Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Last Will and Testament of Mary (Tyler) Webster

As many of you may already know, Ancestry.com has recently added a new collection to their site - U.S. Wills and Probate Records. I went searching in this new collection and was excited to find this document. It's the Last Will and Testament of my 4th great-grandmother, Mary (Tyler) Webster.1 

Mary Tyler was born on 28 June 1775 possibly in New York, and passed away on 17 March 1858 in Coolville, Athens, Ohio. She married Augustine Webster, my 4th great-grandfather, on 20 October 1793 in Columbia, New York.

Here's the transcription of Mary's will, transcribed to the best of my ability. If there are errors, please let me know in the comments below.

Mary Webster's Will
In the name of the benevolent Father of all I Mary Webster of Athens County Ohio, do make and publish this my last Will and Testament. There is due me from Moses A. Webster Administrator of the Estate of Augustine Webster deceased the sum of Five hundred & fifty two Dollars, which I wish to be disposed of as follows.
Item 1st I give and devise to my Grandson William Wesley Rardin one hundred Dollars, which sum I wish to be put out on interest made secure until he arrives at the age of twenty one years, and in case he should die before he arrives at the age of Twenty one years, then I wish the said one hundred dollars and all the interest that may accrue on the same to be given to my beloved son Ebenezer Webster.
Item 2nd I give and devise to my son Wesley Webster fifty Dollars. Also I give and devise to my son Abraham Webster fifty dollars. Also I give and devise to my Grandson Nelson Cowdery's heirs that is now alive the sum of Twenty five Dollars to be equally divided between said heirs. Also I give and devise to my two Grand Daughters Elizabeth L. Shields and Samantha Cowdery twenty five Dollars each. Also I give and devise to my daughter Betsy Smith the Remainder of the five hundred and fifty two Dollars first mentioned, to say two hundred and Seventy Seven Dollars.
Item 3rd I do hereby nominate and appoint Hiram Smith Executor of this my last Will and Testament Hereby authorizing and empowering him to compromise adjust Release and discharge the debts and claims due me and dispose of the same as above mentioned.
In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 10th day of May in the year AD 1856.
Signed and acknowledged by Said Mary Webster as her last Will & Testament in our presence & signed by us in her presence.
Wm. F. Pilcher
J. P. Humphrey

Mary mentioned several family members in her will. Here they are in order:

Moses A. Webster - Mary's son and my 3rd great-grandfather. I wrote a blog about him in a previous post.
Augustine Webster - Mary's husband.
William Wesley Rardin - Mary's grandson. William is the son of Mary's daughter Samantha and her second husband, Moses Rardin.
Ebenezer Webster - Mary's son. I wrote about Ebenezer in a previous post.
Wesley Webster - Mary's son. I wrote about Wesley in a previous post too.
Augustine Webster - Mary's son. I also wrote about Augustine in a previous post.
Nelson Cowdery - Mary's grandson. I don't have Nelson in my genealogy database, but Mary's daughter Mary was married to a man named Ethan Cowdery.
Elizabeth L. Shields - Mary's granddaughter. I don't have Elizabeth in my genealogy database either. And I don't know of any of Mary's daughters marrying anyone with the last name of Shields.
Samantha Cowdery - Mary's granddaughter. I also don't have Samantha in my genealogy database. Could she be Nelson Cowdery's sister?
Betsy Smith - Mary's daughter.
Hiram Smith - Mary's son-in-law and husband of her daughter Betsy.

Mary's last Will and Testament is such a valuable document. In it she mentioned three people that I had never heard of before: Nelson Cowdery, Elizabeth L. Shields, and Samantha Cowdery. Who were they? Where and when were they born? Did they get married and have families of their own? I now have the opportunity to put on my genealogy detective hat and do some family history research so I can find the answers to these questions.

Thanks for reading!

© 2015 Copyright by Jana Last, All Rights Reserved

1 Wills; Probate Place: Athens, Ohio: Record of Wills, Vol 6-7, 1848-1865; Vol 7, pg. 187-188. Accessed 10 Sep 2015. Ancestry.com. Ohio, Wills and Probate Records, 1786-1998 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: Ohio County, District and Probate Courts.


  1. Aren't the probate records awesome Jana? Nice find for you and more family to go find.
    Happy hunting!

    1. Yes, probate records really are awesome! Thank you for stopping by!

  2. Congratulations on this awesome find, Jana!

  3. What a great find!! Lucky you. It shows what a treasure these records will be to so many.

  4. This is a wonderful discovery. Jana, where is Columbia NY? I am from Columbia County NY but do not know Columbia.

    1. I'm thinking it was Columbia County NY. Thank you Colleen!

  5. I am so disappointed that Virginia is not among the states with wills and probates available on Ancestry. The detective hat fits you well -- can't wait to read about what you find next.

    1. Oh! That's too bad that the Virginia records aren't included on Ancestry. Hopefully they're on Familysearch. I've done some Ohio probate record research on FamilySearch lately. Unfortunately, they aren't indexed, but, I've found indexes at the beginning of the online microfilms.




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