Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 11681609

State: Virginia Year: 1816
Location: Lee Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1814, Moses Ball of Lee County, Virginia, loaned Tidings Lane of Claiborne County, Tennessee, $1310, securing the loan by mortgaging six slaves. It was agreed that if the loan was not repaid within twelve months, Ball would acquire title to the slaves. More than twelve months have elapsed and Lane has defaulted on the loan and left for "some unknown Land." Ball has become the owner of the slaves and claims that he has been under "great inconvenience & Considerable expense" because the law prevents him to bring his new property and "& their increase" into Virginia. He seeks permission to do so.

PAR Number 20182802

State: Alabama Year: 1828
Location: Bibb Location Type: County

Abstract: John Brown sold the slaves "Daniel, Dorcas, Green, Malinda, Judge & Melissa" on 16 September 1826 to George Brown, Elijah Brown, and H. M. Carithers "by way of mortgage for securing the sum of seven hundred and twenty dollars & cents then due to the bank of the State of Alabama." The debt and title to the six slaves were later transferred to James Moor. Moor fully discharged the debt due to the bank. John Brown died, leaving his wife, Nancy, as sole executrix of his estate. Moor petitions the court to order Nancy to repay the debt or relinquish her possession of the slaves and "to release, all the right, title, & equity of redemption" of them.

PAR Number 20183002

State: Alabama Year: 1830
Location: Bibb Location Type: County

Abstract: Harwood Goodwin states that in October 1823 he "did place in the possession of said [Benjamin] Camp a Certain negro man slave named Jim, of the age of sixteen years," as collateral for the one hundred dollars he owed Camp, who is his son-in-law. Goodwin states that Jim was worth six hundred dollars and, as part of the agreement, he stipulated that the first year Camp pay him $60, "at a hire of five dollars per month for the first year, and that the hire was to increase as the boy grew older & became more servisable," continuing until the debt was repaid. Goodwin also borrowed another $250 from Camp, offering a slave, Lucy, worth five hundred dollars, as collateral, with the same conditions of hiring out to repay the debt. Goodwin says that Camp "has been long since reimbursed," and that "during such time of hire & while in his possession or under his control, or by his Improper & cruel Treatment ... Lucy has been greatly injured & her value greatly decreased." The petitioner further states that Lucy has given birth to a child during this time. As Camp refuses to settle accounts, Goodwin asks the court to force Camp to return the three slaves; to pay "all monies with legal interest on the same for the services of said slaves over the amount due respondant from Orator;" and to pay for the injuries sustained by Lucy while in Camp's possession. Goodwin is also suing Camp "for the damages, or injuries sustained in his interest, by causing the death of the mare & colt" belonging to Goodwin as well as for compensation for his son's services while employed by Camp. In his answer, Camp contends that the property was placed and allowed to remain in his possession on his agreeing to financially bail out his father-in-law, whose property was levied on several times. He claims that there never was any talk of his paying hiring fees.

PAR Number 20183005

State: Alabama Year: 1830
Location: Jackson Location Type: County

Abstract: The petitioners seek to settle a dispute about ownership of a slave named Melinda, mortgaged in 1807 or 1808 by Hugh Montgomery to John Hatfield for three hundred dollars, with the proviso that Montgomery could redeem or repurchase her at any time by repaying the mortgage with interest, plus three bushels of salt valued at $5 a bushel. In 1830, Hugh Montgomery assigned the mortgage on the slave to his son, Benjamin, who assigned a half-interest to Wiley Belcher. Benjamin and Wiley now claim "that they would have redeemed said negro long since, but for the fraudulent and evasive conduct of said defendant," charging that Hatfield moved "to the most obscure part of Jackson County aforesaid taking with him said negro woman and all her increase," which now number "six or eight children." The petitioners seek an injunction to prevent the defendant from leaving the area with the slaves, to name Hugh Montgomery as a defendant, to cancel the bill of sale, and to attach said slaves until the court renders a decision.

