Friday, April 28, 2017

OTWELL Estates

Edna OTWELL > Edwin OTWELL > Maurice OTWELL > John F. OTWELL > William OTWELL & his father Francis OTWELL

Estate appraisals can give incite on how a family lived. Both William and Francis were farmers living on the 150 acre farm in Scott County when they died.  Both were holding notes on numerous friends and family members.  From the lists, it appears William spent some money on furniture and bedding.  We also learn that Francis was harvesting wool and had a loom.

Here are the items in William OTWELL’s estate appraisal 1858:

Dozen juniper chairs, a juniper rocking chair, a dozen split bottom chairs, a card table, a settee, 3 steel beds with bedding (steel or iron beds were new in the 1850s), a dining table trifle gun (a table with a compartment to hide a gun), breakfast table with safe, bureau with clock, rocking chair, wardrobe, cooking stove

Household Goods
A looking glass, a bowl & pitcher, 10 blankets, bed sheet & bedding, feather bed, cupboard ware, silverware, bedding for trundle bed, wash stand, fire irons/tongs/shovel, cooking utensils, grindstone, one lot of carpeting, two lots of other sundries

Farm Products and Animals
Seven fleeces of wool, one lot of leather, bushel of clover/timothy seed, lumber, one lot of wheat in the chaff at 40 cents per bushel, 12 hogs, oxen, an ox cart with log chain, 5 cows at $30 per head, 3 heifers at $18 per head, a steer, 5 calves, one lot of sheep, 6 horses and 1 yearling filly

Planted in field
30 acres corn, 20 acres oats, 5 acres wheat

A carriage, a four horse wagon, swingletrees

$11.53 Cash (about $323 in 2017), a check from son-in-law in the amount of $557.66 (over 15K in 2017), IOU Notes totaling almost $2000.00 (equivalent to over 56K in 2017), slaves (more about that at the end of this post).

Here are items in estate of William's father Francis OTWELL 1839:

2 chest & cupboards, 9 chairs, 9 split bottom chairs, 2 breakfast & dining tables, cupboard, bed and bedstand, a trundle bed and stand, 2 beds, table, large desk, 2 bedsteads, 5 cradles

Household Goods
tea kettle, kettle, silver soup spoon and tea spoon, 4 table cloths, 3 canisters with lids, carpet, chamber pot, loom and equipage (wheel, hooks, thread), brush for wool, wool bands, wool, black wool, 2 rugs, cooking utensils, buckets, 3 chests with contents, cupboardware, silver tumblers, 5 kettles, pot, candlesticks

Farm Items and Animals
3 rakes, 4 hemp hooks, brushes, , 2 axes, ox yoke, pair of andirons, chains, 2 buckets, 4 pairs of sheep shears, saw whetstone, saddlebags, 1 lot irons, 3 spades, old barrels, 5 hogsheads (casks for wine making), grindstone, 7 plows, 7 shovel plows, mowing laythe, 1 harrow, 5 meal bags, 2 lathes, ox cart, ox yoke, log chains, large box, cutting iron, hemp break, , 1 lot barrels, pitch fork, 29 geese, 37 hogs, 8 lassos, cow & calf, 2 steers, 7 yearling calves, 32 sheep, 6 horses, 2 lots leather, 2 lots of flax, 1 lot linen, 1 lot hempseed, 1 lot rye, 40 bushels of wheat, pork, 2000 hemp, old bacon, pork, soap, hay, 1 lot sugar crocks

In the Field
5 stacks hay, 1 stack fodder, 1 stack rye

2 doubletrees, 7 saddles, 6 bridles, wagon, 2 singletrees, 4 lots of hames

 $92.00 Cash (equivalent to about $2,300 in 2017), IOU Notes totaling almost $2500.00 (over 63K in 2017), a shot gun and equipage, slaves (see next section)


When we first became aware of slave ownership in our family history, it was very difficult to accept. This will be the first time some of you hear about this. So, I have split the slave information into this section to allow people to decide if they want to read about it. After years of researching our history, I have come to terms with it by understanding that this was the norm in early America. I am not proud of this information, but you have to take the good with the bad. If any of our ancestors made different choices, we may not be here today.

Keep in mind that the first OTWELL to come to Jamestown Colony (1623) came as an indentured servant in order to pay for his passage to the New World. Within 2 generations, the American OTWELLs were slave owners. The last OTWELL slave owner in our tree was John Franklin OTWELL. Slaves were also owned by our GARTH and TAYLOR ancestors.

What is interesting is that we have information for 2 estates spanning almost 20 years: Francis (1839) and William (1858). Prior to the Civil War, it was illegal to buy slaves from outside of Kentucky. The only way one could get a slave was to purchase them from existing Kentucky slave population. Additionally, it was frowned upon for gentlemen to sell their slaves - probably why William's will stipulated that his slaves were not to be sold. In comparing the estates, we find that a few of the younger people on the 1839 list appeared on the 1858 list. We also find that when the estate was split in 1858, women and their young children were kept together.

Francis’ list (1839) included 3 adult males (Jacob, Nathan and Mathew), 2 adult women with their infant children (Casey with William and Lucinda with William) and 10 children (Robert, Harry, Sam, Jefferson, Julia, Sarah, Emily, Elizabeth, Jenny and Mary). No ages were given.

William’s estate (1858) included a list of slaves with their ages. The heirs each received one slave and the remaining were grouped according to their value so that each heir received the same portion of the estate. The sons (both farmers) were willed adult men while the daughters were willed children.
  • Our ancestor John Franklin was willed Harry (21 years old). Note that Harry was one of the 10 children in Francis’ 1839 estate. John F. also received the group consisting of George, Samuel (12), Mary and Albert (9).
  • Thomas was willed Randall (21) and received the group of Elijah (33), Lucinda (40) with her 2 children (Austin and Alexander). Note that Lucinda appeared on Francis’ 1839 list.
  • Martha was willed Lewis (8) and received the group Leah (44) with children Isaac, Elizabeth and Harvey
  • Emily was willed 2 children (Billy and Dinah) and received the group Jacob (14), Fanny (21) and her 2 children (Martha and Isabel)
  • Mary Ann was willed a child named Frank and received the group Abraham (23), Rachel and her 2 children
  • Sarah Jane was willed a child named Jo and received the group Nathan (50), Hannah (17) and Henry (8). Nathan was on Francis’ 1839 list.

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