Benjamin Towler Last Will and Testament May 4, 1831

In the name of God Amen, I Benjamin Towler of the state Tennessee, Rutherford
County. Although at present in tolerable health Thanks be to God, yet certain
circumstances render it my duty to provide for the disposal of the little
property I possess or may here After possess and with the blessing of a sound
mind___ I Benjamin Towler do make this my last will and testament in the
following Manner. I bequest that all my debts I owe may be paid by my
executor. I give to my grandson John Reese son of John Reese and Martha Reese
his wife the sum of five dollars. I give to my granddaughters; Sally Scrape
and Polly Crisp The sum of five dollars a piece. To my ever dear respected
wife Martha Towler I give whole And every part of the balance of my property,
land, Negroes, Stock of every kind, household, and kitchen furniture, farming
utensils __ ___ during her life. At her decease my will is that Mary Elder my
daughter shall Have all the tract of land where on I now live and where on
William Elder lives with all the household furniture that is Now in William
Elder’s possession and I further give my Daughter Mary Elder my Negro man
named Peter and Lucy His wife and her family of children namely Elizabeth,
Phillip Johnson, William Axall, David Randolph, Lucky Jones And Bob are also
and also hers ______ hereafter if any. I will this property to my daughter
Mary Elder for own proper use, During her life and not to be liable for any
contracts of her Husband William Elder or any other husband, and at her death
The property is to be equally divided amongst the following Persons, Witness
Benjamin Elder, William Elder Jr., James Elder, Robert Elder, Monroe Elder,
John W. Elder, And Harry L. Elder I give to my grandchildren Sally Dancy
heirs, the following Negroes, Polly and her four children and her increase
which is Already in Isaac Dancy’s possession also a Negro woman Named Lucy and
a man named Braston which is in my Possession, also three hundred dollars in
cash to be made from the sale of my stock and divided between said heirs. I
give the balance of my stock and household furniture To my two granddaughters,
Sally Scrape and Polly Crisp Together with the five dollars apiece before
named. And lastly I appoint my grandson Benjamin Elder my Executor to this my
last will and testament in witness to the above. I the said Benjamin Towler
have to this set my Hand and seal this 4th day of May in the year of our Lord
One thousand eight hundred and thirty one. Benjamin Towler (Seal) Signed
sealed and acknowledged by Said Benjamin Towler Jr. For this his last will and
testament in The presence of us Wm. H. Smith Joseph Farmer Benjamin Blanton

State of Tennessee Gibson County / I James A. McDearman clerk of the county
court of said county do certify that the foregoing is a true and perfect copy
of the will of Benjamin Towler deceased as received in my office given under
my hand at office in Trenton this 25th day of January 1853. J.A. McDearman
clerk.

Exhibit A Whereas an instrument reportedly to be the last will and testament
of Benjamin Towler deceased wherein Benjamin Elder is appointed executor was
exhibited before the county court of Gibson County, Tennessee at the July term
of AD 1838 and the execution of the same July proven by subscribing witnesses
thereto and whereas the fifth clause thereof purpose to give a life estate to
Mary Elder wife of William Elder Sr. and daughter of deceased in __ the
following Negroes To Witness Negro man Peter, and Creasy his wife and her
family of children namely Elizabeth, Phillip Johnson, William, Axale, David,
Randolph, Lucky Jones and Bob and also all her increase hereafter if any and
at the death of said Mary to be equally divided among the following persons To
Wit. Benjamin Elder, William Elder Jr., Causes Determined at January Term
James Elder, Robert Elder, Monroe Elder, John W. Elder and Henry S. Elder and
Sally Scrape wife of James D. Scrape and Polly Crisp wife of William Crisp,
sisters of the undersigned and daughters of said Mary Elder as the undersigned
are sons, have been permitted and not in __dey with the undersigned in the
final disposition of said Negroes in any by the said fifth clause of said
will. Now therefore in consideration of the natural love and affection, the
undersigned bear to their sisters Sally and Polly and to the two that right
and justice may be done the undersigned do by these present adopt and
recognize the said Sally and Polly as Co-heirs together so far forth as the
undersigned or any of them may be entitled under the said fifth clause of said
will express the express condition however any ___ the ____ Shall the
undersigned shall have the right at their discretion to pay said Sally and
Polly their respective share in cash out of such Negroes as ____ and ____ to
them under the said 5th section of said will. Said will being dated 4th May
A.D. 1831, Witness our hands and seals this 28th day of September 1838. 
Benjamin Elder (seal) William Elder Jr. (seal) Robert Elder (seal) M.B.
Elder (seal) H. S. Elder (seal)

