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Transcribed by Terry Henderson

Will of Stephen Henderson

Filed 14 March 1838

New Orleans, Louisiana

This is my last olographic will and testament made and done at the City of New Orleans this first day of August, 1837. In the presence of the Almighty and Eternal God, I humbly and solemnly approach the Throne of Grace hoping that through our Lord Jesus Christ forgiveness of all sin. Amen

Art. 1 I nominate and appoint Stephen Henderson, Junr, Jonathan Montgomery, and P.A. Rost, Esq. to be my testamentary executors.

Art 2 In their absence from the United States, resignation or death that their places are to be filled up by one or two commissioners as the case may be, required the commissioners to be appointed by the Governor of the State and any one of the judges of the Supreme Court and the judge of the First Judicial District Court or any two of them to make the appointments of the commissioners who will be entitled to a yearly salary of fifteen hundred dollars each. There are no commissioners however to be appointed until the death or resignation of two of the testamentary executors who will be entitled to the same salary say fifteen hundred dollars per annum, and when it becomes necessary to appoint one or more commissioners the first must always be a Scotchman and lastly when the whole three has to be appointed by the officers of the State, one of which number must always be from my native country. They must be moral, correct, honest and intelligent men and under a good character. Any of the two judges can dismiss them for any great or strong foresumptive crime. They must keep an office and employ a clerk at a salary of fifteen hundred dollars per annum, he must keep a set of books and accounts which must be examined and approved annually by any two of the judges.

Art. 3 My Estate is not to go into court except for the purpose of Probating and of affixing the will having no forced heirs that every thing belonging to my estate is to be continued and conducted as it may be found at my death through executors or commissioners to keep upon each plantation a good planter and a man of humanity he must not under no circumstances treat the blacks with cruelty but on the contrary with kindness and they must allow for every grown person that labors three pounds of good beef or pork per week and in that proportion for all the young ones. there must be strict discipline and good order kept amongst all the negroes and with all there quartered. I have always considered this allowance with what they made upon their own patch of ground which must be allowed to all those who their labors as an abundance more particularly so if they get as much good fresh corn meal as they stand in need of this treatment in my humble opinion places the black in a much more happier situation than many others of that order who has to labor in Europe or even in the eastern states. I have always trusted my blacks with much indulgence and even personal ?kindness.

Art. 4 I have always been opposed to slavery but it is a property recognized by the Constitution of the United States to (?) do away you would at once destroy the greatest and best legitimate government now in the old or new world therefore all attempts (? by) fanatics or misguided people that are going about and preaching like evil spirits against slavery turns the heads of the unfortunate negroes and prepares them for the commission of every kind of crime which compels their masters to limit the very liberty which they formerly accorded to them in a great moral point of view a good master ought to be as careful of his slaves as he is of his own family all those who forget this duty had much to account for but I am decidedly opposed to the people of any other state or country interfering in any manner with our domestic concerns.

Art 5. There must be written rules for the government of all my slaves upon all my different estates. They are not to be taken out to work until nearly sunrise in the morning nor are they to be kept in the field longer than half an hour after the sun goes down in the evening. Sunday is to be a day of rest upon all my plantations. Except the people who many chose to work upon their own piece of ground or to be paid for their labors by their overseer, but under no circumstances are they to be permitted to leave their respective camps without permission from their overseer. It's clearly understood however that during the time that they are engaged in taking off the sugar and cotton crops they are to work as they formerly did because of their care and labors. Everything is to be made and by that the comfort of themselves and others are to be secured.

Art. 6 All the children that are born five years after my death, if females, are to be free at the age of twenty years, and male children at the age of twenty five. And at the end of the five years as aforesaid, there may be drawn on by lot out of all the slaves (ten) five females and five males who will be furnished with a free passage to our settlement in Africa and one hundred dollars each but they must go of their own free will and to return to slavery if ever they return back to this country. At the end of ten years twenty may be emancipated in the same manner as the first five and in twenty five years all the first born free may be sent off with the entire remainder of the old slaves that are willing to go so that at the end of twenty five years from my death there will not be upon my estates any other slaves but the apprentice children and if the other slaves did not wish to go to Africa they will remain upon their respective plantations upon which they reside as apprentices and to be provided for accordingly, but to be strictly under the management of the overseers as well as all their offspring the whole to be considered as apprentices and their labors to be applied to the general good of all the affairs of my succession.

Art. 7 It must be clearly understood that the benefit now granted to my slaves is not to extend to a murderer or thief or a confirmed runaway or for any other high crime that can be legally proved before the executors or the commissioners which they have been guilty of but at the same time I wish the negroes to have a fair just and impartial trial the same in point of fact as if they were tried before a judicial tribunal.

