Monday, July 25, 2016

AMANUENSIS MONDAY ~ The Last Will and Testament of John Lunsford 1794-1858

What does Amanuensis mean?
To put it simply, it means a “person employed to write what another dictates or copy what has been written by another.”

Today I am presenting a transcription of the Last Will and Testament of my 4th great grandfather, John Lunsford.  John was born on 5 May 1794 in Virginia and married Mary “Polly” Sackville Hudson probably prior to 1815, when their first child was born.  Together this couple had 16 known children.  I have good information on most of the 16, but some still need some work to determine death dates etc.

I wrote a previous post about these 16 children on Sibling Saturday ~ 16 Siblings – Children of John & Mary Lunsford.

My research indicates that John Lunsord lived in Lawrence County, Ohio for most of his adult life.  The earliest record I have for him, in Lawrence County is the 1820 census.  He and his family are enumerated in the various townships of Windsor, Mason and Rome.

John was engaged in agriculture, probably farming.  He was able to leave both land and money to his wife and children.

Here are the five pages from his last will & testament.

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The Last Will of John Lunsford dec
See Journal No. 2 Folio 155, where the following entry occurs.
Court of Probate of Lawrence County Ohio held at this Courthouse in Ironton on the 17th day of April A.D. 1858
                                     In the matter of the Estate
                                     of                                                                               Proof of Will
                                     John Lunsford deceased
                                                                                                     The last will and testament of John Lunsford late of said County deceased was this day presented in the Court, by the Executor in the will named and thereupon appeared also in open Court Sanders Russell and John Waugh the subscribing Witnesses to said will and on oath testify to the due execution of the same, which testimony was reduced to writing and filed with said will, and it appearing to said Court by said testimony that said Will was duly attested and executed and that the said Testater at the time of the executing the same was of full age and sound mind and memory, and not under any restraint.  It is therefore ordered that said last will and testament aforesaid together with this journal entry and the testimony aforesaid be recorded in the Records of Wills
                                                                                   S. M Cown Probate Judge

In the name of the Benevolent Father of All. I John Lunsford of the Township of Mason in the County of Lawrence in the State of Ohio through the afflictions of disease enfeebled in health, yet by the goodness and mercy of God sound in mind, Do make and publish this my last will and testament.

Item 1st  I give and devise to my son Thomas that portion of my farm west of a line to be run from the mouth of the lane south, to the south line of my land and from the mouth of said lane as aforesaid northerly within said lane to a point in said lane near the house thence with the spring branch to the head of the orchard field, thence north to the north line of my land.  Upon the following conditions, Viz. 1st that my beloved wife, Mary Lunsford is to have the entire control and use of and the profits arising therefrom during her lifetime, Excepting 2ndly That my daughter Margaret is to have a lifetime lease of that portion upon which she resides lying south of the ditches at the foot of the hill and west of a line running from the mouth of the Hollow near where she resides couth so as to include twenty acres, and that he pays or causes to be paid his proportion of the sum necessary for the liquidation of the bequests herein after specified. 

Item 2nd  I give and devise unto my son Elijah that portion of my farm lying between said line running through the lane as aforesaid, and a line to be run as follows, Viz: Commencing at a point in a small gut or branch at the foot of the lick field midway between the fences and running from said point south to the south line of my land, and also from said point north to the north line of my land, To take possession at my death subject only to the condition that he is to pay or cause to be paid his proportion of the sum necessary to the payment of the bequests herein after specified.

Item 3: I give and devise to my daughter Susannah Cory that remaining portion of my farm lying east of said line along the branch at the lower end of the Lick field as heretofore described, subject to the like condition that she shall pay or cause to be paid her proportion of the sum necessary for the liquidation of the bequests herein after specified.

Item 4th  I give and bequeath to my daughter Margaret in addition to her lifetime lease of the land before described, one hundred dollars which I require my Executor to use as judiciously as he can in the purchase of a horse beast and a cow for her.

Item 5th  I give and devise to my daughter Amanda and her heirs, Three hundred dollars to be applied to the purchase of a homestead for her and her family: and to her daughter Jane, three head of cattle now in their possession and six head of sheep.

Item 6th  I give and devise to my daughter Martha Three hundred dollars, and to her son Reuben when of age, a colt worth Fifty dollars.

Item 7th  I give and devise to my daughter Sally Vermillion and her husband the sum of Three hundred Dollars.

Item 9th  I also give and devise to my daughter Elizabeth Goff and her husband the like sum of three hundred dollars.

Item 8th  I also give and devise to my three sons Richard, Reuben and Jackson, each the sum of Four hundred dollars.

Item 10th  I give and devise of my personal property as follows, Viz: To Thomas J. Lunsford and to Elijah Lunsford my sons, each one the colt now claimed by him as his own: and to my beloved wife Mary Lunsford my Kit mare, three cows the sheep not already appropriated, the hogs, poultry and household furniture, and the farming utensils for the us of the farm.  The remaining portion of my personal property I leave to be appropriated to the payment of debts due by me and in payment of the bequests made to my several children that are not granted any portion of the farm.

