Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 11382507

State: South Carolina Year: 1825
Location: Union Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Dr. Hugh Davitt asks to be compensated for his attendance "as a surgeon" on Joel Foster, who was arrested "for the crimes of negroe and horse stealing." Davitt recounts that the said Foster, "at the time of his arrest ... attempted to make his escape when he received a dangerous wound from the shot of a gun." The petitioner "further states that his services while attending on the said prisoner amounted to the sum of twenty six dollars, which he prays may be paid." Foster was later executed in Abbeville.

PAR Number 11481505

State: Tennessee Year: 1815
Location: Davidson Location Type: County

Abstract: Michael C. Dunn, sheriff of Davidson County, seeks reimbursement of the expenses he incurred in transporting John Rose, who was "charged with having stolen & conveyed away a negro named Ralph the property of Matthew Brewer of the County of Smith." Dunn therefore "prays this Honorable Assembly that a Law may be passed remunerating him for money expended."

PAR Number 11482204

State: Tennessee Year: 1821
Location: Davidson Location Type: County

Abstract: Robert Johnson, executor of the late David Beatty, reminds the legislature that his testator devised freedom to the slaves in his possession at the time of his death and requested that they be settled in the Indiana Territory. He further reports that Beatty's sister, Ann Hope, filed suit to prevent said emancipation and that said "contest was finally determined in favour of the will," allowing "your petitioner one year from that time to use every legal means to procure the emancipation of the negroes." Beset by ill health, Johnson admits that several months elapsed before he could proceed but he states that when "he was ready to remove those unfortunate persons to Indianna, and that anxious hope which they had so long indulged in [was] about to be consummated, they were yet doomed to further disapointment." He declares that "the son of Mrs Ann Hope came in the night time to where the negroes were ... and forcibly & Secretly took them away, carried them off and concealed them from your petitioner." Johnson, having regained possession of said slaves, now submits that Ann Hope and friends have suggested "that if by such means your petitioner should procure the freedom of said Slaves they will make him responsible out of his own estate ... for the value of them." Avowing that “nothing Stands opposed to the just [demands] of these Slaves to their freedom but avarice ... which would sacrafice the liberty & happiness of these persons,” the petitioner commits the slaves to “your hands ... hoping that you will mete unto them that measure of Justice which you would have others measure unto you.”

PAR Number 11482704

State: Tennessee Year: 1827
Location: Davidson Location Type: County

Abstract: Davidson County sheriff Michael C. Dunn seeks reimbursement for expenses incurred in 1808 while transporting John Rose, accused of stealing "a negro man slave named Ralph the property of Matthew Brewer," from Nashville to Carthage, Tennessee. Dunn declares that he paid the expenses for four men and four horses on the trip to Carthage and for three men and four horses on the return trip; he also paid for a pair of "hand-cuffs and other means for securing said criminal."

PAR Number 11483527

State: Tennessee Year: 1835
Location: Roane Location Type: County

Abstract: Joseph Byrd, deputy sheriff of Roane County, seeks compensation in the sum of $57.20 for expenses he and two guards incurred in transporting "a certain Charles Farris who was then confined in the jail of Roane County, as a witness against a certain Charles Neighbors & others on a charge of negro stealing." Byrd states that the trip to Franklin County, the site of said trial, and back amounted to two hundred and sixty miles and that "according to law he would be allowed 10 cents per mile for himself & 6 cents for each guard." The petitioner therefore prays that a law be passed "for his relief."

PAR Number 11584106

State: Texas Year: 1841
Location: San Augustine Location Type: County

Abstract: Eighteen citizens in Shelby and San Augustine counties seek protection from "Armed bands of self styled Regulators [who,] assuming and arrogating to themselves the right and power to distribute Justice to whom it belongs, have assembled now in daily action, governed and influenced by the worst feelings of mans nature, loosing sight of all that is humane and Just, pursuing their victims to the Grave proscribing others--laying the finest farms in the country waste driving from their houses and useful pursuits honest Citizens spreading terror abroad in the land and sapping the foundation of all thats peaceful and social." In the related document, N. B. Garner states that a band of thirteen "ruffians" carried off his slaves after he made "a frank and independent expression of my opinion against the principle of Regulating."

PAR Number 11584108

State: Texas Year: 1841
Location: Montgomery Location Type: County

Abstract: Charged with stealing of a slave belonging to the estate of James Darwin, John F. Martin was taken before Austin County Chief Justice John H. Money. He was released after two men, including John Darwin, a relative of the deceased, signed security for a three-thousand-dollar bond. Martin fled to Louisiana and failed to appear at the next court session. John Darwin, a man in "moderate Circumstances" and head of a family, asks to be relieved from the liability of the bond.

