Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 20379507

State: Delaware Year: 1795
Location: Sussex Location Type: County

Abstract: Stephen Mitchell seeks permission "to send and transport" his slave Sam "out of this State." Mitchell asserts that Sam, a conjurer, "hath poisened one of his Negros" and is "now in the public prison of the County." The petitioner also notes that Sam "keeps as a wife a white woman contrary to the Laws of the Land."

PAR Number 20380901

State: Delaware Year: 1809
Location: New Castle Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1805, Jack, a slave owned by Kensey Johns, ran away and went to sea, returning to the United States two years later and settling in New Jersey. In 1809, Johns received an anonymous letter that promised to disclose Jack's whereabouts for "a reward of Sixty dollars." Johns instead paid fifty dollars and "did discover the place where the said Slave resided" and then executed a warrant for Jack's arrest. With Jack now in jail, Johns asks for a permit "to export sell or carry out for Sale the said Slave."

PAR Number 20382203

State: Delaware Year: 1822
Location: New Castle Location Type: County

Abstract: Adam Diehl seeks permission to export and sell his female slave Eve, who has "very bad principles, and has been guilty of several atrocious acts." Diehl asserts that she stole $40 from him and "also some time since attempted to poison your Petitioner, but failed in her attempt." Believing that "the peace & security of the neighborhood" are at stake, the petitioner prays that he be granted "a permit authorising him to export into the State of Maryland" the slave Eve. Diehl explains in a letter that he has no real desire to sell Eve out of state; instead, he hopes to use the permit "as a means of coercing her to leave Delaware." He also notes that he is "now at the expence of keeping her in Jail in order to prevent her depredating on the community."

PAR Number 20382215

State: Delaware Year: 1822
Location: Kent Location Type: County

Abstract: Jane Millis, a woman of color, states that William Spear holds and claims her as a slave. Apprehending "that she is entitled to her freedom," Millis asks that Spear be summoned "to answer the said complaint of your Petitioner." One of Jane's owners testified that she probably poisoned his horses and threatened to put his wife "out of the way."

PAR Number 20382601

State: Delaware Year: 1826
Location: New Castle Location Type: County

Abstract: Peregrine Hendrickson asks to export and sell Julia Ann, a ten-year-old slave, who set fire to his house and attempted to poison a neighbor's infant. Hendrickson states that she exhibited "a degree of cunning and management, which evince a character & disposition of the most dangerous kind." The petitioner notes that the attorney general has already decided "that from the youth of the said Julia Ann, a prosecution for a capital offence had better not be instituted, as a conviction could scarcely be expected of one of so tender an age."

PAR Number 20382605

State: Delaware Year: 1826
Location: Kent Location Type: County

Abstract: John Faison asks to export and sell term slave Ann Lockwood, who has caused him "much trouble and expense" by frequently running away "without cause." She also committed a number of thefts; even while in jail, Faison said, "she attempted to steal from the family of the sheriff." Believing Lockwood to be "incorrigible," Faison feels "that he is compelled to apply for a permit to sell her out of the State to avoid the payment of further costs on her account, or to manumit her and to turn her adrift on Society to commit her depredations on the public at the public cost."

PAR Number 20382701

State: Delaware Year: 1827
Location: Kent Location Type: County

Abstract: Lewis Prettyman seeks permission to export and sell his eighteen-year-old term slave Maria. Prettyman charges that Maria set fire to a room in his house while the family slept; fortunately, he says, he had not fallen asleep and "discovered the fire by the smoke coming into the room in which he lay." He further notes that, had he discovered it five minutes later, it would "have been impossible for him to extinguish it." As a result, Prettyman forced Maria to sleep in the same room with him and his wife. The petitioner discloses that Maria's former owner, Samuel Patterson, told him that she had attempted to poison him and "if he had know her true character," Prettyman admitted, he would never have bought her. In addition, Prettyman states that "Maria has run away from your petitioner three times; and twice within the last three weeks."

PAR Number 20483608

State: District of Columbia Year: 1836
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: David Campbell, a person of color, asserts that he is being held illegally in the custody of a constable of Washington County and the District of Columbia. Court records indicate that Campbell has been imprisoned on the complaint of a white man, James Dean, who claims that Campbell threatened to poison Jane Campbell and her daughter, Charlotte, both free people of color. David Campbell seeks a writ of habeas corpus.

PAR Number 20486105

State: District of Columbia Year: 1861
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: Jane Elizabeth Martha Mackall seeks a divorce from her husband Brooke Mackall. She states that since the birth of her youngest child in 1857, her husband "began to exhibit evidence in some strange consistencies of conduct, of alienation from her, which have since developed themselves into an almost insane hate." At times, he has deprived the petitioner and nine of her ten children of sufficient funds, food, and shelter. In April 1859, Jane Mackall went to Pennsylvania, where she owned property, to obtain money for her children. She states that she left her infant in the care of her eldest daughter, fearing to leave the infant in the care of the nurse, "a young mulatto woman belonging to the defendant." The defendant, according to Mackall, refused to allow the eldest daughter to sleep in the small flat with her brothers and sisters unless she left the infant with him. When she refused to do so, he directed two of his young male "negro servants" to sleep in the chamber with his daughter. The petitioner avers that her husband was in the habit of beating the children and poisoned her and her children by putting rat poison on their food. In addition, Mackall states that her husband attempted to sell a house servant who was very close to the petitioner and her children. When he was unable to obtain a purchaser, he returned to the house with the slave. Jane Mackall hid the slave in her chambers for several months. She states that when the defendant found the slave, he locked her in his chamber and then sold her to a slave trader. Mackall requests a divorce, alimony, and custody of her children.

