When Levin Lawrence (1774-1846) of Jefferson County, Kentucky died in 1846, he left a will written on 26 pages of fool’s cap — a course grade of paper usually cut in what we would call “legal” size today. That portion of the will pertaining to Winchester Hall and his mother were transcribed by Winchester’s brother-in-law, Rev. David Todd Stuart (1812-1868) of Shelbyville, Kentucky, and sent to Winchester in Thibodauxville, Louisiana. Included with the excerpts from the will were two brief letters of Winchester’s sisters, Mary Louisa Hall (1821-1879) and Olivia Winchester Hall (1817-1876), the wife of Rev. Stuart.
Winchester Hall was a great-nephew of Levin Lawrence and apparently a favorite relative for he was the only great-nephew of Levin’s who was included in the will. The relationship is as follows: Levin was the son of Benjamin Lawrence (1741-1814) and Urath Randall Owings (1738-1807). His wife was Mary Snowden Dorsey (1780-1852). Levin Lawrence had a younger sister named Rebecca Lawrence (1771-1822) who married Richard Winchester (1759-1819). Rebecca and Richard had several children, one of whom – Amanda Winchester (1798-1884) – married Richard Hall (1788-1833). Amanda and Richard were the parents of Winchester, Mary, and Olivia, mentioned above.
I believe that Winchester’s full name was “John Winchester Hall” but he went by Winchester and his sisters called him “Winty.” Winchester married Ruth Marie Carr in 1849 and had several children. He fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War, rising to the rank of Colonel while serving with the 26th Louisiana Infantry.
Addressed to Winchester Hall, Esq., Thibodauxville, La.
September 12, 1846
Copy of the will of Mr. Levin Lawrence of Jefferson Co., Ky.
“Item 9th. I give and devise to Winchester Hall, son of my niece, Amada Hall, a lot of ground in Louisville on the west side of First Street between Main and Market Streets having a front of 26 ¼ feet on First Street and extends back the same width westward 105 feet, the northern line of which said lot is 157 ½ feet south of Main Street and lies between the lots herein before devised to N. O. Brown and J, F. Lawrence and to his heirs and assigns forever.”
“Item 19. To my nephew Winchester Hall, in addition to the lot herein before devised to him, I give the sum of one thousand dollars to be paid to him by my executors as soon as may be convenient after my death without interest.”
“To my niece Mrs. Amanda Hall the sum of five thousand five hundred dollars. Also the eastern third of 70 feet of ground on the north side of Main Street in Louisville conveyed to me by Maria P. Pope.” 20. Mrs. Amanda Hall is also given one sixth of a fifth of the residuary property. Also, it is provided that Mrs. A. Hall is to have of one fourth of the four thousand given to Louisa & William, should they both die without heirs before they are twenty-one years of age. The farm and Island out of which Mrs. Hall is to receive her portion will be sold this month (September 1846) – one sixth of the money to be paid down, the rest in five annual payments – but bearing interest from the date of sale, a lien being on the land to secure the payment. The legatees will receive one sixth immediately after the sale – the rest in five installments with interest. It is estimated that Mrs. Hall’s portion of 5500 will fall short about 1700 in consequence of Mr. Leonard’s having greatly overestimated the worth of the property out of which it is to come. The lot which he has given to her is regarded as a valuable donation – worth from 55 to 100 per foot. From the estimates which I have heard, Mrs. Hall will realize at least 5500 of her portion – perhaps more.
In the above statement, with the will before me, I have endeavored to give you a definite account of that portion of the will in which you are most interested. You are the only one of his great nephews whose parents (the one related to him at least) are alive to whom he has given anything.
I can give no estimate of the present value of your lot. As it is towards the best of the city, it must be valuable.
Mr. Robert Tylor requested us to write and give to him directions what dispositions he must make of your legacy. You will observe that you are to be put in possession of yours immediately. I will leave your sisters to give you the news. Yours truly, — D. T. Stuart
My dear Winchester,
It was Mr. Tyler’s intention to have written to you himself but Mother proffered my services. But he says he would like to hear from you at anytime and would be pleased to hold a correspondence. He is a man of high standing in society, possessing the esteem and confidence of the whole family, is a great favorite with us who make his house our home in Louisville, and taking all things into consideration. Mother would be pleased if you would write to him. And she says write also to Aunt Polly and let her see Uncles relatives still had her in remembrance. I know you are a favorite and that it would give her pleasure to hear from you. Direct her letters to the care of Mr. Tyler.
Our friends are generally well. Laura is with us at this time and has been since last Monday. Mr. Stuart is very much pleased with her. For the last month, every nook and corner of our house has been full of company. Mr. Stuart’s relatives, our relatives, and numerous strangers from a distance. Amongst the latter was a young lady of 18 or 20 from Ohio with whom we are all delighted. She spent three weeks.
Farewell. Write soon. Your affectionate sister, — Mary Louisa
P.S. I wrote to you just after Uncle’s death. Was it received?
My dear brother,
You will begin to think than an epistle of odds and ends. I was not aware till just now that Mary had not taken this letter with her. Mother, Laura, Mary, Boyd, and Racheal all left yesterday (Friday, Sept 11th). Mary intended to have gone on horseback with Mr. Stuart to Uncle Snowden’s but the threatening appearance of the morning determined her to go in the carriage to Louisville with Mother. So you see I am just at home with the children after having the house full of company for a month. Mary did not mention amongst our visitors Cousin Louisa Laws (now John’s) from Plaquemine (is tat spelled right?) she has come up with her sister-in-law quite an interesting young lady and her daughter now 5 years old, to bring them to school to Mrs. Tevis. She lives in the neighborhood of Camille Landry about 30 miles above Uncle Ben’s. She would be delighted if you would [obliterated] you are passing sometime.
Well Winty, I wish you could see Uncle’s will. Tis really a curiosity. It is written on 26 pages of fool’s cap. After all he has left the bulk of his property to Ben, Elias, Mary Biddle, & Fry Lawrence. The boys are not to touch a farthing of theirs till they arrive at 27 years of age. $4,000 left to Frances, Rebecca, & Richard to use as they please. $4,000 to Uncle William, $4,000 to Aunt Lavinia, $3,000 to Ednamonia. Some $10,000 or $12,000 to Cousin Mary Tyler and Cousin Urath Brown each. $6,000 to Cousin William Hynes and the same amount went to each of his sisters. 200 acres of land in Henderson County to Uncle Ben. Tell Constant he had better come and improve it. Poor Mary & myself were not even mentioned. Aunt expects to keep house in Louisville. Mary Biddle will live with her. Mary has written to Mr. R. to resign his commission and return home. Uncle William expects to get his boat in readiness to leave Louisville on Thursday next. Mother and Mary will remain down with Laura till that time. I was delighted with Laura. Hope she will visit Kentucky next summer and remain with her friends.
Excuse this hasty scrawl as Robert has been standing waiting impatiently ever since I commenced. We are somewhat in hopes that you will be up this fall to see after your legacy. Also to take a look at us. Yours affectionate sister, –Olivia