FINAL WORDS 772 Original Wills by Richmond County North Carolina Testators 1779-1915
Transcribed by Myrtle N. Bridges
FINAL WORDS emerges from my search of the wills
by Richmond County testators now in custody at the
North Carolina Department of Archives & History in
Raleigh. The original wills, in the record group
Secretary of State Wills have been individually
placed in folders by the name of the testator; they
are filed alphabetically by testator's name and in
most cases include dates of probate. There are a
total of seven hundred and seventy two individual
wills, dating from 1779 through 1915. All bear
specific handwritten instructions revealing useful
information for the genealogist who hopes for
proof of kinship.
Each will has been fully and tediously transcribed
revealing a clear picture of the testator's personality
as he wrote his final words. The phraseology was at times
difficult to interpret, as were relationships to the
testator, when cousin at times meant niece or nephew, and
son-in-law meant step-son. The same terms were used for
relatives in former marriages. In some cases a careful
study of all available resources needs to be made to determine the exact relationship to the testator.
Inadequate punctuation did create problems; failure to include commas in a list of names, for instance,
obscures the number of people named; the testator may have had ten children with single names, five with
double first names, or an assortment. Editorial brackets have been used when necessary. Minor punctuation
has been added for clarity. Much time was spent in referring to census records to determine exact names
of family members. Some testators felt no obligation to name all their children or, any of them; elder
sons and married daughters often were omitted, having received their inheritances during the parents
lifetime. Sometimes they were found living near their parents, with families of their own.
Most wills were proved in the county where the testator legally resided at death. However, when he or
she owned land in a different county or state the will was probated in those places also. A testator
may have changed residence shortly before dying, or might have died while traveling, perhaps leaving
a will in a place with which there was little known association. Following is list of non-resident
testators found in the Richmond County, wills: 1782-Richard Adams, Anson Co., NC; 1824-Jacob Anderson,
Horry, SC; 1905-James T. Bradley, Anson Co., NC; 1900-Berry Bryant, Scotland Co., NC; 1886-Catherine P.
Breeden, Marlboro Co., SC; 1911-William N. Camp, Ocala, FL; 1898-Mary A. Champlin, Onslow Co., NC;
1781-John Donaldson, Anson Co., NC; 1809-John Wall Covington, Marlborough Co., SC; 1807-George Dougharty,
Newberry Distr., SC; 1914-Henry Field Ellinwood, Pembroke, Genesee Co., New York; 1907-David M. Hess,
Philadelphia PA; 1786-Francis Leak, Anson Co., NC; 1895-Z. H. Lowdermilk, Randolph Co., NC; 1867-Daniel
McCaskill, Grimes Co., TX; 1869-Malcom McMillan, Robeson Co., NC; 1782-Benjamin Moorman, Anson Co., NC;
1899-Younger S. Newton, Marlboro Co., SC; 1899-Ann H. Phillips, Moore Co., NC; 1867-Thomas Steel, Thomas
Co., GA; 1912-Alice M. Webster, Cabarrus Co., NC; and 1911-J. H. Stewart, Mocksville, NC.
A few wills are in nuncupative form; usually a deathbed oral statement to a trusted family member or
friend. The nuncupative will of Margaret Fairley reads: "That the said Margaret when on her death bed
told us, whose names are hereunto subscribed, that it was her will and desire that Archibald McBride should
have hold of her papers, the whole of her stock of cattle & one feather bed & that in her health at all
times as well as her cash surveys she always expressed this to be her will." Duncan McFarland & John
Other Reports, the final section, is an assortment of court records found in the folders with certain
wills providing additional valuable information.
FINAL WORDS contains 690 pages including 44 pages devoted to a comprehensive index with over 6,500
individual names. This is a perfect companion book for Richmond County Estate Books,I, II & III - Adams-Yoe.
-Myrtle Norton Bridges
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