In Kentucky, slaves could be emancipated by a last will and testament or through the county court. It was not unusual for special conditions to be set forth in a will for slaves to be set free. For example, the testator of a will might stipulate that the slaves were not to be emancipated until the slaves reached a certain age, or a number of years after his death or the death of his spouse. Note the date on the Baker will. The following entries have been abstracted from County Court Order Book 8 (1846 - 1848), Hopkins County clerk’s office, Madisonville, Kentucky.
14 Dec 1846, p. 45Whereas Richd. Baker, late of this county dec’d, by his last will and Testament of record in the clerk’s office emancipated his slaves male & female ten in number & their future increase said emancipation to take effect at the death of the wife of decesent [sic] and whereas it appears that the wife hath been dead several years and the slaves have not received certificates of their freedom ... on the motion of Lucy one of the slaves named in said will, ordered that the clerk issue to her a certificate of her freedom. Lucy is of the following description Light or mulatto color, 45 years of age ordinary form, 5 feet 5 inches high.
I Richard Baker of Hopkins County & State of Kentucky do make my last will & Testament as follows (viz) I give & bequeath to my beloved wife during her natural life all my estate both real & personal of every kind & description At the death of my wife it is my will & I hereby positvely direct that all slaves namely tom Lucy Milly Jack Affa Malinda Matilda Kitty Ann & Sela and the future increase of the said Lucy Milly Affa Malinda Matilda Kitty Ann & Sela are to be free to all intents & purposed in the same manner as if they were free born. At the death of my said wife I give & bequeath to my nephew James Baker son of Elijah Baker all my landed estate with it appenturances to him & his heirs or assigns forever also one bed & furniture At the death of my said wife I give & bequeath to my nephew Richard Baker son of James Baker or his heirs all my estate not herein otherwise especially disposed of after the payment of all my just debts I hereby nominate consititute & appoint William Tear Executor of this my last will & Testament In testimony whereof I have hereunto subscribed my name & affixed my seal this 26th day of December 1825.
Richard (X his mark) Baker
Signed sealed published &
declared in the presence of
Kentucky Hopkins County May County Court 1826
The foregoing Instrument of writing was exhibited into Court & presented to be the last will & testament of Richard Baker dec’d by the oaths of Sam Woodson & Elijah Grace subscribing witnesses thereto & ordered to be recorded [Will Book 2, p 238]
Inventory of slaves of Richard Baker:
Lucy & child $450
Milly & child $450
boy Jack $300
girl Affa $175
girl Tilday $175
girl Malindy $175
girl Cathean $120
girl Seala $120
[Will Book B, pp 253-254]
3 July 1848, p 248A deed of Emancipation from Wm. H. Ramsey & John Medlock being duly authorized by Samuel Compton to Comptons slave Peter was this day produced in Court by the said Ramsey & Medlock and acknowledged by them to be their act & deed. Whereupon it is ordered that the clerk of this court issue to Peter (who is ascertained to be of the following description Viz aged about 37 years about 5 feet 7 inches high yellow color his head a little bald stout built) a certificate of his freedom accordingly upon his executing bond with security in the penalty of $1000 conditioned that Peter shall not become a charge upon any county in this Commonwealth. And thereupon Peer executed bond with John M. Galbraith, John Medlock & David Hicklin his securities.
4 Dec 1848, p. 285
It appearing that Richard Ashley, a free man of color, who has Indenture of Apprenticeship for two children of color, one a boy named Dick about 11 of yellow color & the other a girl named Mary about 9 years of age yellow color, both children of Levina, a free woman of color & it being proved to the court that said children are entitled to their freedom at the expiration of their apprenticeship & Ashley being desirous to remove said children out of this state, leave given him to do so.