Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 10381101

State: Delaware Year: 1811

Abstract: William Pearce, a resident of Kent County in Maryland, owns woodlands in Newcastle County, Delaware. He states that he is desirous for his slaves to cut firewood, timber, and rails in Delaware and transport the same into Maryland. Pearce informs the court, however, that "he is advised that by so doing his Slaves might be entitled to their Freedom by the existing Laws of your State." Seeking "to enjoy the benefit of the land he owns in the State of Delaware," the petitioner asks an "especial Act in his favour" to be passed, authorizing him "to employ his own Slaves and those of others in his employ ... in cutting and drawing firewood, timber, & rails" from his Delaware land into Maryland” and that said slaves "shall not be entitled to his, her or their freedom, in consequence of his, her, or their going into, returning from or remaining in the State of Delaware."

PAR Number 10381906

State: Delaware Year: 1819

Abstract: Maryland resident Robert Wright owns considerable land in Delaware, "finely timbered, little of which is cleared." He further represents that "he is possessed of a considerable number of Slaves that he could advantageous Spare to clear and cultivate Said Lands in Delaware which he is principled against Selling to foreigners, however in demand, and at great prices." Arguing that by the Constitution of the United States "The Citizens of each State Shall be entitled to all priviledges and Immunities of Citizens in the Several States," Wright "humbly entreats the Legislature to pass a Law to authorise him to introduce his Slaves in the Said State to clear and cultivate his Lands as fully as if he were a Citizen of said State."

PAR Number 10382005

State: Delaware Year: 1820
Location: Sussex Location Type: County

Abstract: Nathaniel Ross owns land in both Maryland and Delaware. His Maryland land is two miles from the state line with Delaware along the Nauticoke River. The timber in this area is ready to be harvested and carried to the ports of Baltimore, Washington, and Alexandria, he states. He therefore prays "the enactment of such Law as in your Judgment may be proper, to enable him to work his own Slaves, from this State, on the aforesaid Land and afterwards bring them back and retain them in as slaves."

PAR Number 10382102

State: Delaware Year: 1821
Location: Sussex Location Type: County

Abstract: Nathaniel Ross of Sussex County purchased timber land in Dorchester County, Maryland. He states that he is "unable to cultivate or get Timber or cut wood off that Land with his own Slaves in consequence of the existing Laws which would in such case entitle them to their Freedom." He therefore requests that an act be passed "allowing him to send [his] slaves to said Tract of Land for the purpose of Cutting wood Timber or to cultivate it."

PAR Number 11381304

State: South Carolina Year: 1813
Location: Barnwell Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: John Murphy, approximately fifty-five years old, laments that his two slaves died when rafts carrying timber, which they were conducting for Murphy, were blown from the Ashley River by a wind of "great violence from the Northeast, which drove them to sea." He recounts that "it being in the night they were not able to get any assistance and accordingly perished," adding that "this incident happened on the night of the 11th of December last, when the weather was extremely cold." Murphy notes that said slaves "were seen adrift by a guard Vessel which was stationed near fort Jackson, but who did not attempt" to retrieve them. The petitioner asserts that the value of the timber and rafts to be $500 and that each slave was "worth at least six or seven hundred Dollars." Noting that he is in debt and that "your Honors have always afforded relief to the unfortunate," the petitioner "trusts that you will not in this instance withhold it from him."

PAR Number 11381305

State: South Carolina Year: 1813
Location: Barnwell Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: John Murphy, approximately fifty-five years old, laments that his two slaves died when rafts carrying timber, which they were conducting for Murphy, were blown from the Ashley River by a wind of "great violence from the Northeast, which drove them to sea." He recounts that "it being in the night they were not able to get any assistance and accordingly perished," adding that "this incident happened on the night of the 11th of December last, when the weather was extremely cold." Murphy notes that said slaves "were seen adrift by a guard Vessel which was stationed near fort Jackson, but who did not attempt" to retrieve them. The petitioner asserts that the value of the timber and rafts to be $500 and that each slave was "worth at least six or seven hundred Dollars." Noting that he is in debt and that "your Honors have always afforded relief to the unfortunate," the petitioner "trusts that you will not in this instance withhold it from him."

