Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 20382606

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

Abstract: Elzey Spicer died in 1821 and left his daughter Caty Spicer Fletcher two slaves, Rose and her son William. Shortly afterwards, Fletcher and her husband were sued for an old debt, and the sheriff confiscated the two slaves, putting them on the auction block. Caty and her brother Curtis Spicer, executor of their father's estate, agreed that Curtis should purchase the slaves and turn them over to Caty; however, after purchasing them for seventy-five dollars, he refused to turn over William and sold Rose in his sister's behalf but kept the money. The "Conduct and Dealing" of Curtis, the Fletchers charge, was unfair and illegal, and after Curtis's death in 1823, they sue Rhoda Spicer, Curtis's widow and the executrix of his estate, seeking reimbursement.

PAR Number 20584508

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

Abstract: In a supplemental bill, William H. Scruggs states that he holds a mortgage from John G. Holcomb, in which slaves were used as collateral. Before payment of the mortgage was due, William Bellamy obtained a judgment against Holcomb in which the same slaves were levied. He asks the court to settle the dispute by foreclosing on the mortgage and ordering sale of the slaves. Scruggs "is particularly desirous that this be done as soon as possible because the negroes mentioned in said mortgage now in his possession and for whom he is bound to pay hire are comparatively worthless to him seeing that they consist of a breeding woman two small children one an infant at the breast born since the filing of the original bill."

PAR Number 20585209

State: Florida Year: 1852
Location: Leon Location Type: County

Abstract: John B. and Elizabeth A. Keen “entered into a contract of marriage” whereby a female slave named Eliza was conveyed to Alfred A. Fisher “in trust for complainants during their joint lives." The Keens now seek authorization to sell Eliza and use the money to buy a house and lot, to be held in trust by Fisher for themselves and their daughter Ellen. They report that John is "greatly afflicted" and desires this sale because he is "feeble and unable to" provide the funds through his own industry. The petitioners reveal that Eliza "does not have children, although she is about twenty eight years of age, and has for several years been married. She will therefore constantly diminish in value during the lives of your orator and oratrix" and may be "of little value or no value" to their child Ellen upon their deaths. They therefore request that their trustee "be authorized and instructed to sell said slave, and to invest the proceeds of said sale in the purchase of said house and lot."

PAR Number 20782909

State: Kentucky Year: 1829
Location: Bourbon Location Type: County

Abstract: William Hickman, "being anxious to obtain a negro woman about twenty four or five years of age of good qualities that would breed," especially one who had had male children, purchased a slave named Queen and her son Ned from Thomas Trundle. Shortly after the purchase he became persuaded that the child suffered from epileptic fits, which "will ultimately result in idiocy, or intire derangement of the mind." Queen is also unhealthy. But Trundle refuses to rescind the contract. As further evidence of Trundle's fraudulent intentions, Hickman claims that he intended that his note for the slaves would be payable in twelve months, but that Trundle made it payable in one day. Now Trundle has won a judgment on the note in the law side of the court, and Hickman asks this court for an injunction restraining Trundle from proceeding on the judgment and for a final decree rescinding the contract.

PAR Number 20783103

State: Kentucky Year: 1831
Location: Harrison Location Type: County

Abstract: William Botkin Jr. is the guardian of Andrew J. and Paulina Jordan, heirs of John Jordan, deceased. In his will, John Jordan specified that a slave named Leah should be hired out until his youngest daughter Martha, alias Patsy, arrived at age eight, and "in the event that the said negro woman should not breed or increase then that she should be sold at the end of eight years." The eight years have passed, Leah has not bred or had increase, but Patsy's guardian Samuel Chambers refuses to permit Leah to be sold, "pretending that she is rightfully the property of his ward." Botkin asks the court to decree that Leah be sold and that Chambers account for her hire from the time Patsy reached eight.

