I am always reminding people of the necessity of drafting wills, in order to take care of estate planning before there is an urgent need. However, any urgency I could suggest pales in relation to that faced by Jonathan Jennings. The Nashville Retrospect, which is fast becoming my favorite local reading, recently reported on the discovery of Mr. Jennings’ will, executed in 1780. Mr. Jennings, it appeared, had been mortally wounded by Delaware Indians in what is now my neighborhood in East Nashville. This will was apparently the first will to be recorded in Davidson County, Tennessee and states as follows:
In the name of God Amen. I Jonathan Jennings of North Carolina on Cumberland River having this day Received several wounds from the Indians and calling to mind the mortality of my Body do make and Ordain this to be my last will & Testament. And first of all I give and recommend my soul to God that gave it and my body to be disposed of at the Discretion of my executors. And as touching my Worldly affairs I dispose of them in manner following Viz… Item… I give and bequeath to my… It is my Desire that my Estate be Equally divided between my Wife my sons William, Edmond, Elizabeth Haranor Mary, Aggy, Anne & Susannah all but such a part as shall be hereafter disposed of … Item… I give and bequeath to my son Jonathan who was Scalped by Indians and rendered incapable of getting his living a Negrow girl Milla & her increase who is to remain with my beloved wife till my son comes of age. Also a Choice Rifle Gun & a Horse and Saddle Item I give my beloved wife Four Choice Cows and Caves. The Wards Milla and her increase and the Ward Jonathan being interlined I devise that my Loveing Wife and my son Edmond be Executrix & Exectutor of this my last Will & Testament, Jonathan Jennings…Signed Sealed & Published in Presents of Zach White, Js. Robertson, William Fletcher
This is pretty fascinating reading and another reminder of the need for proper estate planning, at nearly every stage of life. It also gives me a whole new perspective on my East Nashville neighborhood.