Art. 8 Some arrangement must be made with Henry Doyal who is one half owner of the Mount Houmas plantation and slaves by selling the land to him at the end of the first five years he is, in the mean time must liquidate his account at his leisure paying no more than interest any balance upon any balance that my be due to my estate than 6 per cent per annum the negroes upon the Houmas estate to be emancipated upon the same conditions as those upon the other plantation one half of them being already my property. Mr. Doyle would no doubt make an agreement with the Executors for those belonging to him, every thing however must be settled with Mr. Doyle within ten years after my death. He has been a faithful agent and partner in the management of these estates. I therefore recommend (?) him to the indulgence and notice of the executors.

Art. 9 The Destrehan Estate is to remain forever a part of my succession and at the end of twenty five years from my death it must be laid out into a city to be named Destrehan.

Art. 10 Four acres including the back and front garden running back with parallel lines to the lakes with all the dwellings to remain as one lot with a good street and buildings upon each side of the said street.

Art. 11 All of my real estate in the City to remain on Ground rent and no lease to exceed twenty years in time, all the stocks to be sold in ten years from my death.

Art. 12 I leave the following legacies having no forced heirs, to my brother John Henderson or to his heirs if dead two thousand dollars per annum. And to be paid upon due proof and to the proper person authorities to receive the sum say $2000. ditto two thousand dollars to my Sister Ann Henderson or to her heirs and to be paid upon the same terms and conditions say 2,000 dollars, two thousand dollars to my nephew Stephen Henderson, Junr or to his heirs if dead and upon the same terms as to the family of John Henderson say 2,000 dollars, two thousand dollars to the children of my late nephew George Henderson or to their heirs and on the same conditons say 2,000 dollars , two thousand dollars to be paid annually to the poor of the parish of Orleans to be distributed by persons appointed for that purpose by the governor, one of the judges of the Supreme Court and the Judge of the Court of Probate for the Parish of Orleans, 2,000 dollars, Two thousand dollars per annum to be paid to the poor of the town of Dunblane in Perth Shire north Britian, this sum to be divided by the resident minister of the Presbyterian Church and to the two highest civil officers of the town to be paid upon due proof of their acceptance of the trust say 2,000 dollars. Two thousand dollars for the erection of a school house in the town of Dunblane for ten years only and for the purpose of education of the poor, this being the place of my birth. I feel no obligation however for these acts of charity it is only done to help the poor who like myself may be thrown upon the world without a penny or a friend, .... My greatest object is to do the greatest quantity of good and to the greatest number of persons and to the poorest people. I shall leave the world with no regret believing that I shall go to a better and happier one and God grant this of mankind may be prepared for this last eternal and awful change as it is the immutable law of heaven that we must all die let us be ready and prepare as nearly as we can.

Art. 13 When funds can be spared after twenty years I wish a large manufactory of negro shoes and clothes to be erected at Destrehan under the direction of experienced workmen from Scotland. The City must be incorporated by an act of the legislature of this parish and well conducted it will be the means of doing much good to the (?) ...... to a great many of the poor and it will ......... a great many young men to exert themselves because by perserverance and industry they see what can be done, my whole family may be considered as a family of drunkards and this misfortune most have come upon the side of my father although that he was an antiquarian learned and intelligent yet to get drunk once a month was to him a jubilee. My mother was a Drummond, a descendant of the McGregors good natured but without much capacity they were honorable and high minded as respects their intercourse with others but profligate and indolent as repects the management of their private concerns being poor they were always in bankruptcy.

Art. 14 After the first five years the executors will divide the following sums amongst the four Congregations Say Claps Church two thousand dollars, Catholic Cathedral two thousand dollars, The English Church in Canal Street two thousand dollars and the Church Commenced by Maffit two thousand dollars, to the Orphan boys two thousand dollars and to the Orphan femail society two thousand dollars, the legacies to the four churches is only to remain to be payable for five years but all the others so far named are to be perpetual; two thousand dollars per annum to the Charity Hospital, five hundred dollars per annum to the Firemenís Funds this last class of people are much exposed and ought to be protected. My household furniture and plate to be sold and the proceedes applied to the erection of a tomb to be erected over my grave and my burying place must be the Church of St. Charles and to be interred along side of my late beautiful and accomplished wife, Zeliah D. Henderson, the whole to be surrounded by a neat iron railing and the tomb as well as the railing to be kept in good order by the executors.

Mrs. P.A. Rost will receive all my diamonds and jewels that belonged to her late sister giving a part to Mrs. Morigny of such of them as she thinks fit.

Art. 15 I wish a chapel or church to be erected upon the upper corner of the four acres lot and a Presbyterian minister to be sent for from Dunblane or its neighborhood at a moderate salary. I also wish a good house for the minister to be erected upon the given corner of the four acres lot. There must also be a small house for the education of the poor of the town, over which the minister must preside.

