The Will of Henry Williams

Will of Henry Williams, written 1785 Caswell Co., NC

In the name of God Amen; I Henry Williams of the county of Caswell and state of North Carolina being in perfect health, thanks be to almightly God for his mercies but taking into consideration the shortness and uncertaintly of this Transitory life, and that this is appointed for all men once to die, do make and ordain this my last will and Testament in manner and form following (that is to va_y) First and principally I commend my soul onto almightly God my Creator assuredly Believing that I shall receive full pardon and free remission of all my sins; and be saved by the precious Death and merits of my saviour and Redeemer Christ Jesus; Item: my desire first and last is that all my lawful Debts be paid off; ……..

1st – To my Eldest son Daniel Williams three hundred and forty acres of land taken off the North side of the Track of land I purchased from John Henslee, two negros, Jacob and Amee…One feather bed and furniture one grey horse two cows and Calves; And two Ewes(?) and lambs and other household furniture equal with Nancy Rice to him and his heirs forever.

2nd – To my son Joseph Williams, the other three hundred acres of land that I purchased of said Henslee; and also two hundred and sixteen acres adjacent thereto lying on the waters of Toms Creek; and one Negro Boy named James, one Negro Girl named Dinah (?) one horse and saddle to the value of twenty pounds one Feather bed and furniture Two cows and calves Two Ewes and lambs and other household furniture equal with Nancy Rice to him and heirs forever;

3rd – To my son Nathan Williams a track of land I purchased of Thomas Hart containing three hundred and firfty acres, Negroes Tom and Pheobe, one horse and saddle to the value of twenty pounds. One feather bed and furniture, two cows and calves, two ewes and lambs and other Household furniture equal with Nancy Rice to him and his heirs for ever;

4th – To my son Henry Williams the track of land where I now live called McMeirs (?) old track at my wifes death or intermarriage, and also one hundred and twenty seven acres of land lying between where I now live and the land purchased from John Henslee; One Negro girl named Charlotte and one hundred pounds to purchase him a negro fellow, one horse and saddle to the value of twenty pounds, one feather bed furniture two cows and calves two ewes and lambs and other household furniture equal with Nancy Rice to him and his heir forever;

5th – I also give the remainder of my lands lying on the waters of country line creek to be equally divided between my four sons to support their other lands with timber;

6th – Item I give and bequeath to my daughter Nancy Rice one mare and saddle one feather bed and furniture two cows and calves two ewes and lambs half dozen pewter plates, two pewter bassons, one pewter dish and iron pot, one iron skillet to her and heirs forever; I also lend to my Daughter Nancy Rice one Negro woman named Rachel and one Negro Boy named Bob during her natural life at her death they and their Increase to be equally divided among the heirs of her body lawfully be begotten in wedlock.

7th – Item I give and bequeath to my daughter Elisabeth Williams one mare named Bounce, a womans saddle, one feather bed and furniture, two cows and calves, two ewes and lambs and other household furniture and other household furniture equal with Nancy Rice to her and her heirs forever; I also lend to my dauther Elisabeth, one negro woman named Sampson and fifty pounds during her natural life and at her death to be equally divided among the heirs of her body lawfully begotten in wedlock;

8th – I give and bequeath to my daughter Sussanne Rice one bed and furniture, one mare and saddle half dozen pewter plates two pewter Bass___ one pewter dish, one iron pott, one iron skillet all which she has already received. And also two cows and calves, two ewes and lambs to her and her heirs forever. I aslo lend to my dauther Sussana Rice, one Negro girl named Rose, and one negro boy named Simon, during her natural life and at her death to be equally divided and their increase among the heirs of her body lawfully begotten in wedlock; ___

9th – I give and bequeath to my daughter Ursaly Duke Peoples one feather bed and furniture, one woman’s saddle half dozen pewter plates, two pewter bassons, one pewter dish, one iron skillet all which she has already received. I likewise give her a mare colt that come out of Bounce and one iron pott, two cows and calves, two ewes and lambs to her and her heirs forever. I also lend to my daughter Ursaly Duke Peoples one negro Boy named Peter and one Negro girl named Jane during her natural life and at her death they and their increase to be equally diveded among the heirs of her body lawfully begotten in wedlock;

10th – I give to my daughter Salley Brooks one feather bed and furniture to her and her heirs forever; I also lend to my daughter Salley Brooks ___ (Writing is squished and unclear and crossed out. I can read Sarah Peters? and more about Salley Brooks)

