Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 20185405

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

Abstract: In 1847, Mariah and Jacob Pearson sued John Darrington, the administrator of the estate of Mariah's father, William Matheson. The claimed that Darrington had failed to pay what was due Mariah by inheritance and the profits thereof. Now, Mariah and Jacob Pearson are joined her sisters in asking that the Receiver appointed by the court in the case collect the funds loaned out by the administrator, sell the cotton crop as soon as is proper, and pay over what is due to them.

PAR Number 20185408

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

Abstract: Indebted to Trotman & Nance, a trading company, for $1,528, and to Hugh N. Moore for a bill of exchange worth $1,661 drawn on a company in New Orleans, Robert Freeman, a Jackson County planter, offers to sell his creditors ten slaves for four thousand dollars with the understanding that he could purchase them back within two years. The creditors agree, take the slaves, and travel to Madison County. They soon learn, however, that Freeman owes many other creditors when the slaves he sold them are taken up by the sheriff. "The said negroes have been advertised for sale at the Court house-door in the town of Huntsville," Trotman, Nance, and Moore explain, asserting that Freeman has the wherewithal to pay his debts but refuses to do so. Meanwhile, they seek an injunction to halt the sale of the slaves.

PAR Number 20185417

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

Abstract: As President of the Board of Trustees of the Cahaba Academy, Alanson Saltmarsh requests that Bruce H. Mitchell be removed as the administrator of the estate of the late Myram E. A. and Napoleon B. Mitchell. The Academy is a beneficiary of the estate, and Bruce Mitchell has failed to pay the taxes, ignored creditors, and mismanaged funds. On behalf of the Board, Saltmarsh asks that the sheriff, or some other suitable person, be appointed to replace the current administrator.

PAR Number 20185418

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

Abstract: Due to the condition of the "stock & utensils, farming implements, age, number and Condition of the negroes," Calvin A. Harris, administrator of the estate of Napoleon B. Mitchell, deceased, explains, "it is not to the interest of the Estate, or of those interested therein, to keep up and Continue the plantation." Harris notes that the proceeds from the "growing & made crop of cotton corn & fodder, now gathering, will in all probability ... reduce the outstanding debts to about the sum of two thousand." In order to satisfy the creditors' debts still remaining, Harris seeks to sell the perishable property and several slaves, including "Stephen, Mourning (a woman) George her son & Peter."

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 20185524

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

Abstract: Reuben C. Estes, administrator of the estate of William P. Estes, deceased, requests permission to sell the estate's personal property, including four slaves, to pay its debts.

PAR Number 20185603

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

Abstract: In 1850, Samuel Hatton died, leaving a substantial estate. He gave six slaves--Old Peter, Charles and his wife Winney, and their three children, Alfred, Edwin, and Edy--to his sister Julia Laudman and made a bequest of five hundred dollars, but the bulk of his holdings, including 1,240 acres of land, household and kitchen furniture, tools, implements, horses, mules, steers, cattle, hogs, sheep, and more than fifty slaves, he bequeathed to his sister Elizabeth Langley, who lived in Pitt County, North Carolina. He gave instructions that the plantation should be kept together for thirty years. In 1853, the estate's executor died, and the new administrators, James Laudman and Alexander Ewing, "either sold or converted to their own use" a portion of the crop, livestock, farming tools "and other property [p. 387]." The administrators also journeyed to North Carolina and with "false and fraudulent representations persuasions and concealments" induced Elizabeth to put her mark on a document transferring all her interest in the estate to them (and several others who held securities) if they paid her husband $22,000 "in four equal annual installments." In 1855, the administrators sold the plantation and divided the slaves among themselves. Elizabeth Langley seeks relief, and asks to be allowed to "take the purchase money of the said lands or have the sale thereof set aside."

PAR Number 20185609

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

Abstract: James A. DeWitt, executor of the last will and testament of Littleton Seals, deceased, asks for permission to sell the estate's "considerable personal property," including livestock, cotton, corn, household items, and slaves. If the property were not sold, DeWitt says, the estate would be subject to "loss or destruction."