PAR Number 20183105

State: Alabama Year: 1831
Location: Franklin Location Type: County

Abstract: Ellis Isbell states that on or about 5 November 1827 the defendant, Benjamin Hudson, paid off a $530.90 judgment held against him. Isbell claims that, in order to "secure & indemnify said Hudson for paying the sum of money," he placed four slaves valued at $1,325 in Hudson's possession. Isbell estimates the value of the slaves' service and labor at $180 per year. Their verbal agreement provided, according to Isbell, that Hudson would hold ownership of the slaves until the debt was paid and if the debt remained unpaid, then he would retain ownership of the slaves. Isbell gave Hudson a bill of sale for the slaves, based on the verbal agreement of ownership rights. Isbell states that on 6 November 1830 he attempted to pay the debt, but Hudson "positively and entirely refused to receive the same and refused to deliver said Slaves." Isbell charges Hudson with fraud and seeks ownership of the four slaves, either upon payment of the debt or upon payment of the difference between the interest on the debt and the slaves' hire.

PAR Number 20183107

State: Alabama Year: 1831
Location: Franklin Location Type: County

Abstract: In a previous petition filed in January 1831, Ellis Isbell sought the return and title to the four slaves he claims to have mortgaged to the defendant, Benjamin Hudson. Isbell recounts that, being unable to pay a $530.92 judgment obtained against him, he asked Hudson to pey it on his behalf. He secured the debt to Hudson by mortgaging a family of slaves to him. Isbell, desirous to reclaim his slaves, attempted to repay Hudson the amount owed but Hudson refused to accept the money and continued to hold the slaves in his possession. In the earlier petition, Isbell charged Hudson with fraud and sought title to the four slaves -- either upon payment of the debt or upon payment of the difference between the interest on the debt and the slaves' hire. In his current amended bill, Isbell states that he has reason to believe that Hudson "will dispose of said slaves and place it out of your Orator's power to regain or redeem them even if he succeed in his said Original Bill." Isbell further notes that he has learned that Hudson has drawn up a deed in trust that mortgages "two quarter sections of land and twenty or twenty one negroes including the four which your Orator claims the right to redeem." Isbell alleges that the money to be secured to Hudson's securities "as appears in said Deed in Trust is three thousand one Hundred Dollars and that said property conveyed is amply sufficient to pay the same exclusive of your Orator's said four slaves sought to be redeemed." Isbell points out that the said deed in trust appears to be dated "7 June 1831," which is five months after the date he filed his original petition. The petitioner seeks an injunction "preventing and restraining said Hudson from disposing of said four Slaves or taking them out of the power of the process of this Court untill a final decree is made in the case of the aforesaid Original Bill."

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 20183803

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

Abstract: John and Willis Godwin seek to foreclose on two mortgaged slaves owned by John Twitty. They claim that, in 1837, Twitty mortgaged two twenty-five year-old slaves named Solomon and Dennis to secure a debt of five hundred dollars to William Wright. In March 1838, Wright transferred the note to the Godwins, who charge here that Twitty has failed to make any payments on the note. The petitioners ask the court to order Twitty to pay off the mortgage in a reasonable period of time or forfeit his right to redeem the slaves.

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 20184203

State: Alabama Year: 1842
Location: Barbour Location Type: County

Abstract: Thomas Berry claims that Amos J. Persons gave him a promissory note for $3800, secured by a mortgage on ten slaves. Now Berry reports that Mark A. Cooper, a resident of Columbus, Georgia, has successfully obtained a $7000-judgment against Persons, resulting in a levy being placed on the mortgaged slaves. Berry fears that Cooper will disregard his lien on the slaves and sell them beyond the jurisdiction of the court and state. He asks that Cooper be prevented "from all further proceeding upon said judgement & execution as regards said negroes, till said mortgage and note have been paid off & discharged." A related document reveals that the slaves were sold at auction in 1842, for $2826.25, in order to satisfy Thomas Berry's claim.

