Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Rev. William Henry Cully: Probate Record # 3 & 4

A probate record can be a very revealing document as we have an opportunity to peer into the lives of our ancestors. We find out about the people close to them, the things they owned and many times we may find information that will break down brick walls.

This is a continuance of my Maternal 2x Great Grandfather's probate file.  If you are just joining my blog and want to see the beginning to catch up, the archives are to the right of this post.  You can start here:   http://www.thecullyfamily.com/2012/06/rev-william-henry-cully-probate-record.html


State of North Carolina,
Craven County

I, George W. Cully, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I believe W.H. Cully died without leaving any last will and testament: and that I will well and truly administer all and singular, the goods and chattels, rights and credits for the said W.H. Cully and a true and perfect inventory thereof return as provided by law; and all other duties appertaining to the charge reposed in me; I will faithfully and honestly perform with the best of my skill and ability.  So help me God.

Sworn and subscribed before me, this 29th
Day of September 1902 }

WM Watson C.S.C         }         George W Cully

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA, }  Before the Clerk of the Superior Court.
Craven County.
IT BEING SATISFACTORILY PROVEN To the undersigned, Clerk of the Superior Court for Craven County, that W.H. Cully late of said County, is dead, without having made and published a Will and Testament and it appearing that George W. Cully is entitled to the Administration of the estate of said deceased, and having qualified as administrator according to law:
          NOW, THESE ARE THEREFORE TO EMPOWER the said Administrator to enter in and upon all and singular, the goods and chattels, rights and credits of the said deceased, and the same to take into possession whatsoever to be found, and all the just debts of the said deceased, to pay and satisfy, and the residue of said estate to distribute according to law.
          WITNESS, my hand and the seal of said Court, this the 29th day of September 1902
WM Watson Clerk Superior Court.

Now after these two documents, we are going to see more about the life of William H. Cully, and what he owned and how he lived.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Rev. William Henry Cully: Probate Record #2

If you are just joining us as we turn back the hands of time and peer into the probate record of my 2nd Great Grandfather William Henry Cully you can catch up by going to this link: http://www.thecullyfamily.com/2012/06/rev-william-henry-cully-probate-record.html


CRAVEN COUNTY                                      } Before W. M. Watson C.S.C


W.H. Cully Dec’d

James B. Robinson being sworn, doth say: That

WILL AND TESTAMENT, and that Geo. W. Cully is the proper person entitled to

LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION on the Estate of the said W.H. Cully Further, that the value of said Estate, so far as can be ascertained at the date of this application, is about $1450 of which $1200 is real property, and $250 is personal property, and that

Nancy E Cully, Widow
Sarah Frances Whittington- North Harlowe, N.C.
Ambrose Evans Cully- Worcester-Mass.
Malvina Robinson- New Bern, N.C.
George W. Cully- Havelock, N.C.

Are entitled as heirs and distributes thereof.

          Sworn and subscribed before me, this

29th day of Sept 1902                  James B. Robinson

W M Watson
Clerk Superior Court.

The greatest thing happened when I read this page.  I had not known my great grandfather Ambrose's middle name.  I had always thought it was Elander.  Well..There it is in black and white "Evans".  

Melvina Robinson, Sarah Frances Whittington, George W. Cully, Ambrose E. Cully, are the children of Nancy E & William H. Cully.  James B. Robinson was the witness sworn and was the husband of Melvina.

It is a wonderful thing to see your ancestors names in writing.  This document gave supporting evidence that all of the Cully children minus Ambrose, remained in Craven County, NC after Reconstruction, and that my Great Grandfather Ambrose had decided to migrate northward.

My mother had written down that Ambrose was given timberland when he migrated to Worcester, and that his father was a White plantation owner.  Through my research, I discovered that William H. Cully was not white but he did own land. I am giving this information, because it is so important that when you are writing family history, that you research and document everything.  You need to make sure the stories are correct.  So let's see what we find out tomorrow.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Rev. William Henry Cully: Probate Record #1

My 2nd Great Grandfather William H. Cully was born in 1833 to William H. Cully, Sr. and Mary Barker in New Bern, North Carolina.  

William's father, William H. Cully, Sr was born free in 1800 to his mother Prewilla Cully who had been a free person of color.This family line may not have ever been in slavery or they were free at least since the 1700's. [More research will need to be done as the family stories handed down are that the Cully's were of Native American Heritage and Irish Born.  The Cully's assimilated into the African American population as early as the 1800's, and were labeled as mulatto.

My 2nd Great Grandfather William H Cully died in 1902 as I had found in a New Bern, NC newspaper announcement.  This was the first document that I had found that recorded his death.

