Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 11280003

State: North Carolina Year: 1800
Location: Edgecombe Location Type: County

Abstract: William Moore requests compensation for the loss of a horse that died during a pursuit of outlaws. He explains that, "from a wish to suppress Villiany," he participated in the apprehension and jailing of "men of notorious Characters" who were later convicted of "forgery & Stealin of Negros and Selling them." Moore further reveals that his "excessive rideing & great exertions ... killed or at least Occationed the death of a valuable Horse" that cost him $210; said loss forced him to mortgage his "One negroe and he a very Valuable fellow." As a cripple, Moore claims that he is "altogether Unable to work" and support his "very large & helpless family of small children." He therefore requests that he receive "such an allowance from the public of said State as may be Adequate to his losses."

PAR Number 11300005

State: South Carolina
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Forty-three wharf owners and merchants in Charleston ask the legislature to take action to halt the theft of cotton bales. They assert that “slaves and free persons of Colour, who being able to write, readily manufacture tickets in the name of the owner or employer or any other person, and frequently in the name of a fictitious person” and then sell said cotton and other goods to unscrupulous shopkeepers. They further lament that said trafficking is very difficult to stop and even when suspects are brought in it is difficult to prosecute as the bales have already been shipped out. The petitioners “confidently believe that in the article of Cotton alone, not less than Five Hundred Bales are purchased in illicit traffic by the Shops in Charleston from Slave and free persons of color.” They therefore ask for stricter laws and better enforcement.

PAR Number 11679502

State: Virginia Year: 1795
Location: Henrico Location Type: County

Abstract: Nathaniel Wilkinson represents that "a man was indicted for a misdemeanor in forging an instrument of writing importing that a certain runaway negroe was a free man, which fact was proved, and that he had said he had in the same manner emancipated four other negroes." The petitioner prays that amendments be made to the existing acts in order to "more Effectually Secure the Slave property in this Country."

PAR Number 11680501

State: Virginia Year: 1805
Location: Petersburg Location Type: City

Abstract: Graham Bell, a man described in a related petition by citizens of the town of Petersburg as a "Mulatto man," represents to the court in this petition that he posted $500 as security when his son was accused of forging a bond and "examined for the imputed offence by Greensville county court." When indictment was handed down by the grand jury, the son absconded and the father was left with a substantial debt. Bell contends that if he is forced to pay the bond he would lose all that he has acquired over many years by his "industry and frugality" to support his large family and protect them from "indigence and want." He asks the legislature to interpose its mercy and secure him against the loss of the "pittance acquired by sweat and labor of a whole life."

PAR Number 11680502

State: Virginia Year: 1805
Location: Petersburg Location Type: City

Abstract: Citizens of the town of Petersburg petition on behalf of Graham Bell, a "Mulatto man" they describe as an "Industrious, Honest, Quiet, and Respectable Citizen" who "reflects credit" upon "his station if life" by the "Integrity of his Conduct." They represent to the legislature that Bell posted $500 as security when his son, who, tho' unlike his Father in Conduct, was still a Child," was accused of forging a bond and "examined for the imputed offence at Greenville county court." When an indictment was handed down by the grand jury, the son absconded and the father was left with a substantial debt. The petitioners ask the legislature to intervene for the remission of the penalty; for if execution is levied on his property Bell will lose everything he has worked for. They emphasize that, although not "mixing in the more polished circles of Society," Bell is humble, quiet, and reputable.

PAR Number 11683416

State: Virginia Year: 1834
Location: Culpeper Location Type: County

Abstract: One hundred thirty-nine citizens of Culpeper County inform the court that one Jacob Waynesburg, in the year prior to the filing of their petition, forged freedom papers for two or more slaves, affixing to them the county seal for authenticity. Two of the slaves then committed felonies and made their escape. George W. Jameson, a magistrate, pursued Waynesburg into Maryland, captured him, and brought him back for trial. Jameson incurred substantial expenses. A group of citizens seeks to compensate him for his efforts. A related document reveals that one of the slaves, Oscar Smith, was apprehended in the state of New Jersey, and that the freedom papers he was carrying were determined to be in Waynesburg's handwriting.

