Monday, August 1, 2011

Amanuensis Monday - Inventory of the Estate of Thomas Cook 1819

On his TransylvanianDutch blog, John Newmark defines an amanuensis as “a person employed to write out what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.” For more information about this daily blogging prompt, see John’s post Amanuensis – Why?.

I have amassed quite a collection of scans of handwritten documents related to my ancestors—primarily marriage records, deeds, and wills. As I have been transcribing these documents, it occurred to me that most of these documents were not actually written by my ancestors, but rather dictated to someone else, and then transcribed by a clerk into official records.

Last week I posted the will of Thomas Cook, one of my maternal 4th great-grandfathers. This week I have transcribed the inventory of his estate which was presented to the court in Wilkes County, North Carolina, in the May Term 1819 by his executors R. Martin and Randolph Mabery. Here are my thoughts regarding the contents of his estate, followed by an image of the document and the transcription.

Thomas Cook was a landowner. He owned horses, cattle, and other farm animals, farming implements and tools. It appears that he, or others in the household, engaged in brewing and weaving. He was a slaveowner as were others of his time and place. He was literate: he owned seven books and a family Bible. At first I thought he was musically-inclined as a tin trumpet is listed on the inventory; however, I have learned it's more likely the tin trumpet was a hearing aid!

There were a number of items listed in the inventory with which I was not familiar. In addition to the term "tin trumpet" noted above, here are some (but not all) of the other terms I had to look up:
  • Hogshead (a cask or barrel holding 60 to 140 gallons of liquid)
  • Piggin (a wooden pail with a handle formed by continuing one of the staves above the rim)
  • Spider (an iron frying pan with legs to hold it above the coals in the fire)
  • Steelyards (a portable scale) 
[These definitions are from A to ZAX: A Comprehensive Dictionary for Genealogists & Historians by Baebara Jean Evans.]

The executors of the estate noted at the bottom of the inventory that the property listed was for the use of Thomas Cook's widow and family to live on.


An Inventory of the Estate of Thomas Cook Deceased.   

Four Hundred and forty acres of Land._One Negroe Woman Named
Virgin about 60 years old._One Negroe Man Named Benjamin
about 30 Years old to be sold._One Negroe Man Named Charles a
bout 30 years old._One Negroe Woman Named Hulda about 22
years old._One Negroe Girl Child Named Kiziah about one year old._
Three Head of Horse creatures._One Year old colt._Four cows._Three
yearlings._Two Young Calves._Twenty one Grown Hogs._Twenty
three small Hogs._Ten Sheep._Six lambs._Four Beds & furniture
with their Bedsteads & Chords._One Table._One Chest._One Small
Trunk._Seven Chairs._One Cupboard and some crockery ware._Three
pewter Dishes._Eight pewter plates._One small Bason._A part of a
case of Knives and folks._Sex metal Spoons._One Mans Saddle.
One old Womans Saddle._One Bridle._One smoothe Gun, Shot bag
and Horn._Two cotten Wheels._One linen Wheel._One Reel._Four
glass Bottles._One tin Trumpet._One pair of candle moulds._One
small looking glass._One Iron shovel._One pot brammil._One flat Iron
One family Bible._Seven Books._Two water pails._Two piggins._
Three tin pans._Three pots._Two Ovens._One Spider._One Skillet._
Four pair pot Hooks._Two plows._Two pair of Chain braces._Two
collars and Haims._Four Hoes._One Mattock._One sproutting Hoe
Three Axes._One cross cut saw._One Hand saw._One Iron Wedge._
One frow._Two Augurs._Two small cags._Fourteen Hogsheads._
Three Geese._One Loom and geers._One cutting Knife and Box._
One Coopers Adze._One Hammer._One pair of Steelyards.
N.B. the above property is for the use of the decd. Wi-
dow and family to live on.

                                                                     R. Martin                 )
                                                                     Randolph Mabery   ) Exrs.
North Carolina)
Wilkes County) May Term 1819.
The above Inventory was
Return’d on oath by the Executors.

                                         R. Martin. Clk.

[Source: Wilkes, North Carolina, Wills, 3: 199, Thomas Cook, deceased; FHL microfilm 393,950, Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.]

© 2011 Denise Spurlock

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