Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way to Find More Information About an Ancestor

I'm going all the way back to the first week in May to a blog theme that I missed. The theme was “Where there's a will”. I decided to focus on my dad's family again this week. The focus will be on Aquilla GREER Sr.- my 7th great-grandfather.  Follow the DRAKE line back through Eugene, then Mark, Alonzo, William, Ervin, and Braxton.  Braxton married Martha Patsy GREER.  Martha's grandfather was Aquilla GREER Sr.

Above photo is of the falls on Gunpowder River in Baltimore County, Maryland.  Photo found at http://waterfalls.nature.st/Maryland/.

Aquilla GREER Sr. was born in 1716 at Gunpowder River,Baltimore County, Maryland. In 1740, he married Elizabeth LOWE in Maryland. Together they had 8 or 9 children- James, Mary Sarah, Aquilla (my 6th great-grandfather), Elizabeth, William, Moses (possibly the same person as Vinson or could be Vinson's twin), Vinson, Asa, and Delila. Aquilla passed away on 8 April 1790. His will was recorded on 30 October 1790 in Greene County, Georgia. The will reads:

In the name of God, Amen. I Aquila Greer of Green County being of sound sense and memory thanks be to God, for the same, but calling to mind the uncertainty of this sublenary world and that all flesh must yield when it pleaseth God of his mercy to call do therefore make and constitute this my last will and testament, and desire it may be received as such.

First, I resign my soul to God from whence it came and my body to the earth to be buried at the discretion of wife and others executors hereafter named: and as touching my worldly estate, I dispose of it as followeth.

First my will and desire is that all my just debts be paid.

Item: I lend to my wife Elizabeth Greer all my Negroes and all my stock of horses, hogs and cattle together with all my household goods and furniture, during her life, and after her decease to be sold at the highest bidder.

Item: I give to my grandchildren, heirs of my son Aquila Greer, deceased. Five pounds apiece and no more and the rest of the money divided equally amongst all my children here name'd: Sary Haynes, James Greer, William Greer, Elizabeth Starkey, Vinson Greer, Delia Haynes, Asel Greer: and my will & desire is that my two sons James and William Greer be my executors of this my last Will & Testament.

In Witness hereof I hereunto do set my hand & seal this eighth day of April one thousand seven hundred and ninety. Aquila Greer (L.S.)

Signed, sealed in presence of us John Aikens – Thomas Cane – Will. Greer

The above is a true copy of the Original which was proven & approved the 30th Octr. 1790 in the presence of the legatees who acknowledged the same. Letters Testamentary granted & a warrant of appraizment directed unto messrs. P. Hunter ) Jas Thomson ) Jas. Jackson )

Recorded the 6 th Noven: 1790 by. Will. Phillips R. Pro.

Later there was an appraisal of the property Aquilla owned at the time of his death. It reads:

A Record of the Inventory & Appraizments of Aquilla Greer's, deceased Estate L# S D

