If you’ve been reading my past few 52 Ancestors posts, you’ve probably picked up the fact that I had to dig deep to put together the origins of my great-great-grandmother Susan Tucker Kelley. One of the key documents that put it all together was the will of Robert Nixon, who turned out to be Susan’s maternal grandfather.
In his will1)FamilySearch.org, Ohio Probate Records, 1789-1996, Robert Nixon will, Perry County Will Book vol. 2 and B, page 64; Perry County Probate Court, New Lexington, Ohio. dated 5 December 1828, Robert specified his sons and daughters in birth order (grouped by gender):
- John, my eldest son
- Levi, Isaac, Jonathan, and Elijah, “my sons the second and third and fourth and fifth sons”
- my eldest daughter Elizabeth
- my second daughter Mary Ann
- my third daughter Susannah
- my fourth daughter Sarah
He left his sons “my plantation” and instructed them that “they are to keep and to raise my family and to support them and my dear wife Catherine.” The daughters received bequests of either thirty or fifty dollars’ worth of bed, bedding, cows and sheep.
In other words, pretty typical stuff.
I already adored Robert for specifying the order that his sons and daughters were born — and that he actually named his wife! (I get so tired of wills that say “to my beloved wife” and then never actually give her name.) But it was two stipulations in the will that gave me insight into Robert. Instructing his sons that the cows, sheep, etc., to his daughters were to be paid from his plantation, he added this:
“…and they [Robert’s sons] are to give my four daughters schooling so as they can read.”
Regarding his two youngest sons (Nathan and Elijah), the oldest sons were to give them each $100 “laid out in land for them”
“…and they are to give them learning as far as the single rule of three.”
I’ve read a lot of wills over the years. I’ve seen people stipulate that their estate was to provide for a decent burial and a tombstone. I’ve seen wills that state that if an heir contests it, that person would receive nothing. I’ve seen countless wills that leave something “to my beloved wife” and then never give her name. But this is the first time that I’ve seen a will stipulate that the daughters were to be taught to read and the youngest sons learn basic math.
|FamilySearch.org, Ohio Probate Records, 1789-1996, Robert Nixon will, Perry County Will Book vol. 2 and B, page 64; Perry County Probate Court, New Lexington, Ohio.