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Showing posts with label Sampson County. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sampson County. Show all posts

Monday, January 16, 2012

Create Portraits of Your Ancestors with Probate Inventories – Part I

Reading inventories found in probate records are an excellent way to learn more about our ancestors.  Many assumptions can be made about an ancestor’s wealth and lifestyle by paying close attention to the possessions owned by that ancestor.  In my office, I have a desktop computer connected to two monitors, a printer /scanner, a portable scanner, a netbook, and an iPad. There are shelves of genealogy books, a closet full of binders labeled with family names, speech pathology books, many travel books, a microfilm machine, old newspapers on microfilm, and several pictures of my children. Just from my brief inventory, you can assume that I am a well-traveled, tech savvy, mom and speech-language pathologist with an obsession for genealogy.

If you are lucky enough to find a probate inventory for one of your ancestors, you may have the opportunity to view an intimate portrait of his or her home and daily life.  Few other documents contain such information.  Note the value of the inventory for a clue of their prosperity. Look at furniture and household items, livestock, and crops.  The inventory may or may not have included personal property of other family members, slaves, or land.  What is found in the inventories are determine by the local government at the time of death.

Not all probate records will include an inventory and not all probate inventories are found with probate records. Inventories may be found in will books, with administrative bond records and even in deed books. Where you find the records will, again, depend upon the locality at the time of death. 

Below is the inventory of the estate of John W. Giddens, brother to my great-great grandfather, George L. Giddens. John died in 1896 in Sampson County, North Carolina. The inventory was recorded in Record of Assets No4 page 362. This inventory was filmed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and can be borrowed and viewed at local family history centers.   

I am not sure who inventoried the estate below.  Often two or three men in the community were appointed to settle the estate.  Appointed men inventoried and put a value on each item in the estate.  You can sometimes see by the lists, the order that they moved through the family estate.  These men could be neighbors, relatives, and/or local officials. Three men appear to be handling this estate and may have completed the inventory; W.W. Clifton, JP, J. K. Boyett, and J. D. Clifton.

Record of Assets  - John W. Giddens – Sampson County -  1896
  • Fifty bushels of corn valued at $20
  • 700 lbs. Fodder valued at $2.80 {feed, hay, etc.}
  • Lot Sweet potatoes valued at $300
  • Bale of lint cotton (480lbs) valued at $33.60 {ginned cotton}
  • Lot cotton seed valued at $2.90
  • 507lbs seeded cotton valued at $12.00 {unginned cotton}
  • One Black horse (10 or 11 years old) valued at $45.00
  • One Buggy valued at $5.00
  • One cook stove, 2 tables and safe valued at $5.00   {The safe may have been a pie safe used to store baked goods, flour and other kitchen items.}
  • One Lounge valued at $1.00  {chaise Lounge or sofa}
  • One desk valued at $1.00
  • 9 chairs valued at $2.80
  • One clock valued at $2.00

The total value of estate items was $136.10.

From the list of household goods, I can hypothesize that John and his wife lived simply. He may have grown some crops, but note that there are no tools listed. At one time he was a merchant and owned a turpentine distillery. Land and a home were not mentioned.  As I know that this John W. Giddens owned businesses and bought and sold land frequently, I know that I might have to look farther to determine his actual wealth. 


Probate Records – From Learn about the kinds of records generated by the probate process and details found in wills.

Next – Part II – A large probate inventory for John Giddens, of Wayne County NC,  who died in 1802.


© 2011, copyright Diana Quinn

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


My grandmother’s maiden name was Giddens and her father's family was from Giddensville, North Carolina. According to, Giddensville is an unincorporated populated place located in the Piney Grove Township of Sampson County, North Carolina. To see the location of Giddensville on a map, click here.

