The Last Will of Thomas Rowlett: 1806

Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 2.56.44 PMSource: Mecklenburg County, Virginia Will Book 5, p 320, 1806; accessed digitally from Family Search (familysearch.org) September 13, 2018.

In late December of 1805, Thomas Rowlett of Mecklenburg County wrote a new will.  Less than a month later, the son of William Rowlett and step-mother Sarah Neal Archer Rowlett was dead.  Thomas left an estate that included a mill and a 1300 acre plantation on which lived 9 horses, 32 head of cattle, 38 sheep and 17 lambs, 4 sows and 24 pigs, 7 turkeys, 59 Dunghill Fowls, 13 geese, and 4 ducks.

And twenty-three enslaved people who worked as carpenters, field hands, grooms, cooks, and household help.

Phill (£200), Joe (£100), Sam (£120), Tom (£120), Bob  (£75), Peter (£60), Charles (£90), George (£75), Isaac  (£75),John (£60),Caesar (£5)Dixon (£50),Ned (£30),Lucy Senr  (£30), Hannah (£90), Diannah (£60), Susanna (£90), Creacy (£75), Lucy Junr (£75), Nancy  (£55), Dizy (£40), Amy (£25), and Fanny (£15).

I Thomas Rowlettof the County of Mecklenburgand the State of Virginia do make and ordain this my last will and Testament in manner and form following—

First I give and bequeath unto Sarah Coleman the wife of Thomas Coleman a negro woman named Hannah. Secondly I give and bequeath unto my dear mother Sarah Rowlett one hundred dollars annually during her natural life if she will accept of the same. Thirdly I give and bequeath unto Colo William W Green my Grey Riding Horse call Yorick to be delivered upon my death.

Fourthly, all the rest of my estate both real and personal I desire may be kept together for two years after my decease and then my executors hereafter named is hereby directed to sell the whole thereof to the highest bidder on twelve months credit taking sufficient security and after paying my debts if any should be due, and the legacies aforesaid—

I will and desire that the whole of my estate arising from the said sales and the profits of my Estate until the said Sales – be divided into three equal parts or shares to be divided as follows to wit one third part or share aforesaid I give unto my brother William Rowlett,

one other third part or share I give unto my sister Mary Rowletts Children, to wit, Sarah Coleman, Thompson Rowlett, William Rowlett, Peter Rowlett, Thomas Rowlett, John Rowlett, Archer Rowlett and Martha Rowlett to be equally divided,

one other third part or share, I give unto the Children of my deceased sister Martha Green, to wit, Archer Green, Abraham Green, Elizabeth Oliver, Sarah Green, William Green, Martha Green, Lewis Green, Mary Green, Susanna Green, and Rebecca Cole Green, to be equally divided among them.

Lastly I nominate and appoint Archer Green, Thomas Coleman and William Rowlett my brother executors of this my last will and Testament with a request that my plantations and carpenters shall be more particularly managed for the two years aforesaid by the said Archer Green and that he will leave the Mill finished.

I hereby revoke all other wills, I so hereby decide this to be my true last will and Testament this twenty ninth day of December on thousand eight hundred and five.

Signed sealed published and declared as the last will and Testament of Thomas Rowlett in the presence of us:

Edward L. Tabb, I Ridley Jr., Elizabeth Neal, Clarissa H Neal

Signed   Thomas Rowlett

At  a Court held for Mecklenburg County the 13thday of January 1806

This will was proved by the oaths of Edward L Tabb and I Ridley Jr. witnesses thereto and ordered to be recorded and on the motion of Thomas Coleman one of the executors therein named who made oath thereto and together with Charles Colley, James T. Hayes, William Pettus, William Stone and James Batte his secureties (sic)  entered into and acknowledged their bond in the penalty of fifty thousand dollars conditioned as the law directs certificate us granted him for obtaining a probate of the said will in due form, liberty being reserved for the other executors therein named to Issue in the Probate when they shall think fit.

Teste  William Baskervill CS Cou

Analysis to follow.

Today’s Trip to the Genealogical Society: The marriage of Martin Corrigan and Mary Walker

The Northeastern Pennsylvania Genealogical Society recently moved its library to Annex Two of the Kirby Health Center in downtown Wilkes-Barre.  What a delight to return to this regional treasure, now housed in a second floor suite of rooms filled with bright ambient light and tended by a dedicated corps of family history sleuths.

Today I used one of the computers to access the society’s digital records, which include all the sacramental records within the Roman Catholic Diocese of Scranton, which fortunately includes my husband’s Hazleton family.

In matrimonium corjunxi sunt Martinum Corrigan et Mariam Walker. Coram Hujonem Sheridan et Margaretam Corrigan.

