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Barren County, KY African American Wills


Courtesy Barren’s Black Roots, Volume 3, Michelle Gorin Burris, 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 to do.


“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 & compensation.


                                                                                                                /s/ Jackson (X) Johnson

Witness: M. H. Dickinson, V. H. Jones



HENRY LEWIS, 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.


ANDERSON EDMUNDS, 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 testament.


“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. Fitzpatrick.


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.



JOSEPH BROWNING 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 testament, towit:


“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 forever.


“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 January 1890.


                                                                                                                /s/ Joseph (X) Browning

Witnessed by J. T. Wooten and J. R. Stone



Taken from Barren’s Black Roots Volume 2, Michelle Gorin Burris, (c) August 1992, Gorin Genealogical Publishing, by permission.


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 wife's 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, 1824.


“To amount of Cash received for property sold since the said Sampson Dec’d which was in Commonwealth paper: $128.25.

Old bay Horse                                                            15.00

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 $3.00                                           5.00

Farming utensils $6 &1 chair 37 ½ cents                                  6.37 ½

Cupboard furniture                                                       12.00

6 Chairs 1/ 1 chest & Base 12/                                           4.00

2 bedssteads & furniture                                                 40.00

2 Slays 7/6 1 hatter chain 4/6                                           2.00

5 bee hives $6.00 Iron pot rack $1.50                                    7.50

1 hog and three shoats                                                   4.50


“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 testament.


“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.”