PAR Number 11678401

State: Virginia Year: 1784
Location: Northampton Location Type: County

Abstract: Twenty-one residents of Northampton County state that six hundred acres of land “appropriated by Law to the use of the Gingaskin Tribe of Indians" is "at present an Asylum for free Negroes & other disorderly persons, who build Hutts thereon & pilage & destroy the Timber without controul." With only five or six Gingaskin tribe members remaining, the petitioners "humbly conceive it would be a great benefit to the Indians & a saving to the public" to appoint trustees to allot "a quantity sufficient for the purposes of the Indians & lease out the remainder annually, subject to taxation as other Lands, and divide the rent among the said Indians in such manner as the said Trustees shall judge most equitable."

PAR Number 20184108

State: Alabama Year: 1841
Location: Montgomery Location Type: County

Abstract: John Martin seeks court intervention in a property dispute with Robert Huie. The tract was purchased jointly by Martin and Charles Jeter, but Jeter died before the land could be divided, and his share was sold to Huie. Huie and Martin then divided the land, allotting Huie the northern half and the petitioner the southern portion. Martin now writes that Huie or his overseer, "with the negroes of said Huie, have entered on the South half of said lands and cut down and injured a large quantity of the timber, and are removing or preparing to remove the same." In addition, Huie refuses to give Martin a title to his share of the land. The petitioner asks the court for an injunction to restrain Huie from "committing waste on the South half of said Lands" and to compel him to issue a title confirming his ownership of the southern portion of the property.

PAR Number 20184710

State: Alabama Year: 1847
Location: Clarke Location Type: County

Abstract: By 1836, Clarke County slave owner William Matheson had acquired a sizable estate: a saw and grist mill on the Alabama River, a "great quantity" of wood to supply steamboats, bank bills from various states, bank stock in the Planters and Merchants Bank of Mobile, and "many slaves." In his 1836 will, he bequeathed a slave girl Phillis to his daughter Mariah, and a legacy of thirty thousand dollars to Mariah and his two other daughters, Flora McCaskey Matheson and Caladonia Matheson. He directed that beginning in 1832 Mariah should receive one thousand dollars a year for ten years when she would reach age twenty-one. This was to be paid out of his estate by his executors who were directed to keep the mills and plantation in operation. Following Matheson's death, John Murphy and John Darrington became administrators. But Mariah, a minor, did not receive her bequests. In 1847, she and her husband seek damages from Darrington (Murphy had died), including the original bequests from her father and profits from wood sales and cotton production during the 1830s and early 1840s.

PAR Number 20185203

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

Abstract: In 1838, George Hays, owner of several plantations and about 180 slaves, died leaving a wife and three small children. In his will he appointed William P. Gould and four other men as executors. In 1839, the other four men having declined the executorship, Gould qualified as such and took possession of the property as administrator of the estate. In 1844, Gould's administratorship was revoked but he continued to work the estate until January 1845. In 1852, when Gould tries to render a final account of his administratorship, the children and heirs, Charles, Mary, and George Ann, by their next friend Robert Leachman, sue. They charge Gould with waste and mismanagement, and specify a number of misdeeds committed by Gould during the years of his administratorship. They point out in particular that he hired an overseer who had a "cruel, brutish and inhuman disposition." The petitioners recount several examples of the overseer's abuse. He abused "a negro man by the name of George, by cruelly whipping him and putting out his right eye;" he abused "another negro man by the name of Claiborne by getting him down and jumping upon his back with the heels of his shoes;" and he beat a third slave so brutally that he later died. Moreover, Gould failed to provide slaves with "blankets or other bed clothing," pushed women to labor long hours in bad weather, and forced slaves to live in "miserable Hovels not fit for horse stables." Most of the "breeding women on said Plantations were rendered almost entirely barren, and worthless as such" and "are subject to continual miscarriages," the petitioners lament, while a large number of children have died. The heirs estimate that the maltreatment and malnourishment of the female slaves have cost them the loss of some forty children through either barrenness of the females or abortions. They also estimate that they lost another fifteen children due to neglect in their tender years. The Hays children, two of them still minors, seek an injunction to prevent Gould from settling the estate and to get compensation for the financial cost of his mismanagement.