Michael L Scanlon    March 30, 1861

On page 0049 of the marriage record is the above script, which brings to mind the middle-schooler quip, “Latin is a dead language, as dead as it can be.  Latin killed the Romans, and now its killing me.”

Latin was the performative language of the Roman Catholic churches of northeastern Pennsylvania (and throughout the US) until well into the 20th century, when it was gradually displaced by English.  So all those sacramental records that I wish to record and decode will require me to dust off my Latin and/or refer to the cheat sheets provided by the NEPAGS.

THIS record confirms the Corrigan’s oral tradition.

Martin Corrigan and Mary Walker were joined in matrimony in the presence of Hugh Sheridan and Margaret Corrigan, on March 30, 1861–which happened to be Easter that year–by Father Michael L. Scanlon.

At the time of the ceremony Father Scanlon was priest of St. Mary’s parish at Beaver Meadows, the mother of the coal region’s parishes, and in charge of the construction of St. Gabriel’s Church in the nearby town of Hazleton.  And this fact corroborates the lore that Martin and Mary were married at St. Mary’s Church.

The church records don’t record that all participants walked to and from the ceremony from coal towns like Ebervale and Hazleton, a 12 mile round trip.

Did the newlyweds have a reception upon their return or perhaps an Easter feast at a family member’s home?

Now I want to go back to my family history pals and ask them about 19th wedding traditions!!

 

Pay Attention

After a cup of very strong dark-roast coffee made silky with a dollop of half-n-half, I greet the morning from my front porch.  Two double-coated English shepherds, Cappy and Luci, lay at my feet, anticipating my next move into the day.

The walk.

Yesterday some kind of front moved in, laden with moisture and heat.  Dew point and air temperature met, and the curtain that rose skyward from the lawn clung to any fiber or hair with summertime tenacity.  Muggy. Humid. Words just don’t do justice to the heaviness of the air.

We headed over to the park before the sun climbed too far up above horizon. It was our regular routine. Out of car to the “registration desk”–a patch of grass littered with dog pheromones. Sniff, pee, sniff, trot.  Up the hill. Sniff, pee, sniff, trot. Nose to ground, walk, sniff, walk, sniff, pee, trot. Along the main park road to the campground entrance.  The trot sniffing continued as normal, all the way down the hill, round the corner, past the place of herons and turtles, down the straight-away where the hillside forest meets lake, a game of pheromone tag.

This is an out and back two-miler, shaded at this time of day, with just one hill in each direction.   We have been easily negotiating this hike for over a year.

But not yesterday.  Cappy made the loop around to head back, and walked.

One paw lifting at a time.

The water was waiting for us back in the car, as usual, and I could only promise to not do that again.  Luci was oblivious to her companion’s discomfort, continuing her trot explore, content with the many opportunities to pause for further message-leaving.  But I was exquisitely aware of the new pace, and concerned that whatever distress Cappy was feeling got managed well.

I let him set the pace as we wound back around the place of turtles and herons, up the hill still shaded by oaks and beech, passing the empty ball field. As we turned left onto the main road, Cappy perked up, smiling, picking up the trot, and joining Luci in a couple of last minute sniff and pees before jumping into the car’s hatchback.

I toweled off the liter of cold water before unscrewing the bottle and filling the collapsable bowl.  Cappy lapped until his muzzle was drenched, while Luci, still in her own world, clipped out orders to a passing dog.

Move on! Nothing to see here!

But I saw something.

I saw my Cappy as an elder dog, for the first time reckoning with his imperceptible decline.  My tri-color lad will be 12 this September, and with some reasonable accommodations to humidity and heat, we will continue our morning constitutionals.

Carrying water with us.

Move on.

Still Waters Run Deep

IMG_1277

In the center of the lake water rings ripple toward shore. The fish whose jump started the pulse swam anonymously away.  Until I started this morning constitutional I thought “catfish were jumping” was just a lyric in the Doobie Brothers’ “Black Water.”

 

 

A Family Tree Can Provide More Than Shade

wood-nature-leaves-tree.jpgI think most of us who succumb to the genealogical fever scramble to collect names and dates, and align them in some order.  Bits and bobs of family history hang from stout lines of inquiry, like leaves on a June sugar maple.

I want to spread a blanket over its roots, and linger in the shade of these ancestors, telling stories of prosperity and perseverance.  But when I look up into the Dodson-Rowlett-Green branches, I see what those leaves are blocking, what is providing the shadowed comfort of family tales.

The light of ingenuity and survival contains the stolen humanity of enslaved people.

I can feel their presence, though I may never know more than an age, sex, or first name.  And I feel impelled to reframe my family’s progress and reputation, to fully account for their choices and the impact that those choices had on their children, neighbors, community, and on the very ideals of a developing democracy.

I am climbing my family tree, again, adding leaves and uncovering roots that go well beyond my known kin.  I wonder what I will learn when I step out of its shade.