1836 Nimrod Combs v admr of Sarah Combs decd
Index # 1836-015, Original Case #: None
County: Fauquier
Scanned Images: Yes
Case Filed: 1833; Case Verdict: 20 May 1836; Case Dismissed 28 Dec. 1836

(Source: Nimrod Combs & others v admr of Sarah Combs decd, 1836-015, Library of Virginia Archives, Chancery Court Index: Fauquier County, original images from case file, abstracted, transcribed, and submitted by Sue Elfving)

Case Summary

The complainants were: Nimrod Combs, Betsy HOPPER, the infant children of John Combs (Thompson Combs, Sarah Combs, William Combs, Amey Combs, Jane Combs) by Artemisia Combs their representative and admr of John Combs decd, Benjamin PAYNE, admr of Helend Combs decd, and Sanford Payne, Sampson Barbee and Lucy his wife, James Combs and Elizabeth his wife, Elijah Thornberry and Hethy his wife, Thomas Steward [Stewart] and Jane his wife, Benjamin Payne Jr., and William Payne. The defendants were John C CUMMINS executor of Sally Combs decd, Behethiland CUMMINS, John COOPER, Sally Cooper, Julia COOPER.

The chancery suit filed in 1833 by Nimrod Combs and others against John C Cummins, admr of Sally Combs decd & others contest the validity of the will of Sally Combs decd. The plaintiffs petitioned that the will of Sally Combs did not reflect Sally’s wishes and was not what she had requested John C Cummins to write. The bill claims Sally could not read herself and was unable to tell if the will she marked devised her estate in the manner she desired. Sally requested her grandson John C Cummins to write her will. She marked the will but it was not witnessed until a later date leaving open the question whether she made her mark on the same piece of paper that was later witnessed by others to be her will or whether John C Cummins did not write it as she directed. Nimrod claims that when he told his mother of the contents of the will, she said it was not what she wanted; therefore, he claims the will should not be considered valid. Sally’s acquaintance Sylvanus Waller deposed that he told Sally he thought the will to be “of no account” and recollected that Wilfred A Smith suggested to Mrs. Combs that she have Majr Combs [Seth Combs] or Mr. Hansbrough write a new will but he did not believe she had done so. The witnesses to the will deposed as to their action and their visit to Sally’s house where they witnessed the instrument. The defendants deposed she wanted to leave her property to her 3 living children and that her fourth child, Betsy Hopper, was to receive only $10 if she were still living. According to the deponents, Sally said her son John Combs had received more than his share earlier and she did not want John’s wife to have any additional property. Sally also wanted Nimrod’s share to be held in trust by John C Cummins, because she did not think Nimrod was able to manage his own affairs. Sally said the Payne heirs (children of her daughter Helen and Benjamin Payne) had already sold their interest to a man who wanted her dead. She wanted to leave $30 to her granddaughter Julia Cooper in return for living with her and for her assistance. Julia later conveyed this legacy to the other three heirs (her mother Sarah Cooper, her aunt Behethelon Cummins, and her uncle Nimrod Combs). Sally died in 1833, sometime after April but before August. There were several depositions that describe conversations between them and Sally about her wishes for her estate and the reasons behind her feelings. Sally did not like Artemisia Combs, the widow of Sally’s son John Combs. Fanny Cummins, granddaughter of Sally Combs decd gave a lengthy deposition as to Sally’s feelings about her children and why she wanted to devise her property as she did. Apparently Nimrod Combs did not like the fact his share would be held in the hands of John C Cummins. The verdict was issued 20 May 1836 and the cause dismissed 28 Dec. 1836. The will was included as an exhibit in the case file (p. 69), was recorded as written, and is of record in Fauquier and also on Combs &c.

The bills, answers, and depositions make for interesting reading and really gives a sense of some of the family dynamics. Combined with the wills of their father and mother and the other chancery suits between the heirs of Sally Combs, a rather comprehensive story unfolds about this family. A separate chancery case Behethelon Cummins v Nimrod Combs documents the agreement made between the children of John Combs decd after his death to equally divide his estate and provides more information about the heirs of John and Sally Combs.

Genealogical Information Gleaned:

Children of John Combs and his wife Sally [Luttrell]: son Nimrod Combs, daughter Elizabeth aka Betsy Hopper (no longer of Fauquier), daughter Behethelon Cummins, daughter Sarah Cooper wife of John Cooper, son John Combs decd and his widow Artimisia Combs, and daughter Helen(d) Payne decd, wife of Benjamin Payne. One acknowledged of a summons by Nimrod shows that he signed as Nimrod B Combs.