Missan 60 – –

Susanna 35 – –

Cloe 35 – –

Richard 40 – –

Leonard 40 – –

Peter 75 – –

6 head of horses 60 – –

17 head of Cattle 23 – –

1 Rifle gun #3.10. one smoothe con D. w/- 4 – –

1 Chest 20/- one small trunk 5/- 1 – –

1 Case of bottles 12/- One silver watch #400 4 – –

1 Pair of money scales & weights 15/-Cash #2507 26 2 –

2 Beds & furniture 18 – –

6 Hoes 15/- 6 Axes 31/- 2 6 –

1 X Cut saw 10/- One Bever Trap 7/6- – 17 6

3 Trowel hoes 20/- One Barrshear 40/- 3 – –

1 Frs. 2/6 One pair wedges 2/6- – – – 5 –

1 Dozen pewter plates – 18 –

3 Dishes 10/6. Eleven spoons 2/6 – 13 –

3 Basons 7/- Two Ds. 5/-One Candlestick 2- – 14 –

1 wagon, four sets of geer, cloth & Lock chain 25 – –

1 Pair of stealyards 11-/- One foot adze 5/- – 19 –

1 Pair of spoon moulds, nippers & ladle – 12 6

3 Augers 7/- One handsaw 2/6 — – 9 6

1 Round Shave & Padlock — – 4 6

1 Howell 2/6. One drawing knife l/6 – 4 0

1 Hammer l/8 Taper bit & Chisel 2/6 – 4 2

1 Gauge 1/- Case Knives & forks 7/- – 8 –

2 Mens Saddles 26/ One Womans Do. 15/ 2 1 –

1 Jointer 2/6 One Inkstand 2/6— – 5 – #461 .. 0 .. 2

1 Spur l/6. One spice mortar 7/- – 8 6

1 Sugar box 10/- One tin Jack 2/6 – 12 6

1 Razor & hone 3/- Sundry Books 10/- – 13 –

Teapot, Cups & saucers 6/ small trunk 2/ – 8 – 2 .. 2 .. 2 –

#463 .. 2 .. 2 –

1 Pair chards 5/. sheep shears 2/- – 7 –

1 Pair sheers & Looking glass 2/- – 2 –

2 Chares 5/- Pan & Skillet 4/- – 9 –

1 Pair tongs 3/- Six Bells 20/- 1 3 –

2 Potts, 1 oven 42/- Smith's tools 10/ 2 12 – –

Leather 10/- 40 head of Hoggs 120/- 6 10 –

1 Pair Saddle bags 8/- – 8 –

1 Bond of Twelve wt. Tobacco #6..0.. 6 – – # 17.. 11 .. 0 ====

Amts. #480.. 13.. 2 A just & True Appraizment of the Estate of Aquilla Greer, decea'sed Phillip Hunter ) James Thomson ) Sworn Appraisers James Jackson )

A true copy of the Original, Recorded within the limits of the time prescribed by law. By – Wm. Phillips R. Pro.

You may have wondered back at the beginning of Aquilla's will how many servants he had and what might be learned about them. If you'll remember, the first few lines of the appraisal of his property named them. I missed that the first time around. I knew there were names in the will but didn't realize that the appraisal was naming Aquilla's servants and assigning them value. I guess that indicates the difference in my view of people as property versus the 18th century view of people as property. In case you missed it, the slaves were:

Missan (or Massaw)






Aquilla was a Revolutionary War Patriot. He took the Oath of Allegiance in 1777.  He provided food and beef for soldiers in 1781.

I learned a little more about Aquilla from reading his will and associated papers. I learned that he had the tools he needed to care for his livestock. He also had a few blacksmithing and woodworking tools on the list.  He considered himself a Christian. Please note that we cannot judge an 18th century ancestor by 21st century norms and culture. Obviously today, we would not even consider having slaves but in Aquilla's time, that was the norm for someone with a lot of land and livestock. I do wish that his slaves had been set free instead of sold, but again- that wasn't the norm and had he set them free it might possibly have been a death sentence to them since they would probably not have been able to find work to support themselves as free people. Aquilla's life began and ended well in advance of emancipation. Last week I said I didn't have any rich ancestors but from the looks of Aquilla's documents and what is recorded about him, he had quite a bit of property.

I like that he provided for the payment of all his debts and the support of his wife for the duration of her life.  I love that he included his deceased son, Aquilla GREER Jr., by including Aquilla Jr.'s children in the will. This is an issue that I have had to grapple with in my own life.

I wonder what I would feel like if I knew that after my passing all my worldly possessions would be itemized, assigned an appraised value, and published for the world to see. I'm a pretty private person. I don't think I would like that at all. Many of the things I own have purely personal, emotional value and would not be worth anything to most people. It reminds me that I need to get my video inventory done sooner rather than later. I have family treasures and if I don't label them, no one will know they were important. I'm attaching some photographs of items that are dated around 1790 that showed up on Aquilla's appraisal list. Please note: these are not, to my knowledge, the actual things Aquilla owned. These are just photographs of similar items. One of the items that left me wondering was the “tin jack”. If anyone knows what a tin jack is- let me know!

Inkstand, circa 1790

Pewter Plate, circa 1790

Rifle, circa 1790

Spoon mold,circa 1790

Silver sugar box, circa 1790

Sugar nippers, circa 1790

Steelyards, circa 1790

I hope you've enjoyed learning a little about Aquilla through his will. Take some time this week to inventory your family treasures so that after your passing they will continue to be handed down and loved for generations to come.

Until next week,

Lisa @ Days of Our Lives

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