A very recent addition to the collection had me hopping up and down with excitement. We now have copies of two wills, one written by David Barlow in 1814, and the other by his wife, Sarah Barlow, written in 1822. The couple lived in Sherman, Connecticut.
My original interest in these documents was that David willed “my Negro by the name of Jack” to his wife, along with livestock and cash. Subsequently, in her will Sarah noted that “to my servant named Jack I give and bequeath one bed and bedding being his bed which he now uses . . . It is also my will that the said Jack shall have his Freedom he being a now a slave immediately after my decease and I hereby emancipate him the said Jack from and after the time of decease.” Further research revealed that Jack married another Negro servant, stayed in Sherman, and died in 1849 at the age of 83. Slave-related documents from Connecticut, never mind Fairfield County, are scarce–hence my excitement.
The rest of the will, was equally intriguing. Barlow was a farmer, but he owned one oxcart, a wagon, a sleigh, and two chairs. Not the transportation one equates with a farmer. Research on him did not uncover much, except that on the grand list of Sherman in 1790 he was taxed $600.00, which was one of the highest assessments at the time. So, we have a rather rich man.
Sarah was also a surprise. To her granddaughter Sally Barlow she left her gold beads, and to granddaughter Sarah B. Hubbell, she left a bureau, a large dining table, one tea-table, two looking glasses, one set of silver tablespoons and one set of silver teaspoons. Again, not what one would necessarily expect on a farm. The actual estate inventory is part of the document, and provides a bit more insight. However, we need to find more information on the Barlow family to fill out their story. Were they active in town government, state politics, the church? As is often the case, I have more questions than answers at this point.