I’m trying to narrow down the dates of birth for the children of Welcome Stephens.

I will begin with Welcome’s death. Welcome died in 1840 – before any census records listed all family members. So I will look to see who was listed in the will and what I can discover in the estate settlement.

I Welcome Stephens Russell County and State of Kentucky do hereby make my last Will and Testament in manner & form following that is to say

1st I desire that my blacksmith tools shall be sold immediately after my decease and out of the monies from all my just debts and funeral expenses be paid.

2nd after the payment of all my just debts and funeral expenses I give to my beloved wife Nancy Stephens one bed and furniture and for her to give the same to who she pleases at her death and shall have her support in manner hereafter mentioned only she shall have the use of my farm or so much of them she needs for her and John Baily and the kitchen furniture

3rd I give unto my son Dudley Stephens all the ridge tract of land including the Racoon Springs and the tract on which he now lives included in the deed to me from Thomas Wilson so high up the creek as to take square across the bottom at the lick at the upper end of the old field, to him and his heirs forever also my clock and my five dogs.

4th I give to my son Andrew Stephens the tract of land where he now lives containing one hundred acres more or less to him and his heirs forever.

5th I give to my son Joshua Stephens the home tract of land that is including where I now live and the place where he settled at the Lisha[?] place only he shall contribute to my wife before mentioned a reasonable support in the following manner, she shall have choice houses on the land for own self to live in and as much ground as she can tend herself during her life or her widowhood and my sons Dudley Stephens and Joshua Stephens shall contribute to her what she lacks of making in manner before mentioned.

6th I give to my son Sherwood Stephens the tract of land where he now lives to him his lifetime and to his heirs forever also my bureau

7th as far as John Ard and the children he had by Elizabeth his first wife my daughter I have given them all that I intend for them to have

8th, all the rest of my estate both real and personal of what nature or kind so-ever it may be not herein before mentioned and disposed of I desire that it may be equally divided all my children only I want John Baily to have my young mare when he is 21 years old or one that is as good as she makes when he is 21 years of age provided that he continues to conduct himself as well as he has done heretofore and lives at home as he has always done until he is free.

And lastly I hereby appoint Dudley Stephens and Joshua Stephens Executors to this my last will and testament in witness whereof I do hereby set my hand and affix my s—[?; remainder of word obliterated] the 14th day of July 1840.

First in the will, he mentions his wife, Nancy. I “know” (information from other people) that Welcome married Nancy Bailey and there is a John Bailey mentioned in the will, so this makes sense to me – perhaps a younger brother.  However, Welcome is a fairly uncommon name (unlike William and John which I have in the dozens!) so I have also noticed that Welcome Stephens married Nancy Stephens in 1830 – long after his children were born.

Marriage of Welcome and Nancy Stephens

Marriage of Welcome and Nancy Stephens

I have to assume that this is NOT Nancy Bailey, but a 2nd marriage. Based on that marriage record, I believe that Nancy Bailey died before 1830. I do not know if the Nancy Stephens that he married had been previously married and therefore has a different maiden name or not.

OR – I can continue the plan of accepting no information other than what I can find myself and then believe that Welcome’s first wife is unknown and the Nancy he married in 1830 WAS Nancy Bailey and John Bailey was HER son from another marriage. The only problem with this is that the marriage record clearly says “Nancy Stephens”. Could the recorder have accidentally written Welcome’s last name for both individuals? No way to prove that so I will add John Bailey to my “group sheet” to see what information I can find for him as he is my best clue for Nancy Bailey – whether she was Welcome’s first or second wife.

The children specifically mentioned in the will were:

  • Dudley – because he is listed first and was a co-administrator of the will, I’ll assume that he is the oldest child.
  • Andrew – assuming he is 2nd oldest
  • Joshua – 3rd oldest – however, he is also a co-administrator of the will – does this mean he might be the 2nd oldest? More clues needed.
  • Sherwood – 4th oldest
  • Elizabeth – Welcome states that his daughter is deceased and that his son-in-law and grandchildren have been given all he intends to give to them. I do not feel that having her listed at the end is an indication of birth order, but that he takes care of his living children first.
  • John Bailey – not specifically mentioned as a child, but Nancy is given “use of my farm as she needs for her and John Bailey” and he is to be given a mare “when he turns 21”.
  • The rest of the estate is to be disposed of and divided equally among “all my children”.

When the estate was settled, 2 more names come to light. Polly Stephens, who agrees with those mentioned above to sell the property to the highest bidder and to give an equal share to William Stephens. William was living in Mississippi or Alabama at this time, so that explains why they mentioned giving him his equal share. From my original list, 3 individuals are missing – John, Thomas and Lettie.  I will have to think about these individuals later.

So my “new” list of children becomes:

  • Dudley
  • Joshua
  • Andrew
  • Sherwood
  • Elizabeth
  • Polly
  • William
  • John Bailey

My next step will be to see what I can determine about each of these children in the 1840 and 1850 censuses.

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