Will of Catharine Walton Harris, 1810

Catharine Walton Harris was the wife of Nathan Harris I, and my 7th great-grandmother. She outlived her husband by nearly 20 years, to about age 90. Like him, she took a very personal interest in her estate, and like him, she had no compunction about selling her “negroes,” including several children. But, interestingly, she made specific provision for the maintenance of one enslaved man, “old Bosin,” who was also mentioned in her husband’s will in 1793.

It is unclear whether the enslaved people listed were actually sold: they are  not included in an otherwise comprehensive estate inventory made in 1812. Perhaps they were divided among or informally sold to Catharine’s heirs before the inventory was made.

Greensville County, Virginia Will Book 2, pp 285-286

In the name of God, Amen

I Catherine Harris of the County of Greensville and State of Virginia do make this my last Will and Testament as touching such Worldly Goods and Estate as providence hath put into my hands I dispose of in the following manner

Viz, I desire that all my Just Debts may be punctually paid out of my estate which I direct to be sold hereafter. And the balance of my Estate I give in the following manner

First I give my wearing apparel to be Equally Divided between my three Daughters namely Jane Williams, Betsey Pennington, and Anna Patrick,

Secondly, I give my old negro man Bosin to Kinchen Webb who married my grand Daughter Patsey Harris.

I also give the said Kinchen Webb five Pounds to assist in maintaining the said negro Bosin.

Thirdly. I give my Great Grand Daughter the youngest Daughter of Anna Hawkins by her husband Hawkins and the grand Daughter of my son Isaac Harris the bed and furniture and bedstead thereto belonging that I usually lie it being a small one.

Fourthly, I desire that my Executors do sell all the rest of my Estate of every kind whatsoever to the highest bidders or six months credit.

Fifthly, After my Debts and funeral expenses are paid, I give to Elias Harris my great grandson fifty Dollars for the purpose of giving him some English Education and I appoint my grandson Benjamin Harris his Guardian for the above purpose

Sixthly, I give to my two great-grandsons, James and Richard Harris (who are brothers to the above named Elias Harris) twenty Dollars each, to assist in their Education. The above money to be put into the hands of Benjamin Harris above mentioned for the said purpose

Seventhly, I desire that after the above legacies are paid, that the money arising from my Estate be divided into two parts or Equal Shares. One share of which I give to be Equally divided among the surviving Daughters of my son Gideon, deceased, and the other Share among the surviving children my son David Harris, deceased.

Eighthly, and lest their should be any Doubt as is respecting my estate herein left to be sold, I do particularly intend that all my negroes (except old Bosin) be sold; namely Sue, Jerry, Ben, Young Bosin, Allen, and Mary, these four last mentioned negroes being children of Lucy, and any other increase the said Lucy may have before the Day of Sale as well as all my personal Estate not given heretofore. I leave the whole of the said estate to be sold as before directed.

Ninthly, I do hereby constitute and appoint my friend Col. Charles Harrison of Northampton, North Carolina who is Uncle to two of the legatees and Benjamin Gowing, who married my Grand Daughter Caty Harris, Executors to this my last Will and Testament.

Signed Sealed and Acknowledged for all the above purposes this twenty third Day of April One Thousand Eight Hundred and ten.

Catharine X Harris (her mark)

In presence of
Edward Doongoode (?)
Benjamin Putney
Catharine X Putney
Sally X Eavis

Agreeable to a Commission to us Directed from the County Court of Greensville State of Virginia we have Caus’d to come before us at the house of Zac Shearer’s, Benjamin Putney + Catharine Putney who after being sworn on the Holy Evangelist of Almighty God deposeth as followeth (Viz) Benjamin Putney says that when he was first call’d to witness a will of Catharine Harris my Impressions was that she was two old to make a will, but after hearing her call for a former will and saying that the reasons was then altering her will was that she had a negro born since the making of her last will + to have that negro will’d made me believe that she was capable of making her will, I saw her sign and Acknowledge the Annexed Will and Further this Deponent say not.

Given under my hand this 6th day of March Anno Dom 1813

Benjamin Putney

Sworn to before us
Drury (?) Lanton
Jeremy Vaughan

Catharine Putney says she saw Catharine Harris Sign and Acknowledge the annexed Will and further sayeth that she believes that Catharine Harris was in her perfect senses and capable of making her will at the time of the Execution of the annexed Will and put my mark as a witness to the new Will and further this deponent sayeth not.

Given under my hand and seal this 6th march 1813.

Catharine X Putney

Sworn to before us
Drury (?) Lanton
Jere Vaughan

At a Court held for Greensville County the 8th day of March 1813, this Will was proved by the annxed sd. Depositions of Benj. Putney and Cath. Putney Witnesses thereto and Ordered to be Recorded.

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