PAR Number 20783720

State: Kentucky Year: 1837
Location: Fayette Location Type: County

Abstract: Bernard Rodgers states that his father Joseph executed a will in which he left his estate, which included land and fifty to sixty slaves, to his wife Susan during her lifetime. Joseph's children from a previous marriage filed suit to have themselves declared heirs as well, but the suit failed. Bernard claims they then frightened Susan into agreeing to a division of the estate, taking advantage of his infancy. Subsequently, Henry Rodgers sold some of the slaves, although they had been in Joseph Rodgers's possession for a long time and "some of the men had wives & the women had husbands & all of them kindred among the other slaves yet all these ties were torn asunder." Bernard asks that the defendants be restrained from removing or selling any more of the slaves, that they be compelled to account for all slaves sold, and finally that all the slaves be returned and their hire be accounted for.

PAR Number 20785402

State: Kentucky Year: 1854
Location: Barren Location Type: County

Abstract: Lucinda Gassaway received real and personal property from the estate of her late husband, Dabney Turner. Later Gassaway married Henry Emerson, and following his death, John Mathews was appointed administrator of Emerson's estate. Before Lucinda and James Gassaway married, they entered into an indenture that gave her a life estate in all the property devised by Dabney Turner's will. Charging Mathews with illegally disposing of estate property, Lucinda asks for monetary damages, the funds from the hire of the slaves, and removal of Mathews as commissioner of her affairs.

PAR Number 20785413

State: Kentucky Year: 1854
Location: Warren Location Type: County

Abstract: On 7 October 1832, Noel Waddle's will stipulated that Fanny was to be emancipated upon achieving thirty-five years of age. Fanny claims that in July 1854 she reached the required age to be free. She charges, however, that Waddle's widow Ruth and her husband William continue to hold and keep her in a state of slavery. Fanny states "that she is now bearing a child, and that her anxiety is consequently increased, that she be set at liberty." She "prays that she be set at liberty and her hire be decreed to her." The defendants argue that Fanny will not be thirty-five years old until 12 July 1855. When the court rules in 1855, it is clear that Fanny is free. However, the court concludes that her son John is a slave as it determined that Fanny was not free when he was born.

PAR Number 20785905

State: Kentucky Year: 1859
Location: Christian Location Type: County

Abstract: James T. Garnett states that James O. Ellis and John B. Gowen sold him "a negro girl named Ellen and warranted and guarantied the title of said girl in consideration of One thousand dollars," which sum “was the full market value for Said girl and all her natural increase.” Garnett now asserts that "only recently he has ascertained that said negro girl was the property of one Nicholas M. Ellis,” who provided in his will that "the natural increase of all his female slaves born after the year 1850 were to be free and go to Liberia in Africa, the males of said Increase to be free at 24 years of age, and the females at 21 years of age, and each to be hired out for the three years next preceding the periods aforesaid for the purpose of raising funds for their transportation." He further adds that Ellen seems to be healthy and will likely have "a number of children-- which will render her almost valueless." Garnett charges that the defendants defrauded him and that the sale is null and void because the slave title is imperfect. He seeks to have the contract rescinded and have the purchase price and interest returned.

PAR Number 21083305

State: Mississippi Year: 1833
Location: Noxubee Location Type: County

Abstract: David Hendrick, guardian of the minor heirs of Royland Maning, represents that there "has been a Manifest Injury sustained in the ordinary manner of hireing Slaves to the higest Bidder in as much as there is one Woman that Breeds and of Delicate habit & there is Two children of the ages of between four & Three & the other between one & two years old." Hendrick asks that he "be permitted to keep The slaves & account to the Court for their proper Value that he could render more Sevice to his wards & preserve Their property from Serious Injury."

PAR Number 21085205

State: Mississippi Year: 1852
Location: Lowndes Location Type: County

Abstract: Maria T. Minor Bouchelle joins her husband Ezra and their three minor children in representing that her uncle Daniel Tillinghast gave her a thirteen-year-old slave named Eliza in January 1837. The petitioners now believe that "it will be greatly advantageous to them to convert said Eliza into money and that the same be invested in more valuable or other property." They assert that "said negro girl Eliza is not so valuable to petitioners as formerly and will become less valuable every day that she has never had any children and will never have" and that she has “married out of the families of negroes belonging to your petitioners.” They therefore pray that Ezra be appointed trustee and that he be permitted to sell Eliza and invest the proceeds.

