Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 20185101

State: Alabama Year: 1851
Location: Mobile Location Type: County

Abstract: According to Sarah A. W. Cohan, her father, Edward D. Branch of Green County, Alabama, died possessed of "Lands, negroes, stock of every Kind, promissory notes, accounts &c." She charges that, after her father's death, William G. Jones, her brother-in-law, obtained letters of administration on the estate. As administrator, Jones worked the plantation with the slave property, collected monies due on behalf of the estate, hired out some of the slaves and received the value of their hires, and sold the crops made on the plantation. Jones later sold the land and "a part of the Negroes, & Stock" for "large sums of money," and distributed the proceeds to members of the family. He even allowed to be sold a slave named Gustavus, who, although in Edward Branch's possession at the time of his death, was actually Sarah's property. According to Sarah, she had received Gustavus as a gift from a Mrs. Edwin Askew of Nottaway County, Virginia, but because she was a minor the slave had been placed and had remained in her father's possession until his death. Sarah charges that Jones, her brother-in-law, fraudulently mismanaged her father's affairs. Among other things, she asserts, Gustavus should never have been turned over to her guardian, Thomas P. Giles, another brother-in-law.

PAR Number 20185107

State: Alabama Year: 1851
Location: Madison Location Type: County

Abstract: When Mary Wellborn's husband, Isaac Wellborn Sr., died about 1839, she received his entire estate for her use during her lifetime, including four hundred acres of cotton land, horses, mules, cattle, hogs, sheep, farming utensils, corn, fodder, oats, household and kitchen furniture, and thirty slaves. Mary was, however, "very feeble in mind and body," and "wholly incompetent to manage her affairs." As the years passed, she became childish and imbecilic. Between the death of her husband and Mary's own death in 1850, Elias Wellborn moved on her plantation and ran it, working the slaves on her land as well as on his. In 1842, he harvested sixty-one bales of cotton, averaging four hundred pounds. He shipped the cotton to New Orleans, and netted about $732 in profits. Between 1843 and 1850, he harvested between 45 and 80 bales each year. By 1850, the date of Mary's death, the number of slaves in her life estate had risen to thirty-seven, including twenty-five children under age ten. Following Mary's death the Probate Court appointed James Thomas, Madison County Sheriff, as the administrator of her estate. Thomas seeks a full account of Elias Wellborn's profits during the eight years he managed the plantation.

PAR Number 20185112

State: Alabama Year: 1851
Location: Dallas Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1843, Kernhappock Sorell's father, Parson Davis, conveyed to her ten slaves for her "sole and separate use & behoof free from all control or molestation" by her husband James M. Sorell. The slaves included Thom and his wife Sally, and their children Thing, Aaron, Charles, Jack, Allen, Ann; and a woman named Mina and her child Lewis. The slaves, however, had always remained "in the possession" of her husband who had "the use of them and the benefit of their labor." In 1851, Kernhappock Sorrell, together with her father, Parson Davis, presents a "Bill for Relief" to recoup profits from her husband for the hire of the slaves and to obtain the appointment of her father as trustee of her property. The court ruled that she was entitled to $4,666 for the hire of the slaves between 1844 and 1851. The husband paid off some of the debt by giving her a forty-five-year-old slave, a wagon, and a debt owed him by a third party, in the form of a promissory note, but he was also ordered to pay her $1,283.

PAR Number 20185205

State: Alabama Year: 1852
Location: Pickens Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1845, Zenas L. McCrary, slave owner and farmer, died. He left a widow, Delia C. McCrary, and three children: Nancy, Clementine, and three-year-old James. McCrary was "seized and possessed of a considerable estate," including ten slaves. In his will, he appointed Richard M. Doss as executor, and requested that his lands, horses, cows, hogs, farming equipment, and crop be sold to pay his debts. He gave his wife and son seven of the slaves to be equally divided between them when the son arrived at maturity. Doss turned the seven slaves--Judith, Ellen, Mary, Jane, Alabama, John, and Louisa--over to the widow, who, in 1847, married Abraham L. Ferguson. The slaves remained in Ferguson's possession until his death in 1852. Robert T. Johnston became administrator of the Ferguson estate, and took possession of the slaves. He also holds a girl named Savilla born "of sd female slaves" since Ferguson's death. James McCrary, now ten, claims that he has never received his "interest and property in sd slaves, and his rights to one half of the yearly product [hire] of sd slaves." He requests that an account be submitted and the usual subpoena issued.