Grandchildren of John Combs and Sally:

Children of Sarah Combs and John Cooper:
Daughters Julia Cooper (age 21 in 1834), Peggy Cooper, Angeline Cooper, and Elizabeth Abbott

Children of John Combs decd and Artimisia Combs
Thompson Combs, Sarah Combs, William Combs, Amey Combs, and Jane Combs, all infants (under age 21) at the time of the complainant’s bill. John’s widow Artimisia Combs was the admr of his estate.

Note: 4 Jan 1817 Fauquier Co VA Marriage Bonds. John COOMBS & Artemesia B. RALLS, 4 Jan 1817. Artimisia and her family are found in Stafford Co. 1850 census records and then returns to Fauquier.

Children of Helen(d) Combs decd and Benjamin Payne:
Sanford Payne, Lucy Payne, wife of Sampson Barbee, Elizabeth Payne wife of James Combs, Hethy Payne, wife of Elijah Thornberry, Benjamin Payne Jr., and William Payne

Children of Behethelon aka Hethy Cummins
John C Cummins who wrote the will
Fanny Cummins who deposed
Possibly Elijah Cummins

Note: It appears (from other records) that the James Combs who married Elizabeth Payne was the son of Nimrod Combs. See Fauquier Co. Chancery Case 1839:John Combs &c v James K MARSHALL &c for more information about the children of Nimrod Combs and the death of Nimrod’s wife. Their marriage: 21-23 Dec 1819 Fauquier Co, VA Marriage Bonds. James COMBS & Betsy PAYNE, 21 Dec 1819 by Nathaniel GROVES/GRAVES.

More information about the heirs can be found in the Chancery cause Behethilon Cummins v Nimrod Combs & others.

Chancery Case File consists of 107 pages including the will of Sally Combs, the complainants’ bills, defendants’ answers, and depositions:

Case File Inventory:

p. ? Answer of Julia COOPER styled as granddaughter of Sally Combs decd who lived with her grandmother. Julia states her grandmother kept her will in a box that was locked and she kept the key on a string above her bed.
p. 8-9 Answer of Sally Cooper, the daughter of Sally Combs decd. She mentions Artemisia Combs as one of the plaintiffs
p. 10 Answer of John Cooper
p. 13 Answer of Behethelon CUMMINS, daughter of Sally Combs
p. 17-23 Answer of John C CUMMINS, grandson of Sally Combs. He states that Sally died in 1833 and that her living children were: Nimrod Combs, Behethelon Cummins, Elizabeth Hopper, and Sally Cooper, the wife of John Cooper. Deceased children were daughter Helen who married Benjamin Payne and son John Combs.

p. 24-26 Complainant’s Bill provides complete list of complainants: Nimrod Combs, Betsy HOPPER (formerly Combs), William Combs Thompson Combs Sarah Combs Amey Combs and Jane Combs the infant children of John Combs and represented by Artimicia Combs widow and relict of John Combs, Benjamin PAYNE admr of Helend Combs decd, Sanford PAYNE, Sampson BARBEE & Lucy his wife, James Combs & Elizabeth his wife, Elijah THORNBERRY & Hethy his wife, Thomas STEWART and Jane his wife, Benjamin PAYNE Jr., and William PAYNE V John C CUMMINS executor of Sally Combs decd, Behethiland CUMMINS, John COOPER, Sally COOPER, Julia COOPER.

