Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 20185340

State: Alabama Year: 1853
Location: Talladega Location Type: County

Abstract: James W. Simmons requests that his relative, Moses W. Simmons, be declared insane. James Simmons contends that Moses has become "insane and entirely destitute of Reason, wholly unable to take care of himself and is So dangerous that his friends have to Keep him confined by being tied, to prevent his doing great and serious injury to himself and others." James also argues that Moses should not be brought to the court house and tried as the twenty-five or thirty-mile journey "would be attended with great trouble difficulty and danger." Census records reveal that, in 1850, Moses Simmons owned thirteen slaves.

PAR Number 20185402

State: Alabama Year: 1854
Location: Montgomery Location Type: County

Abstract: Andrew J. Terrell, acting executor of the estate of Abel Hagerty, deceased, asks to distribute sixty-three slaves among various heirs as per instructions in Hagerty's will.

PAR Number 20185403

State: Alabama Year: 1854
Location: Talladega Location Type: County

Abstract: After twenty-eight years of marriage, Lydia Rowden filed for divorce in 1854, claiming that her husband, Isaac, was "raving mad." Though he had gone through periods of lucidity, for many years he had experienced "attacks," she explained, and recently the attacks had become increasingly violent, especially toward his slaves. She begged him to "desist in beating his negros to death," Lydia wrote, "and on more than One occasion has revived them when they were apparently dead." When Isaac took their only son into their front yard and for no apparent reason slit his throat, she fled in terror. Later, she learned that he subsequently placed the corpse on a "scaffold" and burned it as "a sacrafice to God, as Abraham had done with his son Isaac." Not long afterwards, Isaac was committed to the insane asylum at Milledgeville, Georgia. "Having lost all hope of future hapiness or peace from her union with her present husband, and desiring to be rid of the hazardous and burdensome mockery of a marriage relation which has already given her long years of anguish," Lydia prays for dissolution of the bonds of matrimony.

PAR Number 20185404

State: Alabama Year: 1854
Location: Talladega Location Type: County

Abstract: In a related petition, Lydia Rowden, suing by her next friend William McPherson, prayed for a divorce from her husband, Isaac Rowden, who is confined in a lunatic asylum. She also prayed for a division of the marriage property, which includes seventeen slaves. She now asks the court that a guardian ad litem be appointed to protect his interests of her husband.

PAR Number 20185427

State: Alabama Year: 1854
Location: Montgomery Location Type: County

Abstract: J. B. Bibb, administrator of the estate of Joseph P. Saffold, deceased, seeks to sell the lands of the estate, "it being necessary to sell the slaves or the land" to pay debts. Bibb states that "it would be greatly to the interest of this estate to sell the latter instead of the former." Saffold left a wife and three minor children.

PAR Number 20185530

State: Alabama Year: 1855
Location: Talladega Location Type: County

Abstract: Protesting the claim that Isaac Rawdon brought very little property to his marriage, Thomas Rawdon , Isaac's brother, contends that shortly after Isaac arrived in Alabama, he purchased four half-sections of land (180 acres each) and a tract containing fifty or sixty acres. He also brought with him several slaves, six of whom, Thomas asserts, he had purchased with money given to him by his father. Isaac, who had killed his son during one of his bouts of insanity, was committed to a Georgia insane asylum. Shortly before his commitment, he sold the land for $6,900, and his former wife, Lydia Rawdon, has collected the money and retained the profits thereof. Thomas Rawdon asks that Lydia Rawdon be ordered to provide an account of her activities and that a "Committee or Guardian for the estate of the said Isaac be appointed."

PAR Number 20185622

State: Alabama Year: 1856
Location: Montgomery Location Type: County

Abstract: Francis M. Gilmer, the uncle of forty-two-year-old Montgomery resident Nicholas M. Gilmer, asks the court to declare his nephew insane. Gilmer owns a 1,600-acre pine tree plantation on the Red River, Caddo Parish, Louisiana; he also owns twenty-one slaves (one of whom recently died). According to his uncle, Gilmer is unbalanced and "has become dangerous to the community."

PAR Number 20185701

State: Alabama Year: 1857
Location: Montgomery Location Type: County

Abstract: William W. Waller, administrator of the estate of Abel alias Gun Loftin, deceased, asks to sell the estate's more than twenty slaves in order to make an equal distribution among the "heirs at law and distributees of the said deceased who died intestate." The heirs include Abel's brother Oliver Loftin, who lives in Texas; Abel's underage sister Susan Loftin; his underage brother Alfred Loftin; and William Waller's daughter Elizabeth.-