So of course I was ecstatic when I came across William's probate record from 1902, which included 24 pages.  It has given me much more insight on the lives of my ancestors as farmers and land owners in the town of New Bern.  

The first page of William Henry Cully's probate record:


In the matter of administration of the estate of
W. H. Cully deceased,
Take notice, that the undersigned, widow of W. H. Cully deceased and respectfully asks that George W. Cully may be appointed as the administrator of said estate in her stead.
This 31st day of August 1902
Nancy E Cully

James B Robinson

George W. Cully, the administrator of the estate is the son of William H. & Nancy Cully.  James B. Robinson, witness is the son-in-law who married their daughter Melvina.  Seeing these few family names confirmed that I had the correct family that I was researching. 

Let's see what the next page has to reveal...

Friday, June 08, 2012

Part #5: Daniel Gilliam Found in the Paper Trail: Wanted Dead or Alive

Welcome back...If you are new to this post you can see the one prior to this at the following link..http://www.thecullyfamily.com/2012/06/part-4-daniel-gilliam-found-in-paper.html


WE COMMAND YOU, that of the Goods, Lands and Tenements of Danl Gilliam in the hands of Hannah Gilliam his admx you cause to be made the sum of
which lately, in our Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions for the County of Craven, was adjudged and taxed in the suit in which Hannah Gilliam [unreadable] – Plaintiff, and [Unreadable] – Defendant, for the COSTS and CHARGES in said suit expended, wherof the said, Hannah Gilliam, admx was convicted, as appears to us of record; and have you the said monies before our said Court, to be held for the County of CRAVEN, at the COURT-House in Newbern, on the second Monday of December next, then and there to render the Costs and Charges aforesaid.  Herein fail not, and have you then and there this Writ.

Witness William G. Bryan, Clerk of our said Court, at Newbern, the second Monday of September A.S., 1867, and in the Ninety 20 Year of our Independence.
Issued the [blank] day of [Unreadable] A.D., 1867
W G Bryan Clerk.

Petition For Year Provisions

Apparently this Year Provision was not satisfied.  Daniel Gilliam was a man that did not have anything substantial to care for Hannah, as he only had goods, no lands or tenements.  I am not surprised especially after almost two years after slavery.

I am just thankful that I had the opportunity to find  some paper-trail of the existence of my 2x Great Grandfather.  Initially the question I had about Daniel when I was learning more about Hannah is "Did Daniel migrate to Worcester, Massachusetts with Hannah?"  The answer was no as Hannah migrated to Worcester approximately in 1878.

So now that I have completed the probate file for Daniel Gilliam, my next task is to find out who the father is of Hannah's children.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Part #4: Daniel Gilliam Found in the Paper Trail: Wanted Dead or Alive

So if you are following the Probate Estate Case of Daniel Gilliam, I am glad you are here…If this is your first time, you can go to this link http://www.thecullyfamily.com/2012/06/part-3-daniel-gilliam-found-in-paper.html  to see the prior post…
Daniel Gilliam, my 2nd Great Grandfather was never found to this date in any direct documents pertaining to him.  When I came across this probate record, I was ecstatic because it proved to me that he was not just a name, and that I could begin to make sense of his life.  In the process, I also realized that in all probability, Daniel’s wife Hannah had her children by a different man or men and therefore giving clues that I have another 2nd Great Grandfather, I need to be researching.
Below is the 3rd page of the probate file giving notice to all debtors and those who have claim against the estate to either make payment, or present estate for payment.


          The subscriber having qualified as administrator of the Estate of Daniel Gilliam deceased, at the March Term, A. D. 1867 of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions of Craven County, hereby notifies all persons having claims against said Estate, to present them for payment within the time prescribed by Law, or this notice will be pleaded in bar of their recovery.

          All persons indebted to said, Estate will make immediate payment.

Hannah Gilliam

March 18, 1867

An interesting thing with the peculiar Institute of Slavery is that the individuals that were former slaves may have had different surnames at various times as they were identified by their slave masters name.  The document below got my attention, even though it is not very readable due to some ink blot spills. I did make out the surname "Jones" in the document.  Hannah's mother had the surname Jones as her Slave name.  Not sure if this Jones has any relationship to Hannah. [of course I am going to research this name].  I found in a 1870 Census a Kitty Jones living in the same household of Leander Gilliam, Jane Collins and William G.  
 [I had a difficult time making out the first name, so if you see the proper name, please comment.  Thank you.]

