Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 20881917

State: Louisiana Year: 1819
Location: East Baton Rouge Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Robert, a mulatto slave commonly called Robert Steer, sues for his freedom. Robert claims that he was freed by the will and testament of the late Samuel Steer, but that Steer’s son, also called Samuel Steer, continues to hold him in bondage and collects the proceeds of his labor and services. Robert asks the court to declare him a free man and to condemn the younger Samuel Steer to pay him $5,000 in lost wages and damages.

PAR Number 20882073

State: Louisiana Year: 1820
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Marie Louise, a free woman of color, represents that she is the "proprietor and owner" of a slave named Louise, whom she purchased according to a "regular act of sale passed before the proper authorities." Marie Louise further represents that Louise is "unlawfully detained and held" by one Edouard Cauchoix who, although "amicably demanded," has "wholly refused" to acknowledge her right to ownership. Marie Louise therefore prays for an order to "seize and sequester" her slave, and to deliver the slave to her.

PAR Number 20882206

State: Louisiana Year: 1822
Location: Pointe Coupee Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Maunsel White and François Gaiennié, Jr., syndics of the creditors of Pierre Léglise, charge that Léglise has concealed the ownership of three slaves. The slaves are now "detained" by Marie Louise, a free woman of color, who has been Léglise’s “concubine” for the last three years. White and Gaiennié ask the court to order Marie Louise to deliver the slaves and pay an appropriate amount in compensation for the hire of the slaves. They also ask that the slaves be sequestered until the case is resolved.

PAR Number 20882213

State: Louisiana Year: 1822
Location: Natchitoches Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Noël, a slave belonging to the estate of the late Antoine Coindet, is suing Benjamin Metoyer, one of the estate's testamentary executors, for failing to emancipate him according to the conditions of an 1817 bill of sale. Noël presents that in 1817 Alexis Cloutier sold him to Coindet on the condition that he would be freed upon Coindet's death. Coindet has recently died, having appointed Benjamin Metoyer and Jean Jacques Paillette testamentary executors of his will. Paillette is now in France and thus cannot act; as for Metoyer, he refuses to carry out the emancipation formalities, thus violating the dead man's wishes. Noël vouches that he is "above thirty years of age and has led at all time the conduct required by law to entitle him to his emancipation." He therefore asks the court to set him free and to cite Metoyer to answer the charge and pay the costs of suit.

PAR Number 20882219

State: Louisiana Year: 1822
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Nicholas Tachaud, "born free from free persons on the island of St. Domingue," claims to have been "unjustly & illegally detained" as a slave by Richard Richardson. Tachaud asks to be declared a free person and to be placed "provisionally under the custody of the Sheriff" while his case is being decided.

PAR Number 20882326

State: Louisiana Year: 1823
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Delphine, a free woman of color, claims that she is being held as a slave and deprived of her right to earn a living. She is suing Raymond Deveze, the man who currently holds her in servitude. She presents to the court the following facts that led to her current predicament. While living in Saint Domingue, the French part of the island of Hispaniola, she, her now-deceased mother, Caroline, and her two aunts, Luce and Florence, as well as her grandmother, Marie Catherine, were freed by one Marie Therese Duroc, her great-aunt, who was then their then owner. After her mother's death, Delphine continued to live with Marie Therese. But in 1803, during a period of violent upheaval on the island, the four women, a young male relative named Leger, as well as Marie Therese's companion, Mr. Belzons, were evacuated from Cap Français. Marie Therese died during the voyage and Belzons brought the other women and the young boy to Louisiana. Delphine claims that Belzons treated them well until, "shocking it is to state," he "inhumanly" sold her in spite of her representation that she was free. She is now the property of Deveze, from whom she has "suffered unjust corporal punishments." She prays the court to decree her free and to order Deveze to pay her compensation at the rate of $10 for each day that she has been "detained" in slavery [Original in English and French].

PAR Number 20882525

State: Louisiana Year: 1825
Location: Natchitoches Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Celeste Verger petitions for separation of bed and board from her husband, Auguste Langlois. Celeste contends that, since their 1796 marriage, Langlois "has followed an irregular course of life, getting intoxicated & insulting" her "in various ways and otherwise illtreating her, without any cause." She also charges that, at various times, he kept a woman slave as a concubine "in the common house & cohabitated with her to the great scandal of your petitioner." Celeste asks for a separation of bed and board "to protect herself" from her husband’s insults. In addition, she asks for custody of her minor children and that Langlois pay her $30 per month until the case has been decided.