p. 28 List of everyone
p. 29 Chronology of chancery case. The Bill was presented 1833, the verdict was issued 20 May 1836, and the cause dismissed 28 May 1836.
p. 38 Suit dismissed
p. 51 Summons issued to witnesses: Wilfred A SMITH, Sylvannus WALLER, Seth Combs, David W Combs, Frederick LUCKETT, Wm E WALLER, and Elijah CUMMINS
p. 53 Another summons
p. 58 Summons by the defendants
p. 59 Back side of summons acknowledged to have been received by Nimrod B Combs. [This is the only record wherein he uses the middle initial “B” but it was very clear.] Summons also acknowledged by Thomas & Jane T Stewart, Elijah Thornberry and Hethy Thornberry [d/o of Helend Payne]
p. 69 Copy of Sally’s will (see Fauquier Co records)
p. 72 Deposition of David W Combs who states he witnessed her will. [David W Combs was the son of William Rousseau Combs and Sarah WICKLIFFE. He was born in 1816 was therefore quite a young witness about the age of 17 which would have been legal. David Combs was the nephew of Seth Combs.]
p. 72-4 Deposition of W A Smith who confirmed the statements of witness Sylvanus Waller but added that he did offer to write a new will for Mrs. Combs. Nimrod Combs was present when the deponent visited Mrs. Combs.
p. 74-75 Deposition of Seth Combs who deposes “Some short time before the death of Mrs Combs Mr Cummins was at my mothers and in the course of the evening the conversation raised about Mrs Combs being dissatisfied with her will…” The deponent said he suggested to Mr. Cummins that he should get two or three neighbors and go with them to her house and ask her if she was dissatisfied and added that he would not delay “as she was very low…” Deponent added that this conversation took place about two weeks before her death. [The will was witnessed in April. Seth Combs was the same as Major Combs referenced in S. Waller’s deposition. He was the son of Ennis Combs and Margaret Rousseau. He would have been a first cousin to the children of John Combs and Sally Luttrell]
p. 76-80 Depositions
p. 80-83 Deposition of Sylvannus WALLER dated 29 Aug. 29 1834. Stated that Sally told him “she had a little property which she wished to dispose of by will, that she had three children here…” He answers she said she did not know where her daughter Mrs. Hopper was. She had not heard from her in a long time. She asked if I would let the boys come over to witness the will when Mr Cummins came. He advised her of the impropriety of not acknowledging the will the will in the presence of witnesses. She said she had no idea of what was in the will. She asked Mr Wilfred A SMITH who was present at the time to make a will and he refused bu suggested Majr Combs or Mr Hansbrough. She later said she was going to get Mr. Hansbrough to do it. Deponent stated that Nimrod Combs was present when one of those conversations occurred. The witnesses were sons of Sylvanus Waller. Deponent stated Mrs. Combs did not express any dissatisfaction and he says he sent son William Edison and that Frederick LUCKETT also went. Fanny Waller deposed on the same day.
p. 84-5 Depositions by Sylvanus and Fanny WALLER
p. 89 Julia Cooper conveys her interest to the other legatees, Sarah Cooper, Behethelon Cummins, and Nimrod Combs
p. 98-99 Deposition of Jane DODSON, deposition Elizabeth ABBOTT (d/o Sarah Cooper) who deposed Sally did not want John Combs’ widow to get any more of her property.
p. 100 Deposition of Peggy COOPER, d/o of Sally Cooper
p. 101 Deposition of Angeline COOPER, d/o of Sally Cooper.

p. 103-7 Lengthy deposition of Fanny CUMMINS who deposed she was the d/o of Hethy Cummins and that John C Cummins was her brother. She was asked several questions about what her grandmother had said with regard to what she wanted to leave her children. With respect to her Sally’s son John, deponent said she heard her grandmother say “she had given them more than she had to divide among her other children that she never should die reconnected [?] without she fixed it so they could never get any more, this I heard her say repeatedly…” With regard to Fanny’s Aunt Hopper, she deposed she heard her grandmother “that when Aunt Hopper left this country, she had then given her all that she ever expected to give them, and when she came in about five or six years ago she gave her all she intended to give her…” With respect to Fanny’s Aunt Payne’s children she deposed she heard her grandmother say “they had sold ___ to a man who wanted her dead and they never should have one cent more of her property.” With respect to Fanny’s Uncle Nimrod, deponent said her grandmother said “he wasn’t capable of attending to his own business and wanted it fixed…” so some person could keep Nimrod from the poorhouse. That person would have to have a great deal of patience. With regard to her daughter Sally Cooper, her grandmother said her daughter Cooper was afflicted and not able to work and she [Sally] wanted security for her daughter’s benefit and not to go for Mr Cooper’s debt….” Deponent also heard her grandmother say that “what she had was very little and she had worked hard for it and got it honestly and intended that her three living children should have the profit of it.” Deponent also stated that her Uncle Nimrod told his mother that the will left ½ of her estate to Hethy and the other half to him and Sally Cooper. Fanny’s version of Sylvanus Waller’s attempt to get Sally to write a new will is somewhat different than how Mr. Waller deposed. Deponent, in response to a question, stated that she and Julia Cooper were with their grandmother more frequently than any other granddaughters. She says she made her Negro clothes and her own clothing. She said Julia had been living with her grandmother until her own mother became sick.

(Source: Nimrod Combs & others v admr of Sarah Combs decd, 1836-015, Library of Virginia Archives, Chancery Court Index: Fauquier County, original images from case file, abstracted, transcribed, and submitted by Sue Elfving)