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By Deborah Shelton Wood

WB1, Page 148, Carroll County, Virginia
 
I, Lawrence Stephens, do hereby make my last Will and Testament in manner and form following, that is to say; First, I devise immediately after my decease, that all the perishable part of my estate be sold, and the money arising therefrom, I give to my daughters, Sara Davis, Elizabeth Dobbins, Rebecca Calfee, Patsy Rice and Rhoda Straw to be equally divided between them. Secondly, I give all my lands in Wythe and Carroll Counties to my sons, Peter and James Stephens and Joseph Stephens, to be equally divided between the three, yet upon the condition, I wish them to value the land and pay my daughters sufficient to make my children all equal, as I wish to divide my estate equally between my several children, and knowing my land to be worth more than the proportional part of Peter, James and Joseph Stephens, I therefore wish them to agree among themselves, as to the value of the land and pay to my daughters sufficient to place them all on equal footing. And Lastly, I do hereby constitute and appoint Peter Stephens, James Stephens and William Dobbins, Executors of this my last Will and Testament by me made. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this the 14th day of November, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty nine.
Lawrence Stephens (SEAL)
Signed, sealed and delivered as and for the last Will and Testament of the above named Lawrence Stephens in the presence of us:
JOHN VAUGHN
T.K.G.VAUGHN
Virginia, Carroll County, July term 1847. The foregoing last Will and Testament of Lawrence Stephens deceased was produced in court and proved by the oaths of John Vaughn and Kennely G. Vaughn, sub­scribing witnesses thereto, and was ordered to be recorded.
TESTE: William Lindsey, C. C.

From the Mary Kegley book,

"Wythe County, Virginia - A Bicentennial History"

"In Wythe County ,some slave owners provided for the freedom of their slaves by will or deed. The first such case appears to be recorded in Wythe County in 1793, when Lawrence Stephens emancipated Swan, born 1771, Tom born 1777, and Lewis born 1790. The two youngest were not of age, and Stephens acted as guardian until they were twenty-one.

Stephens stated that it was his duty to free the slaves because he was "fully persuaded that freedom is the natural right of all mankind, that God of one blood created all nations (Africa not excepted)." Swan was among the few negroes who left a will."

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