PAR Number 20382003

State: Delaware Year: 1820
Location: Sussex Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1815, Mitchell Kershaw of Sussex County published his will, freeing a number of slaves: Peter, Sarah, Rachel, Jack, Isaac, Lizey, Phillis Williams, Mahaley, Jesse, and Maryatta when they reached age twenty-one. "George and Easter is already free," Kershaw wrote; "I pronounce them free." He also stipulated that, except for his wife's dower, his executor should sell his property and the money "put on interest by loan" to be distributed equally among his slaves as they gained their freedom. Three years later, Kershaw died. His widow Sally, however, failed to live up to the provisions of her husband's will. Obtaining letters of administration, she kept the slaves' trust funds for herself; she also cut and sold wood on the farm, receiving "large sums" of money and keeping the money "to her own proper uses and purposes." Peter, Sarah and Rachel Robinson (who has married Samuel Redden) are now free as they have attained the age of twenty-one. They, with the seven slaves who are still minors, seek an account of the widow's handling of the estate. Demanding their due share, the petitioners request that Sally Kershaw "and her confederates" pay them "such sum as shall be found due to them."

PAR Number 20482806

State: District of Columbia Year: 1828
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: Matthew and Mary Jarboe seek to settle a dispute regarding the distribution and management of the estate of the late Philip Evans, Mary Jarboe's father. The Jarboes complain that Mary and John Evans, Philip Evans's wife and son, and executors of his estate, have violated the terms of the will by not providing for the education and support of the minor children of Philip Evans. They further assert that the estate inventory "does not exhibit a true, full and fair schedule of all the testator's personal estate and effects." The petitioners also complain that the defendants have sold slaves in the estate and from the proceeds of such sales, purchased real estate in their own names. In addition, John and Mary Evans have mismanaged the farm and have profited by cutting and selling valuable timber from the land, thereby reducing the value of the property. The Jarboes request that the defendants "invest the said surplus monies ... according to the directions of the said will." They also ask the court to order an injunction to prevent the Evans from "committing any further waste or spoil on the said farm."

PAR Number 20583403

State: Florida Year: 1834
Location: Leon Location Type: County

Abstract: William Wyatt asks the court for an injunction prohibiting George L. and Thomas W. Fauntleroy from collecting on his note. Wyatt states that in January 1833, Henry Ashton hired seven slaves from Thomas W. Fauntleroy. Upon delivering the slaves, Fauntleroy asked Ashton to give personal security for the hire. Not having funds available, Ashton went to Wyatt for a note to use as security in return for a lien on some timber. Fauntleroy considered the security put up by Wyatt insufficient and cancelled the whole transaction. Wyatt states that Fauntleroy is now holding him liable for the note he wrote as security for Ashton. Wyatt asks the court to verify that the transaction is null and void.

PAR Number 20583702

State: Florida Year: 1837
Location: Leon Location Type: County

Abstract: George, Martin, and James Cameron, minor heirs of Jane Evans, seek a settlement of their late mother's estate. They charge that Alfred Evans, her second husband, has appropriated and mismanaged the estate that Jane brought to the marriage, which was "secured to her in fee simple, from any claim the Defendant might have from his intermarriage." They ask the court to subpoena Alfred Evans to account for Jane's estate, including the slaves. They further ask for an injunction restraining Evans from leaving the state.

