Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 20185425

State: Alabama Year: 1854
Location: Sumter Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1824, South Carolina Simeon Clay conveyed to his daughter Nancy, "for her only proper use and behoof," a one-year-old slave girl named Louisa, from "the family of negroes being the best he ever knew." The family had been "entailed to him" by his grandfather, and he hoped to pass on their descendants to his grandchildren. About four years later, Nancy married George Cameron, and some years later the couple moved to Greene County, Alabama, where George "repeatedly and publicly" declared that Louisa and the children born to her over the years belonged to his wife. Nancy and George had one child, Lucretia Ann. Nancy Clay Cameron died in about 1849, and George remarried. By that time, Louisa had given birth to seven children. In 1853, George Cameron mortgaged Louisa and her children to Charles and John Roberts "in trust" to "indemnify" a bill of exchange for one thousand dollars. He executed another mortgage that same year for $777.77 the same family of slaves. After George Cameron's death that same year, his widow, Sarah Swilley Grant Cameron, took possession of the slaves; she has since repeatedly refused to hand them over to Lucretia Ann and her husband Jacob Lockhart. Lucretia is now suing her stepmother, her stepmother's father, and brother, and the two men who were parties to the mortgage executed by George Cameron in 1853. She tries to gain possession of the slaves. She also seeks an injunction to prevent their sale, an account of their hire since Nancy's death, and any other relief the court "shall seem meet."

PAR Number 20185529

State: Alabama Year: 1855
Location: Greene Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1848, Dr. Pleasant Kittrell sold to Stith Evans a thirty-five-year-old blacksmith named Carney for $1,250. The condition of sale was that once Carney had earned enough to pay back his purchase price, plus ten percent interest, he would "have and enjoy his freedom." Over the next several years Carney paid his owner more than two thousand dollars. In 1854, Evans mortgaged the slave to Samuel Cowen, who knew about the original sale contract, for $2,500. Now a resident of Texas, Kittrell asks the court to force Evans "to execute and perform all the duties and obligations and undertakings in his said Contract, and the freedom of the said Carney in order that he may remove the said Carney free from all claim and right of property forever beyond the limits of the State of Alabama."

PAR Number 20185803

State: Alabama Year: 1858
Location: Mobile Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1855, Morgan McMorris, indebted to Edwin Rust for $350, mortgaged three slaves: Chaney age nineteen and her two children Lizzey age two and Mack about nine months. McMorris agreed to pay his debt by mid-July (about four months after the mortgage papers were signed), but paid only one hundred dollars. Following Rust's death, Cornelius Cuyler, administrator of his estate, seeks to foreclose on Rust's equity in the slave property. He wants to sell the slaves and apply the money to the debt owed to the estate.

PAR Number 20185805

State: Alabama Year: 1858
Location: Mobile Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1858, Dominique Gimon, who spoke English "very imperfectly," sold a slave named Martin, of yellow complexion and age about forty-five years old, to C. F. Mellan for seven hundred dollars. He received four hundred dollars in cash and two promissory notes for one hundred and two hundred dollars, but being unfamiliar with the law he allowed the purchaser to keep the notes in his possession. When he discovered his mistake, Gimon confronted Mellan and demanded "a counterpart of said mortgage." Mellan promised to "do whatever was necessary," but refused to act. Gimon charges fraud, seeks relief, and requests an injunction to prevent Mellan from "selling mortgaging or removing the said negro out of the state of Alabama."

PAR Number 20185816

State: Alabama Year: 1858
Location: Dallas Location Type: County

Abstract: William B. Shields, administrator of the estate of Martin Hesler, deceased, requests permission to sell four slaves--a man named Coleman, a woman named Julia, and two children ages eight or nine and three--to pay debts.