Exhibit B Whereas I William Crisp and Polly his wife formerly Polly Elder of
the county of County Gibson, of the state of Tennessee for and inconsideration
of the sum of Five Hundred Dollars to us in hand paid by Benjamin Elder and
John W. Elder, we have this day bargained, sold and doth by these present for
the sum aforesaid bargain, sell, release and relinquish our interest or each
of our interest or claim to the following Negroes, Ernest, Phillip, William,
Dave, Bob, John, Elizabeth, Susan, Mana and Caroline with their future
increases unto Benjamin Elder and John W. Elder and their heirs and assigns
forever our interest being the one ninth of the cash valuation of said
Negroes, at the death of our mother, Mary Elder, which said Negroes here
divided by Benjamin Towler our grandfather now deceased to our mother Mary
Elder for and during her natural life and after her death there to be equally
divided by and between Benjamin Elder, William Elder, James Elder, Robert
Elder, Monroe B. Elder, John W. Elder and Henry S. Elder, the only sons of
said Mary Elder to whom said slaves had been during for life and after her
death then to her sons as aforesaid and whereas on the 28th day of September
AD 1838 after the death of said Benjamin Towler and after the said will had
been duly proven The said Benjamin Elder, William Elder, James Elder, Robert
Elder, Monroe B. Elder, John W. Elder and Henry S. Elder in where said slaves
with their future increase vested after the death of their said mother by
their covenant of the oath aforesaid covenant by in consideration of the
natural love and affection that they have and had for their sister the said
Polly Crisp that she invited to be at the death of our said mother one ninth
of the value of said slaves and their increase in cash now in consideration of
the sum aforesaid to us in hand paid as aforesaid we do warrant and defend the
aforesaid interest to the said Benjamin Elder and John W. Elder, their heirs
and assigns forever against the claim or claims of all and every person
whatever . Witness our hands and seals this 12th day of December 1848. William
Crisp (seal) Polly Crisp (seal)

State of Tennessee Gibson County / To Lewis Wade Esq. You are hereby
authorized and empowered 26 1853 Chancery Court Trenton Tennessee 

to take the examination of Polly Crisp formally and apart from her husband
relative to her free execution of the written or above deed of relinquishment
and the same so take certify under your hand and seal . Witness James A.
McDearman Clerk of County Court of Gibson County at office this 12th day of
December 1848. J. A. McDearman Clerk

State of Tennessee Gibson County / Polly Crisp having personally appeared
before me and having by virtue of the authority in me vested been examined
formally and apart from her husband William Crisp and she having acknowledged
the due execution of the written or above deed of relinquishment by her freely
voluntarily without compulsion, constraint or coersion by said husband the
same is therefore certified. Witness my hand and seal this 14th day of
December 1848. Lewis Wade (seal) J P for Gibson County State of Tennessee
Gibson County / Personally appeared before me James A. McDearman clerk of
the county court of the county aforesaid William Crisp bargainer in the
written deed with whom I am personally acquainted and acknowledged that he had
executed the same for purposes therein contained given under my hand at office
this 15th day of December 1848. J.A. McDearman Clk

State of Tennessee Gibson County / Registers office Dec. 16, 1848 S. B.
Blsilchis, Register of said county do hereby certify that the foregoing deed
of relinquishment and certificate were received in my office December 16th
1848 at 10 o’clock AM and noted in Note Book No. 2 Page 12 and duly registered
in Book M. Pages 135 and 136. Witness my hand at office.. S.B. Blsilchnis Reg.

Exhibit C Whereas I James Elder of the county of Marshall and state of
Mississippi for and in consideration of the sum of Five Hundred and Sixty-
Eight Dollars to me in hand paid by Benjamin Elder and John W. Elder I have
this day bargained, sold and doth by these present for the sum aforesaid
approved bargain sell release relinquish my interest and claim in the
following Negroes Ernest, Phillip, William, Dave, Bob, John, Elizabeth, Susan,
Mariah and Caroline with their future increase unto the said Benjamin Elder
and John W. Elder, their heirs and assigns forever and my interest being the
one ninth part of said slaves with their future increase which interest in
said slaves I derived through the last will and testament of Benjamin Towler
deceased and grandfather who devised said slaves to our mother for and during
her natural life and after her death one ninth of said slaves by virtue of
said desire and changes ___. Now I James Elder do covenant to and with the
said Benjamin Elder and John W. Elder their heirs and assigns that I will
warrant and defend the right title claim and interest to one ninth portion or
interest and title to aforesaid Negroes with their future increase to the said
Benjamin Elder and John W. Elder their heirs and assigns against the claim of
all any every person whatever. Witness my hand and seal this 20th day of
November 1848. James Elder (seal) R.P. Rains W.C. Penn

