VERY soon after the town of Mecklenburg was established by an Act of Assembly, old Richard Morgan drew his last breath, in his house in that village. As something about the first inhabitants can be learned from his will, and as it has, we believe, never before been published, we will give that document in full, for the benefit of our readers.
WILL OF RICHARD MORGAN
In the Name of God, Amen. This fourteenth day of November, one thousand, seven hundred and sixty-three, I, Richard Morgan of Frederick County & Coll. of Virginia, being sick and Weak in body, but of perfect mind and Memory thanks be to the Almighty God for his Mercies, and calling to mind the Mortality of my body and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die I therefore recommend my soul into the hands of Almighty God that gave it and Body to the earth to be buried in a christian-like and decent manner at the discretion of my Executors herein named. Imprimis I will that all just Debts and funeral charges be paid first and Discharged.
Item I give to my daughter Mary Swearingen one hundred acres of land lying and being in Frederick County and Coll. of Virginia, a tract adjoining my home Plantation on the West.
Item I give to my daughter Sarah Morgan one hundred acres of Land being a part of the Aboves'd Tract.
Item I give to my daughter Olive Stockdon one hundred Acres of land being part of the aboves'd Tract, and it is my Will that the above division of land shall be at the Discretion of my Executors hereafter named.
Item I give to my son William Morgan four hundred Acres of land Joining on the River Potomack on the East Side Shephards Town or Macklenburg for the use of his three eldest sons, Ralph, George, Abraham.
Item, I give to my son Isaac Morgan the plantation adjoining Captain Van Swearingen's which has been called Isaac Morgan's, containing two hundred and fifty acres.
Item I give to Samuel Stockdon son of John Stockdon of Maklenburg ninety eight Acres of Land adjoining Edward Lucas's.
Item I give to Richard Morgan and John Morgan, sons of Jacob Morgan, two hundred and Eleven Acres of Land adjoining the s'd Jacob Morgan's Land, and to be divided at the Discretion of my Executors.
Item I give to Jean Morgan, daughter of Jacob Morgan the Lott I bought of Dr. John Briscoe with all the Improvements thereon.
Item I give to my son William three Acres of the uper end of my Meadows Joining to the twelve Acres he had of me heretofore.
Item I give to my son Jacob Morgan five pounds to be levied out of my Estate.
Item I give to my son Abel Morgan all my home plantation, and Nineteen Acres being the remainder of the tract I have left to my three daughters.
Item I give to Robert Pearis, & it is my will that he have the land which was in dispute between him and me, he paying what costs hath already been about s'd land at.the discretion of my Executors.
Item I will that my Executors make over to James Brown a title for four hundred and ninety Acres whereon he now lives, on his paying or discharging all debts or dues to me.
Item I will that my Executors make over to York Henery Bechtol one hundred Acres of Land Joining to the great spring where he now lives.
Item it is my Will that my Executors make over a Right to Charles Hedges, son of John Hedges, for two hundred Acres of Land at the foot of the North Mountain, he the said Hedges paying what Quit rents and Land Tax is Due on s'd Land.
Item I Will that the plantation I bought of Edward Teague, & the lot I bought of Ezekiel Hickman & the lot I bought of John James be kept on rent till such time as all my just debts are paid & discharged, and it is my will that the s'd Teagues & the afores'd two Lots after the s'd debts are paid, they, with all my personal Estate not otherwise willed, be equally divided between my seven children named herein before.
Item I do appoint my son William Morgan & my son in law Thomas Swearingen executors of this my last Will and Testament revoking Disallowing all other Wills, Legacies or Testaments by me before, Rattifieing & confirming this and no other to be my last Will and Testament. In Witness Whereof I have hereunto my Hand & Seal the day & year first above Written.