PAR Number 11585107

State: Texas Year: 1851
Location: Fannin Location Type: County

Abstract: John R. Garnett, administrator of the estate of the late Jabez Fitzgerald, asks for "clemency" in regard to paying a security bond of one thousand dollars. Garnett states that the said Fitzgerald and another man served as securities for Sheriff Francis Williams, vouching for his paying to the state the taxes he had collected. He further states that the Fannin County Court served a judgment on said securities in 1845 and that Williams absconded with a valuable slave three hundred miles into the Cherokee Nation where Fitzgerald overtook them. Garnett notes that the slave was "by the devices of said Williams retaken from" Fitzgerald on his return trip. Now, after a trial and appeal, the estate administrator asks the state for "clemency" in the judgment against the intestate's estate.

PAR Number 11585402

State: Texas Year: 1854
Location: Panola Location Type: County

Abstract: Edward P. Black states that he married Rebecca A. Jarnegan in DeSoto County, Mississippi, in 1844, whereupon they moved to Texas and inherited eleven slaves, valued at $4,500, from the estate of Rebecca's deceased father; Black laments that his wife died in childbirth a year later. He charges that three of his wife's brothers, "armed with pistols made an attack on petitioner and drove off said eleven negros then being in the possession of petitioner and also took at the same time said child the issue of said marriage." Black recounts that "in the defense of said child and said property of said child petitioner opposed force to force and for doing which petitioner was indicted in said County for the crime of murder," for which he was later acquitted. He reports that he then "was obliged to sue for said property and did so in said County." Black points out he has lately been appointed guardian of his son's estate and that said estate "is fully able to pay said expenses" of prosecuting the said matter. He therefore prays "the passage of an act allowing him to pay out of said estate" the expenses incurred in the recovery of his son's property.

PAR Number 11680101

State: Virginia Year: 1801
Location: Richmond Location Type: City

Abstract: In 1801, Edmund Grady was prosecuted in the Richmond District Court and found guilty of stealing a slave in the possession of Paul Thilman, a deputy sheriff of Hanover county. He was fined fifty pounds plus court costs. In fact, Grady asserts, he owned the slave woman, having purchased her from one James Head Lynch; a purchase that could be verified by the bill of sale in his possession. The slave, whose name is revealed in a related affidavit as being Nelly, had been seized by Sheriff Thilman by virtue of an execution against Lynch's estate. Learning what had happened, Grady secured a warrant to search Thilman's house, from which he recovered Nelly. Although part of the petition is missing, it can be assumed that Grady is suing to have the fine remitted.

PAR Number 11680403

State: Virginia Year: 1804
Location: Richmond Location Type: City

Abstract: Fifty-four white residents of Richmond complain that captains of northern trading vessels trade and barter with slaves, corrupting their morals. In some cases, captains "inculcate in their weak minds a spirit of discontent, tending to insurrection." In other cases, they encourage slaves to steal from their owners, receiving the stolen goods "in barter for spirits or baubles." They "decoy them away in the expectation of obtaining their liberty," and "after being thus beguiled they employ them as slaves, and convey them to ports where slavery is tolerated and there sell them as such." The petitioners represent that the laws on the books are weak and unenforceable. They ask for stricter laws to curb these practices.

PAR Number 11680901

State: Virginia Year: 1809
Location: Petersburg Location Type: City

Abstract: Called to testify as a witness in the Prince Edward County case involving William Nealy--accused of having stolen and offered for sale a "Negro Boy"--Nathaniel Harris failed to appear. It was due to the shortness of the notice and inclement weather, Harris said. He was fined, paid his fine, and now asks to be reimbursed.

PAR Number 11682611

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

Abstract: In 1817, at age seventeen, Macy Birdsong married a blacksmith named Charles Gay, who was "very poor but had learned the blacksmith trade from one of his uncles a very industrious and respectable man." A short time later, Gay took his wife's single slave, a woman, and ran off to North Carolina with another woman, Sally Andrews. Macy returned to live with her mother (her father having died many years before) and now, with her mother nearing the end of her life at age sixty-six, Macy fears following her mother's death her husband might return and lay claim to her small inheritance--a few slaves distributed among several family members. She asks for a divorce.