Update: As of August 29, 2016, after looking at some land records located on the Craven County County Clerk, Land Records database, and other documents (To Be Revealed), I am believing that "Kitty Jones," is actually "Killis Jones."  Thank you Andrea Kelleher for noticing what I didn't notice and even though I disagreed, I finally realized she was correct.

4th Page of Probate File

Killis Jones makes oath that he saw a copy of the notice posted up at the Post Office at the Courthouse in the town of Newbern and at the Market Annex in the town of Newbern


Killis  X Jones


[Unreadable Text] ? ? ?March 25, 1867

W.G. Bryan

Then I notice at the very top corner in light pencil writing :

Administrations Notice Heardy or Hearely Gilliam, March 1867 [This may be another clue as to my Gilliam family, that will enable me to stretch out the branches of the Gilliam Tree.

More To Come...

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Part #3: Daniel Gilliam Found in the Paper Trail: Wanted Dead or Alive

I am so glad that you decided to see what is going on with Part #3 of Daniel Gilliam, My 2nd Great Grandfather. 

…Now that we have looked at the Petition of Hannah Gilliam upon her deceased husband Daniel’s estate (which can be seen at this link) http://www.thecullyfamily.com/2012/06/part-2-daniel-gilliam-found-in-paper.html

Let’s look at the second page that is in the file.

Hannah Gilliam
The Court

Jas Osgood J. P.
*Ian E. Augeth 
W.P. Moore
W.G. Singleton


* I Was not able to make out name.  If you can, please let me know what you think.

This page states Hannah as the Petitioner also listing the Justice of Peace along with the three freeholders who are unconnected to Hannah.  I would have just bypassed this page, but there was a red flag!  A Clue!  The name W.G. Singleton gave me goosebumps.

W.G. Singleton was supposed to be a freeholder unconnected with Hannah.  I began to wonder if he really was unconnected.  Hannah's slave surname was Singleton.  One of her sons name was Leander Singleton Gilliam.  Leander had three boys and no girls and all the boys carried Singleton as their middle name, and their boys carry the Singleton as their middle name today.  On Leander's marriage certificate dated 5 March 1891, his father is listed as William G. Singleton. [what does the "G" stand for in William's name?] 

I had always assumed that Daniel Gilliam was Leander's father as he was listed as the father of Hannah's younger children.  After further investigation, it would be impossible for Daniel to be the father of Hannah's other children because they were born a few years after Daniel died. [More to come on another post "Who is the father of Hannah's Children?]

In the 1870 Census in Craven County, North Carolina, Leander is listed as being born in 1860, 10 years old and mulatto.    Leander is not living in the same household as Hannah, but living with Hannah's sister Jane B. Collins.  All of Hannah's children at one time or another lived with Jane according to censuses from 1870-1880.

According to family reports, Hannah had her children by the Plantation owner. [More research must be done, to confirm that he even owned a Plantation or land.]

What is clear to me, is that Daniel Gilliam was a slave, and Hannah was married to him, but her children were not from Daniel.  She had to be hiding her relationship that she had with the plantation owner.  It is possible that Hannah was also fathered by one of the Singleton's as she was very fair complected and could pass as white, just like her son Leander.

There is a gentleman by the name of William Henry Singleton who wrote a Slave Narrative, "Recollections of My Slave Days."  In this narrative, William H. Singleton states that his father is John Nelson.  That surname gave me chills as Hannah also carried the Nelson surname as one of her slave-names.  When I was reading the slave narrative, I could tell that William H. Singleton was related to Hannah. 

It is possible that William H. Singleton is Hannah's brother as they are only a few years apart, born in the same place, and had the same surnames.  

The book reviewers stated that William G. Singleton was William H's father and it would be impossible for John Nelson to have been Williams father.    If William's recollections is fully correct a Ms. Nelson married a William G. Singleton and that is how they carried the Singleton name.

I tend to believe William Henry's Recollections because every thing, and I mean everything else was documented as true by the reviewers, but since they were not able to find that piece of evidence of who William H's father was, they stated that it was not probable.  But according to what I have seen in various documents, and analyzing what I have found, I believe that there is a correlation.  I hope to one day prove this theory and to rewrite the documentary of the book.

My cousin's husband sent me a message of what his thought process was regarding the Nelson/Singleton connection. 