PAR Number 20882632

State: Louisiana Year: 1826
Location: West Baton Rouge Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Margaret Constance Richard seeks a separation of property and of bed and board from her husband, Alexander McDougald. Margaret claims that, although she has been a "kind faithful, prudent and affectionate wife," her husband has "treated her in a cruel, outrageous, dishonorable and inhuman manner, so as to render her living with him longer insupportable." Margaret informs the court that McDougald has assaulted her on several occasions and tried to kill her. In addition, he has publicly defamed her character by calling her a "damned bitch," a whore, and "accusing her of sleeping with negroes, meaning thereby that your petitioner had been guilty of having criminal connexion with negroes." At the time of their 1810 marriage, Margaret owned considerable property including a plantation and several slaves. She thus asks to have the property she brought into the marriage restored to her, for a division of the property acquired during their marriage, and for a separation from bed and board.

PAR Number 20882799

State: Louisiana Year: 1827
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Jean Laurel, testamentary executor of the late Pierre Cullion, asks the court to authorize him to fulfill the requisite formalities for the emancipation of two slaves in the estate: nineteen-year old Marie Françoise, a girl, and seventeen-year-old Jean Pierre, a boy. Laurel presents that, in his 1822 last will and testament, the late Cullion recognized the two youngsters as his "natural," i.e., illegitimate, children by his former slave, Marie Catherine, now a free woman of color. The late Cullion expressed the wish that both his children be freed as early as the law, present or future, would allow. Laurel is now taking advantage of a newly enacted law, which relaxes the age requirements, to pull up the emancipation of the two youngsters. The will, a related document, reveals that Cullion not only granted freedom to his two children, he also made various legacies to them and their mother. In addition, he left the bulk of his estate to his other "natural" daughter named Elizabeth, born of a now deceased slave named Andrée Gosert.

PAR Number 20882809

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

Abstract: Antoine Marc, a resident of France, claims to be the legitimate father and "universal testamentary heir" of his late son François Marc. Antoine Marc has come before the court to contest one provision of his son's will. He informs the court that his son died in 1826, leaving two wills: one will, dated 1824, is a "noncupative" will made under "private signature;" the other, dated 1825, is a "public" will. Antoine Marc claims that the first will made him his son's sole heir. As such, he is challenging a provision added to the second will, whereby his son bequeathed a "negro woman" named Marie to a free woman of color named Veronique. Antoine Marc challenges this provision on the basis of a law in the "new civil code," which prevents property to be bequeathed to a concubine. He claims that Veronique lived "for several years in open concubinage" with his son, "even down to the period of his death." Antoine Marc asks the court to order Veronique to "restore" the slave to him and to pay the "costs of suit" [Original in English and French].

PAR Number 20882828

State: Louisiana Year: 1828
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Dominique Cadet, a man of color, prays to be declared free. He avers that he is unjustly held as a slave by the heirs of the late Elizabeth Sanite Ridoré, a free woman of color, who now threaten to sell him. Dominique prays for the right to institute a suit for his freedom and, in the meantime, that the Ridoré heirs be "prohibited from selling or in any manner disposing of him." Related documents reveal that Dominique was born of a woman named Marie Jeanne, the slave of the late Elizabeth Ridoré. When he was one year old, Dominique was purchased by his white father, Toussaint Poucelle, who intended to raise him as a free man but died before he could act on his intention.

PAR Number 20882837

State: Louisiana Year: 1828
Location: Iberville Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Pauline Bergeron seeks a separation of bed and board from her husband, Baptiste Bergeron. Pauline claims that, upon her marriage, she brought a dowry of $1,500. In addition, she complains that Baptiste has been "repeatedly guilty of excesses, cruel treatment and outrages" against her. She further claims that he has had "frequent and illicit connexion with the negro women slaves," compelling her to "bring up and support his spurious offspring by the said slaves." Pauline also charges that her husband has committed "violent assault and battery" upon her while she was "in an advanced state of pregnancy." She claims that the outrages committed against her have made living with Baptiste "insupportable and dangerous." She prays that an inventory and appraisal be made of all their community property. She also asks for an order directing her husband to return her dowry and enjoining him from disposing of any part of the property until the suit has been settled. Finally, she prays that she and her husband be separated in bed and board and that he be condemned to pay support for her and their minor children.