PAR Number 20681902

State: Georgia Year: 1819
Location: Scriven Location Type: County

Abstract: William Gibbons sues Thomas Roberts for $2,000. He alleges that Roberts came onto his property with force and arms, "and did then and there by himself, and his servants, with axes, cut down & destroy the timber trees of your petitioner" and afterwards "converted the trees to his own use." Gibbons asks that Roberts be cited to appear and answer the suit in an action of trespass.

PAR Number 20682005

State: Georgia Year: 1820
Location: Scriven Location Type: County

Abstract: John Conyers sues Reuben Wilkinson for $2,000 in damages. He alleges that in 1819, Wilkinson, "with force and arms," cut down trees on his property. He used his "servants, negroes, horses" and wagons to fell the trees and carry them away, and he cultivated part of the petitioner's property for his own use. Conyers sues for damages.

PAR Number 20781602

State: Kentucky Year: 1816
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: Samuel Horner asserts that he and the defendants, Samuel Luckett and William B. Gill, entered into a partnership on 1 December 1814 "for the purpose of farming milling distilling &c." This partnership hired three slaves for a sum of $300 from William Merriwether "to be employed in the business of the firm." In January 1815 the partnership was dissolved, and Gill and Luckett "expressly released and discharged" Horner from any obligations of the partnership. Subsequently, Merriwether brought suit against the partnership and won, and Horner was forced to sell his slave Jarrott for $346.71 to pay the sheriff of Jefferson County. Horner asks that Gill and Luckett answer his allegations in detail and that they be compelled to reimburse him the money he has paid for the hire of the slaves.

PAR Number 20785421

State: Kentucky Year: 1854
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: The petitioners state that John Bate, Catherine's late husband, conveyed all her property into a trust for her exclusive use and named Richard B. Mitchel as trustee while they were living in Maryland. The petitioners cite that of the forty-three slaves listed in the deed, some were sold, some were brought to Kentucky in 1832, and some ran away. They request "that said Mitchel be removed as Trustee under said deed," and they "pray that each and all of said defendants be enjoined from selling or in anywise disposing of any of the slaves named in said deed or the children or Grandchildren of either of them until the further order of this court." In an amended petition, Wilson and Buckner state that Matthew Garrison is holding various slaves as his property. The petitioners seek a restraining order to prevent Garrison from disposing of the slaves and name him as a defendant to the original and amended bills.

PAR Number 20785914

State: Kentucky Year: 1859
Location: Warren Location Type: County

Abstract: Sarah Ann and A. J. Manor were married in August 1856. Sarah confides that "almost ever since they have been married ... he has habitually behaved towards her in such cruel & inhuman manner as to indicate a settled aversion to her, and to destroy permanently her peace & happiness." The petitioner states that she owns "a negro man and a life estate in the tract of land on which deft & her have lived since their marriage." She attests "that by the labor of said slave & the cultivation of said land and the sale of timber" she was able to amass livestock, real and personal property, while her husband remained in debt. Sarah seeks a divorce and "prays that deft be restrained & injoined from selling or in any manner disposing of any property to which he has any claim." In an amended petition, Sarah Manor reports that the defendant is about to remove their two-year-old daughter to the state of Kansas. She seeks a restraining order to prevent the defendant from fleeing with the child and seeks custody of the child.

PAR Number 20882714

State: Louisiana Year: 1827
Location: West Baton Rouge Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Antoine Lacour, a free man of color, is in possession of a tract of land situated partly in the parish of Iberville and partly in the parish of West Baton Rouge. He charges that one Firmin Guidry has been in the habit of trapping the said land for the past twenty-five years. In addition, Guidry is stripping the land of usable firewood, causing $1,000 in damages. Lacour therefore asks for an injunction against Guidry from removing any more firewood while Lacour prepares his case for eviction.