PAR Number 21380301

State: South Carolina Year: 1803
Location: Camden Location Type: District

Abstract: Foster Moore joins his wife Mary, the widow of John Wright, in asking the court to compel William Wright, John's brother and the administrator of his estate, to account with them for Mary's share of the estate. Before Wright's death in 1793, he was induced by his brother, "under color of friendship ... and by various artful Insinuations," to mortgage him nine slaves even though John did not owe his brother "one single Farthing." After John died, William persuaded Mary to "come and live near him," where she managed these slaves as well as five children born thereafter. From 1794-1801 William had "the use and benefit of the work and labour" of the slaves, but has not credited the same to the estate. In 1802 Mary remarried, and her new husband joined Wright as co-administrator of the estate. Wright then "drove and forced" the couple off the land, kept the entirety of John's estate for himself, with the exception of one slave, and now pretends the estate is indebted to him. The Moores ask the court to protect Mary's interest in the estate by invalidating the mortgage and ordering William to "deliver up" the estate.

PAR Number 21380709

State: South Carolina Year: 1807
Location: Charleston Location Type: District

Abstract: Three representatives of the vestry of the Episcopal Church of the Parish of Saint James Santee ask the court to order the executors of the last will and testament of Jonannes Casper Hendrick Schneyder [Snyder] to pay the church a bequest of one thousand dollars. Schneyder's will directed that the money be used "for the best of the said Parish." Frederick Rutledge, acting on behalf of the estate, has refused to give the money to the church without the sanction of the court. Schneyder's will also made provisions for a "Mulatto Boy named Bill," who Schneyder wanted both freed "and protect[ed] ... in his freedom." Bill received a similar bequest of one thousand dollars, which Schneyder asked be "put out at Interest, and the Interest Money be given" to Bill. Schneyder also bequeathed money to Frederick Rutledge Jr. "to buy young Breeding wenches."

PAR Number 21381507

State: South Carolina Year: 1815
Location: Charleston Location Type: District

Abstract: William and Margaret Wells Murray ask the court to set aside a written agreement between Margaret and Arthur Hughes and to compel Hughes to account more equitably with them for Margaret's portion of her parents' estates. Hughes became the third husband of Margaret's mother, Hannah, in 1794, thereby gaining possession of the property of Margaret's father, John Wells, and Hannah's second husband, William Elms. After Hannah died, Hughes "blended together under his own name, his own and your Oratrix's property," instead of properly administering the estate. Until 1811, Hughes managed upwards of 100 slaves in clearing "very extensive fields for the culture of cotton." When the Murrays were about to marry, Hughes delivered 36 slaves to the "unfriended and unprotected" Margaret and offered her a settlement bond of $7000, which "thro' her ignorance" she accepted. She and William now point out that under Hughes's custodianship, the plantation's rent and its slaves' hire total over $31,000. Having been "for sixteen years at the mercy of the Defendant's," Margaret asks for the court's intervention in securing her rightful inheritance.

PAR Number 21381920

State: South Carolina Year: 1819
Location: Newberry Location Type: District

Abstract: The children of the late Daniel Pitts Jr. seek a settlement of their father's estate. They recount that their father died in 1804 and that their mother, Anna Pitts Plant, "took out letters of administration on all and singular the goods and chattels" of the said Daniel. The petitioners charge that the said Anna and her husband, William Plant, have unjustly sold a slave named George and have retained a slave named Nancy and her four children worth $3500, which they contend rightfully belong to the estate. In addition, they aver that their mother "dismantled" a saw and grist mill "of considerable value and anual profit and income" and that she has yet to account for the proceeds of the sale or "for the profits of the said mills while in operation." The petitioners therefore pray that the Plants "may be decreed to come to a fair and final settlement of the Estate of the said Daniel Pitts Junr decd." and "that they be decreed to deliver up the said negro Nancy and her increase ... to be sold in order to make partition or to be otherwise partitioned."

PAR Number 21382012

State: South Carolina Year: 1820
Location: Charleston Location Type: District

Abstract: Frederick Broaders and Laurent Dursse join their respective wives, Ann and Elizabeth, in asking for the court's permission to sell bank stock that the women inherited from the late John Parker. The petitioners wish to use the proceeds of the sale to vest immediately "in Negroes which are now selling at a moderate price." They surmise that the slaves' wages "and the increase of the Females would bring in a much greater Interest to them than the said Stock now produces." They request that James Thomson be appointed as trustee to implement the sale and to divide the proceeds.

