Genealogy is a frustrating hobby. Sometimes it’s fun to find old documents that possibly belong to your ancestors and realize that you can read the text. This is a will that I thought belonged to my ancestor. While it wasn’t a match, I learned what things fathers transferred. Also, how he equitably divided the property in a large family.
When I found this will for Thomas Watkins, Sr in the NC Probate for Rowan County archive, I transcribed it to determine the family members. As I transcribed, I corrected words when I understood what he was trying to say. His penmanship is readable. His spelling is odd and somewhat phonetic. This is an educated man who has enough land, possessions, and wealth to share with his family. He included his daughters in the will, which some men did not do.
Thomas Watkins who married Elisabeth Chappel possibly wrote this will. He was born in Louisa, Virginia, and she was from Anson County, NC.
The screen capture of the will follows the transcribed text. I highlight names in red for easier scanning.
Source: Rowan County, NC – Will – Probate Volume G (1797-1819)
May Term 1815 – Page 360 & 361
Date: 19 February 1814
In the name of God Amen, I, Thomas Watkins, Sr of Rowan County and State of North Carolina being weak in body, but in perfect mind and memory thanks be to Almighty God for it, and calling to mind the mortality of my body and knowing that it is appointed for all mankind to die and after death the Judgment, do make and ordain this my last will and Testament. Principally, and first of all, I wish and recommend my Soul into the hands of the Almighty God that gave it, and my body to the Earth to be buried in a descent Christian like manner at the discretion of my friends and Executors, nothing doubting but at the General Resurrection I shall receive the same again by the Mighty power of God and as touching such worldly estate wherewith it hath pleased God to bless me with, in this life I give Divine and Dispose of the Same in the manner and form following:
1st I will that all my just debts and funeral charges be paid by my Executors by taking Such property and making sale of publicly as they can best spare.
2nd I will to my beloved wife Elizabeth Watkins full possession of all my lands and tenants as long as she remains my widow, or during her natural life, she to enjoy peaceable possession thereof to raise those children which are yet under her care, and I also commit into her care as my Executor with my other Executor hereafter mention all my Stock consisting of Horses, Cattle, Sheep, Hogs and all my household and Kalehin (kitchen?) furniture, and all my utensils for husbandry, to be made use of and disposed of as she may find it most needful for the support and schooling, and raising the children under her care. Three featured beds and beddities (Bedding?) and furniture eupted. (?)
I also desire that my Executors give to each child yet Single when they come of age as much property either a house to the boys or a cow or which, to the girls, to bring them even in Gifts with those that are married and left us, if property is left or to spare.
I also desire that at the death of my wife, She being my widow, that the lands with all and every other property then left belonging to the Estate be sold at public sale, the purchase money or price of the land to be equally divided amongst my six boys, namely, David, Thomas, Israel, Eli, John and Samuel, and money arising from all other property to be equally divided amongst my five daughters, namely, Catherine, Keziah, Judith, Jean and Elizabeth, after with Jean and Elizabeth has had as much given to them of Catherine and Keziah has bad being married off.
And I also divine that if Eli, John, and Samuel should fall short in getting a house creature given to them, that should have as much more than their equal part of the price of the land, as the price of the creature would be.
And I do hereby constitute and appoint my beloved wife Elizabeth Watkins, together with my Son, Thomas Watkins, my Executor and Executor of this my last will and testament, dis-annulling and making void all former wills and bequests by me made either in writing or in a verbal manner. Ratifying and confirming this and no other to be my last will and testament.
In testimony where of I have hereunto set my hand and affirmed my seal this nineteenth day of February 1814. Signed, Sealed, published and pronounced in the presence of Lylse Etcheson and Evan Ellis.
I especially adore that he drew his own seal in a little cloud.