…During her natural life and at her death to be equally divided among the heirs of her body lawfully begotten in wedlock;

11th I give to my daughter Jane Williams one horse and saddle to the value of twenty pounds, one feather bed and furniture, two cows and calves, two ewes and lambs and other household furniture equal with Nancy Rice. I also lend to my dauther Jane Williams one negro man named Will, and one negro girl named named Ester during her natural life and at her death they and their increase to be equally divided among the heirs of her body lawfully begotten in wedlock;

12th – I lend to my well beloved wife Elizabeth Williams my manner plantation and all my slaves that is not mentioned in my former legacies and four work horses and all the remaining part of my stock of cattle. Hogs and sheep and two beds and furniture and the remaining part kitchen furniture during her widowhood to maintain and school the children upon. But if she should intermarry, I appoint that all my estate be taken out of her hands. Except five negros (to Witt), Frank, Sall, Fanny, Sarah, little Hannah, and one feather bed and furniture and all the stock of every kind, and all the kitchen furniture which I lend her during her natural life and at her decease to be equally divided between my sons and daughters or their heirs and my Grand Daughter Mary Slade and all the rest of my estate be it of what kind or quality so ever I appoint that it be sold and the money arrising there from to be equally divided among my sons and daughters and my grand daughter Mary Slade or their heirs; I also appoint that if my daughter Elisabeth should live longer than her mothers widowhood that at her Intermarriage my daughter Elisabeth and her Estate, I leave to be conducted by my son in law William Rice and if she should die without heir that then all her estate except her negro I leave to William Rice and her negro I leave to be equally divided with the other part of my estate that is divided…..

Lastly I appoint my wife, and my son in law William Rice and my son Daniel Williams at the arival of Twenty one years of age whole and sole executors and Executrix of this my last will and testament to be performed in witness where of I do hereunto set my hand and seal this Twelfth Day of April one thousand seven Hundred and Eighty Five.

Signed, sealed, published, and Declared

in presents of

John Henslee (Jurat)                                      Henry Williams

William Brown (Jurat)

Thomas Rice

Executors Elisabeth Williams William Rice

Qualified ______ ______

This will was proven in open court in January 1786, Caswell County, NC, by the oath of John Hensley and William Brown.

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North Carolina Poll Tax

North Carolina tax lists – definition of white and black “polls”

The poll tax was imposed on males and slaves in every household.

It was started in 1715 by the General Assembly and applied to all males over the age of 16 “white poll” and all slaves, male and female, over the age of 12 “black poll”, were also taxed at this time.

This tax was modified in 1777 and 1784 to include property owned.
In 1784, the black poll was changed to include freeman and male servants over the age of 21 (with males over 45 being exempt after 1835) and male and female slaves between the ages of 12 and 50.

In 1801, the poll tax was changed to exempt males over the age of 50 and in 1817, the age was dropped to 45.

After the abolition of slavery in 1868, the tax was changed to all males between the ages of 21 and 50 until the poll tax was ended in 1970.

Source: “North Carolina Research: Genealogy and Local History, 1996″, by Helen Leary, pages 231-232.

1777 Tax Lists Caswell County NC – Williams

In 1777 Caswell County, NC consisted of 6 districts – Richmond, Gloucester, St. David’s, St. Luke’s, St. James, and Nash. In 1792, St. Lawrence, St. Luke’s, St. James, and Nash counties became Person County.

According to the 1777 Caswell County Tax list, there were 8 Williams men being taxed:

St. David’s District – Henry Williams was taxed for 3722 acres, 6 white polls, and 6 black polls; Colonel John Williams was taxed for 1299 acres, 0 white polls, and 0 black polls

Gloucester District – 0 Williams families were taxed

St. James’ District – George Williams was taxed and Thomas Williams was taxed for 194 acres, 17 white polls and 6 black polls

St. Lukes District – Benjamin Williams was taxed

Nash District – Benjamin Williams and John Williams were taxed

Richmond District – William Williams

Source: Caswell Co., NC List of Taxables for 1777, 1780, & 1784 , microfilm, North Carolina State Archives, Call No. 020.70001

The Regulator Movement

Last weekend I drove to Siler City, North Carolina to attend a lecture on The Regulator Movement of Chatham County, North Carolina, given by Mr. John H. Emerson. The lecture was sponsored by the Chatham County Historical Society and took place at the Rives Chapel Church in Siler City, North Carolina.  Tours of the church and the nearby Old Tick Creek cemetery, where the Regulator James Emerson was buried, were given prior to the lecture.  I did not make it to the church in time for the cemetery tour, however I made it inside the hall in time to get a good seat. I think attendance was higher than they expected because the organizers had to set up more chairs. The lecture itself ran for just about an hour. The Chatham County Historical Society had some books and pamphlets on a table at the back of the room that we could visit after the lecture. Another gentleman also had some weapons on display for us to look at.

