Race and Slavery Petitions Project

Petition 20185212 Details

Location Type:County
Salutation:To the Honorable James B. Clark Chancellor of the Middle Division of the State of Alabama & 19 District Sitting at Cahaba in the County of Dallas (CLARK, James B.)
Filing Date:1852-April
Ending Date:1853-June

General Petition Information

Abstract:In 1841, Jane M. Potter, daughter of a prosperous Wilcox County plantation owner, married William Bizzell, an overseer with little means. Jane's father gave the couple a "valuable negro Boy aged about Seven years," a horse, saddle, bedding and other items "Necessary for young persons beginning in life with but little property." During the next decade, Bizzell, described as a man of "great energy & unwearied industry," acquired a number land and a number of slaves. Among the slaves was "a negro woman of light complexion named Mary with whom he was keeping up a criminal connection." He became so infatuated with her and so "open in his intercourse" that in 1844 he vowed he would "never part with this woman." Bizzell and Mary had two mulatto children. Bizzell also had four children by his wife, four of whom had died by the time she filed her petition. In 1845, Jane left and filed for divorce. Fearful of losing some of his property, Bizzell sought to appease his wife by sending the slave Mary to Ohio and promising to reform. But after she dropped her suit and returned home in 1848, he grew increasingly violent and carried on an illicit relationship with another of his slaves named Polly. In order to avoid suspicion, Jane Claims, her husband selected Polly specifically because she had a husband. Jane again left him, and again filed for divorce and alimony. Bizzell, who had sold most of his property, except for eight slaves, fled from the state. He died before a decree was rendered in the case.
# of Petition Pages:8
Related Documents:Summons, William Bizzell, 15 April 1852; Motion, November Term 1852; Continuance, November Term 1852; Order, June Term 1853
Pages of Related Documents:1

People Associated with Petition 20185212

Free Persons of Color:0
Other People:0

Citation Information

Repository: Dallas County Courthouse, Selma, Alabama

  • Records of the Circuit Court, Chancery Records, Record 1852-1854
  • Volume: J
  • Page: 331-39

Processing Information

Record Created:11/8/1995
Record Final Edited:7/17/1999
Record Last Updated on:5/29/2007 4:01:00 PM