PAR Number 20185210

State: Alabama Year: 1852
Location: Montgomery Location Type: County

Abstract: William Waller, guardian of Alfred Loftin, minor, asks to sell the twenty-seven-year-old slave Fanny because she is "unsound."

PAR Number 20185302

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

Abstract: William E. Bird seeks, guardian of the children of Horatio Boxly, prays for an order to sell some estate property to better provide for his wards, Thetis A., Caius M., Drusilla, George S., and Anna. Bird rented out the children's land and hired out their slaves. The land brought in only one hundred dollars a year, while the nineteen-year-old slave Major hired out for $125 and the sixty-year-old slave Lucy for $40 per annum. According to Bird, the profits were insufficient "for the maintenance and education of the said wards."

PAR Number 20185320

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

Abstract: In 1837, prior to their marriage, Camilla Buckley and Pearly S. Gerald signed a prenuptial agreement. It promised that Camilla's property would be exclusively hers "to use and enjoy and receive the rents, issues, hire and emolument of the said estate real and personal during the Coverture." Part of the emolument was a loan she had made to a business firm, a member of which was one Justus Wyman. When the company defaulted, Camilla and her husband obtained a judgment in circuit court for nearly $3,500. Many years later, Camilla Gerald, through her husband, purchased seven slaves from Justus Wyman. The Geralds contend that the slaves were "received in payment of the sum of Four thousand nine hundred dollars of the amount due" on the judgment. The Geralds then proceeded to hire out the slaves to Wyman, who kept them in his possession in 1852 and 1853. However Wyman was served with a judgment from another creditor and a judgment issued against him. Seven slaves were seized by the sheriff, Henry Peebles, in execution of the judgment. Pearly and Camilla Gerald point out that the slaves seized by Peebles are "the same negroes slaves conveyed by the said Justus Wyman to your Oratrix." Fearful that other creditors have obtained judgments against Wyman and seeking to confiscate his slaves, Camilla and her husband seek an injunction to prevent them from "any and all attempts to sell said negro slaves."

PAR Number 20185329

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

Abstract: In 1839 or 1840, slave owner Elizabeth Jones, of Coffee County, Tennessee, asked her nephew Samuel G. Berry, of Jackson County, Alabama, to become her "agent and advisor" as she was "unlearned, being unable to write or to read writing, unacquainted with figures." In 1840, she sent two of her slaves to work on his farm, and in 1843, she moved to Alabama with the remainder of her slaves, including Nancy, a gift from her father, and Nancy's children. At first she lived in Berry's house, but after eight months, she was asked to move into a nearby cabin. She later sold a slave named Pleasant to William Berry, Samuel's father, and sold a slave named Henderson to Samuel himself. Elizabeth describes Samuel's power over her as "absolute," almost the same "as that of a Master over his slaves" causing her to permit him to use her slaves as laborers on his farm and as hired hands. She contends that, over the years, Samuel grew "cold and morose" towards her. When she attempted to take over the management of her slaves, he implied that the slaves were actually his during her lifetime, by virtue of a document signed by her in 1843; a document she does not remember having ever signed or remembers as being something different that what it is now being purported to be. Elizabeth brings suit against Samuel. She seeks an injunction to restrain him from removing the slaves from the county and asks that he give an account of how he had profited from the use of her slaves.

PAR Number 20185335

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

Abstract: Following the death of Sarah M. Gerrald, a minor, her guardian, Balinda Mosser, formerly Balinda Gerrald, made a final settlement of her accounts. Sarah's sister Eliza Tompkins claims that many of the charges against the estate should not have been allowed. Moreover, she contends that she and her three minor brothers should be included as heirs. Eliza Tompkins asks that guardians be appointed for the three minors and that they all be granted a "distributive share." In a related petition, filed ten years earlier before the death of Sarah Gerrald, Balinda Mosser was then identified as Malinda Gerrald and Sarah's mother. In the same related petition, the slave Minerva, who is mentioned in this petition as having four children under the age of ten, was shown as the mother of three now grown slaves, Zeno, Holland, and Maranza (the latter identified in the related petition as Maranda).

