My folks and I traveled to Randolph County, North Carolina a few years ago looking for the old family land. We spent time searching deed records, specifically looking up any deed reference to our Millikan ancestors. One item we came across was a pre-nuptual agreement from 1870. I figured “pre-nups” were relatively recent contracts, so I was surprised to find one in the deed records.
This is from Randolph County deed book 36, page 288. It records the marriage contract between Mordecai Mendenhall and Sarah Millikan dated March 24, 1870. In the contract, each one of them agrees to release the rights to the other’s real estate & personal property. So who were they & how do they fit into my family?
Sarah Millikan was born Sarah Williams in 1806. She married Benjamin Millikan in 1824. Benjamin was the brother of my 4th Great Grandfather, Samuel (1789-1870). Samuel’s son, Clark, (1824-1926) moved from North Carolina to Indiana. I’ve written a few posts about Clark. Benjamin and Samuel each received part of the original Millikan land from their Father, Benjamin (1775-1842).
Sarah and Benjamin had 7 children: Milton (1825-1908), Daniel W. (1828-1914), Azel (1829-1890), Rebecca (1831-1911), Benjamin (1831-1915), Nancy (1833-?) & William P. (1835-1875). Some of their children moved to Indiana, others stayed on the family land in North Carolina. Benjamin died in 1836, leaving Sarah with the children to raise alone. She shows up in the 1850 Census as Sarah Williams (her maiden name) with real estate valued at $500. In 1860, her real estate is worth $800, with personal property worth $500.
Mordecai had also been married and had a family before he married Sarah. In the 1850 Census, his Real Estate was worth $200. By 1860, his wealth had jumped significantly. His Real estate was worth $7000 and Personal estate worth $8150. Maybe this is part of the reason for the pre-nuptual agreement.
The 1870 Census has Mordecai’s Real Estate worth $2500, Personal estate $5000. Sarah’s Real estate is worth $1000 with personal property $500.
Mordecai died at the age of 87 in 1879 of “typhoid flux”. Sarah lived until 1884, showing up in the 1880 census living with her son, Daniel. Sarah was 77 years old when she died.
So while these two individuals weren’t immediate ancestors of mine, it is kind of interesting to see that even back in 1870 they intended to protect their individual assets. I didn’t find Mordecai’s will. There is no indication in Sarah’s will that she had any additional property from Mordecai. So, the assumption is that the children of each one’s first marriage inherited from them.
© MJM 2017
One thought on “A Pre-Nuptual Agreement”
What an interesting story. I read it that each spouse released any claim to the other’s property. If I read this correctly, Sarah was in her 60’s when she married Mordecai. So guess you are right that the children of the former marriages inherited. Nothing new under the sun is there?
You are doing such a great job of giving us a look into the past. Kae