In honor of memorial day, I thought that I'd post on a most interesting will--that of Samuel Townsend of Madison County, Alabama. (Thanks to the fabulous Merrily Harris of the University of Alabama's Hoole Library for bringing this to my attention.) Mr. Townsend's 1856 will freed a number of people (Joel Williamson speculates that at least some of them were family members). The will is important evidence of the ways that testators, lawyers, and executors negotiated around the system of slavery--and on this I will be talking more later this summer.
However, you know what the very first substantive request was? To be buried on his plantation and for a memorial to be erected over his remains! ("I wish my body to be interred in the grave yard on the plantation where I now reside, a marble monument worth from five to seven hundred dollars erected upon my grave, and enclosed by a durable stone wall.") Pretty cool to look to wills to see how people thought about memorials, isn't it?