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Friday, March 12, 2010

Restore My Name: Slave Records and Genealogy Research, CoAAG, 1st Edition

I am very excited to participate in the 1st Edition of the Carnival of African-American Genealogy! Special thank you from the bottom of my heart goes out to Luckie, author of the Our Georgia Roots blog. It is through her passion and vision that I come to offer my contribution. Her insight and open dialog have brought me to a place of new understanding and has set me on a new path and mission. You can read my emotional response to her Open Letter to the Genealogy Community here

The theme for the first edition addresses how records of slave ownership are handled by the genealogy researcher. Before the open dialog on Luckie's blog I had no idea that the slave information I had in my files (minimal so I thought)  could very well be the missing piece of the puzzle for a fellow researcher. Even if that researcher never comes across it in my lifetime, what power I have to be able to honor a life, restore a name, and remember a soul. 

Here is my first act of genealogical kindness regarding slave documents. Though not random, I pray it has perfect timing!

~ A Friend of Friends

Last Will and Testament of Cager Creel

I Cager Creel of the County of Adair & State of Kentucky hereby make & publish this my last Will & Testament hereby revoking all other wills heretofore made by me, 1st I will & direct that all my past debts be paid and for the purpose of raising a fund for that purpose I direct my Executors herein after named to sell all of my personal estate not otherwise disposed of & if necessary my Slaves & my Lands, on Such terms as they may think best, 2nd I will & bequeath to my beloved wife Amanda A. Creel during her life or widowhood or until my youngest child becomes 20 years of age one third of my personal property consisting of horses cattle hogs farming tools [sc] also all my Negros and all my lands which are not herein otherwise disposed of to be used by her for the purpose of Supporting her & raising & educating my infant children (viz) Nancy J. Creel, Ann J. Creel, Eliza D. Creel, William T. Creel, & Timoleon C. Creel, and when my youngest child becomes 20 years of age I then direct that my wife Shall have one third of my lands & Slaves during her natural life or widowhood the other two thirds to be disposed of as herein after directed, but said property is to be under the controll of my executors to be used for the purposes aforesaid, 3rd If I Should survive my wife, I direct my Executors to Sell all my personal property as soon as it is advisable to do so, and I also direct that my Negros be hired out by my Executors (privately to good humane masters) and my land rented out by them until my youngest child arrives at the age of twenty years, 
5th I will & direct that my five infant children herein before named be educated out of my estate and also supported & clothed until they arrive to the age of twenty years or marry and I direct my Executors to use the interest on any money in their hands arising from the Sales of the personal estate hire of Slaves & rents of lands for this purpose if the interest in not sufficient then so much of the principal of said fund as may be necessary, 
6th I have heretofore given to my daughters Mary M. Grady & P E Atkins each a horse Saddle birdle [sc] and I hereby give & bequeath to my Son Thos Jefferson Creel my young gray mare a Saddle bridle & my watch and direct my executors to send him to school for twelve months & board & clothe him for that time which will make him equal with my two Said daughters and I direct that these three of my children Shall have nothing more out of my estate until my other children are made equal with them, 7th when my youngest child arrives at the age of twenty years I then direct my Executors to give to each of my five infant children (viz) Wm T Creel, Timoleon C. Creel, Nancy Jane Creel, Ann J. Creel & Eliza D. Creel, a horse Saddle bridle & cow each, 
I further direct that when my youngest child arrives at the age of twenty years my executors to sell all my property of every kind (except the third heretofore given to my wife) if she should then be alive & a widow, & if not alive and a widow to Sell all of my property) and after paying the Special devises herein before made, to divide the residue equally among all my children or their heirs, so as to make all my children equal in my estate. 
8th If it should be necessary to sell any of my negros to pay my debts. I direct that my negro boy Samuel be sold first my boy Creed next and my negro girl next & then my old negro man Solomon, I further direct that when my negro man Solomon is sold or hired that he be allowed to select his home if he can do so, 
9th I hereby direct my Executors that if any of my negros Should at any time become unruly or vicious to sell them if they think best to do so, 
10th I hereby authorize & empower my Executors to convey any of my property they may sell as herein directed by deed or otherwise and I further authorize and empower my Executors to convey any land I may have Sold and not conveyed, 
11th at the death of my wife if she does not die before my youngest child arrives at the age of twenty years I direct my Executors to sell the third of my estate herein given to her & dispose of it as I have herein directed the residue of my estate to be disposed of, 
12th If my Executors Shall at any time before my youngest child becomes twenty years of age think that it is best & to the interest of my estate to sell any or all of my Slaves I direct them to do so, & hold & dispose of the proceeds of the Sales as I have directed herein, 
13th I hereby make nominate constitute & appoint James Yates and James Garnett Executors of this my last will & testament and request them to see that the provisions of this will are fully carried out. 
Witnefs my hand this 3rd day of June 1863, 
                                                           Cager Creel.
William W. Yates
George Yates
Kentucky Adair County 

[produced in open court at the Courthouse in Columbia on Tuesday the 28th day of July 1863]


  1. These kind of documents, with such explicit instructions, helps the descendants of both the master and the slave to ascertain the character of the slave master. I find this most interesting it was written right before the war, and with more research (i.e. earlier documents or post war docs) it may even reflect a change of perspective from the master based on the brewing political issue.
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks for sharing. I always find the wills and the wording used in them the most interesting.

  3. That is an amazing document. Research is hard enough but to have to figure out which family your ancestors took the name of is really a challenge.
    By the way the first comment above is just spam and you should remove it or they keep coming back.

  4. Yes! This is fantastic, generous and educational!

    "Guided by the Ancestors"

  5. Thanks for sharing this, and for participating in the CoAAG. Hopefully, someone will be helped along the way. :)


  6. Thanks Herstoryan for being a Friend of Friends & for supporting the CoAAG message from the very start! We done good girl!:-)