Item 11th  I give and bequeath unto my daughter Nancy Boggs, and her husband the sum of Five dollars, and also I give and devise unto my son William Lunsford the like sum of Five dollars.

Item 12  I hereby give and appoint unto my three children to whom I bequeath my farm, five years in which to liquidate and pay the bequests made to my other children and further provide that if any one or more of them may have paid his full proportion to the other heirs while any other one or more may not have paid his full proportion, I desire that the estate of whichsoever one may have failed to make such payment shall first be subject to such claim of those who are unpaid.

Item 13th  I do hereby nominate and appoint Benjamin F. Cory Executor of this my last will and testament, hereby authorizing and empowering him to compromise, adjust, release and discharge in such manner as he may deem proper, the debts and claims due me. 
I also desire and appoint that no appraisement or sale of my personal property be made, but that my Executor see to the preservation and sale of such property as is not specifically provided for, and that the proceeds be applied to the payment of claims as heretofore specified in such manner as he may deem just and equitable.
I do hereby revoke all former wills by me made.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this nineteenth day of January, in the year One thousand Eight Hundred and Fifty Eight.

Signed and acknowledged                                                      
by said John Lunsford in                                                    Lunsford John his mark
our presence as his last will                                                     
and testament, and signed by us in his presence

in open Court before me S. M Coun judge of the Court of Probate for said County at the Court house in Ironton Sanders Russel and John Waugh of said County and both of lawful age, who by me being first duly sworn according to law, make oath and say respectively that they are witnesses to the last will and testament of John Lunsford late of said County deceased, that the paper here shown to the Judge of this Court and herewith annexed, and purporting to be the last will and testament of said John Lunsford was signed by said testator in presence of these deponents, and that the same paper was signed as witnesses by these deponents in presence of said testator and at his request and that said testator at the time of executing said last will and testament was of full age and of sound mind and memory and not under any restraint

Sworn to before me and                                                          Sanders Russell
subscribed in my presence                                                       John Waugh
the 17th day of April A.D. 1858
       S. M Cown Probate Judge


NOTE:  You’ll notice I have highlighted, in yellow, Item 11, in John’s will.  That’s because it mentions two of his 16 children.  Nancy and William.  I am directly descended from Nancy, who married William Boggs.  I find it odd that he mentions them and specifically only gives each of them five dollars.  When he gave some of his other children $300 and $400 dollars, you have to wonder if there was a riff in the family.  None of my research on Nancy and William Boggs gives me any reason to believe they were independantly wealthy, so I doubt that’s the reason.  Interesting to be sure.

Probate records can reveal a lot about a family. Here are a few items that can may be ascertained:
  • Who were the favored children?
  • How many worldly goods did your ancestor have?
  • Did he or she have land?  Are there land records to be found?
  • As in this case, who is obviously shorted in the will
  • Who was left out of the will entirely?
  • Are there later records in the courts regarding the transactions associated with the will?
I’d love to hear about the probate records you’ve found.  Were there any surprises?


SURNAME SATURDAY - Boggs & Lunsford (here's the couple that was only given $5 in John's will)


Happy hunting,
Michigan Girl

Copyright ©  2010-2016   Diane Gould Hall


  1. He must have been a successful farmer with so much left behind to such a large family! I agree, though, there must have been some bad blood with a couple of the kids. I haven't found any probate records yet for known relatives. I have been using it as a tool to hopefully identify some ancestors, but no luck yet!

    1. Anna-I'm sure we'll never know, but makes for interesting conversation between me and my cousin who descends from William. Both our ancestors got only $5. I sure hope you can locate some of your ancestor's probate records. I've luckily found quite a few.
      Thanks for your comment.

  2. Just speculating I wonder if John Lunsford's political leanings were out of step with those of his son-in-law, William Allen Boggs? John died prior to the start of the Civil war, but tensions were building even in 1858. Perhaps John Lunsford disapproved of the marriage of Nancy to William Boggs?

    1. John - as I sit here and look at the photos we have of William Boggs and his wife, Nancy Lunsford Boggs, I too wonder.

  3. They probably had gotten things or money earlier and the $5 was a token remembrance.

  4. Interesting! I always enjoy the land marker identifications-"Commencing at a point in a small gut or branch at the foot of the lick field midway between the fences and running from said point south to the south line of my land".

    1. And Debby, don't you know I wish I could go and locate some of the land I've read about. ;)

  5. I had the same thought as "T." Sometimes some children had already received their portion of the inheritance.

    I love that you highlighted the names. I need to do that next time I am working on a will.

    1. Truthfully, Michelle, that thought had not occurred to me. But, now I will always be considering that when looking at someone's will.
      And the name highlights. I saw that someone else had done that, after I published my post. So, I went back and updated it with the highlights. A wonderful idea for sure. Really helps those family members stand out.
      Thanks for stopping by.


I look forward to reading your comments. If you have any connection to the people mentioned in this blog, please let me know. I write about mine and my husband's ancestors and would welcome new information or meeting a new cousin or two. Thanks for visiting and come back soon.