Signed sealed and published and pronounced in the presence of
Henry Bedinger -- Peter Bedinger
John Champion. Richard Morgan (Seal)
At a Court held for Frederick County December 6th 1763, The Last Will and Testament of Richard Morgan, Deceased, was produced in Court by William Morgan and Thomas Swearingen the Executors therein named who made oath thereto and the same being proved by the oaths of Henry Bedinger Peter Bedinger and John Champion Witnesses thereto it is ordered to be recorded and upon the motion of the said Executors who entered into bond with Van Swearingen & Henry Bedinger their securities in the penalty of one thousand pounds conditioned for their due and faithful Administration of the s'd Estate certificate is granted them for obtaining a Probate in due form.
For the Court.
Ja. Keith C. C.
From this curious old will we learn many things. Richard Morgan's children were, first, William, who was a brave officer of the Revolution. He raised a company in the neighborhood of Shepherdstown early in the year 1777. At the close of the war he had been promoted to a colonelcy. The other sons of Richard were Isaac, Jacob, and Abel. His daughters were Mary, the wife of Thomas Swearingen, Sarah, unmarried at the time the will was made; and Olive, who married John Stockton.
Richard speaks of "Macklinburg or Shepherd's Town" as if there were, at that time, some uncertainty about the name of the village.
Edward Teague possessed land on the borders of Teague's Run, south of Shepherdstown. The remains of an old distillery and oil mill are still to be seen upon the land probably owned by the Teague family, who sold out about 1760 and went south.
John and Charles Hedges were, no doubt, the founders of Hedgesville, and the will shows that Richard Morgan at one time owned a very large tract of land, or probably two tracts, as it does not seem likely that his acres extended in an unbroken line all the way from Mecklenburg to the foot of the North Mountain. His descendants acquired more land, but the family multiplied very rapidly, and many of them sought new fields in Kentucky and Tennessee.
There is no mention of any slaves in the will of Richard Morgan. The first settlers in Berkeley County owned few negroes but these became more plentiful as time went on. Indentured servants were as common as negro slaves, and their lot was often cruelly hard. ["Historic Shepherdstown", Chapter 3, By Danske Dandridge - Submitted by K. Torp]
When Henry Bedinger came to Mecklenburg in 1762 he built a stone house on the land southeast of Morgan's spring branch. But at the time of his death he lived in a house in Mecklenburg. The old Bedinger house near town was probably torn down in 1799, when his son Daniel built his beautiful home southeast of Mecklenburg, which he called Bedford, and which was destroyed by General Hunter during the Civil War. The will of Henry Bedinger, who died in 1772, shall be given, as it mentions names and localities in the village and neighborhood.
WILL OF HENRY BEDINGER, SR.
In the Name of God, Amen. I, Henry Bedinger of Frederick County in the Colony of Virginia, being weak in body but of sound and perfect memory— blessed be God for His mercy—do constitute this my last Will and Testament revoking all other Wills by word of mouth or writing and this only for my last Will and Testament. Imprimis, I leave my soul to the Almighty God that gave it me and my body to be buried in a Christian manner at the discretion of my executors hereafter named and as to my worldly estate I order that my funeral charges and just debts are paid and discharged first
Item—I will and bequeath to my son Henry two hundred acres of land part of that tract I bought of Anthony Worley to him and his heirs and assigns forever.
Item—I will and bequeath the remainder of that three hundred and ninety eight acres I Bought of Worley to my son Daniel be it more or less to him and his heirs and assigns forever.
Item—I will and bequeath to my son Jacob fifty six acres of land I bought of Thomas Foster lying in Maryland be it more or less to him and his heirs and assigns forever.
Item—I will and bequeath to my son Michael ten acres of land I bought of John Newland and ninety three acres of land I bought of Simon Linder be it more or less, etc, etc.
Item—I will and bequeath to my son Solomon one hundred acres of land I bought of William Neely and three out lots containing fifty acres, etc, etc.
Item—I will and bequeath to my daughter Elizabeth the house and lot I bought of Swearingen containing one-half acre more or less.
