Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 20186320

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

Abstract: Emily F. Slater, who is suing James E. Slater for divorce, asks for an increase in her support payments. Two-hundred-and-fifty dollars a month would be a reasonable amount, she writes, and he can easily pay it as "he has made large sums of money by the purchase and sale of provisions and merchandise during the War, and is now extensively engaged in the same business." She has gained possession of six of her slaves (confiscated by the sheriff), but they can not be hired out at a profit. "The smaller children need the care of the woman Antoinetta," she explains, and the others are too young to hire out. "[T]aken as a whole," she concludes, noting that she will not post bond for their release, "instead of yielding a profit they would be a constant expense." Her other three slaves, still in her husband's possession, could be profitably hired out.

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 20186432

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

Abstract: James E. Slater seeks a reduction in the support payments he is making to his estranged wife as their divorce case moves through the chancery court. He avers that he is unable to pay the $166 per month for many reasons: first, the slaves Bedna and his wife Sallie, "working by day" in Montgomery, ran away when they learned that the sheriff had seized their children, thus depriving Slater of their hiring wages; second, when Bedna later returned, he "was immediately taken down with Typhoid fever and will be unfit for active labor for probably some months to come;" third, the only slave not seized by the sheriff is a seventeen-year-old girl [Sarah] who serves as a nurse to his five-year-old daughter Kate; and lastly, the extraordinarily high cost of travel and the problems caused by the war forced him to abandon his mercantile business and accept a position in Mobile at a modest salary. He asks that his payments be reduced to $75 per month.

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 20186503

State: Alabama Year: 1865
Location: Montgomery Location Type: County

Abstract: Benjamin Harrison Fitzpatrick, administrator of the estate of Bird Fitzpatrick, deceased, asks to sell the estate's personal property in order to pay debts and distribute proceeds among heirs. With the emancipation of slaves, it is not possible to keep the plantation going, Benjamin explains; he asks to sell the horses, mules, corn, fodder, hogs, cattle, blacksmith tools, farming utensils, a cotton gin, and other property. In January 1866, the estate sold for $2,242.

PAR Number 20186506

State: Alabama Year: 1865
Location: Lowndes Location Type: County

Abstract: Isabella Tennison, widow of William G. Tennison, deceased, observes that at the time of their marriage she possessed "certain negro slaves" as a separate estate. That property no longer exists, "the same having been freed," she writes, but the estate contains some cash and she asks to receive her share.

PAR Number 20186507

State: Alabama Year: 1865
Location: Lowndes Location Type: County

Abstract: Benjamin H. Craig, administrator of the estate of John H. Walker, deceased, submits his annual settlement of the estate. He refers to an earlier petition in which he requested the sale of some "worthless negroes" in order to pay debts. Only one slave was sold, he explains, and the proceeds went to pay taxes imposed by the Confederate government. Craig complains that in 1864 an abundant crop was largely destroyed by an "early rise in the Alabama river." Further, the present crop was destroyed when the "United States forces passing by the plantation on their way to Montgomery destroyed almost every thing on the plantation so that now the estate is wholly insolvent nothing being left but the land." Craig prays that the court will allow him to be released from his duties as administrator after an examination of his account.

PAR Number 20186508

State: Alabama Year: 1865
Location: Montgomery Location Type: County

Abstract: Harriet Glenn, administratrix of the estate of Robert J. Glenn, asks to sell the personal estate of her husband who died prior to the Civil War. She explains that the plantation is without "the necessary corn & provisions to sustain the little stock left upon the place; & that the Stock and personal property of the said intestate are constantly exposed to the thefts and depredations of the freedmen & other lawless persons without the means of support."

PAR Number 20186603

State: Alabama Year: 1866
Location: Henry Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1858, at the time of her marriage to Edward J. Ward, Eliza possessed in her own right promissory notes worth $1,800; after her marriage, her husband collected the debts, and bought five hundred acres of land. In 1862, Edward died, possessed of a large estate in land and slaves, which was worth twenty-thousand dollars and amply sufficient to discharge all his debts as well as provide the widow with an "ample legacy." In 1865, however, following emancipation of the slaves at the end of the war, Edward J. Ward's estate became insolvent unless his lands could be used to pay his debts. Owing "to the supposed & probable insolvency of said testators Estate, the Complication of the same in the probate Court of Said County, and her individual interest conflicting with those of the creditors," Eliza resigned as administratrix of her husband's estate. She asks for "an equitable portion of said lands."

