Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 20183301

State: Alabama Year: 1833
Location: Talladega Location Type: County

Abstract: In an amended bill, Drusilla McMeans strengthens her claim to the seven slaves bequeathed to her and her children. Challenging her husband's right to the slaves, her original petition asked the court to prevent the sale of these slaves which had been levied to satisfy the debts of her husband, the defendant, Isaac McMeans. Drusilla states that after the death of her father, she and her husband and their children moved to St. Clair County, Alabama, whereupon she and the defendant executed to their children "a certain deed of Gift of their life estate to the said slaves named in the said Bill of Complaint." The petitioner further states that this deed was recorded prior to the defendant incurring any of the debts that are currently in litigation. The petitioner seeks to have the deed upheld and to settle the estate strictly by the confines of the will.

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 20183401

State: Alabama Year: 1834
Location: Madison Location Type: County

Abstract: Thomas Lowry, guardian of William E. Gardner, states that twenty years ago Abner Eason died in Bertie County, North Carolina, bequeathing "a life interest" in two slaves, Kate and Harry, and Kate's future issue to his daughter, Penelope Gardner, and "that at her decease the same should belong to her heir." In 1832 when Penelope died, Kate's increase amounted to eleven children and grandchildren, who, according to the provisions in Eason's will, descended to Penelope's only son, William E. Gardner. Lowry asserts that William Daughtry, administrator of the estate and Penelope's second husband, and Nathan Smith, William Gardner's guardian at the time, contrived to deprive William E. Gardner of his rightful inheritance by dividing the slaves among themselves. Lowry contends that Daughtry, who received six slaves, sold Harry to William Vesey and has attempted to sell the other slaves and has "made preparation to remove" some of the slaves "to parts unknown with a view of preventing the recovery of them for said Ward, and that for that purpose he has manacles in readiness to force them away contrary to their will also, they being anxious to be restored to their rightful Master." Since the partition, the slave Hester has died in Daughtry's possession. Lowry asks the court to nullify the partition and the sale and requests that the slaves be returned to the possession of his ward. In addition, he asks Daughtry and Vesey to account for and pay to his ward for the hiring out of the slaves.

PAR Number 20183403

State: Alabama Year: 1834
Location: Bibb Location Type: County

Abstract: Harwood Goodwin states that there has been no resolution to his original petition, dated 15 September 1830, because of court continuances in the case. The petitioner states that the two slaves in question, Jim and Lucy, "have long since discharged all just claims which deft could have had," and that the slaves "ought to have been restored to your Orator for which and on account the bill prayed." Goodwin notes new circumstances have occurred since he initiated his original suit. He states that Lucy is now the mother of four children and that the defendant "has & does keep them & their mother to the detriment of your Orator." He also states that Camp "sold & disposed of Jim," and that the defendant is now in the process of retrieving Jim from the purchaser. The petitioner believes "that said Defendant intends to prevent the cause from coming to trial," stating that Camp has stated that "your Orator never should have said slaves," giving Goodwin good reason to believe that Camp intends "to run said slaves off." Goodwin therefore asks the court "to award a writ of Attachment, to take said slaves into the possession of the Sheriff."

PAR Number 20183503

State: Alabama Year: 1835
Location: Bibb Location Type: County

Abstract: On 3 May 1830, Lucy and Rebecca Carlton, together with their son and brother, the late Isaac S. Carleton, mortgaged a nineteen-year-old slave named Lorenzo to Hardy Johnson to secure the payment of four hundred dollars. Johnson shortly thereafter "transferred said mortgage and the possession of said slave to one James W. Davis." According to an agreement made with Davis, the petitioners could redeem the slave at any time provided that "he was not taken out of a growing crop." In May of 1832 and again in February 1834, the petitioners attempted to pay Davis and reclaim possession of the slave. Both times, Davis refused to accept their money and refused to return the slave, "alledging that he would rather pay the costs of a suit than ... part with the possession of said slave," whose hire, the petitioners claim, "was worth one hundred and twenty dollars a year." The petitioners seek restoration of the slave and compensation in the amount of the value of his hire.