PAR Number 21382115

State: South Carolina Year: 1821
Location: Union Location Type: District

Abstract: Jane Boyd, an "infirm old woman" in her seventies and "extremly imbecile both of mind and body," asks the court to "set aside" a fraudulent sale of her slave Nancy to Thomas Lynum. Nancy, who was a bequest to Jane from her late husband, John Boyd, was supposed to receive her freedom if she produced two children sometime after the execution of Boyd's will. The will further stipulated should Nancy "not have two living children then and in that case, she was to be disposed of by your petitioner in such manner and way as your petitioner might think proper until two children were born and the youngest one year old, when and after which period of time she the said Nancy was to be ... free." Three years after Jane took possession of Nancy, Thomas Lynum approached Jane, "pretending great friendship towards and strong anxiety for the welfare" of the elderly woman, and convinced her to sell Nancy and her "increase" to him for $300. Jane now charges that Lynum still owes money on the purchase and that he tricked her into delivering the slaves without a note to pay the purchase price. Jane also seeks compensation for the slaves' hire during Lynum's possession as she "stands in much need of the labour and services of the said negros for her daily support."

PAR Number 21382416

State: South Carolina Year: 1824
Location: Fairfield Location Type: District

Abstract: Sarah Milling, guardian of her two "infant children," asks that her purchase of certain slaves "for the benefit of her said children" be confirmed by the court. She represents that said minors "were entitled to considerable ready money" and that she conceived "it would be most for the interest of her said children, to vest the same in negroe slaves." Noting that she "actually made such investment for their benefit," the petitioner prays that "the title of said negroe slaves ... may by an order of this Honorable Court be invested in her said children" and that she, "as guardian of said children be allowed the sums respectively given for said negroe slaves." The commissioner's report notes that Milling purchased Pheby, "a breeding wench," and her three children for $800 in 1821 and purchased Jane, "a breeding wench," and her two children for $695 in 1823.

PAR Number 21383231

State: South Carolina Year: 1832
Location: Richland Location Type: District

Abstract: John, Margaret, Martha, and Sarah Fettmelz seek an account of Richard Smith's estate and the receipt of their inheritance. Richard Smith [also called Fettmelz] died sometime before 1819, survived by his wife and children. His will specified that, after his debts had been paid, the rest of the estate should be sold and the proceeds used for the "purchase of a negro woman that would breed." The petitioners remind the court that they sued Smith's executors, because the executors had not followed the will's instructions despite having the funds available to do so. In that earlier case, the Fettmelzes argued that the executors had waited so long that all but one heir had "come of age & the money would now be more convenient to them than the negro." The court granted their petition, but the original executors have all died. The Fettmelzes now ask the administrators of the executors' estates to show and settle the accounts of Richard Smith's estate and to "pay over to them the balance in their hands."

PAR Number 21384316

State: South Carolina Year: 1843
Location: Richland Location Type: District

Abstract: Elizabeth W. Terrill represents that, on 24 December 1842, Jesse E. Dent "conveyed to Edwin J Dent, John T Dent and Sally Virginia Dent ... several slaves and among them a girl Minerva in trust for your Petitioner for life, and after her death for themselves." The petitioner submits that said Minerva "has proved to be very refractory and useless, and is not likely to have children.” Elizabeth finds it “very desirable” and “important to her comfort & interest and that of the remaindermen her children that the said slave should be sold and another substituted in her place." However, as "the Trustees are all minors," she needs authorization from the court to proceed. The petitioner therefore prays "that she be allowed to make such sale and reinvestment under the sanction and subject to the approval of the Commissioner of this Honorable Court."

