Barren County, KY African American Wills
Courtesy Barren’s Black Roots, Volume 3, Michelle
Gorin Genealogical Publishing,
(c) May 1993). My permission.
“I JACKSON JOHNSON,
a man of color, being advanced in years, and afflicted in body, and
being desirous to arrange and settle my worldly affairs while mind
and memory remains unimpaired, do ordain and establish this as my
last will and testament.
“1st: If my wife Belle Johnson shall
survive me, I will and bequeath to her all my estate, of whatever
kind, both personal and real for the purpose of the better
preserving and taking care of said estate of every kind as above
indicated, I hereby appoint J. P. Nuckols, Trustee, to take and
control and same, in trust for my said wife, and also to take
preserve and control the same for me as my agent during my life,
Provided that after my death my said agent and trustee shall take a
full inventory of all my estate of every kind and character and have
the same witnessed and subscribed by two persons one of whom shall
be the County Judge of barren County, and preserve the same, that he
shall pay all my just debts that I may then owe, out of my estate,
if there be enough, that he take charge of al the remainder and
control it for the support of my said wife, and I hereby authorize
and empower him to sell and convey any and all of my said estate,
conveying the realty by deed, whenever in his judgment it is best so
“I do not wish any other execution or administration
under this will, and do not intend that my said agent & trustee
shall execute any bond for the execution of the same.
“If there shall be any remainder of my estate, I
desire it to go to my said agent & trustee for his services &
/s/ Jackson (X) Johnson
Witness: M. H. Dickinson, V. H. Jones
of Color, made his will 24 Apr 1882. It is recorded in Will Book 4,
p. 22 and reads as follows:
“Glasgow Ky, April 24th 1882. I, Henry
Lewis, do make and declare this to be my last will and testament.
“1st: I give to my son Aaron Rogers and my
daughter Courtney Lewis (wife of Armstead Lewis) jointly one acre of
land of the place I now live on and adjoining Mac Wade’s land.
“2nd: I give the remainder of my land
including the home to my Granddaughter Sarah Maxey to have and to
hold during her life and at her death to go to her bodily children.
Geo Maxey the husband of my said grand daughters must have no use or
control of this land whatever.
“I further give my grand daughter all of my personal
or other property of what ever kind that I die possessed of. This
the Twenty fourth day of April 1882.”
/s/ Henry (X) Lewis
Witnesses: Jack Lewis, John U Rogers.
noting that he was a free male, wrote his
will 11 May 1882, recorded Will Book 5, p. 52:
“I, Anderson Edmunds, a F M [free male] of Barren
County, Kentucky do make the following as and for my last will and
“1st: I desire after my death that my
funeral expenses shall be paid together with all of my just debts
also be paid.
“2nd: I give to my wife Eliza Edmunds the
following property, to wit: The North side of the tract of land I
bought of Harrison running from the upper gate as the road ends to
the Old gate plan or Buck & Including the dwelling house, also one
horse, one cow & some 5 head of shoat if there be any on hand, one
bed & furniture together with all of the cooking utensils also 1 set
of cups & teas, one set of plates & a set of knives and forks, this
property I desire her to have hold and enjoy during her widowhood
should she again marry I then desire the same to be then go [sic] to
equally to my then living children.
“3rd: The remainder of my estate divided
between my then living children that is my real estate the chattel
part of my estate I want it sold & the proceeds thereof be also
equally divided between my living children.
“4th: Lastly, I hereby appoint my brother
Frank Edmunds & My Nephew Richard Edmunds my executors to fully
Carryout the provision of my will.
“In testimony thereof I have hereunto set my hand
this 11th day of May 1882.
/s/ Anderson Edmunds
Witnesses: John N. Fitzpatrick and J. H. M.
Note: Eliza Edmunds remarried before February 20,
1888 as the next document is a Renunciation of the will of Anderson
Edmunds. She signed as Eliza Dougherty, widow of Anderson Edmunds
Deceased. She chose to take her dower in the estate. The document
was witnessed by J. W.Jones.
prepared his will 27 Jan 1890 and it is
recorded in Will Book 5, p. 114. It reads as follows:
“I, Joseph Browning, of color, being of sound mind
and disposing memory and knowing the uncertainty of life, and the
certainty of death, do make and constitute this my last will and
“1st: I give and bequeath unto my beloved
friend Johnson Botts, he having cared and looked after my wants and
feeble health in my old age, a tract of land deeded to me by James
C. Lain &K wife Zorata T. Lain situated in Barren county & bounded
as follows: Beginning at a beech corner to C. L. Brownings, thence
with his line old call; S 25 W new call S 46 ¾ W 41 poles to a small
sassafras Said Browning’s corner, and James Browning’s corner,
thence S 3 10 poles to a beech, thence S 64 ½ E 34 poles to a stone;
thence N 46 ¾ E 38poles to a beech of small chestnuts in Charley
Browning’s line, thence with his line N 41 W 22 poles to a gum,
thence with said Line N 62 W 19 poles to the Beginning Eleven acres
or more or less lying and being on the waters of Beaver Creek in
Barren County, Ky., to him and his heirs to dispose of as he pleases
“2nd: I bequeath and give unto my daughter
Emma Halsell late Browning One dollar and no more.
