WILL OF JESSE DAVIS - 1823
Record in Greene County Court House
Greeneville, Tennessee, Book A-P, p. 89a
To all it may concern in the name of God- Amen.
Whereas I, JESSE DAVIS, of the County of Greene and the State of Tennessee being weak in body but of sound and perfect mind, memory, and understanding, thanks be to the Almighty for his mercies, and calling to mind that it is appointed for all men once to die, I do make and constitute this to be my last will and testament and as touching my worldly estate I give demise and dispose of in the following manner to wit:
First- That my funeral charges and just debts out of my moveable estate.
Secondly- I will and bequeath unto my beloved wife SARAH DAVIS the plantation which I purchased from WILLIAM FORD the joining entrys I made to it (In the whole) containing one hundred and ninety-nine acres, for her use and benefit until my youngest child arrives at the full age of twenty-one years and as long after that period as she remains my widow, and I further give and bequeath unto my said and beloved wife as much of my household and kitchen furniture also of the horses, cows, hogs, sheep and farming utensils as my Executor may think will be a sufficiency for her and my children's support.
Thirdly- The remainder of my moveable estate if any remains I direct to be sold at public vendue to the highest bidder by the direction of my Executors and the money arising from the sale thereof to be equally divided between my children as they arrive to lawful age.
Fourthly-I give and bequeath unto my said beloved wife one negro girl named MARY and one negro boy named CAESAR until the said MARY and CAESAR arrive at the age of twenty-five years and if my said wife should not wish to keep them or either of them at home with her she is to give them, the said MARY and CAESAR, or either of them up to my executors to be hired out until they come to the age of twenty-five years and that the profit arising from such hire to be put into my estate- Then after the said CAESAR and MARY come to the age of twenty-five years they are each to have two good suits of clothes and to be made at the expense of my estate and it is my will that each of them then be set at liberty and be forever free. The said MARY being sixteen years old the twenty-eighth of last March and said CAESAR being fourteen years of age the last of this instant April.
Fifthly- If the said MARY should have any children or issue before she arrives to said age of twenty-five years, it is my desire and will that they be bound out as the law directs in case of free children by my Executors if put to some useful trade until twenty-one years old and all then be free.
Sixthly- I give and bequeath unto my daughter, BETSY DAVIS, my young grey filly, also a new side saddle and bridle, one feather bed, and furniture, the price of said articles to be counted out of her other property to be valued and priced to her, said Betsy, by my Executors and accounted to her as part or all of her share of my estate.
Seventhly- I give and bequeath unto my two sons to wit FIELDS DAVIS and JOHN DAVIS, and conditions hereinafter mentioned, the plantation whereon I now live to be divided equally between them when they arrive to the age of twenty-one years.
Eighthly- I desire and enjoin it on my Executors to lease or rent said plantation I now live on containing one hundred acres to the best advantage for my estate until my aforenamed sons FIELDS and JOHN arrive to twenty-one years of age.
Ninthly- I give and bequeath unto my other two sons Viz: THOMAS DAVIS and JESSE DAVIS my aforesaid plantation that I bought of William Ford, to be divided qually between them when the youngest to wit, THOMAS, arrives to the age of twenty-one years on conditions hereinafter named.
But nothing herein is meant, nor to be in any way so construed as to weaken or lessen the right, claim, or interest that my wife SARAH DAVIS has in said plantation for the time above stated for her to possess it but to be and remain free and clear of encumbrance to her for use and benefit for the term of time specified in the secondth section of this my last will and testament.
Tenthly- I give and bequeath unto my two said sons FIELDS DAVIS and JOHN DAVIS, my three entries of land. The first one of thirty acres joining SETH BABB, the secondth one containing twenty acres joining WALTER CLARK in the large hollow. The third is ten acres on a big ridge to be divided equally between them on conditions hereinafter specified when they arrive to the age of twenty-one years.
