Slaves in Henry Wellin's Estate: Friend of Friends Friday

(This post is an update from a previous post I did on Henry Wellons/Wellins' slaves)

FamilySearch recently released a collection of Kentucky probate records.  I was very excited because it meant I might FINALLY get somewhere with my Kentucky ancestors.  One of the first finds in the collection was the inventory of the estate of my 4th great-grandfather, Henry Wellins, and the dower of his widow, Thirzah Sayers Wellins.  I was especially curious to learn what happened to Henry's slaves after his death.  His son (my ancestor and an administrator of Henry's estate) didn't inherit them, so where did they go?

The first mention of slaves is in the inventory of Henry's estate:

Between fifteen bushels of wheat and one hatchet is "Negro woman Sary" and underneath her another slave, this time a boy, with a name that begins with 'Q' but the rest is pretty illegible.  Sary is valued at $450.00 and the second at $650.00.

It bothered me that I couldn't make out the second name until I found Thirzah's dower.  None of the slaves had been mentioned in the estate sale so the dower document would be the best bet to find another mention of them.

"... after Examining the slaves we believe the old woman [???] not worth any-thing we believe the boy Quales worth 650 dollars the girl Sary worth 450 dollars..."

I now knew what the second name was: Qua(r)les.  I also learned that there was actually another slave not even mentioned in the inventory.

(For historical context, all of the above occurred in 1840, over twenty years before the Civil War began.)

The 1840 Census offered some clues as to what happened to Quales and Sary or the "old woman."

In Pulaski Co., in the household of "Thursey Welling" are two "Free Colored Persons."  One is a male, likely Qua(r)les, between the ages of 24 and 35 and the other is a female between the ages of 36 and 55.  Could Sary or the "old woman" be Qua(r)les' mother?  The age gap between the two certainly makes it seem possible.

Henry also owned at least two other slaves that he freed before his death.  In 1835 (Pulaski Deeds, v. 8:93), he freed "Isom aged about thirty years of dark complexion" and "Joe aged about twenty six years of black complexion."  I believe his son, John (my third great-grandfather) was a witness.  An "Isam Wellens" and "Joseph Wellens" appear in the same household in Pulaski Co., Kentucky in the 1850 Census.

'Quales' was a unique name so I went back to his original mention in the inventory just to make sure.  In looking at the inventory now, I believe it says 'Quarles'.  I wanted to see if there was a Quarles family in Pulaski Co. and sure enough, there was a slave owning Quarles family there.  In fact, Tunstal Quarles, the head of the family, has his own Wikipedia page.  I originally thought Quarles had some sort of association with the Quarles family (like perhaps they had owned him at some point) but the name appears as a given name for both whites and African-Americans in Pulaski Co. due to Tunstal's notoriety (he was an early pioneer in the area among other claims to fame).

Thirzah died in January of 1870 in Pulaski Co., Kentucky so any slaves she owned would have been emancipated before her death.  Thirzah appears in the 1850 Census but not as a slaveholder.  I haven't been able to find Thirzah anywhere in the 1860 Census.

I have been unable, thus far, to learn more about Sary, "the old woman," Quarles, Isom/Isam and Joseph. 


  1. eah, really liked your work in this research. Thanks for sharing it with us.


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