Petition #20186024


In 1852, Jesse Stapp Sr. wrote a will bequeathing his wife Winifred Jane two slaves, Tilda and Amanda. To his child soon-to-be born he bequeathed seven other slaves. Jesse Stapp Sr. died shortly thereafter. A son named Jesse Jr. was born a few months following his father's death. He died two years later in 1854. The widow Winifred filed a written dissent from her late husband's will, claiming a dower in lands and slaves as if her husband had died intestate. Charles M. Fort, the administrator of Jesse Jr.'s estate, now argues that, since the widow has contested the will, Jesse Sr. should be considered as having died intestate, and thus, "under the Statute of descents and distribution of the state of Alabama," Jesse Jr., as the only surviving child, was entitled to the slaves Tilda and Matilda. The slaves should therefore pass to his estate. Fort also argues that one of the clauses in the will, whereby the late Jesse Sr. bequeathed other slaves to several members of his extended family in case he soon-to-be-born child would not survive, should be "void for uncertainty," and the slaves should also revert to Jesse Jr.'s estate. Charles M. Fort sues the executor of Jesse Stapp Sr.'s estate to gain control of the slaves; he sues members of the extended family as well. He also asks for an accounting of the slaves' "reasonable hire." The case was still open in June 1864 when Fort rendered an account of the sale of three estate slaves, to be paid in confederate money.

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Citation information

Repository: Pickens County Courthouse, Carrollton, Alabama