PAR Number 20184204

State: Alabama Year: 1842
Location: Barbour Location Type: County

Abstract: James T. Persons states that Amos J. Persons gave him a promissory note in the amount of $5100, secured by a mortgage on three adult slaves and their six children, as well as on other property. Persons claims that Mark A. Cooper, a resident of Columbus, Georgia, has successfully obtained a $7000-judgment against Amos Persons, resulting in a levy being placed on the mortgaged slaves. James Persons fears that Cooper "proposes to sell the same notwithstanding the mortgage lien which your Orator has on said negroes." He asks that Cooper be prevented "from all further proceeding upon said judgement & execution as regards said mortgaged property, till said mortgage and note have been paid off & satisfied." A related document reveals that the slaves were sold at auction in 1842, for $2141.75, to satisfy James Persons's claim.

PAR Number 20184218

State: Alabama Year: 1842
Location: Montgomery Location Type: County

Abstract: Martin M. Crews charges that on 24 July 1840 Charlotte R. Goodwin "made and executed" her promissory note to him for $446.43. Crews admits that the actual note has been lost but he states that the debt is still outstanding. The petitioner states that Charlotte Goodwin "is a married woman possessed of a seperate estate to her own seperate use consisting of negroes and stock and Land, and such were then sufficient to pay said debt due your orator as aforesaid and over which her husband has no control or interest." For this reason, Crews asks that the court "order and decree said notes to be paid out of the Separate property of said Charlotte R. Goodwin."

PAR Number 20184301

State: Alabama Year: 1843
Location: Chambers Location Type: County

Abstract: The petitioners, Felix Stanley and William Blount, seek to settle a title dispute arising from a loan made by them to John Davis secured by "deed of trust or mortgage with power of sale on three negroes, slaves for life." The mortgage also covered a tract of land owned by Davis, who died before he could repay the note. The petitioners report that they are unable to receive a valid title to the land because John Freeman claimed title based on another deed of trust. Freeman has forcibly taken possession of the land, the dwelling house, and the crops and livestock. In addition, the petitioners fear Freeman "is committing waste on said land," resulting in "their security ... becoming more precarious." Stanley and Blount seek to "have the title to said land perfected" so that the mortgaged property, while it still has value, can be foreclosed and sold. Until such a decree, the petitioners ask that the land be leased and that Freeman account "for the rents and profits of said land" since it has been in his possession. The loan advanced by Stanley and Blount to John Davis was to pay a prior debt of $1875 to one Edward Bangle, for which debt Davis had mortgaged two of his slaves, Dilsey and Mahala. Stanley and Blount advanced the money to Davis in order to prevent the sale of the two slaves who had been seized and advertised for sale when Davis failed to pay the debt.

PAR Number 20184409

State: Alabama Year: 1844
Location: Sumter Location Type: County

Abstract: James Hair, administrator of the estate of Sarah Boyett, charges that Missouri Boyett claims wrongful title to slaves belonging to the estate. Hair notes that Sarah's will, dated 25 November 1841, clearly bequeaths her ten slaves to several of her children. However, on 23 May 1842, Sarah Boyett conveyed the same slaves to Jesse Gibbs who in turn assigned his interest in these slaves to Missouri Boyett. Hair asserts that the conveyance to Gibbs was "nothing more, and nothing else than mortgages of the property ... to secure him in the payment of a large sum of money," which Hair claims was repaid in large part by Boyett before her death. He contends that Sarah Boyett thought that Missouri, her daughter, was acting as her agent in helping her regain ownership of her slaves. But Hair accuses Missouri of "intending, designing and contriving to cheat and defraud the heirs and legatees" and believes that she is planning to carry off said slaves "in a secret and clandestine manner." The petitioner asks that Missouri Boyett be restrained from leaving the state and that the sheriff take the slaves into his possession until the estate is settled.

PAR Number 20184504

State: Alabama Year: 1845
Location: Mobile Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1839, Moses Wickaise loaned Colin C. McRae nearly six thousand dollars, accepting as collateral a mortgage on a wagon, horses, mules, and eight slaves, including John King and John McGowen, valued at one thousand dollars each, and Perry, Sally, and Leah and her three children. Following McRae's death in 1841, Wickaise sought payment. Now he sues McRae's widow to foreclose on the mortgage. He asks that the slaves and "other chattels" be sold, and "out of the proceeds of such sale" he be paid the debt on the note.

