Probate Files: Little Things Add Up, Pt. 2

In Part 1, we learned a little bit about the immediate family of Garret Staats. He was the second son of Abraham Staats, Sr and Sarah [–?–]. He had an older brother, two younger brothers and a sister. He died in late 1797 or early 1798, probably about 30 years old, leaving only those brothers and sisters as heirs – although his sister was likely already dead by Garret’s death in 1797/8.1

Let’s turn now to the second item in Garret’s estate file – his inventory (forgive the WordPress mangling of the formatting I worked so hard on yesterday!). Here’s the transcription:

Inventory of the goods which were of Garret Staats of Appoquinimink Hundred in the Countyof New Castle appraised by us the Subscribers the 14th day of March A.D. 1798

  Dol. cents
By the Deceaseds Wearing Apparel /30/ 30 00
By a chest, bunk, and whip 2/ 2 00
By a saddle, saddle bags, and some books 5/ 5 00
By a horse 67/ By a pot 1/50 68 50
By 200 Blaids @ 1/50/ per hundred By Cord wood 2/67/ 5 67
By 3 “ ¾ yds. of Cassmore @ 1/50/ per yd By 5 yds blue cloth @ 4/50 per yd 29 25
By 6 yds of Linnen @ /33 cents per yd By 10 handkerchiefs @ /25/ per piece 3 59
By 2 blankets 2 dol/ By 5 moth-eaten hats at 1/ 3
By 1 pair of shoes 1/ By 3 barrals  a 1/ 2
By a quantity of fur 63/28/ By 2 H H[–] 2 dol/ Some meat 24 89 28
By 2 Cows 24/ one two years old heifer 6/ 30
By 1 calf 3 dol/ By old plough irons /50 cents/ 3 50
By pair of of compasses [?] and tea kettle /69 cents/ 00 69
By 29 Bushels of Corn @ /47 cents/ per bushel 11 75
By one Bushel of Wheat 1/25 01 25
By a Watch 12/ 12 00
By a gun 5/ 5 00
By one bed and bedding At 13/ 13 00
Errors excepted per Jacob Ryall and Robert Johnson 315 48

I do certify that Jacob Ryall and Robert Johnson Was Qualified in Due form of Law to the above inventory and appraisement sworn this 19th day of October A.D. 1798 before be

                                    (signed) Abraham Staats     (signed) Gideon Emory 

I’ve highlighted some of the things that caught my attention – things that either tell me something about him or suggest things about him. Also telling are the things you don’t see in his inventory. Here are my take-aways from this inventory:

  • Books! Garret could, and presumably did, read. In the many, many pre-1800 estates from Appoquinimink Hundred I’ve accumulated, that’s not something I’ve seen very often in an inventory. That’s not to say that everyone in Appoquinimink but Garret was illiterate (they weren’t), however, it sticks out as something different from what you’d expect – it’s interesting. Looking at his family, you may recall Garret’s father, Abraham Staats Sr. could sign his name, and interestingly, books were also listed in the inventory of his estate. In fact, Garret’s brother Abraham, eventually served several terms in the Delaware General Assembly’s House of Representatives and Senate.2 would indicate that the family compared to those around them, were more highly-educated. It’s interesting to speculate why things turn out the way they do.
  • Speaking of farming, did you notice any farming tools in the inventory? Me neither. There is an “old plough iron” with a whopping value of 50 cents, but that’s it. Notice any crops “in the ground”? Me neither. Garret was not a farmer. More on that in Part 3.
  • The thing that  jumps out at me is the fact that Garret does have lots of cloth, material, and fur around. The most interesting is “Cassmore,” which I can only assume is “cashmere,” which of course comes from the Cashmere goat. He has a lot of corn to feed animals. He also has “200 blaids” –  likely corn blades to feed the cows, but he only has two. Does he also raise goats? If so, where are the goats in this inventory? He doesn’t appear to be a tailor, as there are no tools – just material, and according to the closest source in time and place I could find, Colonial Williamsburg, “Most tailors did not sell fabric, so people selected fabric from a merchant in town and brought their own fabric to the tailor.”3 . So I’m left not exactly knowing what he does for a living, but it seems to be a combination of husbandry and  merchant (more on this in Part 3).
  • The “5 moth-eaten hats” and “one bed and bedding” doesn’t really tell me much of historical value, but doesn’t it really create a strong image in your mind? Can’t you picture Garret getting up from his one bed just before the break of day in 1790s Appoquinimink, shaking off the dust from one of his moth-eaten hats, and heading out to check on the animals? He has no wife or children, so perhaps his day consists of feeding and caring for the stock, shearing the animals, and taking care of a few locals purchasing some of his stock of fur. At the end of the day, he rides over to Abraham’s place to eat dinner with his brother’s young family, having no family of his own. On his way home, he makes a trip around the perimeter of the property to make sure the fence is in good order – don’t need any fines for animals on the loose.4 Returning to his cabin, he sits down at his bunk and reads for a bit before darkness strains his eyes, and he turns in for the evening.