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 20185829

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

Abstract: William C. Germany and William S. Harris, executors of the estate of Charles W. Harris, deceased, request to sell the property of the estate, including land, livestock, household items, and fifteen slaves. It is not possible to make an equitable division among heirs without selling the property. The executors also ask for the appointment of commissioners who will divide the proceeds equitably between the heirs after the debts are satisfied.

PAR Number 20185929

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

Abstract: About 1836, Robert J. Glenn proposed to his mother that "his & her negroes should work his and her land together, he taking control of the whole." During the next two decades, the slaves on the plantation produced many valuable crops, including cotton, corn, and grains. When Glenn died, his mother made a claim against the state of a "large magnitude." Harriet Glenn, administratrix of the estate of Robert J. Glenn, explains that her husband never kept records or accounts of buying and selling slaves, disposing of crops, or expenses. She wished to avoid costly litigation, "especially with members of the family with whom her husband & herself had always lived on terms of strictest intimacy affection and confidence." In the end the mother and the widow signed a compromise, agreeing to divide the estate, which included forty-four slaves. Harriet asks the court to "make the necessary orders" for her three children "the only heirs at law or distributees of the estate."

PAR Number 20186033

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

Abstract: In 1860, Mary Jane Davis, twenty-three years old, sues for divorce from her forty-five-year-old husband, Daniel, a farmer. Mary Jane claims that, shortly after their marriage in 1858, she discovered that her husband "was living in adulterous intercourse with a [hired] slave named Dice," owned by Sarah Blalock. Mary Jane contends that her husband stayed with Dice "until late hours of the Night in the house where she stayed and on one night he remained [there] all night." Moreover, Mary Jane was not permitted to keep the keys to the farmhouse, smokehouse, or other buildings, as they were turned over to Dice. Unable to endure the humiliation, she moved away, while Daniel continued "to carry out his criminal purposes," hiring Dice in 1859 and 1860, and living alone with her on his farm. In his answer to his wife's bill of complaint, Daniel Davis emphatically denies the charge of adultery with Dice or with any other slave. He informs the court that such an act would be against nature given the fact that his wife is young, healthy and very handsome, while Dice is over fifty year of age and has children and grandchildren. He claims that his wife has abandoned him because he has insufficient means, and she has told him so.

PAR Number 20186113

State: Alabama Year: 1861
Location: Pickens Location Type: County

Abstract: William H. Richardson, administrator of the estate of his father, William R. Richardson, observes that the estate is six thousand dollars in debt. With the sale of the cotton crop and some perishable property all the debts will probably be paid. William wishes to divide the personal property, including twenty-nine slaves, among five children, including himself, but his father's 1852 will required that "the old homestead" be kept together and the children brought up "under the personal training and care of a mother's affection, tenderness and love." The mother, however, predeceased the father, making it impossible to carry out his wishes. Inasmuch as the will cannot be properly executed in probate, William seeks "orders and decrees" from chancery to accommodate "the interests of all concerned."

PAR Number 20186414

State: Alabama Year: 1864
Location: Lowndes Location Type: County

Abstract: Dr. C. E. Reese and L. M. Reese are the oldest male heirs of T. L. Reese, deceased. The said decedent died possessed of a sizeable estate consisting of thirty-seven slaves, two hundred head of livestock, two thousand bushels of corn, five thousand pounds of fodder, twenty-five bales of cotton, and assorted farm utensils and household furniture. The estimated value of said estate exceeds $89,000. All ten heirs at law reside in Lowndes County, except two who are currently "in the Confederate service." The petitioners point out that they "are by law entitled to administer said estate," and they pray that "such steps may be taken" to secure their appointment.