PAR Number 20183505

State: Alabama Year: 1835
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1822, Turner Christian of Charles County, Virginia, gave the following slaves to his grandchildren, the petitioners: Henry, Suggy and her son, William, and Hannah and her children Charles, Suckey, Fanny, and Marsha. The grandchildren moved with their father, Tyler Hardyman, and his wife, Catherine, to Jefferson County, Alabama. In 1824, Hardyman, "surrounded by perplexing pecuniary difficulties & harassing embarrassments," sold Suggy and her children, William and Crespy, the property of his children, conveyed to them by their grandfather, "whilst they were all tender minority incapable of self protection strangers in a strange land," to Mark Harris. Octavius Spencer then purchased Suggy and her son, Jack, described by the petitioners as possessing "great value & capable of performing much service," from the estate sale of John Riley, who had purchased them from Harris. The petitioners aver that Hardyman disposed of all of their property in order to pay his debts, "stripping them of their all and have caused them to feel poverty in all its bitterness which abides with them still," leaving them in "depressed circumstances." They ask the court to nullify the sale of the slaves and recognize their rightful ownership. In addition, the petitioners argue that the slaves are "family negroes the gift of their Grandfather," having "long resided with him and with them in their father's family." They further state that they "have all that personal regard for them that is commonly felt & entertained for property of this kind by all families possessing it and it is now from motives of the highest humanity & benevolence to the negroes themselves that" they seek the recovery of the slaves. The petitioners also request compensation for the slaves' hire and an injunction preventing Spencer from selling the slaves beyond the jurisdiction of the court.

PAR Number 20183506

State: Alabama Year: 1835
Location: Shelby Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1822, Turner Christian of Charles County, Virginia, gave the following slaves to his grandchildren, the petitioners: Suggy, William, Hannah and her children Charles, Suckey, Fanny, and Marsha. Shortly thereafter the petitioners moved with their father, Tyler Hardyman and his wife, Catherine, to Jefferson County, Alabama. In 1824, Hardyman, claiming ownership of the slaves, sold Suggy, William, and Creasey, Suggy's daughter born after execution of the deed of gift, to Mark Harris. Harris then sold Creasey to John Riley. After Riley's death, Elizabeth Riley, his mother, took possession of Creasey. The petitioners have already filed a bill for the recovery of Suggy and her children from one Octavius Spencer. They now sue Elizabeth Riley for the recovery of Creasey. The petitioners assert that Hardyman has disposed of all of their property in order to pay his debts, leaving them in "depressed circumstances." They ask the court to nullify the sale of the slave and recognize their rightful ownership. In addition, the petitioners argue that the slave is a "family negro" in that she belonged to their grandfather and their father. They further state that they "have all that persona[l] regard that is commonly felt and entertained for property of this kind by all familys possessing it is now from motives of the highest humanity and benevolence to the negroes herself that" they seek the recovery of the slave. The petitioners also request compensation for the slave's hire and an injunction preventing Riley from selling the slave beyond the jurisdiction of the court.

PAR Number 20183507

State: Alabama Year: 1835
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1822, Turner Christian of Charles County, Virginia, gave the following slaves to his grandchildren, the petitioners: Henry, Suggy, William, and Hannah and her children--Charles, Suckey, Fanny and Marsha. Shortly thereafter, the petitioners moved with their father, Tyler Hardyman, and his wife, Catherine, to Jefferson County, Alabama. In 1827, Tyler Hardyman sold Hannah, and two of her children, Joe and Betsy, born after the deed of gift to the petitioners, to William R. Saddler. Saddler died, and Hannah passed into the possession of his son, William Saddler of Franklin County. Joe, age ten, and Betsy, age twelve, passed into the possession of another son, Isaac Saddler. Hannah has since had three more children, also now held by William Saddler. The petitioners assert that Hardyman has disposed of all of their property in order to pay his debts, leaving them in "depressed circumstances." The petitioners ask the court to validate their original claim to ownership of the slaves and nullify subsequent sales. In addition, the petitioners argue that since these slaves are "family negroes," they "have all that personal regard for them that is commonly felt and entertained for property of this kind by all families possessing it and it is now from motives of the highest humanity & benevolence to the negroes themselves" that the petitioners seek the recovery of them. The petitioners also request compensation for the slaves' hire and an injunction preventing Saddler from selling the slaves beyond the jurisdiction of the court.

PAR Number 20183601

State: Alabama Year: 1836
Location: Jackson Location Type: County

Abstract: Martha McComb Logan and her husband, John, state that in 1816, her sister, Ann McComb, "brought from the State of South Carolina a negro boy named Will then about twelve years old to the residence of complainants in Madison County Alabama." Will "was sent out by Andrew McComb the common ancester of said defendant and your oratrix to be kept in the possession of said Defendant for the joint benefit of her and your Oratrix." However, the Logans contend, Ann McComb "concealed from your Orator the nature of said trust and of his interest in the services of said negro." Several years later, McComb moved away and "has had the exclusive services of said negro ever since until she secretly sold him for about one thousand dollars," the petitioners say. They seek compensation in the amount of half of the slave's hire since McComb left their residence and half of the proceeds from the sale of the slave.

