WHEN THE three Lewis families had come to Livingston County in 1808, full of hope for the future, there were, altogether, six adults, twelve children, Lucy's three unmarried daughters, and about twenty-four slaves. Four years later, in the spring of 1812, of the white adults there remained only the oldest, Col. Charles L. Lewis. There were thirteen grandchildren and the colonel's three daughters, who had not yet married. Randolph's slaves were still with the family, as were Colonel Lewis's old domestics, without whom he would have been “in infinite distress, without any aid or means of subsistance.”1 He had not lost his slaves, but his burdens and troubles had multiplied beyond imagination. He, the patriarch of the family, fifty-nine years old, with few means and little help, faced the nearly impossible task of taking care of and providing for his daughters and grandchildren.
When Randolph wrote his will he assumed that his wife, Mary, together with his two administrators, Lilburne and Colonel Lewis, would be able to manage his estate and care for his children. After Mary died early in 1812, and the children were orphaned, Colonel Lewis and his daughters kept Randolph's family together as best they could without much, if any, help from Lilburne. As executor and administrator, Colonel Lewis could collect and spend funds from Randolph's estate in behalf of the orphans. But after Lilburne's suicide, Colonel Lewis was unable to cope with all the new problems. The family had almost no cash on hand, and it became necessary to sell the possessions of Randolph's family at auction in order to provide for the children.
The preliminaries of this step were taken at a meeting of the county court held just eleven days after Lilburne shot himself. Colonel Lewis gave up control of Randolph's estate and Amos Persons and Mark Phillips were then appointed administrators.2 At this same session of county court the inventory and appraisal of Randolph's estate, which had been made almost a year before, was entered in the court records. It was not a detailed accounting, and did not list Randolph's land holdings, but his other
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Publication information: Book title: Jefferson's Nephews: A Frontier Tragedy. Contributors: Boynton Merrill Jr. - Author. Publisher: University of Nebraska Press. Place of publication: Lincoln, NE. Publication year: 2004. Page number: 303.
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