PAR Number 20186424

State: Alabama Year: 1864
Location: Lowndes Location Type: County

Abstract: Elizabeth Nall, administratrix of the estate of her husband, John P. Nall, who died intestate in 1863, asks to keep the slaves on the plantation during the coming year. The estate consists of fertile lands, a plantation house, and sixty-two slaves, "many of them children and young negroes." Nall believes "that under the existing state of the country, being engaged in a gigantic war, it has become very necessary and profitable to produce mostly grain crops, Hogs, cattle, &c., and expensive to raise much cotton, on account of the prices of bagging and rope &c. -- in fact, it is a patriotic duty to do so." She therefore contends that it is “profitable to keep the said slaves on the plantation of Decedent, and make crops, than to hire them out," as "field hands hire but for nominal prices, especially women and children, the difficulty of providing clothing, shoes, and blankets, &c. being so great; further, should the enemy get possession of this section of country, it would be far more in the power of Petitioner to keep the slaves out of the enemies' way, than if they were hired out." Nall therefore prays that she be allowed "to keep all the personal property on the plantation."

PAR Number 20186434

State: Alabama Year: 1864
Location: Limestone Location Type: County

Abstract: William H. Walker, administrator of the estate of Tennessee resident William Brown, states that there is not enough personal property to satisfy the debts of the estate, and he asks the court's permission to sell real estate belonging to the estate. Brown died in 1862 possessed of one hundred forty-seven slaves, of which "65 or 70 [were] children not old enough to work -- There were 45 or 50 field hands," and considerable property, primarily agricultural products. However, most of the property was destroyed, run off, or consumed by either the Confederate forces which occupied the deceased's land and conscripted some of his slaves to be teamsters, or the Federal forces, accompanied by "contraband negroes," former slaves who followed the Union army, which occupied the lands for a period of time.

PAR Number 20284804

State: Arkansas Year: 1848
Location: Chicot Location Type: County

Abstract: At issue is a dispute over the estate of the late Duncan G. Campbell, formerly of Mississippi and, shortly before his death, of Arkansas. When Campbell died in 1845, his will named his brother Samuel as executor of his last will and testament, and stipulated that his estate, including at least eight slaves, be divided equally among Samuel and his sisters Jane Biggerstaff, Mary Campbell, and Flora Ann Campbell. The will also directed that the "yellow" slave Viney, whom, it is revealed in related documents, Campbell had repeatedly claimed as his daughter, be emancipated when she turned fifteen and given an inheritance of $5,000. The petitioners seek to annul both the bequest and the emancipation clauses of the will. Related documents reveal that, in 1848, a lower court ruled that Samuel Campbell had mismanaged the estate and that he had sold Viney to buyers in Missouri. A guardian ad litem was appointed to retrieve and represent Viney, and Cornelius Campbell, another brother, was named the estate's administrator.

PAR Number 20284905

State: Arkansas Year: 1849
Location: Sevier Location Type: County

Abstract: Five of the seven children of the late William Cook of Bedford County, Virginia, sue one of their siblings for the possession of two slave children, Jim and Bett, who had belonged to their father during his lifetime. They contend that their sister Mildred Hopkins and her husband, Francis, illegally retain the slaves from their father's estate. All debts have been paid, they assert, and the property, including "divers" slaves, has been divided up and disposed of, except for twelve-year-old Jim, "a mulatto boy," and ten-year-old Bett, a "black" girl, both the children of a woman named Eliza. At issue is whether the two slaves had been delivered to Mildred and Francis Hopkins as a gift from William Cook or whether they had only been placed under their control on William's Arkansas plantation where Hopkins was the overseer. The petitioners ask that the court "take said slaves into possession, and hold them under the order and direction of the Court." In a related document, corroborated by other deponents, Mildred and Francis Hopkins assert that the two children were a gift from Cook. In fact, they explain, Edwin Cook, representing his siblings, had come to Arkansas sometime in 1848 to settle the estate and had agreed to let them claim title to Jim and Bett provided they return another slave named Nice to the estate for division among the heirs.

