Let's put "clothes" on our ancestors Many times we seem to collect only names, births, deaths, etc. of our ancestors - some for membership in patriotic societies, some to enter into the Latter-day Saints’ records, some to see how far back they can connect a family, hopefully proving each fact. Another way of identifying our ancestors is to collect all we can about the person - not only does this method better identify a man, but it tends to make us see the real person he was. The following is what I have collected about only one of my husband's Downings. We learn that apparently his first wife died, for he married a second time; he and his brothers moved from Virginia to Kentucky; he then moved further west to Charles County, Missouri where he died. He left a paper trail including court appearances, signing various petitions to a governmental body, military records, he lent money, he did his civic duty by serving as a juror, and finally we discover what he left his family and by those possessions we can conclude that he was a farmer. His estate was valued at $156.50 which in the amount of goods that sum would buy in today's market would be worth about $230,762.
John Downing (son of John and Mary (_______) Downing)
24 Aug 1772: ordered to assist in clearing a road surveyed by Stephen Saunders. Bedford County, Virginia Order Book 4. [Usually those who built and maintained a road were those who lived on it. This could have been his father, but we do not know how old John, Sr. was in 1772 - he may have been incapable of doing physical labor. I think it more likely that this information applies to John, Jr.
1777: inherited a "tract of patented land" on north side of Stoney Fork of Reed Creek in Montgomery County, Virginia (now Wythe County).
Stephen Dooley as Surety. William and Mary Quarterly, Volume 11 p280.
1780: bought land in Montgomery County, Virginia adjoining that of brother Ezekiel.
7 May 1781: deed from John and Andrew Downing of Lincoln County, Kentucky to Nicholas Darter 248A in Montgomery County, Virginia. Montgomery County, Virginia Deed Book A p263.
10 May 1781: received a grant of 300A on Middle Fork, Lincoln County, Kentucky. Virginia Land Grant Book 2 p73.
7 Sept 1781: deed from John and Andrew Downing of Lincoln County, Kentucky to Nicholas Darter 248A in Montgomery County, Virginia. Montgomery County, Virginia Deed Book A p263.
24 Oct 1782: Virginia State Library Document #128 - (Downey) enlisted and served as private in Lincoln County, Kentucky Militia for 32 days on an expedition against the Enemy Indians under General George Rogers Clark, discharged Nov 24 1782. George Rogers Clark and His Men, Military Records 1778-1784, Margery H. Harding, Frankfort, Kentucky: The Kentucky Historical Society, 1981.
1783: signed a petition (#17) for passage of more laws for his area in Kentucky. Petitions of the Early Inhabitants of Kentucky, James Rood Robertson, Louisville: John P. Morton & Co., 1914.
2 Jan 1783: m/2 Lincoln County, Kentucky, Jane/Jean Thompson (_____-1 Aug 1824 Bonhomme Twp., St. Charles County, Missouri), Estate #656, witnessed by Jedidiah Kingsley, Sarah Rice, and Ezekiel Downing.
19 Mar 1783: appointed to view the best way for a road from the mouth of Hickman Creek to the Courthouse at St. Asaphs. Lincoln County, Kentucky Order Book 1 p37.
17 Feb 1784: entered a special bail for James Downing in the case of James Smith vs John Wood and James Downing. Lincoln County, Kentucky Order Book 1 p141.
15 June 1784: (Downey) appointed to appraise estate of Matthias Mounts. Lincoln County, Kentucky Order Book 1 p167.
18 June 1784: did jury duty. Lincoln County, Kentucky Order Book 1 p194.
21 Dec 1784: James Smith vs James and John Downing - debt. Problem to be arbitrated by court appointees. Lincoln County, Kentucky Order Book 1 p251.
18 June 1785: John Downing vs Thomas Carlan - upon a caveat (a written document filed by an interested party which stops the process of obtaining a court order until the opposition can be heard, e.g. stopping the court from probating a will) for 1000 acres of land in Fayette County, Kentucky. John Downing is no inhabitant, an alias summons issued. Virginia Supreme Court - District of Kentucky Order Book A p133.
21 June 1785: John Downing vs Nathaniel Pope - upon a caveat. An alias summons issued for Nathaniel Pope. Virginia Supreme Court - District of Kentucky Order Book A p148.
21 June 1785: John Downing vs John Abner - upon a caveat. John Abner no inhabitant, an alias summons issued. Virginia Supreme Court - District of Kentucky Order Book A p148.
