Washington County, Virginia Will Book 17, 1858-1871


From the author's Introduction: 
This Will Book roughly covers the period 1858 through most of 1871, but references to and actual transactions of an earlier period are sometimes contained in this Will Book as well. It is especially important for Washington County, Virginia in the registering of details of some of the legal events in the county immediately before, during and immediately after the Civil War.

The Will Book contains the following types of documents:

  1. Last Will and Testament (LWT): Varying in size and details, these always provide the name of the testator, the date the will was written and date proved (enrolled), to whom and what the testator has left his estate (sometimes sadly containing only wording such as to all my children"..."to my dearly beloved wife", etc.), and the witnesses, followed by the proving (enrolling) of the LWT in court by oaths of the witnesses, and the subsequent granting of the letters of administration by the court after (usually) the posting of bond; and, finally, the admission of the LWT to court record. Some of these wills were written before or during the Civil War and contain given names of slaves. As well, the LWTs and associated documents sometimes reveal the geographic region of those legatees who have left the commonwealth. As well, generally a good idea of the death period of the testator or others is provided by the date of probate of the LWT, generally within 1-3 months after the decease of the testator.
  2. Administration of Estate/Settlement of Estate: An estate administrator appointed by the court (as per letters of administration) who keeps track of the debits and credits of the estate; sometimes this occurs years after the death of the testator and also can stretch out of a long period, requiring several court entries until the final Settlement of the Estate which is verified by the court, accepted and admitted to record. Fortunately, these sometimes contain the names of the legatees of the estate. Also, these entries are tedious to record but have been transcribed as is as they frequently contain many names of those from whom funds were received or paid out, etc. Among the many interesting details one can observe in these Administration of Estates is the rate at which the Confederate money over time is translated against US currency. Naturally, the appraisal and sale prices sometimes fluctuate wildly especially after the beginning of the Civil War and immediately thereafter.
  3. Inventory and Appraisement of Estate of the Deceased: This contains an enumeration of articles belonging to the estate and the appraised value of each article. These lists are sometimes exhaustive and have not been transcribed in toto, but only the name of the appraisers, the administrator, the general size of the estate (number of columns, lines), etc. The appraisal amounts, and the info hitherto referred to have not been transcribed, as this would make this transcription prohibitive in terms of size of publication, and, this is a summary and abstract work. These are easily and readily accessible for anyone wanting to study the contents of a particular estate. Almost exclusively, the items consist of household items, farming utensils, farm animals and the like. Some few examples have been transcribed in order to give the reader an idea of what is available (film, or original). The inventories of the merchants' estates are especially lengthy. Very frequently there is no grand total; however, this info can sometimes be found later in an entry in the Administration of Estate/Settlement of Estate.
  4. Sale Bill of the Estate of the Deceased: This contains the list of the items which were sold at auction, the name of the purchaser, and the price they paid for the item. Only the names of the purchasers have been transcribed here; once again, this can be a very drawn out section for the estate and the info is readily available on film or the original.

Jack Hockett

2015, 8" x 10", 223 pp.