PAR Number 20185934

State: Alabama Year: 1859
Location: Mobile Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1856, Arthur P. Bagby borrowed $400 from Elisha B. Lott, securing the loan with a mortgage on "a certain female slave named Martha." When he failed to pay the loan, Lott sued and obtained a "decree of foreclosure and sale." In 1858, Martha was sold for $775 to Jules Dietsche, who transferred title in an exchange of slaves to Horatio N. Gould and Bernard Kendig. In 1858, Bagby died intestate. Kendig on joint account with Gould sold Martha in New Orleans to John L. Finlay, who resides in Washington County, Mississippi, and "warranted the title of said slave." Gould and Kendig now claim that, since the sale to Finlay, one Franklin K. Beck has filed a suit claiming that he holds an "older mortgage made by said Bagby to him" on Martha. Meanwhile, the petitioners argue, the "right and claim" of Lott was transferred to Theophilus L. Toulmin who received from the court "the amount of the debt due from Bagby to Lott." The complainants sue Theophilus Toulmin, Lloyd Bowers, administrator of the estate of Arthur Bagby, Elisha Lott, and Franklin K. Beck asking that they "be protected and be not made the victims" of legal entanglements.

PAR Number 20186023

State: Alabama Year: 1860
Location: Talladega Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1848, Stephen S. Gray executed a bill of sale with Thomas W. Russell, "a kinsman, by marriage," for three slaves: John, age fourteen; Lewis, about ten; and Adaline, a girl about twelve. The bill of sale stipulated that Russell would pay off a nine-hundred-dollar debt for Gray and in return Russell would have the services of the two boys until the money was repaid. Russell took possession of the two boys, but Adaline was returned within a few days. It was not until 1858 that Gray saved enough to redeem the two boys. Russell, however, "shook his head & refused to receive [the payment]." When John and Lewis "came home," Russell filed suit. Gray now seeks an injunction "enjoining the further prosecution of the said action at law" until a final decree in the case can be rendered.

PAR Number 20283501

State: Arkansas Year: 1835
Location: Phillips Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1829, Edmund Clements borrowed four hundred dollars from Sylvanus Phillips, using as collateral five slaves with the understanding that they were a mortgage, to be returned if the debt was satisfied by a stipulated date. Before that date, and prior to his death, Phillips sold or mortgaged the slaves to Benjamin Porter, thereby transferring the debt. After Phillips died, Phillips's widow married John Burress [Burriss]. Clements disputes the legality of the transaction between Phillips and Porter and states that Porter has refused his offer to repay the loan and claims legal title to the slaves. Clements asks the court to subpoena Porter and Phillips's widow and daughter to answer questions with the aim of validating the truthfulness of his claim. He seeks to reclaim ownership of the slaves, and the children born to them.

PAR Number 20284602

State: Arkansas Year: 1846
Location: Clark Location Type: County

Abstract: Richard Wilson asks the court to suspend the execution of a six-hundred-dollar judgment against him won by William Gentry and others. In 1843 one John Wilson borrowed six hundred dollars from Gentry, putting up a slave named Robert as security. In 1845, Gentry sold the mortgage on the slave to Richard Wilson, the petitioner. However, Richard Wilson soon discovered that one Abasalom Fowler had won a judgment against gentry and obtained a levy on Robert to satisfy the judgment. The petitioner asks that the defendants be prevented from selling Robert as it is his desire to have Robert sold "to pay the aforesaid sum of six hundred dollars interest due your Orator." In the interim, Wilson asks that Robert be hired out.

PAR Number 20285515

State: Arkansas Year: 1855
Location: Phillips Location Type: County

Abstract: Levisa Pillow petitions for an injunction to restrain her husband, or his creditors, from interfering with her property, asking that a receiver be appointed to manage the property. She also asks for a divorce. Prior to their marriage in 1853, Levisa Pillow and Wilson D. Dobbin signed a prenuptial agreement whereby "the joint property of the two shall be used and controlled by them mutually during the time that they may continue to live and cohabit together as Husband and wife." At the time of the marriage, Levisa (as a feme sole) owned property worth about $40,000, consisting of "a valuable plantation, Negroes, stock farming utensils and wild Lands." With an income of six or seven thousand dollars a year, the couple could support themselves in "magnificent style." Wilson D. Dobbin had no property. Levisa, now old and feeble, alleges that she soon found her new husband to be a habitual drunkard and a profligate spendthrift who, within a short time, wasted most of her estate so that she is now unable to buy supplies or to feed the thirty slaves on the plantation. She also claims that Wilson uses violent language, has, on several occasions, punched her "bruising her person most shamefully." Related documents reveal that Levisa Dobbin died while her suit was pending.