PAR Number 20482804

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

Abstract: Eleanor Kirby, widow of John Kirby, seeks to claim a portion of her husband's estate. She charges that George Kirby, nephew of the deceased, "gives out in threats that She Shall be prevented from using or retaining any portion of Said property ... and refuses and omits to set off and apportion her dower in any part of the said real estate," which includes valuable tracts of land as well as a large number of slaves. George Kirby justified his actions by producing "a paper which he stated to be the last will & testament of said deceased." The widow notes, however, that "said pretended last will and testament was not signed by the said John B. Kirby ... but only purported to have his mark, the name being written by some other person." Eleanor Kirby petitions the court for her dower and asks for an injunction to prevent the defendants' attempts "to oust or dispossess your oratrix of any part of said real estate, or to interfere with her use & enjoyment of the Same or of the rents issues and profits thereof."

PAR Number 20583104

State: Florida Year: 1831
Location: Escambia Location Type: County

Abstract: Shortly after Victoria Le Sassier married Pedro de Alba Sr. in 1813, she discovered that her husband had "a cruel, turbulent & vindictive disposition, [he] squandered her private property abused her Son Joseph Noriega & her other relations." He removed Le Sassier's "faithful domestick" and replaced her with a slave of his own. Soon Le Sassier became "very sick with vomiting, violent pains in the stomack attended with great debility." Alba never called for a physician, giving her medicines himself, and refusing to allow her family to attend to her. Noriega finally rescued his mother from the house and she began to recover. She believes that Alba poisoned her as she had never had those attacks before her marriage or after she had left his house. She also believes Alba had forged a will that he planned to use to gain control of her property. Alba left Florida, but he has since returned and he is attempting once again to gain control of Le Sassier's property. Le Sassier asks that she be granted a divorce from Alba and that her property be protected from him.

PAR Number 20585003

State: Florida Year: 1850
Location: Marion Location Type: County

Abstract: Georgia Ann Rivers seeks a divorce from her husband Charles Rivers. She charges that her husband abandoned her and sold property given her by her father along with a slave lent to her by her brother-in-law, whereby "she has been ever since said desertion and is at the present time wholly dependent on her own personal exertions for the maintenance of herself & her small children." The plaintiff further declares that "the said defendant had at the time of his intermarriage with your Oratrix, another wife living." Rivers therefore asks her marriage "be dissolved and a divorce from the Bonds of Matrimony decreed."

PAR Number 20681704

State: Georgia Year: 1817
Location: Elbert Location Type: County

Abstract: John Bramblett contends that, by right of his wife Elizabeth, he is entitled to one-fourth of her father's estate. John Ford, Elizabeth's father, died intestate. Mary Ford, John Ford's widow, and Thomas Cook have produced a will that Bramblett charges is a forgery. The will is currently being contested and Bramblett believes it will be ruled void. Meanwhile, Bramblett asserts, Mary Ford and one Jesse Patterson have taken possession of John Ford's eight slaves, valued at $3,000, and intend to leave the court's jurisdiction. Bramblett asks that Ford and Patterson answer his allegations and that they be prevented from removing the slaves from the state until the estate dispute is settled.

PAR Number 20783003

State: Kentucky Year: 1830
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: Rachel believes that she, along with other slaves, was emancipated by John Rodgers and that the deed of manumission is recorded in Maryland. Rodgers and most of the manumitted slaves moved to Virginia, and then to Kentucky, where Rodgers died. Sometime after his death, one of Rachael's arms was seriously impaired, and she was persuaded by Tunis Applegate, whom she believed to be an Indian doctor, to go with him to his house in Jefferson County. Her arm was cured and she stayed with him for 2 or 3 years "when to her great astonishment he claimed her as a slave." Applegate tried to sell her, but the purchasers were deterred, suspecting the bill of sale he produced was forged. She has one child named George Washington, and she fears Applegate will send her and her child "down the River" to be sold. She asks the court to restrain him from removing and selling them until her suit for their freedom on the law side of the court is heard.

PAR Number 20783612

State: Kentucky Year: 1836
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: William Freeman [alias Nat] claims that he is a free man of color, a matter of record on file in Virginia and Cincinnati. He has been working on steamboats, but four weeks ago in New Orleans he was seized as a slave and claimed by Charles Anderson, "who is reputed to be a gambler." He further asserts that his attested copy of the Virginia record of his freedom was then "taken from him and torn in pieces before his eyes." Anderson sold him to James Long, who took him to Louisville, where he ran away. He was recaptured and is now in jail. He asks that the defendants be restrained from removing him until he can send to Virginia and get proof of his free status.

