Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 21484324

State: Tennessee Year: 1843
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: The slaves of the late Loyd Ford, by their next friend, Phoebe Stuart, seek to establish the validity of Ford's last will and testament, which bequeathed them their freedom, as well as certain lands in Washington County where the petitioners wish to remain. They also seek an injunction against Ford's administrator and 14 heirs at law, who contest the will and who threaten to sell them and the property they have accumulated. The petitioners declare that Ford made a will on 1 March 1840, which called for the emancipation of his slaves upon his death. They surmise that his resolution "was owing to the fact that most of your Orators and Oratrixes were born the slaves of said Ford and were raised by him. In addition to this, most of complainants and especially your Orator John were persons of irreproachable character and had rendered meritorious services to their said master ... Most of your Orators and Oratrixes are persons of mixed blood, being mulatto's, and besides the motives above indicated they have always understood and believe that their late Master was animated in his desire to emancipate them by the still more powerful consideration of--natural love and affection."

PAR Number 21484901

State: Tennessee Year: 1849
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: In a supplemental petition, Gideon and twelve other persons of color seek the freedom promised to them by the late Charles Jones. They remind the court that they filed their original bill in 1844, arguing that the said Jones "made his last will & testament, whereby he directed that Yr. Orators & Oratrixes should be freed at certain ages & periods therein specified." Their original bill also noted that the said Jones died in 1835 and that his wife Susannah died in 1840, "at which time nearly all of Yr Orators & Oratrixes were by the terms of sd will entitled to their freedom." They "show that notwithstanding their right to freedom, they have been kept in servitude for from 9 to 10 Years ... beyond the terms which they were required to serve by the will of the sd Charles Jones" by the defendant, William Jones, who "is an intemperate & dangerous man." Citing that several petitioners "are considerably advanced in Years & their freedom is likely to be of little benefit to them," they renew their prayer "that their emancipation be declared by Yr Hon Court as prayed for in their original bill & that an account be taken of the hire due them respectively since the death of Mrs Susannah Jones." They also beseech the court "to place them in the Hands of a Receiver ... & to direct him to Hire them out to humane persons who will treat them kindly & protect them from injury." The related documents contain reports from the court-appointed receiver and clerk and master, which detail the hiring values of the petitioners from 1852 to 1867. In their 1872 bill, the petitioners represent that "by the result of the late civil war in the US, proclamation of President Lincoln acts of Congress &c, your Complainants were freed before the question presented by them to the Court was adjudicated;" however, funds that should compensate them for their hire while their suit was pending are "still undisposed of."

PAR Number 21485205

State: Tennessee Year: 1852
Location: Stewart Location Type: County

Abstract: Bob, Reynolds, and Jacob, slaves, seek their freedom and their rightful inheritance. The petitioners and their mother and siblings were owned by William Crouse. Prior to his death, Crouse conveyed all his land and slaves to James Chambers on the condition that Chambers agree to free the slaves according to Crouse's wishes. Crouse also requested that his land, livestock, and furniture be left "for the use of his slaves." Crouse died in mid-1850 and, in December 1851, William Bowling, "confederating" with Chambers, "set up claim to your Orators and their mother and sisters and brother ... under what Your orators charge to be a false and fraudulent deed of Gift from their former master." Bowling then took the petitioners' mother and sisters "by force ... out of Stewart County and beyond the jurisdiction." Bob was then sold to Allen Barnes and Jacob to attorney Joseph Wall; Reynolds remains in Chambers's possession. The petitioners pray that Chambers, Bowling, Barnes, and Wall be enjoined from removing them from the jurisdiction; that writs of attachment issue against Bowling and Chambers until they return the other slaves; and that they, the petitioners, be declared free and the rightful owners of Crouse's estate. In a related petition, the other slaves also sue for their freedom.

PAR Number 21678905

State: Virginia Year: 1789
Location: Southampton Location Type: County

Abstract: Howett Edmonds, the executor of the late Thomas Whitfield, recounts that his testator hired Walter Williams as an overseer in 1780. When the two settled their account the next year, "Williams fell indebted" to Whitfield. However, following Whitfield's death, Williams recovered a judgment against the estate. Edmonds seeks an injunction to prevent Williams from proceeding further.

PAR Number 21680803

State: Virginia Year: 1808
Location: Southampton Location Type: County

Abstract: The petitioners assert that they are being illegally held as slaves. They inform the court that Joshua Miniard "conveyed all his negroes and other estate" to Josiah and Jethro Joyner in 1797 with the stipulation that they would provide him and wife Catharine "with necessaries for their support and maintenance during their natural lives." The petitioners point out "that some of them are the negroes mentioned in the said deed and the others are the descendants of some of the said negroes." They contend "that it was expressly agreed" that they were to be set free once they raised enough money (£45) to take care of Catharine to which they argue "their hires since the death of the said Joshua Miniard must have been more than sufficient to raise the sum of forty five pounds." The petitioners also claim that the Joyners executed a bond that was "conditioned among other things to emancipate" them. Noting that the Joyners have "actually claimed them as their own proper slaves," the petitioners charge that the Joyners have "erased the words set and free and a part of the word emancipate" in the bond. They pray that the original intent of the bond be enforced and the court will "decree them their freedom."

PAR Number 21683617

State: Virginia Year: 1836
Location: Scott Location Type: County

Abstract: James Caldwell seeks compensation from Christopher Haynes in the amount of $300 "or for such sum as your orator may in justice and equity be entitled to." In 1835 Caldwell sold a "first rate mulatto girl" named Nice to Christopher Haynes, ostensibly an agent working for William H. Morison, for five hundred dollars in 1835. Caldwell explains that Nice had been raised in the family and was a great favorite of his wife and children; in fact, it was only with the "distinct understanding that she was not to be driven or taken from this section of the country" that Caldwell consented to sell Nice for three hundred dollars under her market value. Caldwell reasoned that he "prefered making a sacrafice to putting her in that market." He later learned that Haynes "was going to drive the said girl to Mississippi." Claiming to have been "entirely deceived by the said Haynes and defrauded out of at least $300," Caldwell files suit to recover Nice's value.