PAR Number 20185409

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

Abstract: In 1844, Mahala Bird's great-grandfather, Willis Wyndham, executed a deed of gift of six slaves to her and her siblings, George, Harriet, and Rebecca, whereby he and his wife would retain the slaves during their lifetime, and the children would inherit them at this death. When Willis Wyndham and his wife died, two or three years prior to the filing of the petition, the children were still minors and their father took possession of the slaves. Mahala is now married to William Trainor, but her father refuses to turn the slaves over until all of the children have reached adulthood. Mahala Trainor finds this arrangement "directly repugnant to said deed." She asks for a division, or sale, of the slaves, and one-fourth of the value of their "hire and labor."

PAR Number 20185411

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

Abstract: A. J. McLemore asks the court to approve the sale of the personal estate, including slaves, of Elizabeth McLemore, deceased. McLemore explains that the estate cannot be properly divided without a sale of the property.

PAR Number 20185412

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

Abstract: In 1854, Joseph D. Hopper, the guardian of Caroline Elsberry, asks for permission to sell some of his ward's slaves "and put the money at interest."

PAR Number 20185416

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

Abstract: Isaac Smart, guardian of sixteen-year-old Lydia W. Crabtree, asks permission to transport the slaves bequeathed to her by the late Caroline A. V. Martin of Montgomery, Alabama, to Florida, where he and Lydia reside and where the "negroes could be hired to much better advantage to the interests of the minor." Lydia is the principal legatee of the late Martin.

PAR Number 20185419

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

Abstract: Calvin A. Harris, administrator of the estate of Myram E. A. Mitchell, explains that it is "not practicable to keep up and continue the plantation." He asks to sell the "growing Crops, and perishable property" belonging to the estate, and to "hire out and rent out the lands and negroes belonging to said Estate for the ensuing year 1855." Harris notes that the estate's property is currently "involved in a Chancery suit now pending and undetermined in the Chancery Court." Proceeds from any sale could be used, in part, to satisfy any court judgment rendered against the estate in said suit. The related documents attached in this petition pertain to the estate of Napoleon B. Mitchell, not Myram's E. A. Mitchell.

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 20185505

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

Abstract: William Cunningham Jr., guardian of Jane Manning, minor, asks to sell "some portion" of her estate to provide for her education. Cunningham seeks to sell Charlotte and her youngest child, Augustus, who is "too young to separate" from his mother. Charlotte's two other children, Jim and John, will remain under the guardian's control. In 1849, Charlotte was part of the estate of the late John Manning.

PAR Number 20185522

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

Abstract: John L. Cleckley, administrator of the estate of Sarah Truthin, seeks to distribute three slaves, Mariah, Jane, and Love, among various heirs. A related document reveals that in 1854 the three slaves were in the estate of G. E. Truthin.

PAR Number 20185621

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

Abstract: Elisha Reynolds, executor of the last will and testament of the late George W. Reynolds presents to the court that, since the death of the late Reynolds, the plantation has been kept together, the crops have been cultivated, and the slaves have continued working on the land. Now, however, the widow and children of George W. Reynolds are claiming that some of the property does not belong to the estate, but to them for their sole and separate use. Elisha Reynolds therefore explains that it would be "imprudent and improper" to maintain the estate as a plantation. He therefore seeks to sell the livestock and perishable goods, including horses, mules, cows, hogs, sheep, goats, and plantation utensils, along with the "crop of corn & fodder on hand made by all the slaves aforesaid working together in common on said plantation." Reynolds also asks to rent out the land and hire out the slaves.

PAR Number 20185624

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

Abstract: In 1839, Armstead Jones executed a deed of trust conveying ten slaves--Patience, Stephen, Calvin, Evalina, Lewis, William, Nathan, Rebecca, Jordan, and Henry--to Stephen King, with instructions to hold the slaves for the "use and benefit" of his wife Mary. He stipulated further that following the death of his wife the slaves should be turned over to the children. After Armstead died most of the slaves stayed with his wife, although she hired Stephen to one of her sons in Mississippi, and hired William to another son. Three slaves died, but Rebecca and Evalina gave birth to thirteen children. When Mary Jones died in 1855, trustee Stephen King had long since migrated to Texas; the children seek to replace King, sort out what members of the family had already profited from the slaves and how much, and arrange for the sale of the slaves so that the proceeds can be "divided among those entitled to share therein."