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 20583105

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

Abstract: Victoria Le Sassier seeks to strengthen her bill pending in court in which she petitioned for a divorce from her husband, Pedro de Alba, and requested the right to control her separate property. In this amended petition, Le Sassier points out that "by the laws of the Spanish Monarchy subsisting and in force in the Province of West Florida," she was entitled to her separate property. She points out that her rights "had in no wise been changed by the transfer of the Province to the United States but said property was secured by the treaty of Cession." Le Sassier asserts that her husband abandoned her and has contributed little to her support and maintenance and is "bound in law to provide alimony.''

PAR Number 20781101

State: Kentucky Year: 1811
Location: Fayette Location Type: County

Abstract: Maddox Fisher seeks an injunction prohibiting further proceedings against him by James Beatty and settlement of a dispute concerning purchase of a slave. Fisher purchased five slaves from Beatty for the sum of $900. Just before the sale, one of said slaves, named David, claimed to have been poisoned, and a clause was placed in the bill of sale whereby Beatty "obligated himself to make proper deduction out of the price of sd negro who was estimated by the parties at three hundred & fifty dollars." Fisher avows that David has been subject to "violent attacks of illness" since he purchased him, and he believes a deduction should be made in the amount he owes to Beatty. However, Beatty has instituted an action to collect the $225-note executed by Fisher and has obtained an execution against the petitioner. Fisher asks that Beatty answer his allegations and be enjoined from collecting on the judgment and that the court decree a deduction "for the deficiency of the slave."

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 20783606

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

Abstract: Martha Dabney charges that shortly after she married Cornelius Dabney "his conduct toward her became harsh, cruel, barbarious, and insufferable" and that she has had to leave him. She believes "an attempt was made upon her life by poison" and charges that he "kept pistols and other instruments of death about him." He has refused to make any provision for her, although he owns at least three slaves and is owed money. She asks the court to compel him to account for his property and to decree her alimony.

PAR Number 20784706

State: Kentucky Year: 1847
Location: Barren Location Type: County

Abstract: John Rodes devised three slaves to his heirs in his will: "Cassilla a woman 45 or 50 years old worth about $300, (who is now in Jail in Fayette County awaiting her trial upon a charge of poisening-) Addam a boy about 8 years old worth about $300, Lucinda a girl about 6 years old worth about $200." Allen Dodd prays that said slaves be sold and "their proceeds equally divided amongst his said children."

PAR Number 20785518

State: Kentucky Year: 1855
Location: Barren Location Type: County

Abstract: William Sampson states that Nancy Kilgore "proposed to trade a negro girl named Nancy the property of Wm B Kilgore decd ... for a negro girl of plaintiffs named Rebecca." He reports that she told him "that said Nancy some five or six years previous had had a rising on her neck which had broke & left a scar, & that since that period there was an occasional swelling of the glands of the throat when she took cold, and that these were the only manifestations of disease that she ever had, that she would not warrant her sound, as those symptoms were indications of scrofula." Sampson charges that Kilgore withheld from him that "Nancy was a notorious thief" and "intended to poison" her family. The petitioner "prays for a recission of the said contract and a decree directing the defendant to surrender the said woman Rebecca and that his bill of sale for her ... may be cancelled."

PAR Number 20785607

State: Kentucky Year: 1856
Location: Scott Location Type: County

Abstract: In an earlier petition, Judith H. Wilson asked for a divorce from William because he was a drunkard and would not work. In one of the many depositions given on the defendant's behalf, William Price relates that Judith charged that her husband "had been out there a whoring it in the place of work -- she named something to him about his being the cause of their negro woman's [Susan's] death, by being too thick with her that somebody else got jealous and poisoned her." His deposition also alleges that Wilson may have fathered a mulatto child. Judith seeks to restrain Wilson from disposing of Susan's sons, "Frank and Alvin, the former now about six years old & worth $500.00 and the later about four years and worth $400.00."

PAR Number 20982414

State: Maryland Year: 1824
Location: Baltimore Location Type: County

Abstract: Sarah Warfield, by her next friend and brother, John Goddard, sues her husband, Charles Warfield, a slave owner. She alleges that he became sullen soon after their marriage and that he displayed "conduct unbecoming in a man, and disgraceful and dishonourable in a husband." Before the first year passed he inflicted violence on her. Recently, he ordered her out of the family home. A comparatively humble merchant when they got married, Sarah estimates that Charles Warfield is now worth about $150,000. She asks the court to subpoena Charles and to award her alimony.