PAR Number 20784216

State: Kentucky Year: 1842
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: Elizabeth Gray and her children state that upon the death of her husband, John Gray, they sold a slave named King to pay the debts on the estate. The slaves Lucy and her child Hannah remained as Elizabeth's inheritance. Elizabeth was remarried to John P. Fox who subsequently forged a bill of sale on her slaves, took them to Louisville, sold them, and disappeared. The slaves ended up in the possession of Edward and Robert Crutchfield. Gray, now divorced from Fox, asks the court to restore the slaves to her possession.

PAR Number 20784416

State: Kentucky Year: 1844
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: Nancy, a woman of color, explains that her former master William Shephard sold her to Peter Talbott in 1840. The sale was made possible when Nancy's husband Lewis "drew two prizes in a Lottery in this City in the year 1840 ... amounting in all to upwards of $800.00." Lewis loaned $500 to Talbott for the purchase of Nancy, with the understanding that Nancy would be "immediately manumitted by him according to the laws of this State." For the past three years, Nancy has "been living and supporting herself by her own industry ... as free as if regularly manumitted." Nancy now asserts that both Shephard and Talbott are making claims of debts owed that preclude her official manumission. Nancy asks that "your honor may decree that she be freed by sd. Deft Talbott."

PAR Number 20784509

State: Kentucky Year: 1845
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: Esther Schleisinger states that her husband Baruck Schleisinger, a slave owner, has abandoned her. She entered into the marriage with estate and property worth approximately $25,000. She explains that they have moved to Kentucky from France and that Baruck has taken her property and left her without financial support. She adds that her husband is "living in open adultery" with another woman. Esther Schleisinger asks for a divorce and alimony.

PAR Number 20784805

State: Kentucky Year: 1848
Location: Cumberland Location Type: County

Abstract: Anthony petitions for his freedom. He states that James Hopkins executed a deed of emancipation in 1793 for Pheby and her child, Darius, in Albemarle County, Virginia. According to the deed, Pheby was to serve his sister Lucy Hopkins Robinson until 1800. Hopkins also provided that if "Pheby should bear any more children, that they should also be free;" the males at age 30; the females at age 25. Pheby had more children including Mary, Jenny, and Betty, all of whom were divided among Robinson's heirs. Jenny was taken to Cumberland County, Kentucky by Robinson's son, Arthur, and there she gave birth to Jerry, twins Anthony and Esther, and several other children. Anthony believes his mother was born in 1796 and was about twenty-five years old in 1821, thus supporting his claim to freedom. Shortly after Arthur's death, Nicholas C. Robinson took possession of the young twins and sold them to Josiah Brummall. Anthony charges Brummall and Robinson "knowingly, willfully, fraudulently & unconcienciously, not only kept your orator in slavery but have sold and sent off to parts unknown, to your orator other persons viz. your orator's mother, brothers & sisters who are and were entitled to freedom, all of which is contrary to equity and in direct violation of the laws of the land." Anthony states that an authenticated copy of Hopkins's deed of emancipation can be found in a case involving his uncle in Albemarle County, Virginia: "Darius a man of color v James English." Anthony seeks liberty and monetary compensation for back wages.

PAR Number 20881665

State: Louisiana Year: 1816
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Pierre Conway Langliche, a free man of color, presents the following to the court. In 1814, the late Stephen de Quinones, together with one of the defendants, B. Schons, fraudulently engineered the emancipation of Langliche's forty-six-year old-slave, Julien. The men pulled off their scheme by forging an "act of freedom," purported to have been executed with the approval of Langliche, and by using it to obtain an official decree of emancipation. Since then, Quinones has departed this life. In the meantime, Julien is still in the "possession" of Langliche where he was supposed to remain, as prescribed by the said "act of freedom," until Langliche's death. Nevertheless, Langliche is now suing both Schons and Julien. He wants Julien to appear, or failing to do so to be represented by counsel; he wants the court to order Schons to pay him $300 in damages, plus costs of suit. He also asks that the fraudulent act of freedom and official emancipation decree be declared null.

PAR Number 21282904

State: North Carolina Year: 1829
Location: Chatham Location Type: County

Abstract: A person of "Strict morality and Virtue," Rachel Hamlet, daughter of the late George Hamlet, asks for a divorce from William Hamlet, who, she asserts, lives a life of "riot and dissipation" engaging in "the most shameful and notorious habits of fornication and adultery" with "women of all classes and colour."