Art. 16 All my debts, if any, must be settled and liquidated before any of the legacies are paid. There must be no exception taken to this will either on account of form writing or spelling.

Art. 17 Upon mature reflection I have concluded to name the Destrehan Plantation when it is incorporated as a city, Dunblane in place of Destrehan as named in the foregoing. As life is uncertain I will sign this will as it is written in haste and add a codicil to it hereafter if it is necessary hereafter.

New Orleans, first of August 1837

signed: S. Henderson

Witnessed: New Orleans 14 March 1838

T. Bernandez, Judge


New Orleans March 14 1838

Be is remembered that on the fifth day of March one thousand eight hundred and thirty eight, Stephen Henderson of the City of New Orleans being on his House on Canal Street sick of body but sound of mind, presented to the undersigned witnessed all residing in the City of New Orleans this paper which he had caused to be written out of their presence and declared to them that it contained his last will.

On the first of August eighteen Hundred and thirty Seven, I made an olographic will disposing of all my property for the following objects

1st The payment of all my just debts

2nd The payment of certain legacies therein specified

3rd The erection and gradual improvement of a new City

I intended to have made various changes and additions to said will which circumstances have prevented me from doing and the present will is made to remedy any error of flaw or fact or any other deficiency to be found therein.

I do hereby confirm said will in all its clauses and it is my wish and request that all my debts be punctually paid and that all the dispositions contained in said will in relation to the ? and gradual improvement of the new city ordered to be enacted by said will, be carried in full effect agreeably to the true intent and meaning thereof. I hereby make a new each of the particular legacies contained in the said will in favor of each of the legatees purely and simply and it is my wish and desire that any property of which I may die possessed not passing for any cause whatever under any of the dispositions of my former will or of this, may accrue to them in proportion to the amount of their respective legacies or this value.

In renumeration of their faithful services I give their freedom to my house servants, Lucy and Agnes, they will be emancipated next fall, and in the mean time remain in my house in Canal Street.

The jewels of which I may die possessed will be divided between my neices, Louise Foucher, odilla Montgomery, and the eldest daughter of my newphew George Henderson deceased in the following manner. Louise Foucher will receive the breast pin with my portrait set in diamonds, Odilla Montgomery will take the medallion of diamonds and the daughter of George Henderson shall receive the balance of the jewels whatever they may be. She will further receive all the womens apparel, made or not made found in my possession and the miniature portrait of my late wife Mrs. Henderson.

I give all the family pictures which I have to Mrs. A.P. Rost and her sister Mrs. Grithe (?)

I give and bequeathe to Henry Doyal of Mount Houmas the carpets looking glasses sideboard curtains and pieces from my drawing room and .......of my dining room. also two bed settings ....... and one half of the bedding and table cloths in my ..... to be used by him to furnish the new house which he ........... Mount Houmas Plantation and not otherwise. The rest of my household and kitchen furniture will be sent to my three other plantations, one press and a part of the bedding and table cloth will be sent to each of the Cotton Plantations. It is my will and desire and I do hereby revoke the appointment which I had made in my former will, of my nephew Stephen Henderson as one of my trustees. My reason for doing so are that his duties are such would take too much of his time but he shall receive all the legacies made to him and I further bequeath him the sum of five hundred dollars payable immediately and also payable annually, the amount to which he would have been entitled for commission as trustee had he acted on condition that he shall pay over to the heirs of George Henderson one half of the amount of such annual payment. I also give and bequeath to him my gold watch, my walking cane and all my wearing apparel without exception linen cloth and I give and bequeath to Peter A. Rost my Corneline breast pin being the one I wear together with my guns. I give and bequeath my diamond breast pin to Jonathan Montgomery and I further give and bequeath all my stock of wine to the said Peter A. Rost and Jonathan Montgomery jointly.

It is my wish and desire that next fall a competent person be employed who will give all his time and attention to the affairs of my estate and the management of my plantations and that a suitable compensation be allowed him. Phillip Rotchford will be employed until that time and should his services then as Clerk be no longer necessary he shall receive out of my estate the sum of one hundred dollars, besides his salary if deemed necessary to carry my two wills into effect and not otherwise. I appoint Jonathan Montgomery and Peter A . Rost my testamentary executors and give them the (seizen?) of my estate.

The foregoing last will was then penned by Theodore Clap one of the witnesses to the other witnesses in presence of the testator who appointed the same in all its parts but did not sign it being unable to do so. As he stated on account of weakness and the same was then signed by all the witnesses without passing to other acts, the month, the day and year written above.

signed: R.D. Shepperd

R. Darribron (??)

Theodore Clap

David C. Ker

J. Monro Mackie



Nex Verietex (?) in New Orleans 14th March 1838

j. Bermudez --Judge



  
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