Item—I will and bequeath to my daughter Mary, the house and lot I bought of Peter Bedinger containing half an acre more or less, etc.
Item, I will and bequeath to my daughter Sarah the house and lot I now dwell in containing half an acre, etc, etc.
Item—I will and bequeath to my loving wife Magdalen that half acre lot that Philip Sheetz now lives on during her life, and after her decease I leave the said lot to Henry and Jacob to them and their heirs and assigns forever.
Item—I likewise leave to my wife Magdalen a negro wench called Sina to her and her assigns.
Item—I also leave to my wife Magdalen the rents of all my lands and lots during the time she remains my widow and no longer.
I likewise leave ten acres of land I bought of William Morgan to my wife during her life, and after her decease to be sold and equally divided between my eight children before-mentioned.
Item—I do appoint my son Henry my whole and sole Executor of this my last Will and Testament. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this eighteenth day of December, in the year of our Lord one thousand, seven hundred, and seventyone.
Henry Bedinger (Seal)
Signed, Sealed, and Published in the presence of
At a Court continued and held for Frederick County, March 4th, 1772, this last Will and Testament of Henry Bedinger deceased, was proved by oaths of William Morgan and Philip Sheets, witnesses thereto, and ordered to be recorded and upon the motion of Henry Bedinger the Executor therein named, who made oath thereto, certificate is granted him for obtaining a probate thereof in due form, he giving security, whereupon he, together with William Morgan and Wm. Brown his securities, entered into and acknowledged a bond in the penalty of Two Thousand pounds conditioned for his due and faithful Administration of said Estate.
By the Court
Ja Keith. C. C.
Henry Bedinger, Jr., was born in 1753, and was not nineteen when his father died. That father must have had entire confidence in his uprightness and good judgment, else he would not have made him his sole executor. Henry Bedinger was especially noted for his energy, integrity, and fidelity to duty, all his life. He attained wealth and position in his adopted state, and, for a long time, was one of the leading business men of Mecklenburg.
Elizabeth, the oldest daughter of Henry Bedinger, Senior, married, about 1779, Abel Morgan, the youngest son of Richard. Abel Morgan is said to have enlisted in Darke's company, raised by him in 1776. The name Abel Morgan appears in a list in the writer's possession of prisoners on the infamous Jersey prison ship, that lay, for so many years, in Wallabout Bay, off the coast of Long Island. Whether this was Abel Morgan, son of Richard, or some other Abel Morgan, we are unable to say. The husband of Elizabeth Bedinger died early, and if he were that unfortunate prisoner, it is extremely likely that his early death was occasioned by his sufferings on board that place of torture familiarly known by its occupants as "Hell." In any case it is certain that he died, and left his young widow to bring up her five children, as best she could. She built the small stone house now standing on the old Morgan place, owned by Dr. Crawford, and in that house she not only raised her own children, who all became prominent citizens of the county, but two or more orphan children as well. She was a very noble woman, described by one who well remembered her, as beautiful, dignified, and of a tall and commanding figure. She was the mother of Joseph, Daniel, Jacob, Elizabeth, and Olive Morgan. Jacob was the father of Colonel William Morgan, who was such a gallant officer during the Civil War, and who, for so many years, lived in the beautiful, historic old home bequeathed by Richard Morgan to his youngest son, Abel.
Sarah Bedinger married Benoni Swearingen in 1787. She died in 1792.
Mary Bedinger married Abraham Morgan, a son of the first Colonel William Morgan, eldest son of Richard. After her death her husband and children moved to Kentucky. Many of their descendants still live in that State, and some are prominent citizens of Nashville, Tennessee. ["Historic Shepherdstown", Chapter 3, By Danske Dandridge - Submitted by K. Torp]
Shepherd's Town, Jefferson Co, Virginia
Will dated 19 December 1804, proved 17 Apr. 1805
Recorded Court House, Washington, D.C. Mentions wife Ann. Son Joseph, not of age.
Copyright © Genealogy Trails