Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Monroe County Clerk maintains a WILL BOOK. By reviewing Will Books you can obtain the names of persons who were enslaved by the subject of the will at the time of the will. I have yet to find a Will for a Free Inhabitant in this area but I imagine that it might be possible. Fortunately, in GC, there is a researcher, Mary Frances Bodemuller who went through all of the GC court records looking for names of enslaved individuals and Free Black residents. She compiled this informaton in a book entitled African American Records & this booklet can be obtained from the GHS. I understand that the MC Clerk's office in Union is small and that research there may be difficult due to inadequate places to sit etc. (I've not been there). However, maybe some day someone will have the time to review all of the MC Will Books and publish/share their work.
The Will of James Ellison is contained in MC Will Book, # 3, p. 411. In his will he gives his wife, Elizabeth, his entire estate but he leaves instructions that after his death .. "To my two servant girls, Jenny & Barsheba and posterity, to them I give their freedom together with the use and sole control of the dwelling house I now live in including two acres of land".
Jenny & Barsheba were the daughters of Frances L./Fanny Ellison. Fanny Ellison was a Free Inhabitant of Monroe County in the 1850 and 1860 census records. She appears in the 1870 and 1880 census records.
Barsheba married Thomas Payne and she was the mother of Rev. C.H. Payne (and he appears with her at two years old as a free inhabitant in 1850 - although some reports say he was formerly a "slave"). Rev. C.H. Payne was elected to the WV legislature in 1896 (Fayette County).

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