Romanticized? Yah, maybe a little, but  at least I can back it up (well, all except the dinner part, and even then I could probably make a strong argument of the closeness of this family).

Aside from the goods and chattels, the list of debts and credits at the time of his death needed to be inventoried as well. This is the list of folks who owed Garret’s estate (again with formatting screwed up – thank you WordPress):

A List of out standing Sperate and Desparate Debts belonging to Garrett Staats Deceased at the time of his death Viz-

  L S D   L S D
To Cash in Store and [?] 62 15 0        
Levi Staats 1 5 5 Ephraim Stats 16 00
Charles Williams, negro 2 0 11 James Smyth 16 9
Jacob Baker 1 14 6 Abraham Fields 14
James Staats 4 15 9 Thomas Goldborough 6 19 11
John Guy Junior 9 8 Carvel Staats a rent 12 0 0
John Lockerman 4 14 2 Jacob Woodkeeper balof a note 8 11 8
William Marshall, negro 1 8 9      
Bayman J. Wilkinson 16 3 Matthew Donaho 5 12 10
Abraham Deakyne, negro 1 16 10 Thomas Maberey 1 10 0
David Dave 1 12 0 David and Jacob Staats note 10 12 6
David Staats 1 6 11 Samuel Deshane 11 3
Robert Congleton 1 3 9 Abraham Starling 1 13 2
William Boyer 1 18 11 Act in my own hands 16 12 5
Peter Staats 1 15 9 Interest on the above 6 years 3 months 6 5 0
Daniel Butler            
John Staats 1 8 1        
Jacob Snwell 9 4 Act on the Estate of Ephraim Staats deceased 12 15 9
Eleazer David 4 8 9      
John Tuffree 3 1 3        
Andrew Lockhart 12 1 (signed) Abraham Staats                 administrator      
Hannah Cartwright 1 2 2      
Richard Rayhow 4 18 4        
William Goldborough 2 10 9        
James Brattain 3 9        
Joseph Bucher 19 9        
John Heath 14        
Robert Killgore 1 5 0        
Ruben Baker 15 5        
Robert Bettriage 13 9        
Robert Johnson 4 6        
Henrey Brattain 15 9        
William Hanson 3 8        
Peter Hanson 2  

That’s a lot of debts owed to Garret. Clearly Garret kept accounts on things he was owed. Wouldn’t it be nice to have that ledger now? I also find folks from my Staats branch listed here – David and Jacob Staats. In fact, David Staats is listed twice. Although when the total of these notes is carried over, it’s listed differently – it’s listed here as cash in store. Is that another clue that he was a merchant – at least to some degree? Notice that two of the largest debts were owed by his brothers, Abraham and Ephraim. Carvel Staats, who owed rent, was likely a first cousin to Garret. I don’t know much about Ephraim, but Abraham seemed to own quite a few animals as well as crops to feed them.5 My guess is that they all were in business together to some extent.

I’ve included this list for two reasons. First, there are quite a few people from this area and time listed here. I wanted to put it online so that it might help people trying to sort out one of these families. Second, my Staats family appears here, and I’ll comment more on that in Part 3.

  1. For sources, see Chris Staats, “Probate Files: Little Things Add Up, Pt. 1,” posted 24 Jun 2012; Staats Place ( accessed 24 Jun 2012). []
  2. Abraham Staats served in the House of Representatives during the 26th, 27th, 35th, 36th, and 37th Delaware General Assemblies (1802-1814), and in Senate for the 38th, 39th, and 40th Assemblies.  (Source, WIkipedia beginning here: Naudain family history cited in the first article, as well as debts owed to Abraham’s estate from the State of Delaware  in 1821 support this Abraham as the one of service. (source, New Castle, Delaware, Probate Files, Abraham Staats (1821), settlement account; Delaware Public Archives. []
  3. “Tailor: The Art of Cutting,” in Colonial Williamsburg ( accessed 24 Jun 2012). []
  4. Delaware, Laws of the State of Delaware from the Fourteenth Day of October, One Thousand Seven Hundred, to the Eighteenth Day of August, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Ninety-Seven,” (New Castle: Samuel & John Adams, 1797), 180-181; digital images, Google Books ( accessed 24 Jun 2012). []
  5. New Castle, Delaware, Probate Files, Abraham Staats, (1821). []
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