Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 20881766

State: Louisiana Year: 1817
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Elizabeth Godinau, the widow of Baptiste Jourdain, prays the court to be compensated for the financial loss she incurred when the widow Patton's slave, James, caused her slave, Mangé, to become totally blind. She presents to the court that Mangé is a well-behaved and skilled cooper, who prior to the accident was worth $1,800 and whom she used to hire out for $45 per month. Now that he is blind, not only can Mangé no longer work and earn money but expenses have to be incurred to feed him and pay physicians to attend to him. Although Mrs. Patton had initially agreed to pay damages after "it should be certain that the said negro Mangé could not recover his sight," she "refused and still refuses" to settle. Elizabeth Godinau Jourdain asks for the estimated value of Mangé, the amount of his lost hires and cost of feeding him since his accident, and for reimbursement of the physician's fees.

PAR Number 20882010

State: Louisiana Year: 1820
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Elizabeth Honeycutt charges that Richard Hovendon illegally detains her in slavery. Elizabeth represents that she “verily believes” that she was born free in Virginia and that, “while very young,” she was carried by a man named Honeycutt into the “then Indiana Teritory,” where she lived with the “knowledge and consent of those who claimed her services.” She claims that, regardless of the status of her birth, she acquired freedom by virtue of residing in a “Teritory” whose laws forbade “involuntary servitude.” She alleges, however, that she was later “clandestinely & against her will & against the laws of the Indiana Teritory” transported to Louisiana and sold as a slave. She further alleges that she has “apprised” Richard Hovendon, her present owner, of her status as a free woman, but Hovendon persists in holding her as his slave. Elizabeth therefore prays that the court will decree her free, enjoin Hovendon from disposing of her during the “pendency” of the suit, and condemn him to pay her $200 in damages.

PAR Number 20882173

State: Louisiana Year: 1821
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Thomas Simmons, a man of color, claims to have been illegally held in slavery for three years by one Robert H. Mc Nair. Simmons represents that he was lawfully emancipated in Kentucky by the "last will and testament of Joseph McMurtrie;" a fact he alleges to be well known by McNair. Simmons avers that the value of his services during three years of bondage is worth a total $1,260, based on a rate of $35 per month. Simmons expresses his fear that McNair "will molest & hinder him in the prosecution of this suit,” transport him beyond the power and jurisdiction of the present court, and sell him. He therefore prays to be decreed “free and restored to the enjoyment of his liberty," and to be "held in the custody of the Sheriff during the prosecution of this suit." He also asks to be allowed to sue McNair "in forma pauperis."

PAR Number 20882219

State: Louisiana Year: 1822
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Nicholas Tachaud, "born free from free persons on the island of St. Domingue," claims to have been "unjustly & illegally detained" as a slave by Richard Richardson. Tachaud asks to be declared a free person and to be placed "provisionally under the custody of the Sheriff" while his case is being decided.

PAR Number 20882274

State: Louisiana Year: 1822
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: The petitioner is Rebecca Lunsford, a twenty-eight-year old woman claiming that, although a free person, she is being held in slavery "injustly and illegally" by L. Coquillon. She presents to the court that she "acquired her liberty" by virtue of residing in the free state of Ohio, "at Cincinnati," in the household of one James Riddle. She asks the court to issue a "writ of sequestration" to put her in the custody of the sheriff for hiring out until termination of the suit. She also asks the court to cite L. Coquillon to answer her petition and condemn him to pay her $15 per month for the time she has been with him, plus costs of suit. Above all she asks the court that it "may be ordered adjudged & decreed" that she is a free person and "entitled to her liberty” [Original in English and French].

PAR Number 20882322

State: Louisiana Year: 1823
Location: St. Landry Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Daniel Hancock, a man of color, represents that he is being “unlawfully detained” as a slave by John Davis. He informs the court that he was born free in Connecticut and “has been regularly enlisted & actually served in the naval service of the United States for about two years.” Hancock prays that “Davis and all other persons may be adjudged to desist from all further pretentions over” him as a slave. In addition, Hancock asks to be sequestered since he “verily believes” that Davis or someone with “his knowledge & consent intends in a very short time” to carry him out of the jurisdiction of the court.