PAR Number 20882844

State: Louisiana Year: 1828
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Josephine Jardelas, a free woman of color and a minor "above the age of puberty," petitions with the assistance of Louis Seré, her "curator ad lites." She presents to the court that the administration of the late Joseph Jardelas's estate is planning to sell three slaves that belong to her. The three slaves are Elina, also known as Nina, and Elina's two children, four-year-old Maria and eighteen-month-old Charles. Josephine asks the court to order that the register of wills be "enjoined, restrained & prohibited from selling" the slaves and to cite the persons claiming title. She further asks to be recognized "as the sole and lawful mistress" of the three slaves and want them to be sequestered by the sheriff until the case has been decided. Related documents reveal that Josephine was the daughter of the late Joseph Jardelas and Carmelite Boisseau, a free woman of color, and that Joseph Jardelas had lived for many years with Carmelite in the house owned by Carmelite's mother, Manon Boisseau.

PAR Number 20882846

State: Louisiana Year: 1828
Location: West Feliciana Location Type: Parish

Abstract: John C. Morris prays to obtain Letters of Curatorship for the estates of the late Antonio Nolasco, James Nolasco, John Roso Sr., and John Roso Jr. Morris asserts that the former curator, James Turner, "has suffered his letters to expire," thus leaving the estates unrepresented. Morris informs the court "that there are no relations of either of the aforesaid persons in the State, except the children of Hellen Wooten, a f.w.c. who are the children of the said Antonio Nolasco." Wooten is entitled to a legacy of $1,000 from the estate of James Nolasco but this has not yet been paid to her due to Turner's neglect.

PAR Number 20882956

State: Louisiana Year: 1829
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Jean Mason presents to the court that he has recently purchased from one Theodore Nicolet his five-year-old "natural," i.e. illegitimate, daughter, a five-year-old mulatto girl named Eliza, with the express intent of emancipating her as soon as "consistent" with the laws of the state. He further presents that he fully intends to comply with the obligation laid upon him by the law of the "31st of January 1827" to "maintain, clothe and feed" Eliza in a "decent manner," as well as to have her taught a trade by which she can earn a living. Mason therefore asks the court to submit his petition for the review and consent of the police jury, which consent will enable the court to order the "necessary publications" by the sheriff.

PAR Number 20883171

State: Louisiana Year: 1831
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Jean Gusman is the testamentary executor of the estate of the late Auguste Doucet, a sail maker. He presents to the police jury that the late Doucet has recently died, leaving behind no other relative than three illegitimate children and two grandchildren of color, all of whom he has duly recognized in his last will and testament. Gusman further explains that the late Doucet declared, in his testament, that not only did he wish to free all his children and grandchildren, but he also wanted to make them his universal heirs. Gusman therefore asks the police jury to grant him, in compliance with Doucet's last wishes, the authorization to make the publication required by law for the emancipation of Jean Louis, André, Françoise, Auguste Simon and Louise [Original in French].

PAR Number 20883179

State: Louisiana Year: 1831
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Hilaire Goguet presents to the court that, due to "unfortunate circumstances in business," he has suffered losses and cannot pay his debts. He is in fact destitute and in the custody of the sheriff in a suit instituted by one of his debtors, a free man of color named Séverin Latour. He claims that there are also other "suits and demands which he is wholly unable to satisfy." He therefore prays the court to enjoin his creditors to appear and "show cause, if any they can, why he should not be discharged" from custody. He also wants the court to stop all proceedings against him and be "fully and finally discharged."

