Valley of the Shadow
The Eve of War
Fall 1859–Spring 1861

Letters & Diaries

wills and estates

Wills and Estates Collection (1850s)

Wills reveal the legacies that one generation bequeaths to the next. In Augusta County and Franklin County men and women died leaving testaments to their understanding of the future for their sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, grandchildren, and other relatives. Inheritance brought opportunities and burdens.

We have collected two kinds of documents found in the Will Books in Augusta and Franklin. First, last wills and testaments are legal documents signed and sealed by witnesses and recorded in the court. These documents give directions for the disposition of property, wealth, and assets. They can be viewed as both legal documents and personal papers. Their character is narrative and personal as much as it is formal and public.

A second type of document, one that includes both valuations and sales, reveals the values and different types of properties held in mid-nineteenth-century Augusta and Franklin. We have presented these documents in table format, as they appear in the county will books. Estate valuations took place before sale and give the executor(s) an independent estimate of the value of the property in an estate. Estate sales show the items sold, the buyer’s name, and the amount paid for the item.

These documents are drawn randomly from the will books for Augusta and Franklin. Each county processed hundreds of estates each year. We could only include a representative sample. Poorer citizens and often younger people died without leaving wills, or intestate. They left no record of their possessions or intentions. The Augusta Will Book is housed in the Augusta County Court House in Staunton, Virginia. The Franklin wills are on microfilm at the Pennsylvania State Archives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Augusta County Wills and Estates

  1. Samuel Patterson’s Will
  2. Mary M. Burton’s Will
  3. Mary G. Calhoon’s Will
  4. Mary G. Calhoon’s Estate Valuation
  5. Henry Kenneday’s Will
  6. John Golladay’s Estate Valuation
  7. John Walker’s Will
  8. Robert Christian’s Will
  9. Andrew Young Sr.’s Will
  10. William S. Young’s Will
  11. Daniel Hale’s Estate Valuation
  12. Contract of Heirs of Polly Patterson
  13. Estate Sale of Henry Hawes Estate