The Regulator Movement is said to be the precursor and possibly even the first battle of the American Revolutionary War.  What started out as a peaceful movement enacted to change the policies governing land and property taxation and to rid the colony of corrupt politicans, ended in a gun fight at the Battle of Alamance Creek.

I decided to attend this lecture for a couple of reasons: My ancestor, Henry Williams, was living in nearby Caswell County, NC during this time (1766-1771) and was believed to have been in the Caswell County Militia. I think he may have had some involvement in the Regulator Movement. There’s been some confusion about his involvement in the Revolutionary War (see previous post here) and I was hoping to clear it up by learning about his possible role in the Regulator Movement.

I also wanted to have any excuse to drive out that way. Siler City is on the outskirts of Randolph County, North Carolina. My Godwin family settled in Randolph County in 1800 in the small community of Seagrove. Seagrove is about a 20 minute drive West of Siler City. A few weeks ago I took my first trip out to Randolph County to visit the Genealogy room in the Randolph County public library located in downtown Asheboro. You can read about my visit on my other blog here. I hope to make more trips out there to take in more of the scenery.

I did not learn any new information about my ancestor, Henry Williams, believed to have been an officer in the Revolutionary War.  There was a copy of William Powell’s book, The Regulators in North Carolina: A documentary history, 1759-1766 on one of the tables.  I did not find any mention of my ancestory, Henry Williams, in it. This was not surprising as I had already read much of the book in 2006 when I wrote a paper on the Regulator Movement for my North Carolina History Class.

A Mr. Brooks Gilbert opened up his family home, originally owned and  occupied by Isaac Brooks, also a Regulator, to the lecture attendees.  His home is located at 1958 Ike Brooks Rd, which was just a quick turn off of the Rives Chapel Church Road in Siler City. Isaac Brooks was a descendant of John and Susan Brooks, whose descendants meet every August in Siler City for a huge family reunion.  I have yet to find a connection between this Brooks family and my own of Caswell County, North Carolina, however I believe both families came from the same part of Virginia prior to their migration to North Carolina.  This Brooks family even has a highway named after them!  More to come about my visit to Isaac Brooks’ House.

Henry Williams – A Revolutionary War Soldier?

Many researchers of my Henry Williams have indicated that he was a Colonel in the Revolutionary War, citing page 71 of William S. Powell’s book When the Past Refused to Die: A History of Caswell County, North Carolina 1777-1977  (Durham, NC: Moore Publishing Company, 1977) as their source. This is the only source I can find indicating that Henry Williams was a soldier in the Revolutionary War.  I did not find a pension application for him or his widow or heirs in Heritage Quest’s Revolutionary War database.

Maybe Henry Williams was in the Caswell County militia and maybe he was active in that militia during the Regulator Movement (of which William S. Powell also wrote a book about – The regulators in North Carolina: a documentary history, 1759-1776).  However, I do not believe he saw duty during the Revolutionary War.  His brother, Colonel James Williams, was instrumental in the War.  He was living in the 96th District of South Carolina at the time.  In 1780, James Williams travelled to Caswell County, NC to visit his brother. It was there he wrote his will and transferred much of his property and possibly his slaves to his brother’s house for safe-keeping from the Tories. That Henry Williams was at home with his family, instead of away at war also indicates to me that he did not participate in the War.

After James’ death during the Battle of King’s Mountain in October 1780, Henry Williams, his brother and executor of his estate, reported an accounting of $25,000 that had been given to his brother, James Williams from the State of North Carolina to use to raise militia in Caswell County and surrounding counties to fight against the Tories. James’ son John Williams testified that this money was used to rally troops who were taken to King’s Mountain with him.  There is no mention of Henry Williams’ active participation in the rallying or marching of said troops. [Source: Graves, William T., James Williams: An American Patriot in the Carolina Backcountry, San Jose: Writers Club Press, 2002, p. 56]

The Author, William S. Powell, did not provide any sources or a bibliography to his book aforementioned. He did, however, note that all notes, chapter materials, and source material was given to the Gunn Memorial Library in Yanceyville, NC.  I therefore intend to visit this library and review his notes to see what source he used for his list of Caswell men who saw action in the Revolutionary War.

