Sunday, July 24, 2016

An Unusual Bequest

It's 1733 and William Heard is dead.

The children have died or moved on.

His wife, Elizabeth Cole Heard, is the only family member left.

On a farm comprised of 500 acres.

Most likely growing tobacco.

A farm worked with slave labor.

What will happen to the workers when Elizabeth dies?

What will become of the laborers?

Will they be sold?

Sold away from their families?

What happened is remarkable.

Elizabeth Cole Heard specified in her will that the slaves were to be freed upon her death.

But beyond that, all the former slaves were to share equally in the 500 Acre plantation.

The 107 former slaves were to have an equal share of the plantation.

Simple math shows that each worker would get about 40 Acres of land.

But if the land was divided among family groups, there could be much more.

I wonder how it all turned out.