Finding Your Folks: Some Herndon court records

Judy Fowler Kilgore's picture

I keep driving back and forth between Newnan and Greenville, trying to gather as many court records as possible on the family of Edward and Nancy Brown Herndon. They lived predominantly in one area but that area straddled two counties. Later, Preston branched out on his own and moved way out towards Powers Crossroads near the Heard County line. But, for the most part, the Herndons spread out in an area roughly between Senoia and Haralson in Coweta and Alvaton in Meriwether.

So, that means some records are at the Coweta County courthouse and some are in the Meriwether County courthouse. I did copy all the Herndon grantees and grantors (deeds and land records) for Meriwether but haven't gotten them all for Coweta yet. I do have at least an outline of the probate records in both counties but still need to go back and get particulars on some estate settlements. However, just copying the information in the index gave me a good overview of what was there.

For instance in Meriwether, in addition to Edward's estate papers, I found all the guardianship papers of his minor children. This not only included petitions for guardianship but also annual returns showing where all the money went.

Most are pretty routine and show funds expended for living expenses, tuition and such. But one I came across reflected sadly on the times. It was filed June 5, 1868, by Walter R. Pope, guardian of Walter J. Herndon. Walter had purchased a horse for his "ward" (cost: $175) and showed a couple of cash advances, then he swears to the accuracy of the return and adds " ... and further swears that he the said guardian did receive for his said ward the sum of two thousand dollars during the years 1863 & 1864 of Confederate States Treasury Notes belonging to his said ward and that the same remained upon his hands and was lost by the downfall of the Confederacy and that it was the same kind of Currency that remained in his hands for his said ward and lost aforesaid." This sworn statement was recorded by the county ordinary, Jas. W. Banning.

You know, we will probably never be able to imagine how difficult it was during those times. Yet, the court records were dutifully kept and, with the exception of finding occasional remarks about the war as above, life went on.

The estate of Richard Herndon also was filed in Meriwether with B.H. and M.H. Herndon as executors (Will book B, page 59). Richard's will was made 10 June 1862 and recorded 8 Jan 1863. His will also mentioned the uncertainty of the war and its outcome. He also mentions his beloved wife, Martha H., 100 acres of land in Land Lot 105, several slaves and three children, Nancy Ann Elizabeth, Sarah Frances and James Houston.
Marshall H. Herndon's estate also is in Meriwether. He left no will but his wife, Anna (Kempson) petitioned to administer his estate on 6 July 1863. Giving security on her $5,000 bond were Benjamin Kempson and Wilkins Stone. The usual other papers were filed, including an estate appraisal and leave to sell lands.

Other Herndon probate records in Meriwether include those of Mrs. Lavenia (sic) Herndon with L.E. (Lewis Edward) Herndon as administrator (Lavinia Brandenberg was the wife of James Matthews Herndon, a son of Edward and Nancy), Virgil K. Herndon with Mrs. V.K. Herndon (Mildred McKoon), administrator (Virgil was the son of James and Lavinia), and several others after 1900.

Coweta probate records for Herndons include those of Preston A. Herndon Sr. in 1901 with many references (books and page numbers) to estate matters. In 1902, there is a record for Preston A. Herndon Jr., which is probably his guardianship records. Joel J. Herndon's estate was administered in 1907, again, with many references, and Preston's wife Ann's estate papers were recorded in 1926.

Emma Ophelia Herndon, wife of W.O. Herndon, died in 1935 and left a will in Coweta recorded in book D, page 181, with many other papers surrounding her estate, and W.J.L. Herndon (William Joel Lee, son of Joel and Elizabeth Kempson Herndon) died in 1950, leaving a will recorded in book D, page 402. Will's (second) wife was Lula Hand (Tribble) and her will is recorded in book E, page 167. Lula died in 1958 and she and Will are both buried at Haralson Baptist, along with Will's first wife, Mary Culpepper.

Land records in Meriwether turned up three unknown Herndons. Early grantees (purchasers) included Caleb, Reuben and Andrew Herndon, purchasing land in the 11th and 8th districts. Caleb was the first Herndon purchaser, buying 202.5 acres of land in Land Lot 104 of the 11th District from Amon Yarbrough in 1829. Reuben purchased land from Isham Hatcher (Land Lot 197 in the 8th District) and Sheppard Williams (Land Lot 84 in the 11th District), both in 1834, and Andrew purchased 202.5 acres in Land Lot 239 in the 8th District from William Barnes (administrator) in 1836. I have no idea who these Herndons were.

Our Edward was the next purchaser in 1839 and 1840, followed by many members of his family. Most purchases were made by James M. Herndon and his children in the late 1890s.

Reuben also was among the early grantors (sellers), selling his 202.5 acres in Land Lot 84 of the 11th district to Andrew Park. A William Herndon sold land in the 9th District in 1827, and Andrew Herndon sold his land in the 8th District to Allen Richardson in 1844. All other sellers were members of our Herndon family. Herndon grantors in Meriwether continue through 1984.

We'll continue the study of this interesting family next week with particulars on some of the children.

Stories and family histories about your ancestors who lived on Atlanta's south side are always welcome. Send them to or Mail to The Citizen, P.O. Drawer 1719, Fayetteville, GA 30214. All letters and e-mails I receive are subject to being used in the column.

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