PAR Number 20882326

State: Louisiana Year: 1823
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Delphine, a free woman of color, claims that she is being held as a slave and deprived of her right to earn a living. She is suing Raymond Deveze, the man who currently holds her in servitude. She presents to the court the following facts that led to her current predicament. While living in Saint Domingue, the French part of the island of Hispaniola, she, her now-deceased mother, Caroline, and her two aunts, Luce and Florence, as well as her grandmother, Marie Catherine, were freed by one Marie Therese Duroc, her great-aunt, who was then their then owner. After her mother's death, Delphine continued to live with Marie Therese. But in 1803, during a period of violent upheaval on the island, the four women, a young male relative named Leger, as well as Marie Therese's companion, Mr. Belzons, were evacuated from Cap Français. Marie Therese died during the voyage and Belzons brought the other women and the young boy to Louisiana. Delphine claims that Belzons treated them well until, "shocking it is to state," he "inhumanly" sold her in spite of her representation that she was free. She is now the property of Deveze, from whom she has "suffered unjust corporal punishments." She prays the court to decree her free and to order Deveze to pay her compensation at the rate of $10 for each day that she has been "detained" in slavery [Original in English and French].

PAR Number 20882842

State: Louisiana Year: 1828
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Joseph Pilié asks the court to require the heirs to the estate of the late Marie Hyacinthe Arnoult Lalande Ferrière to retake possession of a slave named Celestine and reimburse the purchase price of $970 with interest. Pilié further requests that the heirs be required to pay the amount it cost him to confine Celestine in jail. The plaintiff states that Celestine was warranted against defects and classified as "a servant, washer and Cook" when purchased. However, following the sale, Celestine ran away three times, the last time resulting in her arrest. In addition, Pilié charges, the heirs knew that Celestine "did not possess the qualities or talents which were warranted to him" and that she was in the habit of running away.

PAR Number 20882844

State: Louisiana Year: 1828
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Josephine Jardelas, a free woman of color and a minor "above the age of puberty," petitions with the assistance of Louis Seré, her "curator ad lites." She presents to the court that the administration of the late Joseph Jardelas's estate is planning to sell three slaves that belong to her. The three slaves are Elina, also known as Nina, and Elina's two children, four-year-old Maria and eighteen-month-old Charles. Josephine asks the court to order that the register of wills be "enjoined, restrained & prohibited from selling" the slaves and to cite the persons claiming title. She further asks to be recognized "as the sole and lawful mistress" of the three slaves and want them to be sequestered by the sheriff until the case has been decided. Related documents reveal that Josephine was the daughter of the late Joseph Jardelas and Carmelite Boisseau, a free woman of color, and that Joseph Jardelas had lived for many years with Carmelite in the house owned by Carmelite's mother, Manon Boisseau.

PAR Number 20882937

State: Louisiana Year: 1829
Location: Natchitoches Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Louis Derbanne states that his land is being illegally claimed by Francois Metoyer, a free man of color. Derbanne asserts that, in 1801, he purchased a five arpent tract of land at the head of the Cane River from Marguerite, "a free negress." Marguerite had held the land since 1788, when Spanish Colonial Governor Esteban Rodriguez Miro y Sabater "conceded" it to her. Derbanne now asserts that Metoyer "sets up a claim and gives out in speeches that he is the true & legal owner of a portion of the said five arpents front, thereby slandering the title of your petitioner." Derbanne prays that Metoyer pay him $500 in damages and that he be permanently enjoined "from laying claim to any portion of said five arpents front, or in any manner disturbing the plaintiff in his rights thereto."

PAR Number 20883031

State: Louisiana Year: 1830
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Isaac T. Preston presents to the court that William Zabrisky, a free man of color, fraudulently "dispossessed" him of his two slaves, twenty-one-year-old Judea and fourteen-year-old Joe. Preston alleges that Zabrisky entered his house and enticed his slaves to leave, intending to take them into his possession. He claims to have amicably asked Zabrisky to restore the slaves, but Zabrisky has refused to do so. He therefore asks the court to sequester the slaves pending resolution of the suit and, after due delay, to condemn Zabrisky to return the slaves and pay him $2,000 in damages. Related testimonies and the conclusions of the related judgment reveal that Zabrisky and Preston had entered into a tentative agreement to trade slaves on a trial basis. Zabrisky would exchange Judea and Joe for Preston's three slaves, Melissa and her two children. Zabrisky, however, decided not to complete the deal and to end the experiment; upon Preston's resistance to return Judea and Joe, he took matters in his own hands.