PAR Number 20186604

State: Alabama Year: 1866
Location: Perry Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1857, Mary Pool possessed a small estate, consisting of "Negroes and Some Money" given to her by her father. When she married Anderson J. Pool, a man of substantial wealth, she gave up title to her slaves but in return received a deed to a tract of land near Marion, purchased by her husband from Henry W. Nave, so that she would have a home even if her husband's fortunes changed. During the war, Mary moved a house from one of her husband's plantations to the land and, with the "labor of herself and servants," rebuilt it. She also built fences, cleared land, and planted ornamental shrubbery, substantially enhancing the value of the property. As a "consequence of the emancipation of the slaves in the Southern States," Mary explains, her husband lost his great fortune and went heavily into debt, owing creditors more than one hundred thousand dollars. Some of his creditors are now levying attachments on her real estate, and planning to sell her property to pay his debts. She asks the court to protect her property rights.

PAR Number 20186606

State: Alabama Year: 1866
Location: Dallas Location Type: County

Abstract: Elizabeth R. Golson, administratrix of the estate of her late husband, Louis P. Golson, asks the court to settle the affairs of the estate. The slaves were "manumitted by the United States Govt & the State of Alabama" and all other property of the estate was sold under court order. Of course, she adds, the Confederate States Treasury Notes are of no value.

PAR Number 20186701

State: Alabama Year: 1867
Location: Pike Location Type: County

Abstract: Eliza Lawson, a woman of color, petitions the court on behalf of her minor children. She explains that in 1865 her children were apprenticed as paupers to their former owner, John B. Lawson. The latter "took possession of her said children"--Jim, Clark, and Isam— and "now holds and detains them" against their wishes, even though the letters of indenture were later revoked by an order of the Probate Court. She contends that Lawson's involuntary detention of her children is in violation of her rights as guardian. She seeks a Writ of Habeas Corpus requiring Lawson to bring the children to court; she asks that the judge make a decision about their future.

PAR Number 20186703

State: Alabama Year: 1867
Location: Shelby Location Type: County

Abstract: French Nabors, administrator of the estate of Jasper N. Meredith, who died in 1861, asks for relief. Soon after being appointed administrator, he realized the estate was in debt. As a consequence, he hired out the slaves and rented the land. During the war, he was forced to accept payments in Confederate currency. On 12 January 1863, under order of the probate court, Nabors sold all of the slaves, except one woman and her child. Nabors explains that some of the minor heirs became dissatisfied with his administration of the estate, and filed suit. The probate court ordered him to pay a judgment of more than eight thousand dollars. Although he deposited that amount with the court, the payment was in Confederate notes and bonds, currency now worthless. Yet, he still faces executions for payment. He seeks an injunction against the heirs preventing them from "Collecting the Judgements or decrees in the Probate Court."

PAR Number 20286202

State: Arkansas Year: 1862
Location: Saline Location Type: County

Abstract: Wayne Clark, administrator of the estate of John H. Thompson, represents "that there are a number of Negroes, belonging to said Estate, and have heretofore been hired out from year to year." Clark declares, however, "because of the precariousness of the times, and the great danger of losing Negro property through Black Republican Raids & Robberies," that he "is very desirous of reducing his share of said negroes to absolute possession." The petitioner therefore prays that an order be granted "authorizing said distribution to be made" of “said negroes among the rightful legatees of said deceased."

PAR Number 20286203

State: Arkansas Year: 1862
Location: Saline Location Type: County

Abstract: Henry Beavers, administrator for the estate of the late William E. Beavers, asks the court to "grant him the priviledge of cultivating said farm, and of Keeping the said Negroes and the Stock of said deceased, together with all farming utensils." Noting that said William left a large family of young children, an aged mother, and a widow, the petitioner purports that "it will be greatly to the interest of Said Estate to carry on the business of said farm for the present year, just as was formerly done in the life time of Said deceased." Beavers further believes that "if the negroes were hired, they would at this time go for almost nothing, because of the great inactivity of trade and commerce pervading the whole of our Government, the causes, of all which, are well Known to your Honor."

PAR Number 20286701

State: Arkansas Year: 1867
Location: Pulaski Location Type: County

Abstract: Marena M. Lefevre, widow and administratrix of the estate of William B. Lefevre, submits her "statement of facts" concerning the status of the property in her late husband's estate. The petitioner avers "that the six negroes, valued at $5,800 were liberated and set free, that 13 horses, valued at $650 were taken by the Federal Army and others" and that the other property was "taken from her by force, and that she has derived no benefit from said property." The petitioner therefore "prays that she may be released from all responsibility as such admx" of said estate.

PAR Number 20486239

State: District of Columbia Year: 1862
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: On 16 April 1862, Congress passed an act abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia. Owners were required to file a schedule of slaves with the court, which issued certificates of freedom. On 12 July 1862, another act permitted minor or absentee owners and slaves themselves to file for certificates of freedom. Philip Meredith, a "Dark Copper" male, thirty years of age, states that he is owned by General Robert Lee, of Arlington Heights, Virginia. He seeks his freedom.