PAR Number 20883206

State: Louisiana Year: 1832
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Geneviève Isabelle, a woman of color also known as Zabelle, presents to the court that she is being deprived of the "advantages of freedom" to which she is entitled by the "unjust pretensions" of one François Dauphin. She explains that she was born free in Santo Domingo and was brought to New Orleans by a free woman of color named Clémentine Chanlate. When in New Orleans, she continued to serve Clémentine Chanlate, but as a free person. Upon Clémentine's death, however, her four children and their natural father, the defendant François Dauphin, have suffered her, "until this day," to enjoy her freedom. However, when Isabelle asked Dauphin to acknowledge her freedom by "a public act," he refused to do so "under diverse frivolous pretenses." She therefore asks the court to cite Dauphin and his four natural children by the late Clémentine Chanlate to appear before the court and answer the charges. She also asks the court to declare that she is "a free person" and that the defendants have "no right whatsoever to exercise upon her" [Original in English and French; French version incomplete].

PAR Number 20883220

State: Louisiana Year: 1832
Location: East Baton Rouge Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Mary, a woman of color, represents that her late master, John Marshall of Columbia County in the state of Georgia, directed in his 1809 last will and testament that she be freed in 1815. After Marshall’s death, however, his heir, Marian Morris, and her husband, Gerard Morris, never informed Mary of her rights and kept her in slavery. After Gerard Morris's death, Mary and her two children, Judy and William, were sold to one Jerry Morris. Maria claims that, at that point, six or seven years had elapsed since the time when she should have been freed, during which years she was “illegally held in slavery.” Since that time, Mary has lost her first two children, but has given birth to five more after the date set for her emancipation. Jerry Morris has now died, but Leroy C. Morris, curator for the absent heirs to his estate, continues to hold the family in bondage, and Mary fears that he intends to “carry her & her five children out the Jurisdiction” of the court. She therefore prays for an order of sequestration in the hands of the sheriff for the duration of the case. She asks the court to declare her and her children free. She also asks for $2,000 in damages to be paid from the estate of the late Jerry Morris. A related testimony reveals that Jerry Morris "made Mary his wife & had a good many children by her." In 1830, another woman named Mary had also sued Leroy Morris for her freedom under the clause of John Marshall's will. Since the story of what happened after Marshall's death is different in each of these two cases, it is reasonable to assume that these are two different women. Also the Mary in the 1830 case is not identified as a mulatto as she is in this case.

PAR Number 20883314

State: Louisiana Year: 1833
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Maria W. Webb charges that the verbal and physical abuse she has received, over the years, at the hands of her husband, as well as the reality of his adulterous connection with one of their slaves named Nancy, has driven her and her children out of their “common dwelling.” Maria claims that William, whom she married in 1809 in England, has “pursued towards her a course of excess, cruel treatment and outrage,” beating her, calling her names “too disgusting to be mentioned,” and allowing the slave Nancy to behave with “insolence & abuse” toward her. Maria Webb seeks alimony at the rate of $30 per month and a separation of “bed and board.” She also prays for a decree of “partition” of their common property, which consists of land, household furniture, stocks in a “bottling establishment,” and six slaves. In the meantime, she prays for an order enjoining her husband from selling the property.

PAR Number 20883341

State: Louisiana Year: 1833
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Rosine Berard, a free woman of color, presents to the court that she was born free on the island of St. Domingue and left with her aunt Marie Jeanne Berard, also a free woman of color, during the "insurrection of the slaves." She further presents that, after coming to New Orleans, she continued to give Marie Jeanne the "use and benefits of her services" to express her "feelings of gratitude & affection" and because of the obligations she had contracted toward her. After Marie Jeanne's death in 1813 or 1814, she placed herself under the protection of Marie Jeanne's sister, Marie Louise Berard. She now alleges that Marie Louise is claiming her and her five children as slaves and is keeping them in "involuntary servitude." She also alleges that Marie Louise may even be planning to take her family out of the jurisdiction of this court. She therefore asks the court to decree her and her children free and to condemn Marie Louise Berard to pay $500 in damages. She also asks the court to order her sequestration and that of her five children pending resolution of the suit. Related documents reveal that Marie Jeanne, Marie Louise, and Rosine Berard were the daughters and granddaughter, respectively, of a St. Domingue merchant named Berard du Papon.

