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Dare County Wills
I George Riley Midgett of Roanoke Island, Dare County and state of North Carolina being of sound mind and memory but considering the uncertainty of my earthly Existence do make and declare this my last will and testament in manner and form following, that is to say:
First my Executor hereafter named shall provide for my body a decent burial suitable to the wishes of my relations and friends and pay all funeral expenses, together with my just debts, howsoever and wheresoever owing out of the moneys that may first come into her hands as a part or parcel of my estate.
Item: It is my will and desire that my beloved wife Nancy A. Midgett shall have and keep in her possession all my personal property of every part and kind whatsoever excepting that which may be necessary to sell and dispose of to pay my just debts and funeral expenses. And she is hereby Empowered and directed to sell and dispose of any personal property belonging to me at my death that she may deem best, after reserving the right of having a years allowance as provided by law set apart to her, and apply the proceeds of such sales to the discharge of my just debts and funeral Expenses, and to her support and maintenance for her natural life.
Item: At the death of my beloved wife if there be any personal property belonging to my estate It is my will and desire that Henry C.G. Midgett and Robert Earl Midgett, sons of my son Walter S. Midgett, dec'd, have one third of, or one third the value thereof, of all or any personal property belonging to my estate.
Item: That my sons George Harvey Midgett and Eugene Kelly Midgett shall have two thirds of, or two thirds the value thereof, of any personal property belonging to my estate at the death of my wife, Nancy A. Midgett, to be equally divided share and share alike to each of them and their personal representations.
Item: It is my will and desire that my beloved wife Nancy A. Midgett have control and use of all my real estate property of Enny kind and have for her support and maintenance all the produce, profits and [word unclear] produced and derived therefrom for the period of her natural life.
Item: I give and bequeath to my Grandsons Henry C.G. Midgett and Robert Earl Midgett, children of my son Walter S. Midgett, deceased, one third of my real estate, lands & houses or one third in value thereof, to be valued or set out by metes and bounds as may be fair, reasonable and just after the death of my beloved wife. To have and to hold to them and their heirs in fee simple forever.
Item: I give and bequeath to my sons George Harvey Midgett and Eugene Kelly Midgett two thirds of my real estate, lands and houses to be valued and divided or divided by metes and bounds after the death of my beloved wife as will be fair and equal in division to each of them. To have and to hold to them and their heirs in fee simple forever with the following exception. That the Grave yard or cemetery lot near my Mansion House where I now reside shall not be considered in any devise [word unclear] made in this my last will and testament the boundary of which are as follows, viz: Beginning at a live Oak in the North West corner of my yard on the public road and running a north west course along the public road Forty Eight (48) yards, thence a north Eastward course along the fence twenty four (24) yards, thence a south west course twenty four yards to [the] first station containing 1152 square yards of land which is reserved and set apart for a burial ground for myself and family and all lawful heirs.
And lastly I do hereby constitute and appoint my beloved wife Nancy A. Midgett my lawful Executor to all intents and purposes to Execute this my last will and testament without giving any bond according to the true intent and meaning of the same and Eny part and clause thereof, hereby revoking and declaring utterly void all other wills and testaments by me heretofore made.
In Witness whereof I the said George Riley Midgett do hereunto set my hand and seal this the 21st day of September A.D. 1905.
/s/ George R. Midgett
Signed, sealed, published and declared by the said George Riley Midgett to be his last will and testament in the presence of us who at his request and in his presence do subscribe our names as witnesses thereto.
/s/ E.H. Riggs, John W. Evans
NOTE: The George Riley Midgett Cemetery is located in Manteo. George's tombstone states that he was born January 22, 1838 and died June 13, 1916. George was first married to Sarah "Sallie" Bowser in 1868. Her tombstone is also located in this cemetery. George married Nancy A. Farrow in 1875 and several of their children are reported to have been buried in this cemetery although no markers for them were found in a 1997 survey.