PAR Number 20285202

State: Arkansas Year: 1852
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: The petitioners, David Carter, James Rhea and his wife Elizabeth Carter Rhea, and Landon Carter, are the heirs of the late Matilda Carter. They represent that the 1814 will of Susannah Wendell, their grandmother, stated "I give & bequeath to my daughter Matilda M. Carter, a negro girl named Harriett." Susannah Wendell died in 1814, followed shortly thereafter by Matilda. The executor of Susannah's estate therefore took possession of Harriett and then, due to ill health, hired Stephen Cantrell, the heirs' uncle, to administer the estate. The petitioners contend that for almost forty years, Cantrell "never informed your Orators of their rights" and instead "delivered them [the slaves] nominally into the hands and ownership of his son George M. D. Cantrell." They charge that Cantrell and his son George "as such trustees, and under such fraudulent concealment, have converted said slaves to their own use and have applied the services, hire and profits thereof, to their own use; and have refused to deliver up to your Orators the possession of said slave[s]." The petitioners seek an injunction requiring the Cantrells to appear in court and to ensure that Harriett and her nine descendants are not removed from the county.

PAR Number 20285405

State: Arkansas Year: 1854
Location: Bradley Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1843, Louisiana slave owner Jonathan H. Koen, heavily in debt, was forced to sell eleven slaves to Charles Cappell. The following year Koen's son-in-law, Lorenzo Lewis, purchased the slaves and returned them to Koen as a gesture of goodwill and family loyalty. Koen, however, fled with the slaves to Bradley County, Arkansas, changed his name to Kolen, and remained there until his death in 1853. In his last will and testament, Koen, under the name of Kolen, freed the slaves and bequeathed the bulk of his property to them. When members of the family learn of Koen's death and the contents of the will, they protest and file suit to regain possession of his property, including the slaves.

PAR Number 20285505

State: Arkansas Year: 1855
Location: Bradley Location Type: County

Abstract: James M. Chadwick writes that John A. Davis owes him $5,039 from past loans. As security Davis mortgaged four slaves "of copper color," Wiley, Milla, Julia, and Alabama, "and also all the right, title and interest which the said defendant had in and to the Estate of one William Davis." All Davis has done so far toward repayment of the debt is to deliver nine bales of cotton to Chadwick for sale in New Orleans, with instructions that the proceeds should be used to repay the debt. But the sale of the cotton has so far produced no results and Chadwick now requests "that the deed of mortgage may be foreclosed and sale made by order of the court of the slaves therein mortgaged or so many of them as may be necesary to pay the indebteness aforesaid."

PAR Number 20285511

State: Arkansas Year: 1855
Location: Drew Location Type: County

Abstract: Sally H. Sanders, the widow of William Sanders, asks the court to confirm her title to the slave man Jerry and to lift the levies held on him. Upon her husband's death Sally Sanders received, as part of her widow's dower, "a one half interest in said negro boy Jerry and fifty dollars interest in Jerry's wife." Her son James held the other half interest in Jerry, which he sold to Samuel G. Sanders, a minor. Sally Sanders advanced the money on behalf of the minor, but she claims that she has never been paid for it and therefore has full title to the slave. Now Samuel is deeply in debt and Jerry has been levied upon in order to satisfy the many judgments obtained against him. He is "in the jail of the county" and has been "advertised for sale to satisfy the execution aforesaid issued against the said Samuel Sanders." Sally Sanders claims that Jerry "is worth the sum of one thousand dollars and his hire per annum is worth one hundred & fifty dollars."

PAR Number 20285604

State: Arkansas Year: 1856
Location: Phillips Location Type: County

Abstract: Sarah W. Grant, administratrix of the late Henry Grant's estate, asks that the slaves be kept together rather than hired out separately, because some of them are still quite young. Toward this end, she asks the court that she have full control over the slaves, rather than hiring them out per the commissioners' suggestion.

PAR Number 20285703

State: Arkansas Year: 1857
Location: Phillips Location Type: County

Abstract: Sarah W. Grant, administratrix of her late husband's estate, asks that parcels of land be made available for sale to pay debts. She also asks that the slaves be kept together to work the remaining land, rather than having them hired out.

PAR Number 20286009

State: Arkansas Year: 1860
Location: Saline Location Type: County

Abstract: William Thompson, administrator of the estate of the late John Thompson, asks the court's permission to finish the crop of corn and cotton planted during the spring of 1860. Thompson states that he has hired additional laborers and requests that the five field hands belonging to the estate be kept on the farm during the year and that he be authorized to pay "all such sums of money as may be necessary in and about the finishing gathering &c of said Crop."

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