PAR Number 21281704

State: North Carolina Year: 1817
Location: Wake Location Type: County

Abstract: William Andrews seeks to free Rosetta, "an industrious faithful & obedient slave," who disclosed the plot of a black man on the farm to poison Andrews's only child. The information saved his child's life.

PAR Number 21283603

State: North Carolina Year: 1836
Location: Granville Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1836, after eight years of marriage, Susan F. Phillips is driven out of her house by her husband who refuses to provide for her or their two children. Having inherited a one-fourth interest in six slaves worth $2,400 from the estate of her deceased mother, Susan seeks an injunction to prevent her husband from disturbing her inheritance. She also charges abandonment and seeks alimony.

PAR Number 21284306

State: North Carolina Year: 1843
Location: Davidson Location Type: County

Abstract: Rebecca Wood seeks a divorce. She charges her husband with brutality, adultery, and attempted murder. He beat her on many occasions, engaged in sex with other women, and gave her poison instead of medicine during an illness. Moreover, he took her only child "away from her & said she should not raise it, that she was not fit to bring it up and that the negro woman would raise it, & he wished she was dead and out of the way."

PAR Number 21284508

State: North Carolina Year: 1845
Location: Randolph Location Type: County

Abstract: Isaac Routh charges his wife with "adulterous intercourse with different men in the neighborhood," including the slave Daniel, owned by Aaron Jones. In addition, he asserts, she threatened to poison him, "actually Stabbed him & gave him a Severe wound," and boasted about illicit affairs. She has since abandoned him and now lives with another man in another state.

PAR Number 21285634

State: North Carolina Year: 1856
Location: Richmond Location Type: County

Abstract: Claiming to have conducted herself as a "dutiful & obedient wife," Mary Cole relates that shortly after her marriage her husband commenced beating and whipping her in a "most cruel barbarous, unmerciful & savage manner." He stomped on her head until blood came out of her mouth and nose, beat her with heavy shoes, sticks, "or anything else," and tried to poison her or force "his negroes & others to do so." Stephen Cole is a man of substantial means, Mary asserts, having no debts and owning a large plantation and forty slaves. She asks for a divorce and alimony.

PAR Number 21382508

State: South Carolina Year: 1825
Location: Laurens Location Type: District

Abstract: Frances Pyles seeks support from her husband for herself and her infant child. She states "that she was married to Dr. Abner Pyles some time in May 1822" and that "they lived in tolerable harmony untill some time in the fall of that year," when he became "doubtfull of her Chastity" and "grew every day more morose and abusive." She avers that he slandered her "in the grossest manner" and that he "threatened violence if she ever went beyond his gate." After she signed an agreement to separate on 21 October 1822, she discovered "from a copy thereof, she was to remove all claims upon him & his Estate in right of her marriage as well for alimony" and return to her father's house in Virginia. Charging that said agreement is "held valid according to the risks of Law," she prays that her husband "may be compelled ... to furnish to your Oratrix annually a sufficient sum of money for the support of herself & her child." In his answer, Abner Pyles charges that his wife carried on "an intrigue with her next friend in this suit;" that she "had made a confident of the female house servant of this Defendant the intimacy was striking to every adult member of the family, and it was obvious, that she aided the complainant in her stolen intercourse with her gallant;" that his wife "contemplated flying from his house: that she wished the negro woman to accompany her," but the said slave refused even though "promised freedom on their arrival in Virginia;" that she "entered into a conspiracy with his slaves to carry off his property and run away with her;" and that she tried to poison him.

PAR Number 21384201

State: South Carolina Year: 1842
Location: Laurens Location Type: District

Abstract: Winny Allison, the widow of Francis Allison, asks that William Halbert fulfill his obligation to "support and maintain your oratrix." She recalls that her late husband signed over his “real and personal” property, including “land and negroes,” to one Jacob Meador in 1831. The deed stipulated that Meador was to take control of Allison’s plantation and slaves on the condition that he would “support and maintain” him and Winny during their “natural lives in comfort, decency and plenty.” Meador honored the agreement until 1835, when he left the state "to evade the claims of his creditors.” Meador’s creditors then attached his property, including the lands and slaves received from Allison. Allison, however, was able to recover and retain his property, until he conveyed it to William Halbert, one of said creditors. Halbert kept his promise to support the Allisons until Francis died in 1840. Thereupon, Winny claims, that he began to mistreat her, attempting to poison her and threatening to “run” the slaves to Arkansas. Seventy-six-year-old Winny Allison, having left Halbert's home, charges that she has been "thrown upon the charity of the world,” and is “in the most distressing poverty, destitute of a home, children and relations." Believing that she has a lien on the property if the specific conditions of the deed are not met, she prays that Halbert be enjoined from taking the slaves from the state; that he be ordered to fulfill the contract clause relating to her comfort and support; and that, in the event of her “failing to obtain” performance on the deed,” her right to dower be granted.

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