    I have started to search for more info regarding William G Singleton and came across a review of William Henry Singleton’s book, ”Recollection of My Slavery Days”.  In it, the reviewers claim that William Henry Singleton’s father was William G Singleton and not John Nelson, as he initially claimed. The book review can be found at the following site: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2838/is_4_35/ai_82554816/ . If the reviewers are correct, then is this the same William G Singleton that appeared at Hannah’s probate hearing and if he is the same person, why was he there?
    I then noticed that Hannah and William Henry Singleton were born within one year of each other. Perhaps they both were children of William G Singleton and he was at the probate to protect the interests of Hannah, his daughter. This seems to be a possible answer, but begs some additional questions, like: If William G Singleton is not Leander’s father, who is? and If Hannah took the surname “Singleton”, why would her sister Joan have the surname “Nelson”
    I’m continuing to search for answers, but I wanted you to see my current thoughts. If you have any additional ideas or info about these relationships, please let me know, since they’re all conjecture on my part

So, now you see where I am going with this and my cousin is on the same trail....I will transcribe the rest of the document and discuss who the father of Hannah's children are.

Until Next time....

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Part #2: Daniel Gilliam Found in the Paper Trail: Wanted Dead or Alive

So today I crack open the probate file of Daniel Gilliam, my 2nd Great Grandfather who was most likely born in Craven County, North Carolina.  Daniel was the husband of Hannah Singleton Gilliam.  If you are new to this series, the first post can be read at http://www.thecullyfamily.com/2012/06/daniel-gilliam-found-in-paper-trail.html.

The Petition of Hannah Gilliam, Widow of Daniel Gilliam 


Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions
March Term, A D, 1867


          The petition of Hannah Gilliam widow of Daniel Gilliam respectfully showeth unto your worships, that her said husband died intestate in the county aforesaid, since the last term of this Court, and that letters of administration on his estate have been granted to her during the present term.  Your petitioner further showeth, that she desires to have her year’s support out of the estate of her said husband, allotted to her according to law, and to the end, she prays your worships to appoint one Justice of the Peace and three freeholders unconnected with her, to view the said estate and to allot and set apart to her so much of the crop, stock and provisions belonging thereto, as may be adequate to the support of herself and family for one year, and if there shall not be a sufficiency on hand to afford such allowance, then to assess the deficiency in money, and report their proceedings under their hands and seals to the next term of this Court.  And your petitioner as in duty bound will ever pray.

Clark, Attorney for the Petitioner.

So there was nothing in particular that was different from this page of the probate document.  What I did learn is that through Hannah's petition, she was recognized by law to be the wife of Daniel and that he died in 1867.

Now lets see what the next page says and if it is revealing.....Until next time...

Friday, June 01, 2012

Daniel Gilliam Found in the Paper Trail: Wanted Dead or Alive, Part 1

Daniel Gilliam (?- 1867) is a man that I have come to know as my 2nd Great Grand Father. His name was never mentioned to me by any of the elders in my family growing up, and I happened to stumble across his name in documents pertaining to my 2nd Great Grandmother Hannah Singleton Gilliam (1842-1914) and her children (He was listed as the father). 

I heard stories about Hannah being born into slavery and that she had children with the plantation owner. I assumed that Daniel was the plantation/slave owner of Hannah but this theory of mine was shot down as I did further evaluation.   

Knowing that these stories should have evidence to back them up, I continue to research and analyze documents to possibly support or refute what has been told.  I do however have supporting evidence that Hannah was born a slave, but there is conflicting information in various documents as to who fathered her children.  (This information will be discussed in a much later post) 

When tracing Hannah who migrated from New Bern, NC to Worcester, Mass., she was mentioned as the widow of Daniel Gilliam in some of the Worcester City Directories.  The first listing of Hannah that I found in the city directory was in 1880 which had her listed as a laundress; this of course supported the stories my mother told about the laundering she did for well distinguished families such as the Higgins of Worcester.

So here I am wondering where Daniel is.  I never found his birth certificate.  I never found a death certificate, burial record, or any documents that would say that hey!!! There is a man named Daniel Gilliam and he lived.  I went on like this since 2000, until in March of 2102, I happened to find a Craven County, North Carolina probate record of Daniel Gilliam on the FamilySearch database.  

The probate estate record was the first and only document that is direct evidence that reveals that Daniel Gilliam lived and therefore died.  I conducted an extensive census record search, and it was fruitless.  It is my assumption that Daniel was born before 1840 as it is very likely he was born before Hannah.  The lack of documentation dispels my idea that Daniel could be of European descent , or a free person of color.  Since there is a lack of evidence, I believe that the brick wall I am up against is slavery, confirming my theory that Daniel was also born a slave.

The probate record documented that Daniel Gilliam died in 1867, approximately 2 years after the Thirteenth Amendment made slavery illegal.  

So now I want to look at these probate records and transcribe making sure that I get all the information that is very crucial to my research...(even some of the  names listed in the document are very important to my brick wall, which I feel is tumbling down).

To Be Continued.....