Did Any Rectors Own Slaves?

John Jacob Rector 1773 Estate (partial) from Fauquier Co. Courthouse records

It was with great interest that I pulled Book 1 of over 100 bound records in the Fauquier (“It’s pronounced “Faw-KEER”) County, VA courthouse after placing all my electronic devices (including my fone) into a locker once I passed through the metal detectors in the lobby of the courthouse. Unfortunately I arrived with only 30 minutes until closing time on a Friday in May of 2022 so I had to dive in quickly. I had started with the Index book for all wills and estates recorded before 1925, and when I reached the “R” section, there were Rectors galore. I chose the earliest record I could find, which was for John Jacob Rector who died in 1773. Bingo!

And there it was in brown and white (the image I ordered and eventually received is from microfilm that is a negative of the actual image for greater contrast, I suspect):

  • Rector Inventory
    • Negro Jack
    • Negro Jude
    • Negro Sambo
    • Negro Cate(?)
    • Negro James
    • Negro Anthony
    • Negro Manuel
    • Negro Homer
    • 1 Bay Gelding … 1 Bay Stallion …

To the right of each listing is a numerical value, and because this will was moved through probate in 1773, all those figures are in Pounds Sterling, Shillings, and Pennies. I’m not sure whether it’s comforting or horrifying that a man is worth more than two horses? Two men each are worth almost twice the gelding and the stallion’s total value.

Because I had to conclude my research in 30 minutes, resulting in a slip of specific pages to have them digitize and email to me, I wasn’t able to closely correlate each document with a specific member of the Rector family, specifically my personal family tree. For example, I quickly assumed that the John Jacob Rector will and estate listing I found in Book 1 represented our First Generation descendant who immigrated from Germany. However, now that I’ve been able to link it to other records, it is clearly the will and estate of JJR’s firstborn and namesake. JJR prime died in 1728/29, and those records, primarily processed as British documents before most of Virginia was organized into the counties that administrate things like this, it’s unlikely that I will find that document. On the plus side (for me) we are descended from JJR prime’s second born, Henry. I did NOT find Henry’s will and estate listing in my 30 minutes, but I continue to do research online through the VA Archives. I did find the will for Harmon Rector, JJR prime’s third born, whose will left “…to my son Harmon Rector one negro named Peter.”

As you can see in The Begats, Spenser Rector, Henry’s youngest son, appears to have moved at some point to Ohio with his British wife before he died in 1785 (back in Fauquier Co.), which is very early in the settlement of that new “Northwest Territory.” Spenser’s last born — Marcus Clay Rector — was born in Pickaway Co., OH after all, in 1788! Offhand I know that the Continental Congress was BROKE after the Revolutionary War, and decided to offer many of its unpaid soldiers land in the new states instead of their back-pay. Rectortown is located very near the trails along the upper Potomac River that would eventually become the National Road, and then the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, and then the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad. I will be researching further into when/how Spenser’s family left VA and arrived in OH, though it is interesting to know that our branch of Rectors then stayed in Ohio until Amy left for the Oregon Territory(!) in the 1970s. Speaking of Amy:

To Corn & Nubbins . . . . 20 .14 —

I was FASCINATED to note one entry in JJR2’s estate, listing “Nubbins” as an asset — they have played an important and positive part of recent Rector history…but maybe they actually tie us back to old times?

I can also now add that not only did Spenser Rector move our line to Ohio shortly after the Revolutionary War, but his grandson — Marcus Clay Rector — was drafted into the Union Army in 1863 to fight against…his family, in some cases!

In fact, in my first foray to poke around Ancestry.com on my local library’s computer (CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT Ancestry.com OWNS AND SELLS OUR COUNTRY’S OLDEST PUBLIC RECORDS?!?!?!?) I found a record for a contemporary of Marcus Clay Rector — C.P. Rector of Fauquier Co., VA — who fought in F Company of the 6th Virginia Cavalry of the Confederate Army! Who, at the age of 87, applied to the state of Virginia for a military pension because he could no longer work. Amazing.

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