PAR Number 11683314

State: Virginia Year: 1833
Location: Stafford Location Type: County

Abstract: Forty-one citizens of Stafford County defend the Wharton family--William, Lemuel, Barney, Nancy, and Lewis--who had been nominally owned by John Cooke Sr., deceased. The Whartons "are all white persons in complexion and in fact," with only a remote ancestor on one side of the family being black. They are persons "of excellent character," have married with whites, and in their attitudes and "partialities are decidedly for the whites." One Wharton identified a slave stealer; another gave information leading to the capture of several runaways in New York City. The petitioners ask that the family be permitted to remain in Virginia.

PAR Number 11683502

State: Virginia Year: 1835
Location: Bedford Location Type: County

Abstract: Thomas Sawyers, a Massachusetts man, was found guilty of stealing a suit of clothes and two slaves. He was sentenced to six years confinement. Having served most of his sentence, he seeks a "pardon" from General Assembly to clear his name.

PAR Number 11683503

State: Virginia Year: 1835
Location: Bedford Location Type: County

Abstract: Fifty-four residents of Bedford County petition on behalf of Thomas Sawyers, a Massachusetts man, who was found guilty of stealing two slaves and sentenced to imprisonment for "near or about five years." The petitioners defend him on the ground that he had been "misguided by some of those with whom he unfortunately fell in" and ask that he be released from the remainder of his sentence.

PAR Number 11683607

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

Abstract: Thirty-seven citizens of Loudoun and Fauquier counties complain about "Free Negroes (and sometimes ... white men, of no higher grade of character) who unwilling to earn an honest support, by regular manual labour," traffick with slaves by "Trading Carts, between the Towns of the District of Columbia and the adjacent counties in Virginia." The petitioners avow that these traders purchase the "innumerable depredations by the slaves of the neighbourhood" and thus offer for sale "the plundered articles." They therefore ask that free blacks be required to obtain a license from the county court before they can act as tradesmen. The petitioners also "call the attention of your Honourable Body to the laws in relation to 'Slaves going at large and hireing themselves out as Free Persons,' and would ask that the same be revised and amended, with a view to the more effective suppression of that evil thereby intended to be prevented."

PAR Number 11684214

State: Virginia Year: 1842
Location: Culpeper Location Type: County

Abstract: About 1840, Newsome Lawry stole a horse and "a certain female slave" from Robert Hoffman of Culpeper County and carried them off toward the northwest. Hoffman pursued Lawry to Wheeling, Virginia, "where he got the negro and brought her home." Hoffman then set out to Pennsylvania to retrieve his horse, but while he was gone Lawry returned to Culpeper County and was arrested, convicted, and sent to prison. Hoffman recovered his horse, but now asks the legislature for compensation for his travels--twenty-seven or twenty-eight days and eleven hundred miles--and the two months he was without a horse during the planting season.

PAR Number 11684311

State: Virginia Year: 1843
Location: Culpeper Location Type: County

Abstract: Mary Lawry, the mother of four children by her husband Newsome Lawry, a convict in the penitentiary near Richmond, seeks a divorce. In 1839, she informs the legislature, her husband began an "illicit intercourse" with a slave named Cynthia, the property of the estate of James Huffman and in the possession of the estate executor, Robert Huffman. Eventually Lawry stole a horse and fled with Cynthia to Wheeling, on their way, the petitioner supposes, to a free state. Cynthia was captured by Robert Huffman and the horse, though sold, was eventually recovered. Lawry returned to Richmond after Cynthia's capture and was arrested, convicted, and sent to prison.

PAR Number 20182101

State: Alabama Year: 1821
Location: Jackson Location Type: County

Abstract: Thomas Hopkins states that when he lived in Warren County, Tennessee, he owned a "Negroe Woman of dark complection aged about 45 years & of the value of about four hundred dollars named Molly" and a "mulatto girl named ayes of light complection aged about sixteen years of the value of about one thousand dollars." Hopkins asserts that the women "were feloniously taken" by John Hammons and transported to Alabama where they were sold by one John McGowan to George W. Thompson, despite knowledge of his (Hopkins's) claim to ownership. Fearing the slaves will be sold, Hopkins asks the court to order Thompson to offer security for them pending the outcome of his suit of recovery.