PAR Number 20883416

State: Louisiana Year: 1834
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Adeline Turner seeks a divorce from her husband, William Porter. Adeline informs the court that she brought $450 into her 1828 marriage to William. Since the marriage, William has "acquired a community of property" that includes three slaves and eleven tracts of land. Adeline charges "that she has suffered excesses, & cruel treatment from her husband & outrages, so as to make her living with him any longer insupportable." She reports that William has whipped her "with a cow hide" and has stripped and exposed "her in the streets in this city & he has publickly defamed" her character "by calling her thief, whore, drunkard & other opprobrious epithets." Adeline also charges that William "has sent & employed certain persons, as emisaries to delude & induce her to leave the house for the purpose of finding a pretext & excuse to defraud her of her property & that he cohabits with his negresse Slave in the same room where this petitioner sleeps." Adeline therefore prays for a divorce, separation of property, custody of their two children, and rights to both her dowry and "one moyety of the community" property [Petition is damaged and one or more pages may be missing].

PAR Number 20883511

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

Abstract: Rosette De Meziere, a free woman of color, seeks to overturn “an Act purporting to be a Sale or Lease” of her house and lot to George Hagan. Rosette, also called Marie Rose, presents that, for some time preceding the act, she and Hagan had "lived together in concubinage." She charges that "Hagan, pretending to be displeased at not being master of the premises on which he lived" and "in a fit of apparently wounded pride at his dependant situation, threatened to leave the house, & abandon" her. As her "affections had been so completely won by the artifices of said Hagan," she offered to put all her property in his "safekeeping." Hagan drew up the aforesaid "Act" while plying her with wine. Since she was "bewildered by the effect of the wine, she didn’t perceive" that $1,500 was included as consideration for the "sale or lease." She denies ever receiving any money from Hagan and adds that Hagan did not have the means to pay $1,500 since he was "poor and dependant" upon her for a home. Hagan has since "beaten & otherwise ill treated" Rosette and "expelled her from her own house." Furthermore, Rosette complains that since, since gaining possession of her property, Hagan has without her consent “made stables of two rooms in her house, & turned the garden & orchard into a horse lot, thereby destroying all the trees & doing damage," to her great injury. She prays that Hagan be condemned to pay $1,000 as damages for the destruction of her property and for the “illegal detention thereof." A related document reveals that Rosette had acquired the house from her father, Athanaze de Meziere.

PAR Number 20883741

State: Louisiana Year: 1837
Location: Terrebonne Location Type: Parish

Abstract: The heirs of Alexander Verdun petition for the annulment of land sales made by the deceased to a family of free people of color, whom they allege to be his "illegitimate" children. Melanie Robinet, her husband William Smith, and Marie Zelmire Theriot Robinet, as tutrix of her two minor children, Nicholas and Pierre, represent that they are the “legal” heirs of their uncle, the late Verdun. They allege that, during his lifetime, Verdun made a number of “false pretended and simulated” sales in favor of his seven “bastards” born of a now deceased free woman of color named Marie Gregoire. According to the plaintiffs, the sales were nothing more than disguised donations, made for the sole purpose of defrauding them and circumventing the law. They therefore pray that all “donations & sales” made to the Gregoire children be “cancelled and annulled,” and that the land be “deemed to belong” to them. They further seek $2,000 in damages. The related Supreme Court opinion reveals that Marie Gregoire and her children lived and worked upon Verdun's plantation until Marie's death. Verdun never married.

PAR Number 20883829

State: Louisiana Year: 1838
Location: St. James Location Type: Parish

Abstract: William Dauphin and R.V. Zulma Dauphin, the latter assisted by her husband, François Duteil, are the children and "legal heirs" of the late J.P.V. Dauphin, who seek to recover three slaves from a free woman of color named Mary Uriell. William and Zulma claim that, upon his death, their father owned two female slaves named Elizabeth and Martha. They allege that Elizabeth and Martha, as well as Martha’s infant daughter, are now in the possession of Mary Uriell, their father’s concubine and mother of his illegitimate children. According to William and Zulma, Uriell took possession of the slaves after their father’s death, claiming to have purchased them in 1833 for $1,800, by virtue of an act of sale under "private signature." William and Zulma contend that the sale was, in fact, a disguised donation intended to defraud them of their legitimate claim to their father's property. They therefore pray that Uriell be condemned to deliver the slaves to them and pay $300 annually for the slaves’ hires.

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