State of Tennessee Gibson County / Personally appeared before me James A.
McDearman clerk of the county court of the county aforesaid James Elder
grantee in the foregoing bill of sale

Causes Determined At January Term 1853 27 with whom I am well acquainted who
acknowledged that he has executed the same for purposes therein contained
given under my hand at office in Trenton this 23rd day of November 1848. J.A.
McDearman clerk

State of Tennessee Gibson County / Registers office Nov. 25, 1848 I S.
Blsilchims, Register of said county do hereby certify that the foregoing bill
of sale and clerks certificate were received in my office for registration
November 25th, 1848 at 11 o’clock AM and noted in Note Book No. 2 Page 61 and
duly registered in Book M. Pages 117. Witness my hand at office in Trenton. S.
Blsilchims

Exhibit D Whereas I R. B. McGee and Eliza McGee his wife formerly Eliza Scrape
and W.H. Scrape for himself and guardian for Susan M. Scrape and Sarah E.
Scrape heirs and children Sarah Scrape now deceased all of the county of
Gibson and state of Tennessee for and in consideration of the sum of Five
Hundred Dollars to us in hand paid by Benjamin Elder and John W, Elder, we the
same R. B. McGee and Eliza his wife, William H. Scrape for himself and in
singular guardian for Susan M. Scrape and Sarah E. Scrape have this day
bargained and sold and doth by these present for the sum aforesaid bargain,
sell, release and relinquish our interest and the interest of our ward and any
claim or the claim of our ward to the inventory Negroes, Ernest, Phillip,
William, Dave, Bob, John, Elizabeth, Susan and Mariah and Caroline and their
future increase unto Benjamin Elder and John W. Elder and to their heirs and
assigns forever our interest or the interest of Sarah Scrape in said Negroes,
being the one ninth cash valuation of said Negroes and each of our interest
being the one Fourth of one ninth of the same at the death of our grandmother
Mary Elder, which said Negroes were divided by Benjamin Towler our great
grandfather now deceased to our grandmother Mary Elder for and during her
natural life and after her death then to be equally divided by and between
Benjamin Elder, William Elder, James Elder, Robert Elder, M.B. Elder, John W.
Elder and Henry S. Elder the only sons of said Mary Elder to whom the slaves
had been divided for life and after her death then to her sons aforesaid. And
whereas on the 28th September AD 1838 after the death of said Benjamin Towler
and after said will had been duly proven the said Benjamin Elder, William
Elder, James Elder, Robert Elder, M.B. Elder, John W. Elder and H.S. Elder is
when said slaves with their future increase vesting after death of their said
mother and our grandmother by their covenant of the oath aforesaid covenant in
consideration of natural love and affection that they have for their sister
Sarah Scrape now deceased and then wife of James D. Scrape now deceased that
she shall have at the death of our mother one ninth of the value of said
slaves and their future increase in cash. Now in consideration of the sum
aforesaid one fourth of which paid to R.B. McGee and Eliza his wife and one
fourth to W.H. Scrape in his own right and one half to W.H. Scrape as guardian
for Susan M. and Sarah E. Scrape his ward, we the said R.B. McGee and Eliza
his wife and the said W.H. Scrape do warrant and defend the aforesaid interest
being the one ninth as aforesaid of cash valuation as aforesaid to the said
Benjamin Elder and John W. Elder their heirs and assigns that he will warrant
the interesting said estate of the inventory aforesaid against the 1853
Chancery Court Trenton, Tennessee 28 claims of all and every person
whatsoever. Witness our hands and seals, Nov. 28, 1848 R.B. McGee (seal) W.H.
Scrape (seal) E.E. McGee (seal) State of Tennessee Gibson County / Personally
appeared before me James A. McDearman clerk of the county court of the county
aforesaid Richard B. McGee and W. H. Scrape bargainers in the foregoing bill
of sale with whom I am personally acquainted, who acknowledged that they
executed the same for the purpose therein contained. Given under my hand at
office in Trenton this 28th day of November 1848. J.A. McDearman Clerk 

