Charity was the wife of Joshua Stafford and lived in Sumter District, South Carolina. Charity's parents and birth are unknown. Her will was written in February of 1839 and proved on 9 November 1840.
|Last Will and Testament of Charity Stafford|
The following is the transcription of Charity's Will:
In the name of God Amen. I Charity Stafford, of Sumter District, South Carolina, being in sound health and disposing mind, do make and publish this my last Will and testament.
Item, 1st it is my will that all my just debts be paid by the sale of my two negroes, Viz, Judia and her child, Bluford and the balance of the money arising from the sale of said negroes after my debts are paid together with my household furniture and all my stock to be equally divided between my two sons Lunsford C. Stafford and Hartwell Stafford.
Item 2nd I give and bequeath to my beloved Grand Daughter Barbary E Stafford my plantation whereon I now Live to be for the benefit of her father J Stafford till she my Granddaughter B E Stafford becomes of age, but not to be subject to any debts already or hereafter to be contracted either by her or any other person or persons.
Item 3rd I give and bequeath to my beloved Barbary Jones my three negroes, Viz, Robert, Molly, and Elmirah; during her lifetime, but not be subject to any debts already contracted, or that may hereafter be contracted by her or any other person, or persons.
And at her death, It is my wish that the three negroes (To wit) Robert, Molly, and Elmirah, together with their increase be given to her three children in the following manner Viz, I wish Hartwell E Jones to have Robert; and. Charity E Jones to have Molly with her increase; and Mary F Jones to have Elmyrah [sic] with her increase, and in case either of the children die before they become of age or marry their part of the negro is to go to the surviving one or ones, and neither the negroes nor their increase is to be liable for any debts now contracted or that may hereafter be contracted by any of the heirs or any other person or persons-(Turn over)
In witnesses whereof I the Said Charity Stafford have to this my last Will and Testament set my hand and seal this the 16th day of Feby in the year of our Lord One Thousand Eight hundred and Thirty nine
Charity x Stafford (SEAL)
Signed Sealed published and declared by the Said Charity Stafford as her last will and Testament in the presence of us who in her presents [sic] and at her request have here unto set our names as
Samuel P Hatfield
Recorded in Will Book D-2, Page 32
Sumter, South Carolina
Judia and her child, Bluford to be sold to pay debts.
Robert, Molly and Elmirah and any children they may have to be given to her grandchildren. Human beings being sold and given away as property. So hard to comprehend.
Further in the probate package is a page listing some of Charity's "property" and the worth of each item. Listed just above the cattle and hogs are Judia, Buford, Robert, Molly and Elmirah.
Bundle 132, Pkge 2 pg.3
Sumter County, South Carolina
The 1840 Sumter County, South Carolina Federal Census shows
Charity Stafford in a household most likely with the enslaved named in her will-
1 Female 70 & under 80, 2 male slaves under 10, 2 female slaves under 10, 1 female slave 24 & under 36.
There is no record in the probate file for a sale of Judia and Bluford.
In 1842 there is an auction and it appears that even though the will of her mother Charity left her children the slaves Robert, Molly and Elmirah, Barbary Jones buys them when they are, according to the document, "sold to the highest bidder".
Bundle 132, Pkge 2 pg.7
Sumter County, South Carolina
What became of Judia, Bluford, Robert, Mollie and Elmirah? Did the three 10 year olds stay with the Stafford and Jones families as Charity's will instructed? Were Judia and her son Bluford sold together or were they torn apart?
Perhaps further research will locate them in family documents.
Until then, adding the information contained in Charity Stafford's probate package to The Slave Name Roll Project may be one way to discover what happened to them and reunite them with their families.
We can't judge our ancestors for actions we don't understand or times we didn't live in. We can only gather and share the information we find.
Do you have slave owners in your family tree? How do you deal with this difficult subject while still honoring your ancestors?
I would love to hear from you.