PAR Number 20184506

State: Alabama Year: 1845
Location: Chambers Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1842, a branch of the Bank of Alabama secured a judgment of $553 against John A. Wicker, who had signed a promissory note with James Brooks and William W. Carlisle as security. To pay the judgment, Wicker borrowed $195 from Brooks, in the process mortgaging "a Certain Negro boy a Slave by the Name of Bob about twenty one years old." It was well understood between them, Wicker writes, that the conveyance, although on its face a bill of sale, was intended "merely as a mortgage." When Wicker paid the debt, however, Brooks refused to return the slave. Wicker seeks "adequate relief."

PAR Number 20184507

State: Alabama Year: 1845
Location: Sumter Location Type: County

Abstract: Following the death of her parents, Missouri Boyett was left "without any other white person" on their plantation. She was the owner of ten slaves who came from her father's estate and whom she had purchased from her mother. With little knowledge of business, and "being scarcely able to read & to write her name," she hired Andrew Edwards as an overseer and manager. According to Missouri, she soon discovered that he was seeking to deprive her of her property. She claims that he virtually stole one of her slaves and later hired him out. He then tricked her into signing a bill of sale for five slaves--Abram, Isham, Bailus, Joe, and Moses--and signing a promissory note for twenty-five hundred dollars. The bill of sale was executed as a mortgage to secure the payment on the promissory note. Edwards then transferred the bill of sale and mortgage note to James W. Alford. She never "obtained any thing of the smallest value" for either the bill or the note, she asserts, and now is "absolutely penniless & stripped of her property." If nothing is done, she will be "totally ruined & rendered bankrupt." She charges fraud and seeks relief. A related document reveals that one of the slaves, Abram, had been sent to Mississippi to shield him from the law, as he had been charged with a crime. The same document also reveals that Missouri may have had plans to send Abram to Ohio to be freed. A related petition gives the name of Missouri's mother as Sarah Boyett.

PAR Number 20184515

State: Alabama Year: 1845
Location: Mobile Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1842, George and Sarah M. Walton borrowed eight hundred dollars from the Branch of the Bank of the State of Alabama at Mobile to rent a lot and house in Mobile, putting up as collateral two slaves, Sanders, in his mid-twenties and hired on the steamer Canebrake, and Louis about thirteen, hired on the steamer Favorite. The Waltons agreed to put the slaves in a trust, with Billups Gayle as trustee, and promised that if they did not make their installment payments, Billups could sell the slaves at public auction. When the Waltons defaulted, and Billups migrated to Texas, the bank foreclosed and is suing the Waltons and John H. Walker who "by some transfer or conveyance" has some "interest in said negroes."

PAR Number 20184516

State: Alabama Year: 1845
Location: Mobile Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1842, Louisa S. Owen borrowed $28,172 from the Branch of the Bank of the State of Alabama, using as collateral twenty-eight slaves, mostly children. Louisa defaulted, so the bank is foreclosing on the loan, naming as defendants Louisa Owen, as administratrix of the estate of George W. Owen, deceased, Alexander Hollinger, Adam C. Hollinger, the Planters and Merchants Bank of Mobile, and the Presidents and Directors of the Bank of Mobile.

PAR Number 20184624

State: Alabama Year: 1846
Location: Butler Location Type: County

Abstract: In June 1838, Redding Byrd executed a $520.25 mortgage to Bartlett McDaniel on "the following negroes to wit a woman named Hannah and her child Caesar one boy named Wesley and another named George." Since that time, Hannah has had two other children, Betsy aged six and a son, Bartlett. Other children may have been born as well. Byrd writes that "said negroes are now at a fair valuation worth three thousand dollars or more and that their hire has been worth on an average at least two hundred & fifty dollars." Bartlett McDaniel died in 1839, and William M. McDaniel has now qualified to handle the estate. The petitioner charges that William McDaniel has refused to accept his attempts to pay the outstanding balance on the notes, thereby refusing to relinquish possession of the slaves. Byrd seeks a subpoena against the defendant to answer questions regarding the status, number, and valuation of the slaves; to settle the debt; and to turn over the slaves.