PAR Number 21284702

State: North Carolina Year: 1847
Location: Granville Location Type: County

Abstract: Amanda Walker accuses her husband of living "in constant unlawful intercourse with a certain negro woman belonging to his grand Father." She also accuses him of running off with the black woman and one or two other of his grandfather's slaves. He is also guilty of forgery. She asks for a divorce and alimony.

PAR Number 21284713

State: North Carolina Year: 1847
Location: Rowan Location Type: County

Abstract: The widow of slave owner George Miller and her new husband Moses Trexler charge that the heirs of Miller's estate are cheating them out of a carriage and harness. In his will, they charge, Miller stipulated that the widow should receive those items but someone crossed out the three words.

PAR Number 21285023

State: North Carolina Year: 1850
Location: Craven Location Type: County

Abstract: Slaveholder Harriet Foy asks for a divorce because of her husband's adultery "with various and sundry women." He has been guilty, she explains, "of living in general, habitual and indiscriminate adulterous intercourse with slaves and other abandoned women," particularly a slave woman named Hannah owned by a woman in Jones County.

PAR Number 21285946

State: North Carolina Year: 1859
Location: New Hanover Location Type: County

Abstract: Married for four years, Hannah Hansley complains that her husband "frequently cursed and abused her," often left her "in the most destitute condition," and did not hesitate to "lie in adulterous connection" with other women. Arrested and convicted of forgery, he was free on bail when he fled the state. He is now in prison in Alabama, convicted of slave stealing. Hannah asks for a divorce.

PAR Number 21381411

State: South Carolina Year: 1814
Location: Charleston Location Type: District

Abstract: Bastid Delacombe seeks a perpetual injunction against Bernard Pradere and his wife. He recounts that a certain Madame Pradere of Port au Prince, by her husband, Bernard Pradere, assigned him a slave named St. Louis and "that he accordingly got possession of the said boy and brought him out to New York with him and afterwards came to Charleston." He further submits that "he sold the said boy for $235.00 finding him to be a source of trouble and vexation, more especially as he had attempted to hang himself." The petitioner now avers that the said Bernard has "laid claim" to St. Louis, alleging that the "bill of sale tho' absolute and unconditional on its face was only a power of attorney." Asserting that said bill was not a "defeasible instrument," Delacombe notes that the Praderes brought suit and that the court rendered a judgment against him, resulting in the seizure of "a certain Negro boy named J. Baptiste." He therefore prays that an injunction may issue to the Praderes, "commanding and enjoining them ... to desist and refrain from any further proceedings under the aforementioned Judgment and Execution," and that said injunction may be decreed "perpetual."

PAR Number 21382711

State: South Carolina Year: 1827
Location: Barnwell Location Type: District

Abstract: Maria Miller, daughter of the late Daniel Miller and administratrix of his estate, seeks an injunction to prevent the sheriff from selling a slave, whom her father purchased in 1814 from his stepson, John McElwrath. Maria claims that she inadvertently omitted Caesar, the slave in question, from her estate inventory and that he was shortly thereafter seized by the sheriff to satisfy executions against McElwrath. Maria maintains that she has had the "undisturbed & exclusive possession" of Caesar since her father's death and has applied the profits from his hire to the estate. In an amended petition, Miller names two other creditors of McElwrath's as defendants. An 1829 decree reveals that Hagar, another slave purchased by Miller at the same time, is also in jeopardy of being sold by the sheriff.

PAR Number 21386011

State: South Carolina Year: 1860
Location: Marion Location Type: District

Abstract: Samuel T. Page charges that Penelope Coward has confiscated the slaves and property of her late brother, Joel Coward. In his role as administrator of Coward's estate, Page went to the home formerly shared by Penelope and Joel and tried to recover Damon, Daniel, and Ned. However, Penelope refused to surrender the male slaves, insisting that her brother had deeded them to her before he died. The petitioner asserts that the deed of gift is a fraud, "manufactured since the death of your Orators intestate for the purpose of defeating a just and equitable administration of his estate." Page asks that Penelope be ordered to deliver the slaves to him and to account for their hires. He also asks that Penelope be prevented from removing the slaves from the state.

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