Last Will & Testament of Elizabeth Leslie Gray (1818-1895)

 as transcribed in the hand of son Robert P. Gray, 1902
(comments*, punctuation, spelling, & formatting by GG-grandson Larry Pearce, 2015)

I, Elizabeth Gray of West Deer Township, Allegheny Co. & State of Pennsylvania, do make & publish this my last will & testament hereby revoking any & every will by me at any time herefore made. First, I direct that all my just debts and funeral expenses be paid as soon as possible after my death. I give & devise to my son Robert P. Gray, the farm on which I now reside, directing him to pay & charging upon said farm the payment of all debts & expenses & the following legacies:

To my daughter Sarah J. Gray, the sum of one-thousand dollars, to be paid as follows: one-hundred dollars one year after my decease & one-hundred in each succeeding year for five years & two-hundred yearly until paid.

To my son Samuel A. Gray, the sum of three-hundred dollars to be paid as follows: in one year after my death, one-hundred dollars, and in each alternate year, one-hundred until paid.

To my daughter Martha Anna Edmonds, three-hundred dollars to be paid as follows: In two years after my decease, one-hundred dollars, and in each alternate year, one-hundred dollars until paid.

The above named legacies not bearing interest if paid at specified times.

I also give to my daughter Sarah J. Gray, for her lifetime, the new house of two rooms and one room in the old which I now occupy, provided the farm is not sold as hereafter specified. I leave & devise to my daughter Sarah J. Gray, all my personal property that I may own at my death & if she remains on the farm, [she] shall have the privilege of keeping two-hundred twenty-five chickens for one year, Robert providing feed for the same. And I further direct that Robert shall provide a comfortable conveyance for her to attend church as often as she may desire to go.

If Robert should sell the farm within ten years, then he is to give each of the above named brother & sisters one-hundred dollars in addition to the above named sums, and the full amount becomes due. But, if Robert does not accept the farm by paying the above named debts & legacies, then I do hereby authorize my executors to sell the farm, making deed for the same, they paying out the proceeds of said sale, all expenses, debts, and legacies herein mentioned, & paying the balance of said sale to my son Robert.

Lastly, I appoint David Bryson and William H. Bryson executors of this my last will & testament. In witness whereof, I Elizabeth Gray, Testatrix above named, have to this to my last will, written on one sheet of paper, let my hand and seal this twenty-third day of May A.D. 1889.

[signed] Elizabeth Gray (seal)

Attest: David Bryson   George G. Leslie

*Comments: Robert Patterson Gray (1844-1928) was my great-grandfather and caretaker of his father William Sylvester Gray’s (1816-1879) farm while William and Robert’s older brother Samuel Alexander Gray (1842-1919) were off fighting in the American Civil War (1861-1865). See the forthcoming story on William and Samuel’s adventures with the Pennsylvania 63rd Regiment, including bouts with Typhoid Fever. After William returned home on a medical discharge and Robert reached maturity, Robert joined the Union troops, serving in the Pennsylvania 6th Infantry Regiment, Heavy Artillery Division. Samuel became a prisoner of war at Chancellorsville in 1863. After the war Robert and Samuel accepted homestead property in Missouri, but Robert returned home before his father’s death to help on the farm.

Older sister Sarah Jane “Jennie” (b.1838) never married and cared for her mother until Elizabeth’s death in 1895. No wonder her mother made such generous provisions for her in the will. However, after Elizabeth’s death, Jennie moved to the State of Washington to live with her younger sister Martha Anna “Mattie” (b.1853), who had married a minister.

Mattie and Samuel, having left home to establish households, each received less than Robert or Jennie. Other Gray children had died earlier in childhood: George Leslie (1840-1842) and William Sumner (1858-1859). A middle sister, Nancy E. “Nanny” (b.1849) also married a minister and moved to Beaver Falls, PA. She apparently died before her mother. As is the custom, of course, none of these descendants are mentioned in the will.

We believe that the unusual spacing of the legacies are due to either limited cash reserves in the estate and therefore the remainders would come from the future success of the farm, or as some attorneys suggest, the passage of time would guarantee that “Mother” would not be forgotten nor the inheritences squandored.

The Attestor George G. Leslie was probably a nephew of Elizabeth, as her immediate family, including her father and four siblings, all died during a Typhoid outbreak in 1821. The Brysons were probably local professionals, possibly lawyers. This surname should not beconfused with a similar one, Bryce, which appears later as Robert’s sister-in-law Mary Norris married David Bryce, an heir to a prominent Pittsburgh glass company, who unfortunately died young.

Additional information may be found at the Gray and associated families website: Check back often as research and reporting are on-going.

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