Eleventhly- It is my desire and also my will that my three daughters, BETSY DAVIS, NANCY DAVIS, and HANNAH DAVIS have each an equal share and part of my estate with my sons heretofore named, that it to say if there is a sufficiency of my moveable estate to make the daughter's shares or part equal with the sons taking into consideration the value of the within mentioned lands and if there shall be more of the moveable estate beside the lands divided equally amongst sons and daughters and if there is not a sufficiency besides the land and in that case the sons to pay to the daughters an equivalent to the value of their respective shares of land so as to make all of their respective shares equal to be valued and done by my Executors and their direction.
Twelfthly- I do give and bequeath unto SAMUEL DAVIS all the price and the profit of the plantation which he sold to Abner Babb where he, the said SAMUEL DAVIS, now lives and further I give and will unto said SAMUEL DAVIS, when finished, a new waggon I now have in Joseph Bruner's (?) Smith shop.
Thirtheenth- It is my will and desire that my two negro girls, SAL and CATE, be hired out by the direction of my Executors, until they arrive to the age of twenty-five years. SAL'S age is now twenty years, CATE'S age seventeen years at this time, and the profit thereof to be the profits of my estate, and when the said SAL and CATE arrive to the age of twenty-five years as aforesaid, then they are to be free and each of them are to have two good suits of clothes at the time they come out free to be procured out of my estate. And if my two above named negro girls to wit SAL and CATE within the time of being hired out as above stated, have any children or issue, it is my will that such children be bound out by my executors as the law prescribes in case of free children and if males, to be put to some good useful trade until they arrive to twenty years of age and then be forever free.
Fourteenth- It is also my desire and will that my three black boys viz: DICK, JERRY and RODD, the children of said Sal and Cate, be bound out to good suitable places by my executors to learn the full art and mystery of the Black Smith trade until they arrive to the age of twenty-one years, and then to be hired out until they arrive to the age of twenty-five years by diretion of my Executors and the profits arising from said hire, to be the profits of my estate and the said DICK, now five years old, and said JERRY, now two years and six months old, and said RODD, now one year and six months old, to be forever free from my heirs, Executors, etc.
Fifteenth- It is also my will nd I give and pronounce my black boy named ISAAC who I left in my mother SARAH DAVIS' possession to be entirely free at the age of twenty-one years of age, from my heirs, executors or any person claiming by or under any of them. Said ISAAC is seventeen years old.
Sixteenth- It is also my will that TOM my black man shall never be sold nor descent unto any of my heirs as a slave, but his earnings to be for his use and support and hereby I direct my executors to appoint a suitable person to act as a guardian for him or tend to it themselves.
Seventeenth- Be it known that the above named negro boys cannot be got to the Black Smith trade as before mentioned that, in that case only, they or either of them which may have no such a place may be bound out to some other good trade agreeable to the directions of my Executors and to the before mentioned conditions in their case.
Eighteenth- It is my will and direction that my Executors appoint suitable agents (if possible) to see to the rights and of my above named Negroes at the specified times proscribed in this my will.
Nineteenth- It is also my will and direction that my Executors use their best endeavors to put and place each of my colored family in suitable familys to have virtuaous principles impressed on their minds, etc. and at the time of binding out any of the children above alluded to, it is my will and direction that my Executors do make arrangements to have them educated at least so far as to read the Scriptures intelligibly.
Twentieth- It is my will and direction that my above named sons and daughters be school educated (if practicable) as far as my Executors may judge right and the expense thereof be paid out of my moveable estate.
Lastly, I do constitute, make and ordain my trusty friends, JAMES JONES and HUGH CARTER my sole and absolute Executors; of this my last will and testament and I do hereby revoke, Disallow and Disannull all and every other former will and Testament, Legacies, requests, and Executors by me in ANY WAY named willed or bequeathed hereby ratifying and confirming this and no other to be my last Will and Testament.
In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my Seal this sixteenth day of April in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and twenty-three.
Signed sealed and pronounced by me the said JESSE DAVIS
In the presence of HENRY YEOKLY, ISIAH JONES, JAMES JONES.
Jesse Davis Seal
Transcribed by Dorothy Davis Sabin, approximately 1981.