Volume 1, Number 4 - Summer 1962

Probate of Decedent's Estates A Century Ago in Christian County
By Gene Geer

In Christian County's early years, after its formation in 1859, probate of decedents' estates was handled by the county court.

Personal property left for disposition thus gives a clear idea of the farm economy as well as the household and agricultural equipment of a century ago. Thus on August 29, 1865, the court received for filing the inventory of the personal estate of Samuel Moses, Dec. The appraisers, James P. Owen, H. C. Nash, and Ephraim Wray listed the following items with the estimate of values:

Scythe and cradle, $2; shoeing hammer and rasp, $1; pair of steelyards, 75c; 11 bee gums, $3 each; kitchen table with falling leaf (dropleaf), $3.50; hogshead, $1; featherbed stead, cord, sheet, coverlid and quilt, $25; 25 pounds picked cotton, $10; 30 pounds wool, $25; 2 bunches spun thread, $10; spinning wheel, $4; broken candle stand, $1; beaureau, $12, and top, $4; smoothing iron, 50c; fire dogs, shovel, tongs, hooks, and 5 potvessells, $17; wash pot, $6; coffee mill, 50c; water barrell, 50c.

Purchasers of the above items at public sale bore such familiar names as Handy, Williams, Stockstill, Kessinger, Tatum, Warren, Pettijohn, Vaughan, Payne, Nokes, Meadows, Bllyeu.

The estate of James Cook, Sr., Deceased, listed in its inventory these two items: "one account against T. Roberts for taking nag by force, $110." Also, "one account against Amon Latripp for 2 yoke of stee'rs at $50 each, $100."

Inventory of the estate of a maiden lady, Louisa Tiliman, was filed January 1, 1866, by Jacob Garrison, Jacob McCoy, and Jos. L. Brown, as follows:

Cherry beaureau, 2 sets knitting needles, 2 bonnetts. linen and silk handkerchiefs, 4 night caps, 3 night wrappers, silk dress; 2 wosted dresses, Casheare shawl, riding skirt, 2 lincy dresses, 5 under skirts, 2 sets bed vallances, 2 under beds, 2 boulsters, family Bible, 2 song books, 1/2 dozen painted chairs, cotton wheel.

Abraham Woody had one of the licensed stills for the manufacture of spirits which existed in Christian County at the time of the Civil War and later. Mr. Woody died in 1865 and his estate inventory showed "1 copper still with 48 still tubbs," which were appraised at $175 and sold at public auction to J. H. Woody for $80.

A feature of early estate inventories were the casual descriptions of lands, the "metes and bounds" which were to cause confusion for county officials and the deceased's heirs in later years when the distinguishing land marks used in the original descriptions had moved or disappeared.

Thus a tract of land left to his descendants by William A. Glenn was described this way thence South, bearing East paralel with the Fence about Ten feet West of said fence to a limestone rock planted on the Bank of the Slough."

Mr. Glenn's personal property was inventoried by John Chastam, John Walden, and Wilson Tennis, and was sold at public sale June 6, 1862. Among the items sold: 1 tramp sheet, 25c (a tramp sheet was used as a floor for flailing or tramping grain out of its husks); 1 foot adz, 50c; 1 yoke work oxen, $45; 1 yoke unbroke steers, $24; 1 ox wagon, $35; 165 pounds bacon, $12.37; 1 bull-tongue plow, 75c; 1 barrell soap, $2.50; 2 barrells part full of molasses, $18; 1 crout barrell, 65c; 1 lot ginned cotton at 20c per pound; 280 pine planks, $2.50; 1 earthern churn, 75c.

Apparently some Confederate commanders living off the country they passed through paid for provisions taken in scrip. Part of Mr. Glenn's possessions included:

"Rebble scrip for 243 bushels of corn at 30c per bushel, $72.90." The scrip was signed by J. M. Pemberton, 7th Division, U. S. G. and dated February 13th, 1862. Another read: "Rebble scrip payable In State Defense Bonds, $81.50." This was signed by A. G. Anderson, a/c Commissary, 8th Division, U. S. G., and dated August 15th, 1862.


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