PAR Number 20883032

State: Louisiana Year: 1830
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Samuel McMaster presents to the court that his twenty-five-year-old male slave, named John Scott, was "enticed" aboard the Steam Boat Louisiana by the ship's master or commander, N. Beckweth, and "carried away" to Louisville "in the State of Kentucky," where he has been kept ever since. McMaster claims that, having been deprived of the use of his slave, a carpenter by trade, he has sustained loss and damages in the amount of $1,500; a sum Beckweth refuses to pay, "altho amicably required to do so." McMaster prays the court to sentence Beckweth to pay the $1,500.

PAR Number 20883302

State: Louisiana Year: 1833
Location: East Baton Rouge Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Francis Robert Avart prays to have a slave purchase rescinded and his money returned, and he asks for relief in the form of damages for expenses incurred since the sale. Avart contends that Jeremiah Withers sold him a slave named Nero for $600, expressly warranting him against “vices and maladies provided against by law.” Since the purchase, Avart has discovered that Nero is “addicted to theft and is in the habit of running away.” Avart argues that Withers “well knew the vice of said slave” since the prior owner, Francis Nephler, “disclosed to him the said vice of running away & expressly refused to warrant against it.” Since the purchase, Nero has run away several times and "is now in the Jail of St. Francisville.” In addition, during his last absence, Nero “committed a theft for which he was tried & sentenced to wear a chain one or two years.” Avart wishes to return Nero to Withers and recover the purchase price and $224.50 in damages for jail fees, steamboat charges, and loss of time. He prays that an attachment may be issued “commanding the seizure of any property, credit, or rights belonging to said Withers in whatever hands they may be found” and that Withers be decreed to take back the slave.

PAR Number 20883341

State: Louisiana Year: 1833
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Rosine Berard, a free woman of color, presents to the court that she was born free on the island of St. Domingue and left with her aunt Marie Jeanne Berard, also a free woman of color, during the "insurrection of the slaves." She further presents that, after coming to New Orleans, she continued to give Marie Jeanne the "use and benefits of her services" to express her "feelings of gratitude & affection" and because of the obligations she had contracted toward her. After Marie Jeanne's death in 1813 or 1814, she placed herself under the protection of Marie Jeanne's sister, Marie Louise Berard. She now alleges that Marie Louise is claiming her and her five children as slaves and is keeping them in "involuntary servitude." She also alleges that Marie Louise may even be planning to take her family out of the jurisdiction of this court. She therefore asks the court to decree her and her children free and to condemn Marie Louise Berard to pay $500 in damages. She also asks the court to order her sequestration and that of her five children pending resolution of the suit. Related documents reveal that Marie Jeanne, Marie Louise, and Rosine Berard were the daughters and granddaughter, respectively, of a St. Domingue merchant named Berard du Papon.

PAR Number 20883815

State: Louisiana Year: 1838
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: William Kincaid and his wife, Nancy Tinsley Kincaid, free people of color, petition to get payment from the sheriff in a case involving a runaway slave. The Kincaids represent that, earlier in the year, a court order directed the sheriff, Frederick Buisson, to seize and sell a slave named Antoine, who had been mortgaged to them by Manuel Fleret and Virgile Perry as security on a debt. The Kincaids contend, however, that Buisson exhibited such gross negligence in the execution of his duties that he “suffered” Antoine to run away. Three months have elapsed and Antoine has not been found; he is presumed to have left the state. The Kincaids therefore pray for an order condemning Buisson to pay them $2,000 to cover the writing-off of the debt plus expenses. Related testimony reveals that Antoine may have drowned in the swamp while attempting to escape.

