Monday, November 26, 2012

Amanuensis Monday - Elizabeth Montgomery Leisure Trust


I love this instrument because it shows the business sense of a woman in 1842. It is probably as close to a prenuptial agreement as one could get in that time period. "Betsy", as she was known within the family, had no intention of letting her soon-to-be new husband have any control over the estate let to her by her first husband. Way to go, Betsy!! 

Garrard County, Kentucky
Deed Book O; page 200/201: No. 1796:  Elizabeth Leisure to Abraham Adams: 01 Jan 1842

No. 1796                                              Mrs Elizabeth Leisure to Abraham Dawes Adams
Deed of Trust
This Indenture made and entered into this 1st day of January 1842 between Elizabeth Leisure, widow and relict of Joseph Leisure dec’d of the county of Garrard and state of Kentucky of one part and Abraham Adams of the same County and state of the other part witnesseth That whereas by the last Will and Testament of the said Joseph Leisure decd a tract of land of 48 acres and appurtenances and 3 negro slaves named Tom, John and Milley were devised to the said Elizabeth during her natural life, together with various other species of property (ie) farming utensils, household and kitchen furniture, stock of horses, Cattle, sheep, Hogs, and other things therein specified with latter named property has increased to some extent and whereas the said Elizabeth Leisure contemplates a marriage with a certain John Johnson of Garrard County and is desirous to secure to herself all the aforesaid property and that which she has or may hereafter acquire, does by these presents convey to the afo@ Abraham Adams her interest in the tract of 48 acres of land aforesaid with all its appurtenances, the three negroes above mentioned trust, Tom John and Milley, together with one sorrel mare, 1 Rhone mare, 1 Black mare 2 colts, all the farming utensils 3 Beds, Bedstead and furniture, 1 Bureau 1 clock 1 cupboard furniture, chairs and every variety of household and kitchen furniture, corn in hand, hay, oats, fodder, stock of cattle and other stock, hogs sheep and in fine every species in articles of hereinafter, new property of the said Elizabeth and the increase of the land stock and negroes and property aforesaid and a note on I. H. Hopper for about $200 interest for the uses and purposes hereinafter expressed.
The said Adams is to hold the aforesaid property and the increase for the sole use and benefit of the said Elizabeth during her life and at her death, that portion of the same devised to her during life, is to vest as specified by the will of said Leisure and the same is not in any events to be under the control of any person who may be her future husband and if she the said Elizabeth shall by industry and economy accumulate an Estate, growing out of the property devised her, and conveyed by this deed, other than her support, the same is to be held by the aforesaid Adams during her life in trust for her use and benefit and to be disposed of as she may elect at her death, provided such disposition be in accordance with the last will and testament of Joseph Leisure decd- and the said Adams is at liberty to dispose of the aforesaid Estate in any manner best calculated to promote the Interest of the said Elizabeth, lesening only the power of approval and ratification of such disposition, which shall be in ?nting to be entered of record, in the clerk office of the Garrard County Court.
The object, intent and meaning of this ?nting being to secure to the said Elizabeth all the rights now pertaining to her, provided she should hereafter become the wife of any person – and to prevent such person from exercising any ownership or control over any of the afo@ property or its increase, or to derive any benefit therefrom, other than that which the said Elizabeth chooses to bestow.
The testimony whereof the said Elizabeth has herein to set her hand and seal to date aforesaid.

Witness                                                                                              Elizabeth^ Leisure                                                                                               
Alex R McKee                                                                                       her mark                                                                                                                                                  
W. N. Fishback
James Stewart

Saturday, November 24, 2012

How My Hopes Were Dashed


I had for many years hoped against hope that my ancestors had never been slave owners. I say “against hope” because many of my lines migrated from the Eastern coast – New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland – to Virginia and into Kentucky before finally entering the Indiana, a free State. But, I told myself, none of my lines had significant wealth which might have been prohibitive. In fact, I family lore in the Buchannan/Benefiel family stated the reason they moved to Indiana was to “get away from slavery.”

However, I’ve known for a while now that my Joseph Leisure owned at least one slave. He wrote in his will written in 1835 that “Item. My negro man John at the death of myself and wife I hereby emancipate and set free.” Joseph died in 1838 but his wife didn’t die until 1853. I thought at least Joseph was planning to free John which made me feel a bit better; that is until my recent trip to Garrard County, Kentucky for further research into this family. All I had previously was a copy of the will but there was more. Included on the second page of the Joseph Leasure Estate Inventory (Will Book 1; pages 401/402) is listed: “Negroes: One negro man named Tom - $150; One negro woman named Milly - $200; One negro man named John - $700.”

Though my heart sank a bit when I found this information, I know I need to take this knowledge in context of the times. I’m sure Joseph was a good man in many ways but I have to admit my impression of him is now a bit tainted. He wasn’t a large land owner, only purchasing some 46½  acres  on Sugar Creek in Garrard County, Kentucky (Deed Book G, page 124), yet he held three people in bondage.
So far, happily, there is no evidence that Joseph’s son, Nathan, my 3rd great-grandfather ever owned any slaves prior to his move to Indiana in 1834. At least there’s that.

Now the question is how do I objectively write Joseph's biography for the Leisure Publication? Guess I'll have to take some time before I start that.