PAR Number 20183605

State: Alabama Year: 1836
Location: Madison Location Type: County

Abstract: Cornelius Todd received a loan from John Hardie, putting up three slaves as collateral. One of the slaves, Jack, thirty-four years of age and of "yellow complexion," was valued at seven hundred dollars. Hardie possessed Jack from October 1828 until March 1830, at which Todd regained possession. Over the next six years, however, Jack passed into the possession of several men, and even temporarily returned under Todd's control. Todd asserts that his debt has long since been paid, but that the slave is now laboring in the possession of one James Hill, who refuses to return him. Todd seeks recovery of the slave and payment for his hire. In his related answer to the charges, Hardie contends that Jack was sold to him, not mortgaged as collateral for a debt, and that he had a right to resell him. His contention is supported by the other defendants who claim that they each purchased Jack with a bona fide title to him.

PAR Number 20183704

State: Alabama Year: 1837
Location: Chambers Location Type: County

Abstract: The heirs of Polly Johnson state that Johnson, a feme sole, and John Cotton "lived together in a state of adultery and passed as man and wife without ever having been legally married," from 1807 until 1834 or 1835 when she died, intestate. They claim that, at the time of her death, she possessed ten slaves, worth seven thousand dollars. The slaves and the rest of the estate are now in the possession of Cotton, who pretends to have been legally married to Johnson. The petitioners assert that Johnson would have wanted the slaves and property equally divided among all her children; Cotton, however, refuses to comply with their demand. The petitioners, therefore, ask the court to prohibit Cotton from selling any slaves or property and to recognize their rightful inheritance. In his answer, Cotton asserts that he was legally married to Polly Johnson in Wayne County, North Carolina, where his father Ephraim Cotton resided. He charges, however, that the petitioners are illegitimate children, born to Polly Johnson out of wedlock before she and he were married.

PAR Number 20183706

State: Alabama Year: 1837
Location: Tuscaloosa Location Type: County

Abstract: Isaac Humphries seeks to settle a dispute with William T. Terrell involving the slave Nelly and her children. Humphries states that a $132.50 debt resulted in a levy being placed upon his two slaves, "a negro woman [Nelly] and her infant son named Moses of great value." Humphries claims that he enlisted the aid of Terrell, proposing that Terrell attend the sheriff's sale and bid for his levied slaves. Humphries would then repay Terrell the amount advanced for the sale, along with the profits made from the labor of "a negro man a Tolerable Blacksmith," and regain possession of the slaves. Terrell agreed and purchased the slaves. But after the sale, a dispute over the slaves developed and when Terrell moved to Montgomery County, he took Nelly and her three children with him. Humphries charges Terrell with fraud, and asks that he be made to produce a bill of sale, honor the terms of the agreement, and relinquish possession of the slaves.

PAR Number 20183801

State: Alabama Year: 1838
Location: Shelby Location Type: County

Abstract: Petitioner John Lyon seeks the return of a slave family—a woman named Patsey and her three children, Robin or Robert, Isbel or Clary, and Louisa or Eliza—that has been assigned to the defendants, Harvey W. Pitts and John Cottingham, for sale in order to pay his mounting debts. In order to pay the debts, Lyon assigned the slaves along with two tracts of land, livestock, and notes for amounts owed to him. Lyons charges that proceeds from the sale of the land and livestock with the amount to be collected from the notes were more than sufficient to pay the debt. However, the petitioner claims that Pitts and Cottingham have neglected to collect payment from the notes and "retain the possession of said negroes and are offereing the same for sale pretending that they have not collected a sufficient amount to discharge their trust." The petitioner assesses the value of the slave mother and her three children to be $2000. Lyon seeks "a full and perfect account and inventory of all the property, notes and accounts;" the return of the slaves if a sufficient amount "has been collected to satisfy said trust;" and a court order prohibiting sale or removal of the slaves.

PAR Number 20183804

State: Alabama Year: 1838
Location: Lowndes Location Type: County

Abstract: John N. Smith seeks to settle a title dispute involving four slaves purchased by him in 1836 from Thomas W. Pastell. The petitioner, "not having any reason to suspect a fraudulent intent" purchased the slaves for $4800. Shortly after the sale, Smith discovered that the slaves belonged to Charles Williams in trust for a Mrs. Mary W. Pastell and her children. Smith refuses to pay the balance of the debt for the slaves until he receives legal title. He charges that Thomas Pastell and Mary Pastell gave him an invalid deed in order to obtain payment. Now Mary Pastell has initiated a suit against Smith to force payment of the debt. Smith seeks an injunction preventing her from further prosecuting her suit. In addition, he asks the court to nullify the debt until he receives a lawful title to the slaves.