State of Tennessee Gibson County / And Eliza E. McGee having also personally
appeared before me James A.McDearman clerk of the county court of the county
appeared formally and apart from her husband the said R. B. McGee
acknowledging she executer of the within deed have done by her freely,
voluntarily without compulsion or restraint from her husband and for the
purpose therein expressed. Witness; J.A. McDearman clerk of said court at
office this 28th day of November 1848. J.A. McDearman Clerk

State of Tennessee Gibson County / Registers office Nov. 29, 1848 I S.B.
Blsilchims register of said county do hereby certify that the foregoing bill
of sale and clerk certificate was received in my office Nov. 29 at 4 o’clock
PM and noted within book no. 2 page 61 and only registered in Book M Page 118
and 119. Witness my hand at office in Trenton.

S.B. Blsilchims Reg.

Decree January Term 1853 And 30th of The Month Mary Elder, Benjamin Elder,
William, and John S. Elder Minor children and heirs of Wm. Elder Jr. and Sarah
S. Elder wife of said William Elder Jr. Monroe B. Elder, John W. Elder, Henry
S. Elder, William Crisp and Polly Crisp his wife, Richard B. McGee and Eliza
his wife, William H. Scrape, Sarah Scrape a minor who sue by her who sues buy
her next friend and Guardian. Said William H. Scrape, Samuel Hatchett and his
wife Susan, James Elder, Benjamin Elder as administrator of Robert Elder
deceased, Isabella Elder ____ of said Robert Elder deceased 

Petition Exp_____ Division of Negroes Final Decree

Be it remembered that on this day came on this suit to be heard before his
honor Calvin Jones- Chancellor __ on petition, exhibits and proof. When it
appeared that said Mary desires to give up the slaves to be divided and that
the interest of said Sarah and Susan Scrape had been sold in 1848 but it not
appearing to the court whether or not it was to the interest of the parties to
except the surrender of said slaves and have a division as proposed or whether
the sale of the said Susan and Sarah Scrape was for a full and fair price and
for their benefit. It was ordered by the court that the clerk and master of
this court take proof and report to this or the next term of this court
whether or not it is for the benefit of the parties to receive and divide said
slaves as proposed and whether or not the interest of said Susan and Sarah
Scrape in said Negroes had been sold for a full price and whether it was to