PAR Number 20185707

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

Abstract: During the early 1830s, John J. Funchess possessed "a small estate" worth about twenty-five hundred dollars which included a tract of land he had contracted to purchase and three slaves -- a woman, a boy, and "a very old man of little or no value." When John Funchess died intestate in 1834 or 1835, his widow Elenor took possession of "the entire Estate managed and controlled the property and converted all the property of the Estate to her own use." At her husband's death, Elenor had three "infants of tender years." No administrator was appointed to control the estate and Elenor took over its management. She hired out the slaves, bought and sold various items, and rescinded her husband's contract to buy the land. She later married one William Smith. By 1853, Elenor only has one surviving child, a girl named Martha, who around 1853 married one William Conaghy. Around that time, William Conaghy was appointed administrator of his late father-in-law's estate, but resigned within a few months without having rendered an account. The petitioner, Thomas Williams, was then appointed administrator de bonis non. He was given possession of one of the slaves, Abram, for whom he received hiring wages and whom he later sold. However, Williams was forced to sue Elenor and her new husband, William Smith, "for the conversion of Patience," another of the three slaves in the estate. He won a judgment of $1,416.60, but was unable to collect on it, because Elenor and William Smith were reported to be insolvent and with no property. Funchess seeks an injunction against the Smiths to restrain them from ever claiming their share of the estate of the late John Funchess, and prays that their share be instead granted to him.

PAR Number 20185729

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

Abstract: Following the death of her husband Isaiah in Baldwin County, Georgia, Delila Wheeler married James Searcy, who became administrator of her deceased husband's property. According to Delila, James Searcy never settled her husband's estate and never proceeded to a division of the property between her and her children. The property included two slaves, Dave and Mary, as well as more than two thousand dollars in cash, all of which Searcy took in his possession and kept until his death in 1856. In addition, with the profits from the estate, Searcy purchased three additional slaves, one of whom, Eliza, gave birth to three children after the purchase. Searcy collected the hire of the adult slaves, which Delila asserts was worth one hundred and fifty dollars per year. Delila now sues her second husband's heirs and the administrator of his estate, seeking a distribution of her first husband's property. The division should be in three parts: one for herself and one each for her two minor children, Edwin and Cleopatra Wheeler. She adds that, if it is necessary to sell the slaves to effect the division, then the slaves should be auctioned off.

PAR Number 20185807

State: Alabama Year: 1858
Location: Tallapoosa Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1838, Jeremiah Doss of Coosa County executed his Last Will and Testament, bequeathing his "valuable servant Gilbert now in the state of Georgia" to his father and mother during their life times and then to his brother and sisters. Jeremiah died a very short time later, and Gilbert went into the possession of Jeremiah's brother, Hiram H. Doss. In 1857, Juliann Hatcher, one of Doss's two surviving siblings, discovered that she was entitled to a one-half interest in Gilbert, something her brother Hiram had hidden from her. She had no reason to suspect her brother of fraud, she says, but he deceived her. She sues for an amount equivalent to half the hire of the slave (at least one thousand dollars) from the time her brother took possession of him until the present; she also asks for a sum equal to one half the slave's value with interest. She fears, however, that her brother has taken Gilbert out of the state or "sold him or otherwise disposed of him."

PAR Number 20185821

State: Alabama Year: 1858
Location: Dallas Location Type: County

Abstract: Benjamin M. Woolsey, administrator of the estate of Calvin Norris of Mobile County, deceased, asks for permission to keep Norris's Marengo County plantation, known as the Hungerford Tract, in operation. Woolsey states that the estate consists of four hundred acres of land and one hundred and four slaves. "Many of the negroes are children, too young to be hired out," he asserts, and "Some of the said negroes are old & only serviceable as nurses of the younger negro children." Therefore, for the benefit of the minor heirs, Woolsey seeks authorization to keep the estate together and cultivate the land for a period of one year ending 1 January 1860.

PAR Number 20185822

State: Alabama Year: 1858
Location: Dallas Location Type: County

Abstract: Benjamin M. Woolsey, administrator of the estate of Calvin Norris, deceased, seeks an order authorizing him to continue to hire out the slaves of the estate who are not being used as plantation hands.

PAR Number 20185824

State: Alabama Year: 1858
Location: Montgomery Location Type: County

Abstract: Catherine L. Benson, administratrix of the estate of her late husband, Nimrod Benson, requests an order to sell slaves of the estate to make an equal distribution among the heirs.

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