PAR Number 20183805

State: Alabama Year: 1838
Location: Madison Location Type: County

Abstract: William E. Gardner petitions through his guardian, Richard B. Purdom, for the return of a slave, Harry, and compensation for his hire while in the possession of Nathan Smith and William Vesey. Gardner states that in 1819, Penelope Gardner inherited from her father Abner Eason of Bertie County, North Carolina, "a certain negro man slave named Harry to hold during her life and after her death to go to her child or children." William Gardner charges that after his mother's death in 1832, William Dougherty, Penelope's second husband and administrator of her estate, conspired with Nathan Smith, his court-appointed guardian, to cheat and defraud him out of his rightful legacy. The court "in ignorance of the facts thus suppressed," gave Harry to the defendant Dougherty, who in turn sold him to Smith "for the sum of three hundred dollars, about one half of his then value." In July 1832, Smith sold the slave to William Vesey. Gardner asks that Smith's settlement of his guardianship accounts be reopened and "that said Harry be restored to him," along with $125 per year as compensation for his hire.

PAR Number 20183902

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

Abstract: Gaines Goodwin, administrator of William Hightower's estate, seeks title and bond for a slave placed by Hightower in the possession of James and Sarah Rowser in 1830. He states that, in 1830, Hightower purchased a slave named Mary from the Rowsers in exchange for two hundred dollars and the use of another slave, also named Mary, for the duration of Sarah Rowser's life. When Hightower died, Goodwin reclaimed the term slave, under the mistaken apprehension that Hightower's death ended the agreement. Rowser sued Goodwin and won back the slave. Goodwin now petitions that the Rowsers are preparing to leave the state and he fears that James Rowser, "a man of intemperate habits ... will in all probability sell and dispose of the said slave Mary and her proceeds," making it impossible for Hightower's estate to recover the slave upon Sarah Rowser's death. He therefore asks that the Rowsers be ordered to give good bond for the slave before leaving the state. Goodwin also seeks an inventory and title of the slave.

PAR Number 20183909

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

Abstract: As a result of a suit initiated by Phillip Weaver against Middleton Moseley, Constable Joseph Wells of Perry County levied on two slaves, Daniel and his wife, Anny. Clement Moseley, the petitioner, says that the slaves are his property and that he gave bond for the recovery of his slaves. Clement Moseley further charges that Wells and Weaver "have combined & confederated to defraud your petitioner out of the amount of said executions and for that purpose have counseled said negroes to runaway together with one other of your petitioner's slaves by representing to them that they are free." Daniel has since returned, but the other two slaves are still missing. Moseley seeks an injunction preventing Wells from proceeding against him or his security, Mary Tillman.

PAR Number 20183912

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

Abstract: Garred Creagh states that in 1835, Harris and Tammy Burge sold him their share of the estate of James Knight. Creagh protests the administration of Knight's estate charging that John Knight, the first administrator and son of the deceased, failed to take possession of the estate, except for one slave, Tom, whom he claimed as his own. After John Knight resigned in 1836, James Godbold, a son-in-law of the deceased, became administrator. Creagh contends that Godbold did an inadequate inventory and sold off part of the estate, keeping slaves and other property for himself. Creagh asks the court to nullify the sale, to order an inventory of the estate, and to award him his share of the estate.

PAR Number 20183914

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

Abstract: On 27 November 1839, Sheriff William Magee of Mobile County took a runaway slave, Minows, into custody and is retaining him in jail. Petitioner Magee, states "that he has no right title claim or interest in said negro nor does your orator know to whom said negro legally belongs ... and at all times has been ready and willing to deliver said negro to whomsoever shall appear to be entitled to him." Amos Wilson and William Byard [Bayard] each claimed ownership of the slave and have instituted suits to recover the slave. Magee asks that the court question Wilson and Byard to settle the dispute.

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 20183923

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

Abstract: Elizabeth Maxey seeks to add three more defendants to her original petition dated 6 March 1839. In the intervening six months, Maxey points out, two of the twelve "family negroes" have been sold under false pretenses. Maxey asserts that Theophilus Lacy "is now in possession of two of said negroes, namely, Caroline & Sam, claiming to own them." Lacy acquired the slaves "under a pretended purchase" from William Wilson and Robert Thompson. Wilson and Thompson, in turn, had each separately acquired one slave "under a pretended purchase at Sheriff's sale," where the slaves were sold "as the property of said William J. Gilbert." Maxey assures the court that William J. Gilbert "never had any interest in either of said negroes, except as is stated in her Original bill." She asks that Wilson, Thompson, and Lacy be subpoenaed and the court grant her "just & equitable" relief.