Although an unincorporated community can have a post office and be recognized as an acceptable place name for use in a mailing address, it does not have a have a governing body that can pass laws, levy taxes, and provide services. An unincorporated community is usually a group of people who live in and around a certain area and form a town.
The first mention of the town of Giddensville, in my research of deeds, business directories, and miscellaneous records, was in 1871.  However, as early as 1863, brothers, George L. Giddens and John W. Giddens owned land and businesses in the area later known as Giddensville.
August 18, 1863 - George sold 100.5 acres to James M. Lewis for $2050 (probably Confederate currency). The land is described as “a parcel of land where I now live . . . situated near the road leading from Clinton to Wayne County at the crossroads near J. W. Giddens place of distilling.” 

December 28, 1865 - John W. Giddens sold land to J. O. Clifton for $10 described as “Land lying near the crossroads, Giddens store, and steam mill and turpentine distillery.” 

September 5, 1867 - George L. Giddens and Luellen E. Giddens sold 180 acres of land to Nancy Troublefield for $460. This sale included a portion of land at what was called "Giddens or Hugins Corner."

January 9, 1871 - A mortgage for $600 between George and Luellen Giddens and J. L. Stewart on land was described as " Near Giddensville between the home of P. B. Troublefield and the crossroads. On the road between Faison’s Depot and Giddensville.” 

1877-1878  -  According to Branson's NC Directory, farmers living in Giddensville were Charles Hines, Robert Bell, James Huggins, J. A. Oates, B. L. Scott, C. A. Oates, B. Brewer, Jesse Lane, James King, O.H. Darden, Alonzo Thompson, John Clifton, J. W. Giddens, and John K. Darden.

April 8, 1878  -  George L. and Luellen E. Giddens sold land to Henry Faison "on the road that leads from Giddensville to Faison's Depot and meets P. B. Troublefield's line."

1879 - W. L. Argue was paid $60 annually to take mail from Faison's Depot to Giddensville. He was to leave Faison's Depot at 1p.m. and arrive at Giddensville by 3p.m. each Saturday. He was to leave Giddensville each Saturday at 4 p.m. and arrive at Faison’s Depot by 6 p. m.  This was six miles each way.

March 10, 1880 - Zimri McDonald of Washington, DC accepted a contract to take mail from Faison's Depot to Giddensville and from Giddensville to Faison's Depot for $49 annually.

March 10, 1881 -  Sophia A. Pipkin, sister to George’s wife, Luellen, was the administratrix of her husband’s estate (William R. Pipkin). She was ordered to sell the property by the probate court in order “to make some assets.” George L. Giddens was the last and highest bidder.  The first tract is in Giddensville and was “the store lot” and it ends at the lot formerly called the D. C. Giddens Store.  The second tract is known as the William. R. Pipkin dwelling and was situated in Giddensville. It was on the north side of the King Branch and the east side of the road leading from Clinton to Goldboro.

1883 - George L. Giddens was on the Official Register of the United States as being the Postmaster in Giddensville.

1884 - In Branson's NC Directory, F. A. Clifton and H. J. Hines were listed as store owners in Giddensville.  J H Darden was the physician.

1889 - Charles A. Giddens received $188.95 yearly for serving as Postmaster of Giddensville.  His father, George L. Giddens, was the Postmaster at Faison where he received $464.77 yearly.

1890 - Giddensville had a population of twenty-five.  F. A. Clifton, G. L. Giddens, H. J. Hines, and Alonzo Thompson were owners of stores in Giddensville.   J. H. Darden was the town’s physician.

June 30, 1896 - Monroe Carson Giddens, of Giddensville, was listed, on a report of the commissioner of IRS as a distiller and/or owner of a distillery warehouse where spirits were kept.  

It doesn’t appear that Giddensville was named for one person and it is unknown who first dubbed this area Giddensville. More deed research might answer this question and, one other question - How did George L. and John W. Giddens obtain all that land in Giddensville?


Thank you to George Giddens for allowing me to use his Facebook profile picture of the Giddensville sign. 

© 2011, copyright Diana Quinn