20 July 1785: James Smith vs James and John Downing - debt. Ordered discontinued. Lincoln County, Kentucky Order Book 2 p58.
20 Sept 1785: in cases of John Downing vs Nathaniel Pope and John Downing vs John Abner - John Downing consented to discontinue the case. Virginia Supreme Court - District of Kentucky Order Book A p219.
15 Aug 1786: appointed Lieutenant in brother James Downing's Company of Militia for Lincoln County, Kentucky. Lincoln County, Kentucky Order Book 3 p5.
24 Mar 1787: case of William Harrison and Jacob Meyers vs John Allison - in case. Jury trial, verdict against John Allison and his appearance bondsman John Downing ten pounds and costs. Lincoln County, Kentucky Order Book 3 p74.
19 June 1787: John Downing appointed Captain of the Militia of Lincoln Count in place of James Downing. Lincoln County, Kentucky Order Book 3 p125.
15 July 1787: on tax list of Lincoln County, Kentucky.
22 Aug 1787: judgment granted to Edmund Jennings on a replevin bond (a legal action taken to regain possession of specific personal property alleged to have been unlawfully taken) against John Allison and John Downing - 19 pounds 14 shillings. Lincoln County, Kentucky Order Book 3 p135.
5 Jan 1788: produced a Commission from the Governor appointing him Captain of Militia - took oa
th. Lincoln County, Kentucky Order Book 3 p191.
1789: signed a petition (#58) requesting statehood for Kentucky. Petitions of the Early Inhabitants of Kentucky, James Rood Robertson, Louisville: John P. Morton & Co., 1914.
22 Apr 1789: James and John Downing appointed to allot and set apart her dower to Sarah widow of Daniel Floyd. Lincoln County, Kentucky Order Book 3 p358.
15 Sept 1789: appointed to appraise estate of Henry Smith. Lincoln County, Kentucky Order Book 3 p411.
ca 1789: son James born.
12 Mar 1790: John Downing vs Ralph Morgan - debt. Case continue. Virginia Supreme Court - District of Kentucky Order Book D p407.
6 Sept 1790: recommended to the Governor that William Parks be appointed Captain of Militia in place of John Downing. Lincoln County, Kentucky Order Book 3 p520.
8 Oct 1790: son John born.
15 Oct 1791: John Downing vs Ralph Morgan - debt. Jury says that Ralph Morgan did not perform as obligate and he is to pay damages and court costs. Virginia Supreme Court - District of Kentucky Order Book F p86.
29 Oct 1791: John Downing vs Ralph Morgan - debt. Case continued. Virginia Supreme Court - District of Kentucky Order Book F p175.
no date: son Samuel born.
no date: son William born.
ca 1801: son Andrew born.
no date: son Harrison born.
no date: daughter Mary H. born.
no date: daughter Margaret born.
no date: daughter Jean C. born.
no date: son Ezekiel born.
no date: will of John Downing found in Saint Charles County, Missouri courthouse in a box marked "Miscellaneous, Old Papers, Unproven Wills". We presume the lack of a date prevented it entering into the probate process.
"In the name of God Amen I John Downing of the Territory of Louisiana and District of St. Charles being very sick in body but of sound mind and memory yet knowing that is appointed once for all men to Die I give and recommend by Soul into the hand that gave it and my body to the Earth to be buried in a Deacent Christian like Manner and I do by these presents utterly Revoke and disanul all former wills Testaments and legacies Bequeaths and Ratifying and Confirming this and this alone to be my last Will and Testament.
First I give and bequeath to my well Beloved wife Jean Downing all and singular the Species of property tome belonging Dureing her Natural and Single life and after her Death I also Give and bequeath to my three Sons to wit James Downing, Samuel Downing and Harrison Downing An Equal Share in My Negroman Louis.
I also Give and Bequeath to my three Daughters to wit Mary H. Downing, Margaret Downing, Jean C. Downing and Equal Share in my Negro man Will and I also Give and bequeath unto Each of my other four sons to wit William Downing, Andrew Downing, John Downing and Ezekiel Downing twenty five dollars.
I also leave it with my wife Jean Downing to proportion to John Downing and Ezekiel Downing as near as she Can to William and Andrew, and I do rattafie and confirm This as my last will and Testament. John Downing."
Witnesses: James Green, Elizabeth Goodrich and Peter Fourney Goodrich.
27 Sept 1811: died St. Charles County, Missouri. (Bible 1)
24 Dec 1811: inventory of estate included 2 slaves, 175 gallons of whisky, livestock, rifle, etc. Account rendered: to Jane Downing administratrix and to William Downing, balance $1224.