PAR Number 20883818

State: Louisiana Year: 1838
Location: Natchitoches Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Jean Baptiste Cécile, a free man of color, seeks to cancel the sale of his two slaves to a free woman of color named Augustine Saint Denis. Cécile represents that Saint Denis, aided and abetted by her slave named Cyprienne [Cyprien], a "statu libri" believed to be her husband, had cheated him out of his two slaves. He charges that, while he was intoxicated on the night of the 4th of April 1838, Saint Denis induced him to sell his two slaves to her, Henry and Mary, by representing to him that he could thus avoid seizure of the slaves by his creditors. According to Cécile, Saint Denis led him to believe that, after the sale, he could retain possession of the slaves and, to seal the deal, a lease was signed by which he agreed to pay Saint Denis a monthly fee for the services of the two slaves and Saint Denis gave him a will whereby she bequeathed the two slaves to him in case of her death. The day after the sale, Cécile became “sensible of his error” and tried to cancel the sale. Saint Denis agreed to do so, but asked that the matter be allowed to stand a few days. However, Saint Denis never cancelled the sale. Instead, she took possession of the slaves for whom she had never paid Cécile the purchase price of $1,100. Cécile therefore seeks an order declaring the sale null and void and decreeing him the owner of the slaves. A number of related documents reveal that Cécile was indeed near insolvency and that he and Saint Denis had concocted a plan to avoid seizure of his property by creditors, but that Saint Denis had then carried the plan one step further by defrauding her own accomplice.

PAR Number 20884028

State: Louisiana Year: 1840
Location: Pointe Coupee Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Victor Duperron, a free man of color, presents to the court that, in 1839, Jacob C. Vanwickle, sheriff of Point Coupee Parish, "illegally and arbitrarily" confiscated three fourths of 15,214 pounds of "unginned" cotton, the majority of which belonged to him. He explains that, although Vanwickle knew that he was the cotton crop's majority owner, Vanwickle proceeded with the confiscation in order to comply with a writ of seizure and sale issued by a court of law in two separate suits by Etienne Gérard and Arnaud Dutaud, respectively, against his partner, Préval Allain, also a free man of color. He claims that the seizure of his crop cost him $600. He prays that Vanwickle, Gérard and Dutaud be cited to appear before the court and that, after "due and legal proceedings," a judgment for $600 be rendered in his favor. He asks for a trial by jury [Original in English and French].

PAR Number 20884044

State: Louisiana Year: 1840
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Pierre St. Luc Ricard, a free man of color of the parish of West Baton Rouge, seeks compensation for the loss of a slave. Ricard claims that his slave James died "in consequence of the carelessness negligence & want of skill of the Captain & other officers having command of the steam Boat John Linton in her trip from New Orleans to Red River." According to Ricard, James was aboard a ferry flat boat when the steam boat ran into it near the Western shore of the Mississippi in the parish of West Baton Rouge. James was thrown from the boat and immediately drowned. Ricard asserts that James was worth the sum of $2,000. He prays that the captain of the boat, Peter Frank Kimball whom he erroneously calls D. T. Kimball, and Edward H. Satterfield, the man he believes to be an owner, be held responsible for the death of his slave. He asks the court to order the defendants to pay him the sum of $2,000 plus $30 per month for the loss of James's services.

PAR Number 20884045

State: Louisiana Year: 1840
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Harriet Barrier, a free woman of color and feme sole, presents to the court that Stephen Gladding, curator of the late Joseph H. Gladding's estate, is indebted to her in the sum of $4,000, plus legal interests, from the date of 26 August 1839. Barrier explains that she holds a thirty-day promissory note drawn by the deceased on the 25th of July 1839. She claims that she has repeatedly requested payment from Stephen Gladding, as curator of the estate, but the latter has "wholly refused to recognize, approve or pay" the debt. Harriet Barrier therefore prays that Stephen Gladding be cited to answer her claim and, after due proceedings, be condemned to pay $4,000 plus "legal interests." Related documents reveal that Harriet Barrier and Joseph Gladding lived as man and wife for more than twelve years, and that the promissory note was intended as a form of remuneration for Harriet's services as housekeeper in Gladding's household.

PAR Number 20884535

State: Louisiana Year: 1845
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Due to her husband’s insolvency and misappropriation of her property, Polly Stewart, a free woman of color, petitions for a separation of property. Prior to her 1843 marriage to William Stewart, a free man of color, Polly owned a "lot of ground" with a two-story frame house in New Orleans and a slave named Rachiel, altogether worth $3,500. She also owned "certain household furniture" worth $300. Polly informs the court that, since their marriage, William has “not acquired any thing nor assisted in supporting her.” Instead, William has "asserted title” to Polly’s property and has “forcibly entered into and taken possession of the same." She charges that William has rented her property out as a “depot for the sale & keeping of slaves.” In addition, William has allowed the property to deteriorate and has changed the locks, retaining the keys for his own use. Polly petitions the court to have the house and lot sequestered by the sheriff. She also prays for a separation of property from her husband and asks to be granted the “administration and sole control of her paraphernal property."