PAR Number 20183307

State: Alabama Year: 1832
Location: Autauga Location Type: County

Abstract: In a previous petition, William Tylor asked the court for an injunction to prevent the county sheriff from delivering four slaves, currently in custody in the jail, to William Roy. Tylor had accused Roy of stealing the bill of sale showing Tylor's rightful ownership of the slaves, and when confronted, Roy attempted to remove the slaves from the county. Tylor now appears in court stating that the slaves were released to Roy by law of replevy before the injunction was issued. Tylor further states that "a part of the slaves aforementioned have been sold or disposed of to one John H. Thorington and part to one William Hadnot." Since Roy is still insolvent, Tylor still fears that the slaves "will be removed beyond the Jurisdiction of this court," and beyond the reach of the petitioner. Tylor therefore asks that the defendants be served with a summons requiring them to "answer all the matters & things in this Bill of Complaint," and to have an injunction issued to take possession of the slaves until a final decision is made.

PAR Number 20183901

State: Alabama Year: 1839
Location: Talladega Location Type: County

Abstract: Matilda Houston seeks title to the slave Dinah and an injunction against her husband, Josiah Houston. Dinah was given to Matilda by her father James Allums while she was married to her first husband, D. Allen. When Allen died, his estate was settled and "the said nigro [sic] Dinah was allotted to your oratrix as her portion in part of the said Estate." Three years later Matilda married Josiah Houston. Matilda describes her marriage to Houston as one where "they have lived hapily & peaceably together until within the last five or six weeks past." Josiah, she states, has now "secretly become estranged in his affections towards your oratrix." She claims that he has attempted and succeeded in stealing Dinah and is preparing to move to Texas, and that he "is determined to abandon her and leave her penniless in the world." Matilda seeks an injunction to prevent her husband from leaving the state with the slave. She further asks the court to place the slave in safekeeping and to arrest Josiah Houston. Finally, the petitioner asks that the court order Josiah to furnish her with some means of support. The court dismissed the suit, reasoning that a husband has absolute title to property brought to the marriage by his wife. The court also alludes to Josiah Houston's claim that he had reason to abandon Matilda since she had given birth six months after they were married to a "mulatto child" fathered by a slave -- the husband of Dinah.

PAR Number 20183915

State: Alabama Year: 1839
Location: Dallas Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1835, William Moore hired out his slave, Edmund, to John McNeal for five hundred dollars for a term of three years. McNeal sold the remainder of the slave's term to his brother, James McNeal, "with the understanding that said negro continued with said James C. McNeal until the expiration of the Year 1838 at which time the term of hire expired." Moore charges that James McNeal has kept Edmund and claims to own him, and is planning to take him to Louisiana. The petitioner seeks writs of attachment restraining McNeal from taking the slave with him and attaching McNeal's other property "sufficient to satisfy the damages," citing that Edmund is worth between $1000 and $1500.

PAR Number 20184713

State: Alabama Year: 1847
Location: Dallas Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1824, Robert S. Carson conveyed to his daughter Pamela Gibson nine slaves: Olive and her children Winny, Ibby, Rachel, Nicey, Sam, and Ailsey, and Jinny her child Charity. He believed that the conveyance would act as a will, and he could revoke it at any time. When he learned that this was not the case, he attempted to burn the deed, but it (along with a deed for his land) was "rescued from the flames" by a family member. Years later, Jacob Summerlin, administrator of Carson's estate, writes that Pamela and her husband Thomas tricked the illiterate Carson into signing the deed when he was "under the influence of intoxicating liquor ..., and greatly impaired & weakened from the long and habitual use of intoxicating drink." On 2 November 1837, Pamela Gibson died. The next day, Carson dictated a will, directing that his property and slaves be kept together until the youngest daughter by his second marriage came of age and then distributed among his wife Sabry or Sabrina and his children. That night Pamela's son Robert Gibson "seduced & enticed away" Carson's slaves--Jinny, Ibby, Rachel, Winny, Sam, Martha, Sarah, John, Charity, Rufus, Nora, Ailsey and Milly--worth "at least five thousand dollars." Summerlin now asks the court to set aside the controversial deed, to subpoena Pamela's children to account for the slaves in their possession, and to rule as to their rightful owners.

PAR Number 20184816

State: Alabama Year: 1848
Location: Marengo Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1843, Samuel Davis of Virginia gave his daughter Emily Moore of Marengo County, Alabama, three slaves for her own separate use. In 1845, Emily swapped one of her slaves for a woman named Silvy who was worth about six hundred dollars. In 1846, however, Silvy was taken from Emily without the latter's knowledge and consent. She has now discovered that Silvy is in Mobile in the possession of a man named William B. Harwood, and claimed to be "owned" by David and Mary Ann McCloud, and Nicholas Schroder, who produced a deed signed by Emily's husband Joseph Moore. Emily seeks a return of her property.

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