The 1844 Will of Thomas Potts of Sussex County, Virginia

This will was penned by Thomas Potts (1790-1846), the father of Capt. John W. Potts (1808-1878), and lists the names of six souls as chattel. My maternal fourth great-grandmother, Emeline (spelled Emmeline here), is one of those named.

Henrietta and Emeline would later appear in Capt. Potts’ 1861 deed of trust. Still later, Henrietta and Emeline were both in 1866 U.S. IRS Tax Assessment Lists as owners of a butchery in Hicksford, Greensville County, Virginia.

Sussex County Will Book O, page 414
Sussex County Will Book O, page 415

414

In the name of God Amen. I Thomas Potts of the County of Sussex being of sound mind and memory do make and ordain this to be my last Will and Testament and form following to wit.

1st. I give to my son John W Potts all the advancements I have heretofore made to him and one sixth part of my estate that shall remain after deducting the specific legacies herein contained to him and his heirs forever.

2d I give to my son David G. Potts all the advancements I have heretofore made to him, and one sixth part of my estate that shall remain after deducting the specific legacies herein contained to him and his heirs forever.

3d. I give to my sons John W. and David G., in trust for the benefit of my daughter Susanna E. Adkins and her children my negroes Henrietta and Emmeline and one sixth part of my estate that shall remain after deducting the specific legacies herein contained to be held by my said sons and profits thereof to be applied from time to time for the support and comfort of my said daughter and her children in such manner as my said sons may deem proper and at the death of my said daughter I give all the said property together with the increase of the slaves to be equally divided between all her children to them and their heirs forever.

4th. I lend to my Grandson Thomas S. Graves, son of my daughter, Lucy Ann, one sorrel Filly, and one sixth part of my estate that shall remain after deducting the specific legacies herein contained: And should my said Grandson live until his arrives to the age of twenty one years or marries, then I give the said property to him and his heirs forever. but if he should die before he arrives of age or marries then it is my will that the said property return to my estate and be divided amongst my Children according to the provisions of this Will.

5th. I give to my son Robert E. Potts my tract of land wherein I now live and one black horse called John Tyler saddle and bridle and one sixth part of my estate that shall remain after deducting the specific legacies herein contained to him and his heirs forever.

6th. I give to my daughter Martha C. Temple all the advancements I have heretofore made to her and my negroes Lucy Ann and Ann and one sixth part of my estate that shall remain after deducting the specific legacies herein contained to her and her heirs forever.

7th. I give to my Grand-daughter Ann G. Potts, daughter of my son John W. Potts my negro girl Henrietta to her and her heirs forever.

8th. I give to my Grandson John H. Potts son of my son David G. Potts my negro boy Sam to him and his heirs forever.

Lastly. I constitute and appoint my sons John W. Potts and David G. Potts Executors of this my last Will and Testament.

In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal this seventh day of October in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty four.

Signed sealed and acknowledged}

Thomas Potts {seal}

in presence of

R.F. Dillard

G.H. Dillard

Cyrus F. Dillard

William Briggs

Jno. H. Marable

415

At a Court held for Sussex County the 2d day of April 1846. The last Will and Testament of Thomas Potts dec’d was presented into Court and proved by the oaths of George H. Dillard, Cyrus F. Dillard and John H. Marable three of the witnesses thereto and ordered to be recorded.

And on the motion of John W and David G Potts the Executors therein named who made oath and entered into bond with security according to Law, certificate is granted them for obtaining a probate thereof in due form

Teste

John J. Prince C.C.

If I may, from 2021 to 1844:

I will not be divided between you and your heirs forever—I belong to me and my heirs forever we are forever ours…

To those researching their enslaved ancestors, it is as important as anything to find and pour over these historical “chains of custody” in order to learn more about their story. Their story is your story, our story.

This is our situation.

The Genealogy Situation Room

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