PAR Number 20185912

State: Alabama Year: 1859
Location: Lauderdale Location Type: County

Abstract: Through her next friend, Mary Ann O. Slaydon asks the court to empanel a jury to decide whether her husband, Benjamin H. Slaydon, is a "lunatic." At the time of their marriage, Benjamin was seventeen and the owner of four slaves. Mary Ann informs the court that, although given to occasional "sprees of intoxication," which got him "into difficulties sometimes of a serious character," her husband managed to hold on to his property until he reached his majority. Shortly after reaching his majority, however, things got worth and he has now "fooled" away his four slaves and other property. He traded two slaves, young boys worth more than two thousand dollars, for a horse worth about one-hundred-and- fifty dollars; and he sold the slave woman Matilda, who would have brought a large price at auction, for a fraction of her worth. Slaydon is "very intemperate," Mary Ann asserts, "and those who planned to swindle him would follow him around and offer him drinks until they got him drunk" and then they would "Swindle him out of his property." But even when sober he is unable to manage money. She asks the court to declare him a "lunatic" and appoint a guardian to administer his largely diminished estate.

PAR Number 20186012

State: Alabama Year: 1860
Location: Montgomery Location Type: County

Abstract: Louisa C. G. Gilchrist, the sister of James L. G. McCullough and the administratrix, deceased, asks to sell the estate's slaves and distribute the proceeds among heirs. A related document revealed that James McCullough was "non compos mentis" and prior to his death his property was managed by a guardian.

PAR Number 20186224

State: Alabama Year: 1862
Location: Pike Location Type: County

Abstract: James and Wade Thomas charge that their father James Thomas Sr. "is Totally unfit & disqualified to manage & control his affairs." He owns lands, mules, cattle, hogs, and slaves worth an estimated fifty thousand dollars, but the estate is "wasting, liable to waste, and will be to a considerable extent squandered unless he shall be prevented in some way from its further control." They seek "a writ of Lunacy under the Law."

PAR Number 20186225

State: Alabama Year: 1862
Location: Pike Location Type: County

Abstract: Declared mentally unfit by the court in January 1862, as a result of a suit filed by his two sons, James Thomas Sr. argues that if he were ever of unsound mind--and he doubts it--he is perfectly fit now; he asks the court to restore "his ancient rights, in respect of both his person & property." He sues his son, Wade H. Thomas, who had been appointed his guardian when he was declared "non compos mentis" by the court. A related inventory reveals that James Thomas Sr. owned thirty-two slaves in 1862, including sixteen unnamed children.

PAR Number 20186226

State: Alabama Year: 1862
Location: Lauderdale Location Type: County

Abstract: James S. and Nathan V. Boddie, administrators of the estate of the late Nathan Boddie ask the court to appoint commissioners to divide nearly one hundred slaves among several heirs. The estate, they explain, is solvent.

PAR Number 20186417

State: Alabama Year: 1863
Location: Lowndes Location Type: County

Abstract: Thomas Coburne asks the court to remove G. W. O. Harbin as guardian of his sister Ann, who has been classified "non Compos." Coburne claims that Harbin "has mismanaged & neglected the property & affairs of said ward, and wasted her property and is incompetent to act as such guardian." To bolster his assertion, the petitioner recalls that Cyrus, a valuable blacksmith worth $2000 belonging to Ann, ran away and that Harbin "made no effort to get him." In addition, Coburne argues that Harbin has "cruelly treated his ward, and has not provided her with suitable clothing & Comforts." At present, Harbin has removed Ann and her property consisting of "three grown negroes and two small ones" to Butler County. [On the docket page, adjacent to this petition, is the petition of Joseph Steele [?] and John D. Burt, administrators of the estate of the late Peter Bell. Bell's estate held fifteen slaves in 1864 and their names are included under this petition. Bell's administrators' petition does not have its own petition or PAR number.]

PAR Number 20282401

State: Arkansas Year: 1824
Location: Clark Location Type: County

Abstract: Sarah Haney writes that before her husband's death, one William McDonald induced him to purchase a piece of land, using a slave "boy," Abram, as down payment. The price for the land was set at eleven hundred dollars; McDonald valued Abram at six hundred dollars. Sarah Haney maintains that her husband "in his lifetime had been for a long time sick & debilitated so much so that his sickness had almost entirely destroyed his bodily & mental powers" and therefore was "utterly incapable & unfit to transact even common business." She asks the court to declare the sale null and void and order McDonald to return Abram.

PAR Number 20282801

State: Arkansas Year: 1828
Location: Crawford Location Type: County

Abstract: Israel Dodge writes that in 1826 he purchased a slave girl named Darius for $400 from Mitchell Malone, acting overseer of Alexander Mitchell. He paid $109.50 up front and executed a note to Malone for the outstanding balance. Dodge claims that, since the purchase, he has discovered that the slave is diseased and unable to work. He "expressly charges that both Mitchell & Malone both well knew of the aforesaid defects in mind & body of said Negro at the time of the sale ... & at the time said false & fraudulent representations." Dodge therefore asks the court to declare the sale void and return his money.

