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I’m In The Will!

Staff writer Janice Crow - Singer - Songwriter
Staff writer Janice Crow – Singer – Songwriter

Yes, I’m one of those ancestry people….those folks who can’t pass a grave yard without the urge to stop the car and study the tombstones. What if that long-lost relative….that third great grandfather I’ve been looking for is laid to rest under one of those ancient moss-covered stones? (My mother called my obsession “diggin’ up bones”.)

Seriously, the only reason I don’t do that is because there is no one interested enough to pack a bag for the weekend and spend a couple of days gawking at grave markers in rural Kentucky or Giles County, Tennessee. To stroll the cemetery avenues alone would seem…..well, creepy. So, these days I do most of my “digging” on the internet on one genealogy website after another, county clerk and census records online, Google, and anywhere else I can glean a nugget of information gold.

It’s something I’ve done for years now and I’ve learned a fair amount about the lives of relatives 200 years ago and beyond who would never even know I exist. Sometimes I wonder if they would appreciate the fact that someone is looking for them or if they would tighten their jaw and say “Folks ought to mind their own business”.

There are countless interesting tales to tell from all my digging, but one thing caught my special attention not long ago. I found a Last Will and Testament of a distant relative from 1812. It was handwritten, of course, but duly witnessed by two people. The gentleman was quite explicit in his directions as he left his earthly goods to his family…..the house, his personal effects, a bay horse and twenty dollars was to be left to his dear and loving wife; his stone shaving cup, the sorrel horse and sixteen dollars to his son John; one of his mother’s brooches, a laying hen and ten dollars to each of his two daughters; his long gun and two dollars cash money to his dear son-in-law, Fred. To his good friend and neighbor, Thomas, he also left two dollars “cash money”.

And….although appalling by today’s standards, but common and commensurate with those times, he offered his man servant, William, to his son, and to his eldest daughter he gave Ophelia, the female servant, as “friend, companion and faithful servant.” Finally, and perhaps strangest of all, he left to the servants, William and Ophelia respectively, a leather belt and a wooden bread bowl.

I was amazed….not just at finding such a detailed document, but the value that was placed on those items. Sure, I can relate to the house and the personal effects, but not so much the horse. I guess it was transportation….like someone leaving you the Volvo. I suppose a man’s shaving mug is about as personal as you can get, and of course grandma’s brooches would be nice. I’m not feeling the hens, but I suppose it was looked at as a relatively sustainable resource and should put to rest the old query of which came first, the chicken or the egg. I’m sure ten dollars back then was way more than what it represents today…one trip to Steak and Shake, not during happy hour. I wonder why he gave the rifle to his son-in-law and not his son. And the two dollars to the neighbor…what was that about? Oh, well, so many things to ponder.

I found myself wondering what William and Ophelia thought ….how they felt about being consigned to the man’s son and oldest daughter. Was it a relief to know they would stay within the familiar confines of the family and not be turned out to find their own way? Did they consider receiving a single, seemingly token gift upon the man’s demise an insult? After all, it was just a leather belt and a wooden bowl. Or was it all received with a thankful heart? Suddenly, I could imagine them as the realization sunk in upon the man’s passing….”WE’RE IN THE WILL! We’re servants. The man didn’t have to consider us at all, but we’re in the will ….just like family.”

Scripture says in Romans that we are “joint heirs with Christ”. He is the Son of God. We are his servants, yet He cares enough to give us an inheritance…He doesn’t have to…and we don’t deserve it. It’s His good pleasure. We are heirs to His grace, His mercy, every promise He has ever uttered and a home in Heaven someday… with the rest of the family.

Ephesians 1:11 (ESV) tells us “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of HIS WILL.”

I don’t know about you, but that makes my day to know…. I’m in the WILL!!

Janice

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Janice Crow
Contributing Writer at Absolutely Gospel
Janice Crow is an accomplished singer/songwriter.