PAR Number 20586112

State: Florida Year: 1861
Location: Escambia Location Type: County

Abstract: Florida Bright, a free mulatto woman, states that "she is desirous of going into a state of slavery." She therefore asks that Captain Walter L. Cozzens be confirmed as "her future master."

PAR Number 20586202

State: Florida Year: 1862
Location: Marion Location Type: County

Abstract: Daniel B. Coppleman, "Sheriff and ex officio administrator of the Estate of Munro Bullock, intestate" informs the court that said Bullock died with only one slave in his estate. The petitioner states that "no distribution of said estate can be fairly made among the heirs at law, four in number and minors without the sale of said slave." Coppleman further cautions that "the dangers of war which threaten the State make it expedient for the safety of such property that said slave be exposed to sale." He therefore prays that an order for the sale of the twenty-year-old slave be decreed.

PAR Number 20586402

State: Florida Year: 1864
Location: Marion Location Type: County

Abstract: The administratrix for the estate of late James Potts asks the court for an injunction against Retus J. Williams and William Edwards with regards to the sale of the slave Joe. She also asks that the power of attorney held by Retus J. Williams be revoked and that Joe be returned to her. She says that her father, Mr. Wright, conveyed a life interest in eight slaves to her mother, Mrs. Wright, and upon the death of Mrs. Wright, said slaves would "pass to your oratrix, and the heirs of her body." As said administratrix, Potts appointed Retus J. Williams as her agent with power of attorney. The petitioner charges, however, that said Williams sold a slave named Joe without her consent, even though she served him with a notice objecting to the sale and protested publicly during the sale. Potts notes that William Edwards purchased Joe for $1,740, which is less than she estimates his worth.

PAR Number 20686304

State: Georgia Year: 1863
Location: Muscogee Location Type: County

Abstract: Sarah V. Wilkins is guardian of Sallie G., Charles and Josephine Wilkins, who are orphans of Joseph C. Wilkins. Sarah Wilkins is also administratrix of the estate of Joseph C. Wilkins. She claims that after having paid the debts of the estate, she does not have enough money to properly divide the slaves among the heirs. She needs $637.50 to "equalize the lots of negroes assigned to your petitioner." She seeks the court's permission to sell two more slaves, Penda and Nelly, in order to get the necessary money.

PAR Number 20686402

State: Georgia Year: 1864
Location: Wilkinson Location Type: County

Abstract: On the eve of departing home to serve in the Confederate army, George K. Whipple wrote a will making his mother, Eliza Whipple, beneficiary of "all my lands and without reserve and without limitation all my negroes." He named Ira E. Dupree as executor. In this petition, Dupree seeks the court's recognition and recording of the will.

PAR Number 20686505

State: Georgia Year: 1865
Location: Houston Location Type: County

Abstract: Willoughby Manning is the administrator of the estate of Leary C. Manning. Willoughby claims that, "owing to the emancipation of the slaves formerly owned by his intestate," it will be necessary to sell the perishable property of the estate, in order to settle among the heirs. He seeks the permission of the court to sell this property.

PAR Number 20686513

State: Georgia Year: 1865
Location: Baldwin Location Type: County

Abstract: When Miller Grieve was appointed trustee for Mrs. Eliza C. Murphy in 1852, her property, including three slaves, Lydia, Ann and Sally, was turned over to him. Grieve lists several transactions he has made while trustee, including the purchase and sale of three houses and several slaves. He says that he is now sixty-four and that he recently received a severe wound "by the bursting of a gun, Knocking out one eye, and injuring his head," so that he can no longer attend to the business of the trust. He says that the trust presently owns furniture, three slaves, Confederate money, and a house and lot in Atlanta. He asks that he be removed as trustee and that Eliza Murphy's husband, Dr. D. J. Murphy, be named to replace him.

PAR Number 20686514

State: Georgia Year: 1864
Location: Greene Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1860, Pleasant Stovall bequeathed to his son, George J. Stovall, fifteen shares of Georgia Rail Road stock and four slaves, in trust for his daughter, Louisa Shelman, and her children. George Stovall died on 21 July 1861 at the Battle of Manassas and in 1863 Pleasant Stovall died. Now Louisa and her children petition the court to appoint Louisa's husband, Charles T. Shelman, as trustee, stating "that in the management of negro property in times like the present it is peculiarly necessary that they should have proper care and attention and that this is more to be expected from the father and husband of your petitioners than from a stranger."

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