Causes Determined At January Term 1853

Their benefit, after which the clerk and master took proof made and filed his
report which is unaccepted to is therefore in all things confirmed after which
this cause came on again to be heard on petition, exhibits and proof of the
clerk and master when it appeared to the court that one Benjamin Towler by
will gave to petitioner Mary Elder for and during her natural life, slaves
Peter, Creasy and their offspring now amounting to seven others Ernest,
Phillip, Billy, Susan, Mariah, Bob, John and Caroline and at the death of said
Mary Elder he gave said slaves to said Benjamin Elder, William Elder Jr.,
James Elder, Robert Elder, Monroe B. Elder, John W. Elder and Henry S. Elder,
where it appeared to the satisfaction conveyed to their sisters Polly Crisp
and Sally each one ninth in value of said Negroes making the seven brothers
and two sisters equally interested in said slaves. It further appeared to the
court that said slaves to said Benjamin and John W. Elder and that William
Crisp and his wife Polly have sold and conveyed their interest in said slaves
to said Benjamin and John W. Elder. It further appeared to the court that said
Sally Scrape had departed this life before 1848 and in that year R.B. McGee in
right of his wife Eliza and said William H. and Susan and Sarah Scrape were
the heirs and _______ of said Sally Scrape deceased and that said Sarah and
Susan were then minors. It further appears to the court that in 1848 R.B.
McGee and wife Eliza and said William H. Scrape for himself and as guardian
for said Susan and Sarah sold their entire interest in said slaves to said
Benjamin and John W. Elder for $500.00 in cash. It further appears to the
court that said sum was a full and fair price for their said interest in said
slaves and that it was beneficial to said minors. It further appears that said
Mary Elder is willing and desires to surrender up said slaves and have them
divided, reserving the use and possession of slave Caroline during the life of
her said Mary. It further appeared that slaves Peter and Creasey are old and
worth but little and it will not be in the power of the commissioner to divide
them, so that each will 8th part of said slaves. It further appeared they are
willing to take slaves or money so as to make the division just and equitable
and that said John W. Elder and Benjamin Elder own five ninths of the value of
said Negroes. It is therefore ordered and decreed by the court that Smith
Parks, John P. Sharpe and John D. McDowell be appointed commissioners to
divide said Negroes, selling apart to Benjamin and John W. Elder between their
five ninths of said slaves to Monroe B. Elder one ninth to Henry S. Elder one
ninth to William M., John P and Sarah S. Elder the minor children of William
Elder Jr. together one ninth, to Benjamin Elder as administrator of Robert
Elder deceased one ninth for the use of said Isabella Elder widow of said
Robert if it is not necessary for the satisfaction of creditors and said
commissioners are directed so to divide said slaves as best to promote the
convenience of the parties and keep them as much together as convenient and
value to slaves so as to make the division just and equal setting said slave
Caroline apart to someone ___ to said Mary a life estate in her ___ her value
so as to make it as near just as practical and if any one entitled to share
can not with propriety get a Negro the commissioners, shall at their
discretion assign to such his or their share of the value of said slaves in
money to be paid by their getting the slaves and said commissioners shall make
report of their _____ and adjustments to the present or next term of this
court after which said commissioners made and filed their report which is
unaccepted to and is therefore in all things _____ and which is in word and
figures following. To Wit. The undersigned commissioners appointed by the
court at Trenton, Tennessee to all at and set apart the Negroes belonging to
the heirs of William Elder deceased submit the following as their report. They
value the Negroes Peter, Creasey, Phillip, Billy, Bob, John, Susan, Mariah,
and Caroline (the said) Caroline subject to the life estate of Mrs. Mary Elder
to $5850.00 dividing said Negroes into nine lot each for money be worth
$1,511.00. We assign to Benjamin Elder who is entitled to one half of the
first five shares of slaves valued at $721, Caroline (______ interest)
$500.00, Bob $900.00 making his interest over ___ $2120.00 1125.00 495.00
To John W. Elder who is entitled to one half of five shares we assign Billy
valued $1100.00 John valued at $900.00 making His interest over___ $2000.00
1125.00 $3737.00 To Monroe B. Elder who is entitled to one share we have
assigned Peter and Creasey valued at $200.00 and Phillip valued at $810.00 his
share is over____ $11140 150 $360 To Henry S. Elder who is entitled to one
share we assign Mariah Valued at $720.00 his interest is over____ $720.00
650.00 $70.00 To Benjamin Elder as administrator of Robert Elder deceased we
assign as cash $650.00 to be paid as follows B. Elder pays $495.00 M.B. elder
pays $155.00 B. Elder as admin $650.00

To Sarah S. Elder the two children William M. and John S. we assign in cash
$650.00 H.S. Elder pays them $70.00 J.W. Elder pays 375.00 M.B. Elder
pays 205.00 $650.00

January 27, 1853 Smith Parks J. D. McDowell / Comm. J. P. Sharp

Sworn to in open court January 27, 1853 H.C Levy cam.

It is therefore ordered and decreed by the court that the title of all the
other petitioners and their heirs to Susan, Caroline and Bob be divided out of
then and vested in Benjamin Elder and his heirs forever ____ to said Mary a
life estate in said Caroline and that the title to slave Billy and John be
divested out of all the other petitioners and their heirs and vested in John
W. Elder and his heirs Forever and that the title to slaves Peter and Creasey
and Phillip be divested out of all petitioners and their heirs and vested in
Monroe B. Elder his heirs forever and that all the title of all the other
petitioners and their heirs to slave, Mariah be divested out of them and
vested in Henry S. Elder and his heirs forever and that said Benjamin Elder
account to himself as administrator of the estate of Robert Elder decease for
$495.00the amount of the Negroes decreed to him was worth more than his
interesting said slaves and that was M.B. Elder pay to said Benjamin Elder as
said administrator $155.00 making the share of said Robert deceased $650.00
and thus H.S. Elder pay to William M. John P. and Mary S. Elder widow and
children of said William Jr. deceased $70.00 and that said John W. Elder pay
to them $375.00 and that said Monroe B. Elder pay to them $205.00 making
their share $650.00 and it is further ordered that the parties in interest pay
the cost of the proceedings and attorney’s fee in proportion to the amounts
received by them.

                                submitted by Michael Scrape