“3rd: I give and bequeath to my Grand
daughter Eliza Browning One Dollar and no more.
“Given under my hand this 27th day of
/s/ Joseph (X) Browning
Witnessed by J. T. Wooten and J. R. Stone
Will Book 2, p. 318:
“Barren County, State of Kentucky. In the name of God, Amen. I,
Sampson, being a free colored man and of Lawful age, do make and
ordain this my last will and testament in manner following. First of
all I wish to sell part of my stock to pay all my Just Depts.
“Item. I give to David Shipman
the field that William Lewis --- in Oats for five years, and he,
Shipman, may clear out four or --- acres if he please.
“Item. I give and bequeath to
my well beloved wife Rose all the balance of my estate real and
personal during her lifetime, at her death my Will is for David
Shipman to have all which is about one hundred Acres and at my
death my Executor is to divide all the personal Estate which shall
be left – my wife’s three children equally between them and last of
all I leave my friend Hezekiah Davidson my whole and sol --- (unreadable).
As Witness I have set my hand and Seal this --- day of June 1823.
/s/ Samson (X). Test: John Cosby, Archaleas Y Cosby, John Mosby.”
“Pursuant to an order of
Barren County Court at the April term to us directed after being
duly sworn to value the property of Sampson, Dec’d, a free man of
Colour Shown to us by Hezekiah Davidson, Executor, with the bill
annexed which appraisement is hereunto annexed July 3rd,
“To amount of Cash received
for property sold since the said Sampson Dec’d which was in
Commonwealth paper: $128.25.
1 Cow and Calf $12.00 1
tobacco Hogshead $1 13.00
1 Empty Barrel 25 cents 3 do
do 1/6 pr Barrell 75 cents 1.00
1 Cotton Wheel $2 and 1 Flsx
wheel 3 dollars 5.00
1 Clock Bell 1 dollar 1 Kettle
& pot 1 over & 2 hooks 7.50 8.50
1 old washing tub 25 cents,
scales & a bucket 1.00
1 Bell 1 auger & 1 chisel 75
cents 1 pr plow gear 2 dols 2.75
1 Old saddle & 2 bridles
Farming utensils $6 &1 chair
37 ½ cents 6.37 ½
6 Chairs 1/ 1 chest & Base
2 bedssteads &
2 Slays 7/6 1 hatter chain
5 bee hives $6.00 Iron pot
rack $1.50 7.50
1 hog and three
“Given under our hands this 3
day of July 1824. /s/ Wm Edmunds, John Edmunds, Wm Lewis”
Will Book 5, p. 88.
“In the name of God, Amen. I Ben Johnson of color of Barren County,
Kentucky, being of sound mind do hereby make this my last will and
“1st I desire that
my just debts and funeral expenses be paid and I desire that enough
of my personal property to be sold to pay same.
“2nd. I give and
bequeath to my daughter Cansada and her heirs and assigns forever
all my property both real and personal, and I desire that ___ of
same be ___ expect enough to pay my just debts and funeral expenses.
In case she should die intestate and have no bodily heirs, I will
and desire that all that of my property shall descend to her half
brother and sister Harrison and China. Given under my hand this 9th
day of August, 1888. /s/ Ben (X) Johnson. Witnesses: Thomas
Dickinson, G W Berry.”
Will Book 5, p. 308:
“Know all men by these presents that I,
Rose Trigg, of color and Barren County Kentucky being of sound mind
and memory make this my last will and revoking all others.
“1st: I will and
desire that all the proceeds of my property that all my just debts
and liabilities be paid.
“2nd. After paying
all my debts I will to my son, Andrew Trigg, one dollar. To Richard
Trigg one third (1/3) of the proceeds of my estate and to Ollie
Trigg, wife of Andrew Trigg, one third 1/3 of the balance of my
estate. To Rose Ann Trigg one dollar and to Henrietta Trigg one
sixth (1/6) of my estate. To Richard Trigg one bed and one bed
stead. To Pearl Overstreet, one ___ machine.
“3rd. It is my will
and desire that the remainder of my property not specified be sold
by my executor and the proceeds divided among Richard Trigg, Ollie
Trigg, Rose Ann Trigg and Henrietta Trigg as stated.
“4th. I hereby
appoint R D (unreadable) as my executor to carry out this will.
Given under my hand this 25 day of June in the year of our Lord
1895. /s/ Rose (X) Trigg.”