The Hundley Role in the Last Will and Testament of Lucy Lanier Ives Clark, A Vintage Vignette

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The Hundley Role in the Last Will and Testament of Lucy Lanier Ives Clark
A Vintage Vignette by John P. Rankin
August 25, 2009

This article was intended to be about the Hundley family of Madison. However, like other family stories, a proper beginning requires a look elsewhere first. In 2003 I was exploring old family cemeteries of Redstone Arsenal. One cemetery in Test Area 1 had only a very large obelisk to denote the grave of Lucy Clark, 1790-1844. I had never heard of Lucy Clark before, and I realized that often in historical research women are difficult to trace. Women were typically not named in census records until 1850 unless they were the head of a household. Lucy died before 1850, so I doubted that I would be able to learn much about her. However, I was wrong about the amount of information that could be found.

Lucy was born in Virginia on November 29 of 1790. She died here on Christmas Day, 1844. She was born into the wealthy Lanier family. She married John Ives, a man of means, per Madison County license dated Christmas Day of 1823. He died in 1832. In 1838 Lucy married James E. Clark, a younger man and neighbor, after executing a prenuptial agreement recorded in Madison County Deed Book Q, pages 531-3. John H. Hundley of Limestone County was designated as Lucy’s trustee in the agreement at a cost of “ten shillings of lawful money of this state”. The agreement stipulated that James would not inherit Lucy’s 400 acres or other property if she died first. Lucy and James were owners of adjacent land that is now Test Area 1. It turned out that James passed away before Lucy. There was no provision to exclude her from inheriting his property, so she accumulated even more wealth.

Lucy made her last will and testament in July of 1840 with five major provisions, while James Clark was living. She added a codicil in April of 1841. Mr. Clark passed away in January of 1844, so Lucy lived slightly less than a full year after his passing. James had made a will that left one slave to his sister and all else to his wife Lucy. John H. Hundley was also a witness to James’ will.

Lucy’s will provided first that all of her debts be paid and secondly that most of her lands and slaves pass to John H. Hundley, whom she later called “my friend”. It was further stipulated that at Hundley’s death, everything would pass to John’s children by his wife Malinda Hundley. The third stipulation bequeathed a specific slave to Daniel R. Hundley, John’s son, when Daniel reached 21 years of age. The fourth provision specified that Lucy’s husband James, if he outlived her, could have some livestock and furniture of his choosing, plus use of part of her land so long as he lived on it, cultivated it, and remained single. If he should leave the land, then the use of it would pass to John Hundley or Hundley’s heirs. Furthermore, if James Clark should become incapacitated and unable to farm the land, then he was to live with and be supported by Hundley if James was willing to do that, so long as James did not marry again. Apparently, Lucy really did not want James to remarry if he outlived her.

Lastly, Lucy’s 1840 will specified that John Hundley would have use of her livestock and slaves until Hundley’s son Daniel reached 21 years of age. If John Hundley were to die before Lucy, then all designated for his use would go “to his children by his present wife, Malinda Hundley”. Malinda herself was not directly given anything by Lucy’s will. John H. Hundley “or his administrator” was designated as the executor and administrator of Lucy’s will. The codicil added in 1841 required Hundley to erect a rock wall around the graves of Lucy, John Ives, and their daughter. James Clark apparently was not buried with them. Yet, Lucy certainly was careful to provide her “friend” Hundley a rich inheritance from her estate. My next Vintage Vignette will further explore the relationship and describe the Hundley family history in this area.

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