PAR Number 21384649

State: South Carolina Year: 1846
Location: Richland Location Type: District

Abstract: Four grandchildren of the late William Smiley seek to protect their remainder interest in his estate slaves. By his will, Smiley left all his property to his widow in life estate and, at her death, to his grandchildren. The widow, Dorothy Smiley, had possession of the estate until 1844 when she sold "her interest therein to one Newell Webb." Webb has threatened recently to send the eighteen slaves out of the state, where they "may never be able to find or get them upon the death of said Dorothy Smiley," thus depriving them of their remainder interest in said inheritance. In addition, they "believe the said negroes have been treated very badly." They cite that "on one occasion as many as a hundred lashes were inflicted on one of the boys not more than twelve years of age." In addition, "although the females ... were in the habit of breeding very fast in the life time of the Testator, yet since his death although there are four women between the ages of eighteen and forty, only one child has been born among the whole of them." Therefore, the heirs pray that Smiley and Webb be ordered to give "ample security" to ensure that the slaves will be forthcoming at her death. They also request that the defendants be ordered "to treat said negroes more humanely and to furnish them with sufficient & wholesome food, and with sufficient clothing, and to abstain from inflicting severe and cruel punishment upon any of them."

PAR Number 21384815

State: South Carolina Year: 1848
Location: Richland Location Type: District

Abstract: Robert C. Myers, the widower of the late Chloe Ann Watson Myers and the father of three minor children, seeks the sale of 22 slaves. He asserts that his father-in-law, the late Elijah Watson, devised certain slaves to his daughters, Sophia and Chloe Ann, to "be respectively held and enjoyed by them during their natural lives" and that, at each daughter's death, "her portion descend and belong to such issue absolutely." He maintains that his "said infants are entitled to the portion bequeathed in the said will to their mother during her natural life and after her death to the said infants absolutely." Stating that he and his wife removed the slaves from Edgefield District to his plantation in Richland District, he cites that said slaves "since they have been on the plantation of your petitioner have suffered very much from fever, that the fever and other diseases have been very fatal to the children and in consequence the [slaves'] increase ... have been unusually small," whereby he "cannot continue to employ them on his plantation without great risk to the health and value of the said slaves." Of the belief that a sale of said slaves "would conduse very much to the interest of the said infants," he prays that said slaves be ordered to be sold in Edgefield District, where they "are well known ... where they were raised and would sell better there than in this District."

PAR Number 21385123

State: South Carolina Year: 1851
Location: Edgefield Location Type: District

Abstract: Jonathan Taylor and his wife, Charity Blackstone Taylor, ask to sell a slave named Minty. They inform the court that Commodore Decatur Blackstone, the late husband of Charity Taylor, died in 1844, leaving "a negro girl named Minty to his daughter Frances Helen Blackstone." The Taylors represent "that the said negro woman Minty is now about twenty four or five years of age and in the opinion of your Petitioners will never have any increase." They further "believe that the true interests of the said Frances Helen Blackstone would be much promoted by selling the said negro woman and either having the proceeds kept at interest or invested in the purchase of another younger female slave." The petitioners therefore pray that the court will permit them "to sell at public auction the said negro woman Minty on such terms and with such directions as to the investment of the proceeds of the sale as to your Honors may seem best."

PAR Number 21385911

State: South Carolina Year: 1859
Location: Edgefield Location Type: District

Abstract: Daniel Brunson, guardian of the four minor Brunson brothers, requests the court's permission to sell a female slave named Liley and her five-year-old-son Henry. Brunson recounts that he purchased Liley for $555 in 1851 and that she has served as a nurse to the petitioner's youngest wards; in the past eight years, Liley has had two children: Henry and an unidentified child, who has since died. The petitioner insists that his wards have outgrown their need for a nurse and that Liley "has become very stubborn and disobedient and is entirely valueless to the wards of your petitioner." Moreover, the petitioner claims that Liley has "stopped breeding." Daniel Brunson asks the court for authorization to sell Liley and Henry.

PAR Number 21385934

State: South Carolina Year: 1859
Location: Chester Location Type: District

Abstract: C. D. Melton, guardian of John D. Roden, requests the court's permission to purchase three slaves for the benefit of his nineteen-year-old ward. Melton represents that he desires to purchase Charity and her two children, Harry and Selena. He asserts that he has already contracted to purchase them for $1750. He therefore prays that the court will authorize said purchase. The affidavit of Dr. J. W. Moore refers to Charity as a "breeding woman."

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