Update

Richard Brooks of Caswell Co., NC (1730-1790)

Richard Brooks was born about 1730, probably in Virginia, and died about 1790 in Caswell County, North Carolina.  In his will written October 3, 1789 he mentioned his wife Ann Brooks and his 5 children (see original will transcript here):

  1. William Bird Brooks (c. 1774-after 1830)
  2. Elizabeth “Betsey” Brooks (born c. 1789)
  3. Francis Armestead Brooks (c. 1781 – after 1860 in Alabama) married James Sheppard
  4. John Brooks (c. 1785 – after 1809)
  5. Ann Smith Brooks (c. 1770 – c. 1805), married Solomon Graves

Richard Brooks was living in Kingston Parish, Gloucester County, Virginia prior to his removal to Caswell County, North Carolina between 1770 and 1780.  Caswell County was formed from Orange County in 1779.  It is possible, Richard lived in Orange County, North Carolina from 1770-1779 when part of the county became Caswell County.

On December 10, 1754, Richard and Thomas Brooks were listed in a survey to divide land equally between the two men according to the last will and testament of Mr. Jonathan Brooks in Kingston Parish, Gloucester Co., VA. [1]

On April 10, 1770, Richard and his wife _____’s daughter, Ann Smith Brooks, was baptized in Kingston Parish, Gloucester Co., VA [1].  Unfortunately, I did not see a marriage record for Richard Brooks in the Kingston Parish Book.

Richard’s wife Ann was listed on the 1800 Caswell County, NC census report after he died. She was listed between the ages of 26 and 45, born between 1755 and 1774. This would have made her about 16 years of age at the time of Richard’s daughter, Ann Smith Brooks’ date of birth in 1770 in Virginia.  It is possible Ann Smith Brooks’ mother was someone other than Ann. It is also possible her mother’s maiden name was Smith, for whom she was named after.

Richard’s will was written in October of 1789 and proved in January of 1790.  His Wife, Ann Brooks’ will was written March 4, 1806 and was proved in January court of 1809.  In her will, she listed her 9 grandchildren, 6 of whom were the children of her son William Bird Brooks and 3 of whom were children of her daughter Frances A (Brooks) Sheppard. Her son in law, Solomon Graves (married to Ann Smith Brooks) was listed as executor. Ann Smith Brooks Graves must have died prior to her mother writing her will in 1806 since she was not listed as an heir (or she was not the daughter of Ann).

Richard and Ann Brooks’ son William Bird Brooks settled in Giles County, Tennessee after his parents died. He was married to Sarah Paine in Person County, North Carolina.

Richard and Ann Brooks’ daughter Frances Armistead Brooks Sheppard removed to Butler County, Alabama where she died about 1860.

Richard Brooks was probably the brother of Thomas Brooks and son of Jonathan Brooks of Gloucester County, Virginia.  I believe Richard’s brother, Thomas Brooks, and his wife, Mary Blacknall, were the parents of my ancestor, Christopher Brooks (1755-1781), along with his siblings, Sarah/Sallie Brooks Holderness, Charles H Brooks, Thomas Brooks Jr., George Brooks and possibly Mary and Jonathan Brooks.

Children of Jeremiah Brooks of Person Co NC

According to the family tree file of Rosalyn Sumner, Jeremiah Brooks was born about 1773 and died in Person County, North Carolina in 1871. He married Elizabeth Thomas, 18 Mar 1795, Caswell County, North Carolina. 

The children of Jeremiah and Elizabeth Brooks were:

1. David BROOKS b: 1796 in Person County, NC
2. Nancy Woody BROOKS b: 1798 in NC
3. Green BROOKS b: ABT 1800 in NC
4. Hosey BROOKS b: AFT 1800 in NC
5. Susan BROOKS b: AFT 1800 in NC
6. Jane BROOKS b: 25 FEB 1804 in Caswell County, NC
7. Andrew BROOKS b: c 1805 in NC
8. Logan BROOKS b: 1814 in NC
9. Elizabeth BROOKS b: 1822 in NC

Related Posts:

Jeremiah Brooks of Caswell County, North Carolina

Jeremiah Brooks of Person County, North Carolina

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