28 Aug 1813: wife Jane, executrix made final accounting of husband's estate. St. Charles County, Missouri Estate Box 34 #774.
24 Jan 1814: received of Jane Downing administratrix of John Downing $117.50 due on account against estate. William Downing.
25 May 1820: Jane Downing vs Margaret Downing administratrix of Andrew Downing - debt. Verdict: pay it. St. Charles County, Missouri estate of Andrew Downing.
17 Mar 1824: will of Jane/Jean Downing written - "In the Name of God Amen. I, Jean Downing of the State of Missouri, County of St. Louis and Township of Bonhomme, being very sick in body, but of sound mind and memory, knowing that it is appointed for all once to die, I give and recommend my Soul to God who gave it, and my body to the Earth - to be buried in a decent and Christian manner. I do by these presents utterly revoke and make null and void all former Wills, Testaments and Legacies - rattifying and confirming this, and this alone to be my last Will and Testament -
First I do appoint my sons John Downing and Samuel Downing to be the Executors of this Will.
I give and bequeath to my Son William Downing all the horses and all the neat Cattle, except a cow and a two years old heifer which I bequeath to Mary my Grand Daughter, heiress and Child of my Son Andrew Downing, deceassed and a two years old heiffer which I bequeath to my Grand Son William, son of John Downing. I also give and bequeath to Samuel and Harrisons my sons, an equal share to each, my right to a third part in a negro man named Louis.
I give and bequeath to my son Harrison Downing all the wages which my negro man Louis ---------------------.
I also give and bequeath to my son William my Chairs, Bureaus and Fallingleaf Table and the balance of a Note which I hold against John M. Knight.
I also give and bequeath tomy son Harrison Downing a Fallingleaf Table and an Iron pot.
In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and Seal this seventeenth day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and twenty four."
Jean Downing signed with her mark.
Witnesses: Jedediah Kingsley, Sarah Rice and Ezekiel Downing.
1 Aug 1824: died St. Charles County, Missouri. (Bible 1)
28 Sept 1824: will entered into probate with John Downing, Samuel Downing as principals, Jedidiah Kingsley and Ezekiel Downing swearing that they saw her sign her will and William Downing and Jedediah Kingsley, Securties.
29 Nov 1824: estate appraised $156.50.
17 Jan 1825: appraisal and inventory of Jean/Jane Downing's estate -
(far right column indicates purchaser and the amount paid at the sale of Jane Downing's estate 29 Nov 1825.)
1 black and white cow and calf $8.00
1 brindle cow 6.00
1 old cow 7.00
1 red and white cow 6.00
1 black mare 30.00
1 sorrel horse 40.00
1 chesnut sorrel horse 50.00
1 sheep 1.50 Samuel Downing $1.56¼
1 loom 6.00
1 lot of castings 2.00 William Downing 3.00
1 barrel .25
1 barshes plow 2.00 William Downing 2.50
some fethers and beadstid 5.00 Samuel Downing 9.25
1 beadstid 1.00 William Downing .25
1 square table 1.00 William Downing 1.00
1 flax heckel and howel 3.00 William Downing 1.12½
1 lot books 1.00 John Downing 1.00
1 rifle gun and powder horn 9.00 John Downing 10.00
1 pewter dish .50 John Downing .50
1 pare of fire tongs .50 William Downing .50
1 side saddle 2.00 John Downing .50
16 Dec 1826: John and Samuel Downing Executors of Fathers and Mothers Wills Received by me and satisfied. William Downing, Ezekiel Downing.
16 Dec 1826: John and Samuel Downing Executors of Jane Downing my part In full of my Fathers and mothers will Received by me and Satisfied. William Downing, Harris Downing.
17 Mar 1827: received of John and Samuel Downing Executors of the Estate of Jane and John Downing the sum of 15 dollars in full of all debts, ---------- and demands which I have or can pretend to have against the said estate as also in full of my part of the estate which was Justly coming to me as one of heirs of said estate. Received By me and satisfied. Samuel Luniss/Juniss, Tuniss. Margaret Luniss.
4 August 1827: received of Samuel and John Downing, Executors of the last Will and Testament of Jane Downing decd the full amount of property and money devised to me as one of the devisies of said Jane Downing. John Chapman. St. Louis. William Triplett.
Descendants of John Downing 1712-1777; married Mary _______; lived Bedford County, Virginia