To Minta, reserving for Itey a life estate.

by Lisa Y. Henderson

In the name of God Amen,

I, James M. McDuffie being of a sound and disposing mind and memory, blessed be God, though weak and infirm in body make and constitute this my last will and testament

Item 1st  It is my will and desire that my Executor hereinafter named shall have my body decently interred after my death in the old family grave yard in the county of Cumberland and after paying all my just debts to dispose of the residue of my Estate as follows.

Item 2nd I will and bequeath unto Minta Bryant the tract of land on which Itey Simmons now lives, reserving to said Itey a life estate in said land, which tract contains about fifty six acres, adjoining the lands of Pollock, Glisson & others to have and to hold said land with its appurtenances to and her heirs forever;

Item 3rd I will and bequeath all the balance of my property of whatsoever kind or description both in possession and in action real and personal to my brother Malcom J. McDuffie to use occupy and possess the same to dispose of it in whatever manner he may deem fit and proper (due regard being paid to what slaves I may own or leave at my death) to have and to hold the same to him and his heirs forever;

Item 4th I hereby constitute my said brother Malcom J. McDuffie Executor of this my last will and testament and do revoke all wills and testament by me heretofore made,

In witness whereof I hereunto set my hand and affix my seal this the Twenty first day of May 1862.    /s/ Jas. M. McDuffie

Signed and sealed in the presence of W. Vernon, Wm. W. Fulghum

Proved August Term 1862. Wayne County Will Book R13, page 462, North Carolina Probate Records 1735-1970, Original, North Carolina State Archives.

In the 1860 census of Indian Springs, Wayne County, Minta Bryant, 23, and her children Mitchel, 4, Edith, 6, and Rufus Bryant, 2, all mulatto, lived in the household of James McDuffee, 41.

[Sidenote: Was McDuffie the father of Bryant’s children? He purchased the land from Itey Simmons’ son David in 1855, subject to Itey’s life estate. After Itey’s death, Minta Bryant was forced to sue to recover the property.]