Monday, October 15, 2018

Will of Thomas Merritt, 1853

There are 201 pages of the probate file for Thomas Merritt of Williamson County, Tennessee on Ancestry. I have a Thomas Merritt in my tree, but it turns out this is not his probate. I'm posting this to include it in the Slave Name Roll Project to help the descendants of the people included. 

In the inventory documents, the names of the people enslaved by Thomas are given on at least three different documents. Some of the names differ on those documents than on his will. Four years separate the Will and the Inventory Appraisal. I've transcribed the Will below.

Releasing - Adaline, Mary, Fanny, Prior, Jane, Peter, Jerry and William, Lucy, Annis, Minerva, Jim, Milly, Joanna, Charles, Mary, Daphny, Bob, Moses, Silas, Lewis, George and Jacob.

from Tennessee, Wills and Probate Records, 1779-2008 at

In the name of God, Amen
I, Thomas Merritt of the County of Williamson, in the State of Tennessee, do make and publish this my last will and testament, hereby revoking and making void all other wills by me heretofore made.
Item 1st It is my will and desire that all my just debts and funeral expenses be paid, so soon after my death as possible, out of any monies that may be on hand, or may first come into the hands of my executrix, hereafter named.
Item 2nd, I give and bequeath to my beloved wife Rebecca Merritt, for and during her natural life, the tract of land on which I live, containing about one hundred and eighty five acres; also all my slaves with their increase, also all my stock of horses, cattle, hogs & sheep, household and kitchen furniture, farming utensils of every kind, together with every other article or piece? of property, debts due me, chosen? in action or money which may be on hand at my death.
Item 3rd It is my will, that at the death of my said wife Rebecca that my said tract of land, together with all other property that may remain except my slaves, be sold, the land on a credit of one and two years, the other property on a credit of twelve months, and the preceeds thereof with any money that may be on hand, together with my slaves aforesaid with their increase, be equally divided among my children, or the heirs of such as may die, together with the children of my deceased son John A. Merritt, To wit Nancy Moon, Jane Johnston, Susan Johnston & Narcissa Johnston, Amanda Moulton, Henry J. Merritt, Bennett B. Merritt, Harvey M Meritt, and Rebecca, Susan, Mary, Frances & Sarah Merritt daughters of said deceased son John A. Merritt, each of which said children of my said deceased son will be entitled to the one fifth of a share of my estate after each of my children accounting for advancementws made by me to wit - 
To Nancy Moon the sum of three hundred & fifty seven dollars for negro, Adaline valued at $300, feather bed & furniture $30 & bedstead & bureau $27.00

To Jane Johnston negro girl Mary valued at $400.00, bed and furniture $30.00 & Bureau $20.00 making in all $450.00
To Susan Johnston negro boy Prior valued at $400.00, bed and furniture $30.00 & Bureau $20.00 making in all $450.00
To Narcissa Johnston negro girl Fanny valued at $400.00, bed and furniture $30.00 & Bureau $20.00 making in all $450.00
To Amanda Moulton negro girl Jane valued at $500.00, Boy Ellick valued at $400.00 bed & furniture $30.00 & Bureau $20.00 making in all $950.00
To my deceased son John A. Merritt, and with which his children will be chargeable, one negro boy named Peter valued at $300.00. One feather bed & furniture $20.00 making in all $320.00
To Bennett B. Merritt one negro boy named Jerry valued at $300.00 One horse at $40.00 one feather bed & furniture $20.00 making in all $360.00
And to Harvey M Merritt one negro boy named William valued at $700.00 One horse at $40.00 & one bed & furniture at $20.00 making in all $760.00
And to Henry J. Merritt one hundred acres of land valued at $800.00 & one bed & furniture $20.00 making in all $820.00
Item 4th I nominate and appoint my wife Rebecca Merritt executrix to this my last will & testament, and it is my will and desire that no security be required of her for the execution thereof. 
In testimony whereof I hereto set my hand and affix my seal this 6th day of October 1853.
Thomas Merritt
Signed, sealed & published in our presence, and we have subscribed our names hereto in the presence of the testator, and at his request and in the presence of each other Oct. 6th, 1853
J. M. E. Stewart
M. L Andrews

In this inventory appraisal, dated August 18, 1857, the names and ages of the enslaved are listed as:  "Lucy age 70 years, Annis 49, Minerva 27, Jim 10, Milly 7, Joanna 5, Charles 3, Mary 18 months, Daphny 20, Adeline 14, Bob 65, Jerry 10, Louis 29, Lee 14, George 12 and Jacob 55 years old". Also "two of the negroes at the iron works who have not as yet come into my possession Moses about 60 years, and Silas about 25 years old."


  1. We spend so much time looking for records of our ancestors and very often run into documents which are not theirs. But the research time does not have to be wasted. There is no need for the slaveholder to be an ancestor to share the information. It may take a bit of time to transcribe and prepare the post but this is one way to give back to the genealogy community. Kudos to you for your work, Laura!

    1. Thanks Cathy. "the research time does not have to be wasted" - my thoughts, exactly. My time IS worth something, even if not for my lines. Glad to hopefully help someone else.