Saturday, October 10, 2015

Learning Even More About Lemuel Dean

Will of Lemuel Dean, signed 28 Feb 1879 (1)

Just when you think you have a good picture of an ancestor, along comes another resource that adds a few more brush strokes to the picture. The Will and Probate Records accessible through and continue to provide a number of genealogy nuggets that merit closer examination. That was certainly the case with the will of my 3 GreatGrandfather Lemuel E Dean.

Lemuel Dean was a complicated individual, and his will supported the impression I have of him. The first part of my closer look was to transcribe his will using Transcript 2.5 software. This made it much easier to read the terms of his will.

Item One of his will gave his home property and twenty acres of farm property to his wife Nannie E Jones Dean. It was helpful to note that his will described the exact location of his home property and described the area of the farm property. Nannie was also to be provided with furniture and household goods as well as a cow and cattle. These were for her use until she died or remarried. This was a fairly standard directive found in wills of that day.

Item Two stipulated that all his real and personal property be sold. Because Lemuel owned extensive property in Atlanta, in Fulton County Georgia, and in other areas of Georgia, I now better understand why it took so many years for his estate to finally be settled. After all his debts were paid, the proceeds of the sales were to be added to any money due him and the resulting fund divided into seven equal shares. The shares were to go to his four living sons, one share each to two of his grandsons, and the remaining seventh share to be divided among four other grandchildren. Nothing ever seemed simple with Lemuel. At least, though, I had the names of six of his grandchildren and more information to add to my family tree.

Item Three was filled with directions should his wife Nannie die or remarry. In either event, everything left to Nannie was to be sold then distributed into the seven equal shares. This part wasn't so unusual but what followed was something I had not seen in other wills. The will also gave very specific instruction as to how his two youngest sons would be living in the care of their mother, his "beloved wife Nannie E Dean" unless his two older sons acting as his Executors felt it was necessary to remove the younger boys should "their welfare require it". That one sentence suggests there is surely an interesting backstory to that stipulation.

In Item Four Lemuel appointed his two older sons as guardians of the property for the two younger sons and five of his six grandchildren until each reached the age of twenty-one. One grandson, however, was to be allowed to select his own guardian.

After reading the will, I took a closer look was to see if any of his children had been left out of Lemuel's will. Lemuel Dean and his first wife Elizabeth Howard had 11 children. Seven had verified death dates prior to Lemuel writing this Last Will and Testament, two sons were named as the Executors, and the grandchildren named in the will were listed as children of two deceased daughters and one deceased son. Lemuel's second wife, Nannie C Price Jones Dean had two sons, both of whom were named in the will. No mention was made in the will of Nannie's three children from a previous marriage. At least all 13 children born to Lemuel were accounted for in his will.

A fun part of looking at Lemuel's will was trying to locate his property on an Atlanta map. Using Google Maps, I found the approximate location of his home property on the present day map shown below. It dawned on me that I have probably driven right past the property while hunting for a parking place near the Georgia Aquarium. Small world.

Approximate location of property at the corner of Marietta Street and Jones Avenue today
located using Google Maps Engine Lite

Trying to locate Lemuel Dean's home property back in 1880 was a little more difficult. Using an 1888 city map of Atlanta found on Wikipedia Commons, I think I tracked down the location of Lemuel Dean's home. The orange block shows the approximate location of the property given to his wife. Because this is Atlanta, after all, I made sure that two of the many Peachtree Streets were visible on the right side of the map.

Atlanta Street Map, 1888, from Cram's Standard American Atlas
source: Wikipedia Commons

I was not as successful trying to locate the 20-acre farm located "in said County of Fulton on the Water of Procter Creek and known as the "Dunahoe Mill Place".(1)

Looking closer at this will provided me with a variety of information. The will gave a more detailed property description than I had seen previously in census records or in city directories. It also sent me looking for past and present maps of the area. Also, the will listed the names and parents of six of my First Cousins, 3 times removed. And finally, it added more questions as to the complexity of Lemuel Dean and his family's relationships as he expressed concern about the possible welfare of his younger sons being raised by their mother after his death. Some stories just never seem to stop.

(1) Georgia, Wills and Probate Records, 1742-1992, Fulton County, Wills, Book A, 1854-1882,  p 400-402, Lemuel Dean will, signed 28 Feb 1879, accessed on

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