Women’s Words Wednesday – Sarah’s Will

So much of our history is recorded, remembered, and influenced by the views our male ancestors. But that’s only part of our story, and I am fascinated by the stories of our female ancestors. I am adding a new blogging category called Women’s Words Wednesday where I will post and reflect on these important words that I have found in my research, in whatever form they arise (letter, photo, official document, etc.).

Sarah (LNU) Cubbage is my 4th great-grandmother. Her husband William died intestate around 1820. Sarah died a few years later, around 1822, but unlike her husband, she did leave a will.[1]

Sarah Will 1Sarah Will 2

I Sarah Cubbage, widow of the late Wm Cubbage Decd of Pine Township Allegheny County State of Pennsylvania, do make this my last wil and Testament as follows, to wit, To my eldest daughter Martha Fletcher I do wil and bequeath on dollar, and to her eldest son known by the name of Samuel Cubbage, I do wil and bequeath one hundred-dollars to be paid to him out of my share of the estate of my husband Wm, Decd. The remaining part of my property I do allow to be equally divided between my sons, John George & Wm Cubbag and daughters Sarah Whitsell, Elizabeth Good, Mary Whitsell, & Jane deer. Except my clothing which I do allow to be divided amongst my daughters over and above their foregoing shares as follows to wit to my daughter Sarah Whitsell I do bequeath my black-silk shawl, provided her or her husband calls on it, to my daughter Elizabeth Good two of my Goats, to My daughter Mary Whitsell and Jane Deer I allow to be equally divided between them, except my spinning-wheel I allow to Jane and my son William’s eldest daughter I do bequeath a two-year-old heipher. And further I do appoint James Hilands Esq of Ross Township and George Whitsell of Pine Township to be my Executors, In witness whereof I have here unto set my hand and seal this thirteenth day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand Eight hundred and twenty two in the presence of

James Hilands                                                                                Sarah Cubbage                                     James McElwain                                                                            X her mark

[Sarah’s will was filed on 27 September 1822.]

I have not found many wills for my female ancestors, especially back as far as the early 1800s. There were estate proceedings found in the Orphan’s Court for her husband William, that continued even after she died. Much of those proceedings had to do with the division of his property to his heirs, including three children who moved west to Ohio and Kentucky. I wonder if Sarah decided to write out a will, or if she was influenced by her family, or if she saw what may have been happening with the division of property.

It is interesting that she left her oldest daughter Martha only one dollar, but to Martha’s oldest son she left one hundred dollars. I have seen other wills in Allegheny County where money was bequeathed to the oldest grandson. Martha had moved to Ohio before William had died, and I have not been able to locate her husband Joseph Fletcher. Sarah names her grandson as “Known by the name of Samuel Cubbage.” which may help in locating the Fletchers.

The rest of Sarah’s property was to be divided among the remaining seven children, with the exception of the special gifts of clothing, spinning wheel and goats that she left to her daughters that also lived in Pine Township. Sarah also left a heifer to the daughter of her son William, who was living in Pittsburgh.

Sarah’s words through her will (that was actually written on paper by another, her mark X indicating that she could not write), helps me to understand her relationship with her children. Rather than having her property divided equally, she had felt it was important enough to specify which items were to go to her children, especially her daughters. I wonder if she saw how the children handled her husband’s estate, and she wanted to be sure her wishes were carried out? Or if there was another reason that she made out a will before she died.

I am thankful to have Sarah’s words and wishes, expressed through her will, to know more about her and her family.


[1] “Pennsylvania Probate Records, 1683-1994,” digital images, Family Search  (https://familysearch.org : 4 January 2018), Allegheny County, Wills 1808-1830, vol. 2, page 289, no. 221, Sarah Cubbage (1822).