This interesting article about George was found in The Coastland Times on July 25, 1952--
NEGRO JUSTICE MARRIED WHITE COUPLE IN 1874 - George Riley Midgett, the windmill owner, married Nags Head couple -- Coming to Roanoke Island on January 24, 1874 and anxious to be married was one Solomon Beasley, 19, of Nags Head. His bride too, was anxious to get married and get back home across the wintry Roanoke Sound as bad weather was making up.
As luck would have it there wasn't a preachers or justice on the place they could locate except the late George Riley Midgett, colored Justice of the Peace, and to him they went in their troubles. He performed the ceremony which is believed to be the only known instance of a negro officer marrying a white couple in Dare County.
Solomon Beasley was the son of S. Beasley and Lydia Beasley, and has been dead for many years. He married Senia O'Neal who was the daughter of Isaac O'Neal and Sylinda O'Neal.
The record of this marriage may be seen in the office of Melvin R. Daniels, Register of Deeds of Dare County.
George Riley Midgett was born about 1845 and was never a slave, but always a "free" Negro. He was highly respected and called "Uncle George" by both races. Having become a magistrate, he was entitled under the laws of the time to elect in union with the eight or ten other magistrates, the members of Commissioner himself. He was, in time, elected to the Board of County Commissioners. He was, politically speaking, one of the most prominent Negroes ever to have lived in this region. After being a Commissioner of the County, he entered the Life Saving Service and stayed there until disabled. He is remembered as being somewhat fat, walking as if hobbled, and interesting in appearance especially when dressed in his white service uniform. His wife was called "Old Aunt Nancy" as familiarly as he was called "Uncle George". She died about 16 years ago. They lived on the east side of Roanoke Island. Of their two sons, George Harvey lives near Manteo, and Clay is a lawyer in Phoebus, Va.
"Uncle George" did perform at least four marriages which were recorded, between members of his own race. There was the marriage of Pierce Toler, son of Dick Toler and Cynthia Davis, to Harriet Allen, daughters of Hallory and Harriet Allen, on Roanoke Island November 1, 1873. Pierce Toler was sensible, entertaining and a convincing talker. His living reputation says that in a business deal, he could talk the average white man out of $10 in as many minutes.
Then "Uncle George" married Monday Dough, son of George Dough, to Martha Midgett, daughter of Monday Midgett and Fanny Midgett, on Roanoke Island, January 10, 1874. About the best memorial Monday Dough left when he died was "Monday Dough Field" which is reached by a road which leads into the woods north of Manteo. It is now owned by Z.V. Brinkley. "Uncle George" next married Jeremiah Farrow, aged 23, son of Henry and Sarah Farrow, to Mary E. Jarvis, aged 20, on Roanoke Island January 24, 1874.
The fourth and last marriage accorded to "Uncle George" was that of Noah Simmons, age 21, son of Mary Simmons, to Amelia Allen, age 18, daughter of Harriett Allen, on Roanoke Island February 13, 1875. Noah Simmons was respected for his energy, common sense and truthfulness. He made a good living and built a comfortable home. After the recording of this final marriage by Uncle George, there was written by hand into the record the following:
North Carolina, Dare County Office of Register of Deeds
I, R.W. Smith, Register of Deeds, do hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate copy of the register of marriage licenses issued in said County from its formation as such to December 7th, 1903, the same being transcribed and copied from former marriage register for whites and colored by order of the Board of Commissioners of said county by reason of the torn and dilapidated condition of former register. This December 15th, 1903.
There were no further recordings of ceremonies performed by "Uncle George" Riley Midgett, magistrate, county commissioner and one among the most distinguished Negroes in the County.
In more recent years George Riley Midgett was famed more for the huge windmill he owned near Manteo. It has been blown down and demolished now for over 35 years and prior to that time had long been inactive but it was a great curiosity and was visited by many people. A picture of the old ruins was sold widely as a souvenir postcard. In the old days it ground all the grain used on the island for meal.
This will was transcribed by Kay Midgett Sheppard. No part of this document may be used for any commercial purposes. However, please feel free to copy any of this material for your own personal use and family research. If you find anything in these records that pertains to your families, it is strongly suggested that you look at the original record on your own to check for errors or possibly other additional and helpful information.