daughters prior to this date I will to possess forever

Item I will that my son Joel Scott pays to my daughter Nelly Branham the sum of five hundred dollars in case my son Joel should (re?) or neglect to give his note to my said daughter Sally (sic) payable in twelve months after my death in that case. . . . . . said Joel shall forfeit all future Claims to the balance. . . my Estate as hereafter directed and my said daughter Nelly shall in that case possess the proportion of my Estate as hereafter. . . .to my son Joel for his neglecting to pay her the five hundred dollars as directed above

Item at my death I lend unto my beloved wife Hannah Scott during her natural life the farm whereon I now live (except it may be hereafter divided) Negro man Ben, Dennis, Charles Susanne, and her two youngest children, (Horn?) Rob, Ann bald. . . . Blake Household & Kitchen furniture, also one third part of all the ballance of all my Stock divided according. . . . . . .

at my death my will is that my son Ezekiel Scott. . . .have one hundred acres of land taken of the tract wheron. . . .live at the corner lower end joining Toliver Craig Junr.. . . . . .at a white oak tree that is a side line between myself. . . . . . .near the Corner of my meadow, from thence along. . . . the corner where moore and myself Corner from thence. . . . .thence up the same for quantity but to be. . . .

. . . . . .I leave to my said son Ezekiel after my wife. . . .Whereas there is fifty acres of land laid off and if. . . . .of John Brooking who married my daughter Polly deceased I have not deeded to the said John Brooking I do hereby give Said land & premises to my Grandson John Samuel Brooking.

Item At my death I will that the remaining part of my Estate thats not named above shall be equally divided among my children (to wit) Early Scott, Thomas Scott, Joel Scott, Ezekiel Scott, Na. . . .Branham and my Grandson Samuel Brooking. . . . . .lotted by disinterested men or sold among the legatees this. . . .Estate sold at public sale.

Item I also will that at my wifes death all of her proportion of my. . . . . . . as lent above shall in like manner be divided among all my sons & Grandson

Item I do constitute and appoint Rodes Smith my sons Joel Scott & Ez. . . .Scott Executors to this my last will and Testament Given under my hand and seal this 19 day of November 1815

John Scott (seal)

R. McCalla (McCauly)
Toliver Craig
Joseph Minor
Edmund Huring

Scott County December Court 1815
The foregoing Instrument was this day proved by the oaths of all the subscribing witnesses to be the last will and Testament of John Scott deceased & ordered to be Recorded & thereupon Came Rodes Smith & Ezekiel Scott the within named Executors & took the Oath & Entered into bonds as the law directs & thereupon probate of the same Will was granted them in due form.

Attest Cary L. Clark C.S.C.C.

Know all men by these present that we Ezekiel Scott Toliver Craig and James Connally are held and firmly bound unto the Commonwealth of Kentucky in the Sum of Ten thousand dollars current money to be paid to the said Commonwealth the payment wherof will and trul to be made we bind ourselves our heirs Executors & admins Jointly and Severally firmly by these presents Sealed and dated the 6 day of December 1815

The DAR Ancestor Index states that John Scott married Hannah Early. A DAR Lineage Book, volume 134, from 1916 states that John Scott commanded in the Virginia State Line.


1. Early married and had a family in the 1820 census of Scott County, but no marriage record has been found for him.
2. Thomas; married Rhoda Parker, 19 December 1807, Bourbon County, Kentucky
3. Joel; married Rebecca Ridgley Wilmot, 23 December 1805, Bourbon County, Kentucky
4. Ezekiel; married Dorothy P. Hawkins, per the DAR Ancestor Index
5. Eleanor (Nelly); married Mr. Branham, said to be Harlan Branham
6. Mary (Polly); married John Brooking. They had at least one child, Samuel, named in John Scott’s 1815 will.

Descendants now have a documented starting place to continue research into the family of Captain John Scott.