My Hardy and Gee ancestors in Lunenburg County, Virginia counted among their property those people they enslaved. Thanks to Schalene Jennings Dagutis and her “Slave Name Roll Project,” genealogists are “releasing” the names of those enslaved by our ancestors who were mentioned in their probate records and other documents. As I come across these records from searches into my family history, I will make those names public.
Why? The federal census records listed only heads of households up through 1840 with tickmarks indicating other household members, free and enslaved, by age and gender. The 1850 and 1860 censuses listed names of all the free people, regardless of age, but the slaves were listed on separate schedules under their enslavers name, and these lists showed only their gender and age of the slaves. By 1870 after the Emancipation Proclamation, those newly freed people were listed by name. Often they used the surname of their previous “owners.” In order to help the descendants of those formerly enslaved, it is incumbent on genealogists to make available the names of those people enslaved by our ancestors.
Today I list the names mentioned in the will of my 3rd Great Grandfather, Charles Hardy, born 7 April 1772 at Whitehall Plantation, Lunenburg, Virginia. Charles was married first to Dorothy Bruce on 27 December 1792. They had four children: William Buford, John Covington, Elizabeth Catherine, and Amelia Hardy. After Dorothy’s death, Charles married Sally Jordan Green, and together they had 13 children, including my great-great grandfather, Henry Green Hardy, who was executor of the will of Charles Hardy after his death 25 January 1830.
Below is the list of names of the enslaved persons mentioned in the will of Charles Hardy, dated 14 May 1827::
“…I also lend unto my aforesaid wife Sally J Hardy during her natural life the following Seven negroes, to wit: Tom, Brister, Scippio, Ellick, Jenny, Matildy and Fanny.”
“Thirdly, I give & bequeath to my son William B Hardy, the sum of forty dollars, and to my son John C Hardy the sum of forty dollars, and to my daughter Elizabeth C Hardy one negro boy named Peter & thirty dollars, and to my daughter Amelia Hardy one negro boy named Bob and thirty dollars, to them and their heirs forever.”
“ Fourthly, I also lend unto my wife Sally J Hardy until my son Madison Hardy arrives to the age of twenty one years, the remaining part of my negroes, to wit Archer, Edmund, Patience, Jordan, Harrison, Andrew, Nancy, Daniel, Spencer, Jane and Abram, which said negroes as soon as convenient thereafter. I wish to be publickly sold on the usual credit…”
I have listed the names as they were written.
My cousins visited Lunenburg County in the summer of 2016 and copied some probate papers. I don’t have a precise citation on them, but it appears to come from probate file 3746 for Charles Hardy and is headed:
“A list of property sold this 22d of December 1831. By Henry G. Hardy Exr. Of Charles Hardy.”
Daniel Petty 1 Bay Colt $ 10.50
Henry G. Hardy Spencer 250.00
Elisha Hardy Edmund 426.00
Ditto Ditto Jordan 375.00
Ditto Ditto Harrison 436.50
Ditto Ditto Isaac 195.00
Coleman G. Goodwaint Patience 371.00
Elisha Hardy Daniel 290.00
Ann Hardy Nancy 221.00
Elisha Hardy Andrew 5.00
John M Pollock 1 Bay Mare 26.50
H G Hardy 1 Cow White 5.00
ditto ditto 1 Red cow 5.00 
One name sticks out to me, Andrew. Who was Andrew? Why was his value so much less than any of the others? Was he old? Was he disabled?
And what became of the names from the will not shown on the list of sold property - Archer, Daniel, Jane and Abram? Did they pass away between the time Charles Hardy signed his will and this list was created? There may be more documents worth looking at in the probate file of Charles Hardy.
Additional notes for other researchers:
Elizabeth C. Hardy, daughter of Charles Hardy and Dorothy Bruce, married John Barrow of Brunswick County, Virginia.
Elisha Hardy, mentioned in several of the property sales, may be the son of Charles Hardy’s brother, John Covington Hardy. Elisha was born 24 Sep 1803, and in 1831 may have been acquiring slaves to work on his own plantation.
I hope that my research into the Hardy family may help the descendants of those enslaved by my ancestors find more information on their ancestors.
For another blog post I wrote about people enslaved by my ancestors, see “Who Was Rilla?”
 Bell, Landon C. The Old Free State Vol. II (Richmond, Virginia: The William Byrd Press Inc., 1927), 224-224.
 Lunenburg, Virginia, “Mixed Records, Vols. 9-11, 1826-1841,” vol 10: p. 40-41, Charles Hardy will, probated 8 March 1831; Virginia Circuit Court, Lunenburg. FHL microfilm 32383, item 3.
 Papers from probate file #3746 for Charles Hardy found in the Lunenburg County Courthouse, Lunenburg, Virginia
 Bell, “The Old Free State Vol II,” 223
 Wikitree - https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Betts-84 accessed 2 April 2017
A cousin recently sent me some probate records from Lunenburg County, Virginia. Included among them were some wills and inventories. One was the inventory of the personal property of my third-greatgrandfather, Jeremiah Gee who died 8 December 1857.
“Inventory, [illegible] & appraisement of the personal property & Estate of Jeremiah Gee decd made this the 28th day of December 1857:
Richmond 850.00 $3500.00
Ann & child Henry 900.00
Liza & child Louisa 850.00
Will 750.00 $3350.00
Miranda & child John 800.00
Mary Jane 300.00
Rilla worth nothing more than a maintenance 000.00 $2700.00”[i]
Who was Rilla? According to this inventory she was worth nothing. Less than an ox cart, valued at $8. Less than one of his sheep valued at $1.50 each. Less even than one of the 27 hogs valued at $1 each.
I know nothing about Rilla, other than her name from this inventory. Did she have children and grandchildren? When she held them in her lap, when she sang to them, when she touched them - did they see her as worth nothing? I hope to do some more research to find out more about Rilla.
I struggle with the history of my family and the history of a culture that saw human beings as items of property worth $1,000 or $850 or $250. I struggle even more with the idea that one of them was worth nothing.
I can only strive to do my part to make the world a more equal and just place. I do this in the name of Rilla.
[i] “Inventory of Jeremiah Gee,” Virginia Circuit Court, Lunenburg County, Virginia. Inventories book F2, page 315
Mary Kircher Roddy is a genealogist, writer and lecturer, always looking for the story. Her blog is a combination of the stories she has found and the tools she used to find them.