PAR Number 20884715

State: Louisiana Year: 1847
Location: St. John the Baptist Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Justin Marc Rideau, of New Orleans, seeks damages from Mr. and Mrs. Jean Jacques Haydel. Rideau represents that Haydel, a resident of the parish of St. John the Baptist, “received, Harboured & concealed” his two slaves, Aimée and her daughter Chouchoute, from the beginning of October 1844 through the end of August 1845, without his consent or knowledge. Rideau therefore prays for an order directing the Haydels to pay him $290 in damages for illegally holding his property, plus costs of suit. He also asks that "commissions be granted" directing the Justice of the Peace to assemble witnesses and to take their testimony and their answers to interrogatories.

PAR Number 20884719

State: Louisiana Year: 1847
Location: St. Landry Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Jane Davis, a free mulatto woman, seeks to be "separated in bed and board" from her husband, William Edmunds, a free man of color. The couple intermarried in 1835 and "lived together happily and contentedly" for many years. Notwithstanding her "dutiful and affectionate" behavior, Jane now charges that William has broken his "marital vows" by abandoning, deceiving, and maltreating her, and that he is at the moment in "the embraces" of another woman. Moreover, William now denies that he and Jane were ever "united in the bonds of Lawful wedlock," thus publicly "defaming and blackening" his wife’s reputation. He even induces people to believe that Jane is "of doubtful fame & chastity." Jane asserts that their living together is insupportable; she therefore seeks a separation from her husband and financial support during her "natural life." Related depositions provide detailed information about life among free people of color in Philadelphia, where Jane lived for some time.

PAR Number 20884745

State: Louisiana Year: 1847
Location: Plaquemines Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Harriette Duplessis, a woman of color, petitions for her freedom. Harriette represents that, although she was freed under the 1833 last will and testament of her late master, a free man of color named Martin Duplessis, she was sold in 1842 by Martin’s heirs to a free man of color named Casimir Duplessis. Claiming to have an “undoubtful right to her freedom,” Harriette prays that the court will declare the sale to Casimir Duplessis null and void. She also asks the court to condemn Casimir to free her and her children. Finally, she reserves the right to recover the value of her services for the time she was detained in slavery [Original in English and French; French version incomplete].

PAR Number 20884857

State: Louisiana Year: 1848
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: James A. Lusk seeks compensation for the disappearance of his slave named Dennis. Lusk represents that, in late May or early June 1847, he hired out Dennis as a servant or cabin waiter to John C. Snow, captain of the steam boat J. M. White. Dennis continued serving Snow until the J. M. White was “laid up” for the season at St. Louis in the state of Missouri. Lusk now contends that Snow discharged Dennis in St. Louis, “without care or protection,” and Dennis disappeared, never to be found. Lusk therefore seeks compensation from Snow in the amount of $800, which represents the value of his slave, $18 per month for the slave’s wages from the 1st of June 1847 to the 1st of November 1848, and another $18 for each and every month that Snow refuses to pay.

PAR Number 20885116

State: Louisiana Year: 1851
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Matilda Shell of the parish of St. Tammany, authorized and assisted by her husband, Samuel C. Thompson, seeks to recover her slave, a seventeen-year-old male "griff" or "mulatto" named Man, also known as Columbus, and valued at $1,000. Matilda represents that Man was stolen from her in 1843, taken to Missouri, and reported dead. Matilda has now learned that he is in fact being held in New Orleans by one Eliza Winfree, who claims that he belongs to the estate of her late husband, Dr. Amos Hough. Matilda therefore prays for an order decreeing that she is the slave’s owner and directing Eliza Winfree to return him to her possession. Matilda also seeks to be compensated for the loss of her slave’s hires, at the rate of $20 per month. Finally, she seeks an order directing the sheriff to sequester Man for the duration of the trial. Related testimony reveals that Man also went by the name of Mose or Joseph.

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