PAR Number 20184814

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

Abstract: In 1844, indebted to the firm of Woodberry & Turner for $749, John Slater signed a promissory note, using two of his slaves--Riley, age forty, and Sam, age thirty-five--as collateral. In 1848, Slater died intestate, and Woodberry and Turner sue the administrator of his estate, Joseph C. Calhoun, for refusing to pay the balance due on the note. They ask that the slaves be sold "under the direction of this court."

PAR Number 20184908

State: Alabama Year: 1849
Location: Tallapoosa Location Type: County

Abstract: James A. Pearson, an elderly slave owner from Lowndes County, writes that in 1844 he "became embarrassed in his pecuniary affairs" and traveled to Tallapoosa County, to ask his son-in-law, Isaac T. Smith, for a loan. His son-in-law's father, also Isaac Smith, agreed to loan him $196, but asked Pearson to put up as collateral three slaves--January, a blacksmith, and "Sillar a Girl and Jack a boy." When asked to sign a bill of sale for his slaves, Pearson balked, but he later agreed when Isaac T. Smith offered him a promissory note for four hundred dollars signed by father and son. During the next few years, Isaac T. Smith, "disregarding the dictates of honesty and fair dealing," conspired and confederated with his father to defraud Pearson of the labor of his slaves, even when Pearson, his wife, and his daughter moved to Isaac T. Smith's farm and lived with the family. In 1849, Pearson asks that the note be revoked, the bill of sale cancelled, and the slaves returned, as their labor has more than compensated the Smiths for the original loan.

PAR Number 20185116

State: Alabama Year: 1851
Location: Mobile Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1847, urged by a friend named Oliver W. Austin, Susan J. Proctor invested her savings in slave property. She purchased a woman named Virginia for six hundred dollars. She permitted Austin to act as her agent and "effect the trade," paying him three hundred dollars and borrowing three hundred dollars from him in the form of sixty-/ninety-day note. On 17 July 1847, Virginia, who was pregnant at the time of the purchase, gave birth to a boy, who was later given the name of Fernandez, but went by the name of Charles. When Proctor paid off the debt and asked for the title to the slaves, Austin argued that he could not give her the title for the baby until he had been named. Three years later, on a trip to New Orleans, Proctor decided to make that city her new home, and charged her agent in Mobile, James L. McKean, with effecting the transport of Virginia and the three-year-old boy. As the two slaves were boarding a boat in Mobile, however, the sheriff seized the child under a suit brought by Austin claiming title to the boy. In a subsequent jury trial, Austin said he had purchased Virginia and then sold her to Proctor. The baby, however, was his and he claimed ownership. The jury, appraising the child's value at eight hundred dollars (Proctor said the boy was worth three or four hundred dollars), awarded the boy to Austin. Proctor sued, and won a judgment; Austin appealed with a "Writ of Error" to the Alabama Supreme Court, but lost when the Court dismissed the writ.

PAR Number 20185117

State: Alabama Year: 1851
Location: Pickens Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1835, Thomas B. Mitchell borrowed three hundred dollars from Gideon Berry, using a thirteen-year-old "negro girl named Mary" as security. Mitchell permitted Berry to "enjoy & apply to his own use the value of the services of said slave to defray & pay the interest" on the money. When, three years later, Mitchell tried to repay the debt, Berry refused to accept the money and refused to return the slave. About 1841, Berry turned Mary and her infant daughter Milly over to his son-in-law, Barkley Beard, who took them to Mississippi. Later, the slaves were brought back into Alabama. Now, in 1851, Mary and her four children, Milly, about eleven, Nelly, age nine, Fanny, five, and Sam, a baby, are being held by Beard and are worth about eighteen hundred and fifty dollars. Noting that Beard is planning to move to Arkansas, Mitchell seeks a writ to prevent him from "from carrying the negros afores[a]id from the jurisdiction of this court."

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