PAR Number 20882824

State: Louisiana Year: 1828
Location: St. Landry Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Marie Préjean seeks a separation of property from her husband, Cyrille Richard. Marie claims that she brought into their marriage "thirty head of horned cattle then worth about three hundred Dollars and also a debt due to her by her mother of about fifty six dollars," which Richard has appropriated for his own use. Since their marriage, Marie has received $1,000 from her late father's estate and "between five and six thousand cypress pieux ... and about three thousand oak rails" from her mother. The cypress posts ["pieux"] and oak rails are now held at Richard's plantation. Richard's affairs are now embarrassed and Marie fears that suits brought against him may threaten her property rights. The sheriff has already seized a slave named Samuel and now advertises to sell him. Marie prays for a separation of property from her husband. She also asks that he be required to repay to her $1,758 as well as to return the cypress posts and oak rails. Finally, she prays that the sheriff be enjoined from selling Samuel until her rights to him can be determined.

PAR Number 20883117

State: Louisiana Year: 1831
Location: West Baton Rouge Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Antoine Lacour, a free man of color, charges that he was in the "quiet & peacable possession" of a tract of land situated partly in the parish of Iberville and partly in the parish of West Baton Rouge, when one Surville Trahan entered his property, earlier in the current year, and cut down and destroyed some valuable trees, causing damages in the amount of $100. Lacour claims that he has reason to believe that Trahan will continue to trespass on his land and cut down his timber. He therefore asks the court to cite Trahan to appear before the court, to condemn him to pay the sum of $100 in damages, and to "perpetually" enjoin him from committing waste and trespass on his land.

PAR Number 20883514

State: Louisiana Year: 1835
Location: Natchitoches Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Francois Roubieu seeks the return of 200 acres of land and $10,000 in damages for the illegal detention of his land and the destruction of his timber by Auguste Metoyer, a free man of color. Roubieu informs the court that, as heir and legal representative of the late Auguste Roubieu, he owns a six-hundred-and-forty-acre tract of land, which is bordered on the North by land belonging to Metoyer. According to Roubieu, Metoyer "has without law or right caused an exparty survey to be made of his lands," which placed the division line "in such a manner as to include in his tract two hundred acres of your Petitioner’s land." Roubieu claims that Metoyer then proceeded to take possession of his land and "cut & destroyed" the timber on it, to the "great damage" of $5,000. Furthermore, Roubieu charges, the loss of the two-hundred acres has diminished the value of the rest of his lands and forced him to "discontinue the erection of a cotton gin." Because he was unable to use his lands, Roubieu "had to forego" the opportunity to sell another plantation "though offered a fair price." Roubieu prays that a survey be "made in the conformity with the respective titles." He seeks $10,000 as compensation for the damages "caused by the illegal conduct of sd. Auguste." [see related petition PAR#20883611]

PAR Number 20883611

State: Louisiana Year: 1836
Location: Natchitoches Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Augustin Metoyer, a free person of color, represents that, for the last ten years, he has been the “legal owner, with valid title,” of a tract of land situated some eighteen miles “below the town of Natchitoches.” In October 1835, François Roubieu enclosed part of the land and instituted a suit against him, in the “sixth judicial district” court, claiming ownership to it [see PAR#20883514]. Metoyer now charges that, although the suit is still pending, Roubieu has come upon the portion of the land he previously enclosed, and cut and removed a vast amount of cypress and other timber. Metoyer therefore seeks an injunction to prevent Roubieu from trespassing and taking any more timber.

PAR Number 20883703

State: Louisiana Year: 1837
Location: West Feliciana Location Type: Parish

Abstract: John Barcley and Henry Tenney, lumber merchants, represent that George Douce, a free man of color, owes them $226.55. The debt represents the unpaid balance against a total purchase of lumber worth $411.55. Barcley and Tenney believe that Douce is "on the eve of leaving the state of Louisiana forever," but that he owns property in the parish, “real, personal & mixed.” They therefore pray that Douce be decreed to pay the debt and that a writ of attachment be issued to seize his property or as much as is necessary to meet their claim.

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