On 29 October 1836, an inventory of the estate of Dennis Lindsey was filed in Lawrence County Alabama, court. This inventory was compiled on the 21st of October by court-appointed appraisers Samuel Irwin, R.Puckett, P.A. McDaniel, and E. Thomas, and verified by administrators John W. Lindsey and James B. Speak. As noted in the previous posting, the original inventory is found in the loose-papers case file of a case Dennis’s widow Jane Brooks Lindsey filed against John Wesley Lindsey and James Beckham Speake as estate administrators (Lawrence County, Alabama, loose court case files, #247, box 171, folder 6.). A transcript is also in Lawrence County’s Orphans Court Inventory and Will Book for the period 1835-1841 (pp. 232-7).
The following items appear on the appraisal. I’ve preserved the original spelling and capitalizations Note that the abbreviation “do” stands for “ditto.” The original document uses both the ditto sign, “ , and the abbreviation “do” to indicate dittos. I’ve added explanatory notes for some items. The transcript in Inventory and Will Book 1835-1841 corrects the non-standard spelling of many items in the original document: e.g., “furniture,” “saucers,” “bureaus,” “chairs,” “reel,” “kettle,” “Wesley’s,” “Josephus,” “magazines,” “hymn,” “stretchers,” “yoke,” “steers,” “heifer,” “colt,” etc.
* “Winder” in Inventory and Will Bk. 1835-1841. These are Windsor chairs.
** “Wesley’s” in ibid. These are writings of John Wesley, founder of Methodism.
*** “Josephus” in ibid. This is the first-century Roman-Jewish historian of that name.
**** The biblical commentary of Adam Clarke, Methodist biblical scholar.
***** “C. pins” are “c. Panes” in ibid. — i.e., counterpanes.
****** I.e., crosscut saw.
As I publish information about my family’s history, I’m critically aware of how bound up the history of many of my ancestors is with slavery. Like many white Southerners, I descend from people who held other human beings in bondage, and I cannot be honest about my family’s history if I do not record the facts that demonstrate this.
When I come across documents like Dennis Lindsey’s estate inventory and the account of his estate sale (a transcript of that document will follow in the next posting), both of which state the names of enslaved persons he held in bondage at the time of his death and the names of those who bought each enslaved person — and I come across such documents often often when I follow a family line back to the era before the Civil War — I always feel an obligation to record those names. I feel an obligation to do anything I can to try to track these enslaved persons named in documents pertaining to my family, to see what became of these persons, if I can do so.
I feel an obligation to name these human beings held in bondage by my ancestors. Doing that doesn’t, of course, erase the brutal history of slavery or right wrongs that went on for generations, in which my own ancestors were implicated. It does, however, force me and others to face the fact that these enslaved people were human beings who had names, and when I can find those names — often enslaved people are listed as mere numbers, e.g., on the federal census — I want to hold onto those names, share them, find as much information as I can about them.