PAR Number 20184002

State: Alabama Year: 1840
Location: Lawrence Location Type: County

Abstract: David Cannon, son of Susannah Cannon Thomas, seeks return of a slave belonging to his late mother and an account of proceeds from the slave's hire. The petitioner claims that the slave, fourteen-year-old Moses, was mortgaged by Susan Thomas for $400 to Joseph Martin in 1819. Cannon states that at the time Moses was worth $800 and his hiring proceeds since that time have averaged $120 per year. His mother died sometime around 1827, and Cannon became administrator of his estate in 1838. Upon assuming administration of the estate, he went to Joseph Martin and demanded the return of Moses, noting that the slave's annual hire since the agreement more than covered the amount of the loan. Cannon says that he "made this demand for the purpose of instituting a suit against the said Joseph," but he was prevented from proceeding further by Joseph's death. In the meantime, Joseph had given Moses to his son, Hunter Martin, who is now administrator of his father's estate. Cannon seeks the return of the slave and an account of his hire. In his answer, Hunter Martin asserts that he found a document among his father's papers proving that there Susannah Thomas had sold the slave to his father, and the great length of time elapsed since then made David Cannon's request a "monstrosity."

PAR Number 20184007

State: Alabama Year: 1840
Location: Talladega Location Type: County

Abstract: William Hawthorn petitions the court for the return of several slaves and compensation for the loss of their use. In 1811, the petitioner's grandfather, James, executed a deed of gift and delivered to his son, Benjamin, four slaves, with the understanding that upon his death, full possession of the slaves would descend to "my said son [Benjamin] his heirs assigns and legal representatives forever." Benjamin died without a will in 1818 or 1819, leaving four children. The petitioners charge that shortly thereafter, his grandfather was improperly influenced by another son, James Jr., to deed away slaves that were the rightful patrimony of Benjamin's heirs when they were minors and unable to defend themselves. One of the slaves, Dorcas, and her descendants are still in possession of other family members. William Hawthorn seeks to restore his patrimony and recover the slaves, which are valued at eleven hundred dollars, and requests that he be paid the value of their hire during this time. Information provided by the petitioners indicate that Dorcas's daughter, Hannah, and Hannah's five children are in the possession of the defendant William Morris; however, a related document indicates that only two of Hannah's children are in the possession of Morris. Hannah and one child are "conceled" from Morris, and one child has died.

PAR Number 20184008

State: Alabama Year: 1840
Location: Talladega Location Type: County

Abstract: William Hawthorn seeks to recover slaves that were devised by deed of gift to his late father, Benjamin Hawthorn, by James Hawthorn Sr., his late grandfather. This is William's second petition on the subject. In his first petition, he sought to recover Hannah, the daughter of Dorcas, one of the slaves devised by his grandfather, and Hannah's children. In this petition, he seeks to recover Dorcas and her son Jack, and Nell, another slave devised by James Hawthorn Sr. to Benjamin, and Nell's family. William Hawthorn alleges that his uncle, James Hawthorn Jr., and his aunt, Annis Hawthorn Cameron, procured through a fraudulent deed of gift slaves that rightfully belong to him and his siblings -- the grandchildren and heirs of James Hawthorn Sr. The petitioner claims that James Jr. and Annis "had full and perfect knowledge ... that said negro slaves Dorcas and Nell, of right would be the property of your Orator and his brother and sisters," but "notwithstanding that knowledge," they conspired "with a view to deprive fraudulently your Orator and his co-heirs that little pittance which a generous grandfather had given and a frugal father had preserved to them." The "generous grandfather" and the "frugal father" were both dead by 1824 and William asserts that the rightful heirs should have received the slaves at that time.

PAR Number 20184110

State: Alabama Year: 1841
Location: Sumter Location Type: County

Abstract: William D. Moore seeks to resolve a dispute involving ownership of three slave children: George, age seven; Jesse, age four; and Lucy, age sixteen months. Moore writes that he had acted as security for Thomas Y. Dearman in a dispute with Jonathan Dearman over right to the slaves. Now Jonathan Dearman has died, and Thomas Dearman has taken possession of the slaves. Moore asks for an injunction to prevent Thomas Dearman from removing the slaves until the matter is settled by the court so that "your orator may be absolutely and entirely cleared from any liability in relation thereto."

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