PAR Number 20283601

State: Arkansas Year: 1836
Location: Saline Location Type: County

Abstract: William C. Walker through his next friend Samuel J. Cook writes that he is entitled to slaves and other assets from the estate of his late aunt, Nancy Walker. Walker states that the will of his grandfather, William Walker, who died in late 1801 or early 1802, stipulated that his son, Thomas, and daughter, Nancy, should inherit one slave each from his estate. Should one of the siblings die without issue, the other would inherit his or her slave. Thomas Walker died first in this twenty-sixth birthday, leaving a son, the petitioner. Nancy Walker died a few years in her nineteenth birthday. At the time of her death, Nancy was leaving with her mother and stepfather, Elizabeth Walker Moody and stepfather George Moody. The slave she had inherited from her father's estate, Sarah, together with some Sarah's children remained with the Moodys. After Elizabeth Moody's death, the slaves remained in George Moody's possession. George Moody. William C. Walker charges that George Moody has fled to Arkansas with Sarah and her family, who now include at least eight, perhaps eleven, children, in order to evade court action. He claims that, according to grandfather's last will and testament, the slaves should now be his by right of his late father. He asks the court to sequester the slaves while the case is being tried.

PAR Number 20286101

State: Arkansas Year: 1861
Location: Pulaski Location Type: County

Abstract: James Robinson, administrator of George Eason's estate, represents that the widow, Mary Eason, "is insane and otherwise afficted with rheumatic" disorders. Robinson further recounts that, "in her present condition on account of her diseased state of mind," the widow "is of great trouble and expense to your petitioner." He therefore requests that he be permitted to send Mary "to the Lunatic Asylum at Nashville Tenn. there to be kept and to receive the attention and care necessary." The attached administrator's report reveals that an estate slave named Hannah was sold for $500 on 17 January 1861, a week after the filing of the petition.

PAR Number 20377901

State: Delaware Year: 1779
Location: Sussex Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1772, Ann Williams, who owed an estate consisting of Negroes, stock, household furniture, farming utensils, and "ready money," published her will. She bequeathed to her son, Joshua Williams, a yearling steer and, for one year, a "negroe man named Will," who afterwards, for eight years, would be split between him and her daughter. She devised to her daughters, son, and granddaughter various other property, including "a negroe wench named Patience." Following her death, Joshua accuses his siblings and others of refusing to show him Ann's will and conspiring to deprive him of his legacy.

PAR Number 20383901

State: Delaware Year: 1839
Location: Sussex Location Type: County

Abstract: Charles Argoe, trustee for insane slave owner Nathaniel Pointer, asks to sell a term slave named Beniah, about seven years of age, and six head of cattle from Pointer's estate.

PAR Number 20383903

State: Delaware Year: 1839
Location: Sussex Location Type: County

Abstract: Amos Stayton seeks to have twenty-five-year-old slave owner Nathaniel Pointer declared a lunatic and to have a trustee appointed to manage his estate. From the time of his birth, Stayton explains, Pointer has been deaf and dumb. Pointer is entitled to a seven-year-old male slave named Beniah, who must serve until he is twenty-five years old.

PAR Number 20384402

State: Delaware Year: 1844
Location: Sussex Location Type: County

Abstract: As trustee of the person and estate of lunatic Nathaniel Poynter, Charles Argoe explains that at Nathan Poynter's death, Nathaniel became entitled to a term slave Beniah, whom he sold for $125; he also arranged for Bennetta, a female term slave valued at $25 and Maria, a black slave child valued at $35, to be turned over to Nathan's widow. Argoe has settled most of the account and asks the court "to grant him an allowance thereof or such other relief as to this Court may Seem just and proper."

PAR Number 20384802

State: Delaware Year: 1848
Location: Sussex Location Type: County

Abstract: Declared insane in 1839, Nathaniel Pointer asks the court to allow him to manage his own affairs. Pointer, who previously was entitled to a seven-year-old term slave, asserts that he is "now of sound mind and understanding." He is therefore "desirous that the said Commission of Lunacy should be now superseded."

PAR Number 20482604

State: District of Columbia Year: 1826
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: Ann Gibson charges her husband, Gerard Gibson, with "drunkeness and debauchery." She complains of his violent temper and accuses him of sleeping with "a negress." Ann Gibson asks for "such alimony & seperate maintenance . . . as from the fortune she brought to her said husband." She also asks for an injunction to prevent her husband from further selling any of her property, including the remainder of her thirteen slaves.

PAR Number 20485105

State: District of Columbia Year: 1851
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: Elizabeth Jennings, a resident of Canada, states that she is the only sister of Mary Jennings, also called Polly Jennings, a free person of color. The petitioner asserts that Mary is a "lunatic," incapable of managing herself or her property, and "is now confined in the County Jail . . . as a lunatic dangerous to the public peace." Elizabeth asks the court to appoint a committee and trustee, preferably Isaac Cary, and to make Mary's property available for sale so that the proceeds can be used for her support and medical treatment as the income generated from her property is insufficient to pay the costs of the needed care.

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