Sometimes in my genealogical research, I run across documents that deserve more than a cursory glance. In searching for information about my ancestor Gerrard McClanahan (some refer to him as Jerard or Jarrett), I came across this Will of an individual who may or may not be a relative of Gerrard. Nevertheless, it brought tears to my eyes as I noted the following: First and foremost in his Will, he made provision for all of his former slaves; Second, the man appeared to have been born again before his death which brought him to free his enslaved employees; and Third, he names his former slaves in the Will but not his spouse nor his children.
It crossed my mind that the slaves possibly were his children but that is unknown to me as of this writing. What matters is that he not only gave his slaves their freedom, he made provision for their immediate and future well-being. I don’t care who you are: That is commendable. Please know that I did not transcribe this Will – a public record; it was made available to folks like me who search high and low for information about ancestors.
Recorded in Will Book D at the County Courthouse in Brooksville, Bracken, KY
In the name of God, Amen. I, JAMES McCLENACHAN, the Elder of Bracken County and the State of Kentucky, being weak in body but sound and perfect mind, and memory, bless be Almighty God for the same, do make and publish this my last Will and Testament as follows – That is to say being penitent and sorry for all my sins and most humbly desire forgiveness for the same – I commend my soul unto God who gave it to me and my body I give to the earth there to be decently buried by my Executor though as to his discretion –– As to the settling of my temporal estate which it has pleased God to bestow upon me, I make the following distribution thereof viz
– It is my wish and desire, 1st That at my death all my negroes and servants shall be set at “liberty” and be and forever remain perfectly “free”, namely Lydia Ewell and all her children to wit, Peter Ewell, Milly Ewell, Julien Ewell, Alfred Ewell, Caroline Ewell, Vincent Ewell and Margaret Ann Frances Ewell, the daughter of Julian Ewell and all their increase should there be any. And as an idemnity to the County of Bracken and to prevent said servant’s from becoming chargeable to said County I hereby give and bequeath unto my said servants Lydia, Peter, Milly, Julian, Alfred, Caroline and Vincent, one hundred (100) acres of land lying in the said County adjoining the farm whereon I now live next to Thomas McCarty’s to have and to hold the same to them and their heirs forever with all the appurtenances thereto belonging in fee simple which said one hundred (100) acres is to be taken out of the one hunfred and fifty (150) acre tract which I purchased of Frederick Speese,Sr, who purchased of James Coleman, deceased.
I also give and bequeath unto said Lydia Ewell one (1) sow and pigs, two (2) ewes, one (1) pot and all the beds and furniture used by her and her children for the mutual benefit of them all.
I also give and bequeath unto said Peter Ewell one (1) Roan Colt, one (1) shovel plow, one (1) pair of Gears, one (1) Axe, and one (1) mattock, provided: the said Peter will remain with his mother Lydia otherwise she shall have what is here given to him.
I also give and bequeath unto my said servant Milly Ewell one (1) loom, two (2) beds and the gear.
I also give and bequeath unto my said servant Caroline Ewell one (1) cow and her choice of them and one (1) ewe also.
I give and bequeath unto said Vincent Ewell one (1) heifer calf.
Should it so happen that I depart this life in the fall of the year then in that case, it is my wish and desire that the aboved named servants shall have the crop of corn then made together with six hundred (600) weight of Pork for their support through the ensuing year, but if I depart this life at any other time than in the fall of the year my said servants are to remain upon my farm and raise one (1) crop rent free for themselves together with one (1) years provision such as meats and bread stuff and etc.
All the undue and remainder of my real and person Estate (after paying all my debts and part expenses and etc) shall be divided equally among all my children having regard to what they or each of them had already received of my Estate and such of them as have departed this life or shall hereafter depart this life before my will takes effect, it is my wish that the heirs of such deceased shall have one (1) equal share of my said Estate which deceased would have had if he or she were living except Thomas McClenachan’s heirs but they shall have two hundred and fifty (250) dollars only,
lastly, I hereby appoint Frederick Fishback sole Executor of this my last Will and Testament in whom I have utmost confidence, therefore he will give a bond without security (the penalty of which shall not exceed the value of my personal estate) for the performance of his duty. I hearby revoke and annul all my former Wills made by me. In testimony whereof I have herewith set my hand and seal this 18th day of May 1832.
/s/ James McClenachan * SEAL *