PAR Number 20285516

State: Arkansas Year: 1855
Location: Phillips Location Type: County

Abstract: Repeating much of the charges made in her related original divorce suit, Levisa Dobbin states that the behavior of her husband of two years, Wilson D. Dobbin, has deteriorated in recent months. In her original suit, Levisa provided the court with a long list of her husband's mismanagement and squandering of her property. She now reiterates those charges and documents in great details mental and physical abuses perpetrated by her husband on her person, on the person of her friends and relatives, as well as the violence inflicted upon her slaves. Dobbin struck Levisa's grown stepdaughter with a "violent blow in her face with his fist and threatened to drive her from the plantation;" he whipped Levisa's slaves for petty offenses or for following her directions; and he threatened to deprive Levisa of a house servant and a riding horse. When Levisa ordered the foreman to whip a black man who sneaked into her stepdaughter's bedroom to be with the Negro girl sleeping there, Wilson countermanded the order and severely whipped the foreman. In fact, Dobbin has been guilty of "many acts of cruelty toward the negroes." Such cruelty, Levisa believes, may cause slaves to run away. Indeed, she believes that he has actually ordered slaves to run away "rather than obey the orders of your Oratrix." Levisa Dobbin again asks that a receiver be appointed to take care of her plantation and other property, including slaves. Related documents reveal that Levisa died while her suit was pending.

PAR Number 20379401

State: Delaware Year: 1794
Location: Sussex Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1786, Curtis Brown borrowed slightly more than £72 from Edward Ross, promising to repay the loan in six years with interest, and mortgaging 140 acres of land with "tenements and appurtenances." He also mortgaged five slaves--Isaac, Hannah, Jesse, Jacob, and Jack--to Ross to use and "enjoy the fruits of their labor." Now Ross has died, and his "representatives," Maud Draper and Anna Ross Draper, his widow and administratrix of his estate, refuse to return the slaves, claiming that Ross "purchased the said Slaves of your Orator for ninety four pounds or thereabouts cash." Brown seeks the return of the slaves.

PAR Number 20382409

State: Delaware Year: 1824
Location: Kent Location Type: County

Abstract: Rebecca Rathal, widow and administratrix of Thomas Rathal, states that Phillip D. Fiddeman holds Araminta Kimmey and Araminta's infant daughter Sally as his slaves. Rathal, serving as Araminta's next friend, apprehends "that the said Araminta and the said Sally are both entitled" to their freedom. She therefore asks that Fiddeman be summoned "to answer to the complaint of your petitioner."

PAR Number 20480301

State: District of Columbia Year: 1803
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: Charles Minifie seeks satisfaction of a debt owed him by Nathaniel Brashears. Brashears offered his male slave Patrick as collateral for a debt to Robert Cherry in the sum of $226.59. Cherry then assigned the debt and Patrick's bill of sale to Minifie "for valuable consideration." The petitioner asserts that Brashears has not paid said debt by its due date and "by reason of such nonpayment, the said writing, being a bill of sale of personal property, with a condition which was forfeited, became absolute." Minifie further charges that Brashears "took and kept possession of the said negro man slave, and refuses to deliver him to the complainant pursuant to the bill of sale before mentioned." He asks that Brashears be decreed to pay the debt and "that on failure to pay the same, the said bill of sale may be decreed to be absolute."

PAR Number 20481404

State: District of Columbia Year: 1814
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: Sarah Burford seeks to settle an estate issue with her husband, John Burford, regarding ownership of five slaves and other personal property, left to her by her father, John Selby. She claims that Burford, "untill he could have an opportunity of getting her property into his possession as aforesaid, treated her with apparent kindness and affection; but as soon as he supposed he had secured her property to himself, he commenced a course of brutal & inhuman abuse of her." Sarah Burford asks that she "may be separated from bed & board during life, and your oratrix permitted to live as a feme sole, free and forever exonerated from the power, control & restraint of the said Burford."

PAR Number 20481405

State: District of Columbia Year: 1814
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: Cartwright Tiffett claims that he bought John, a sixteen-year-old slave, from Francis Jenkins for $100 with the understanding that Jenkins could redeem John by repayment of the $100 within thirty days. Jenkins failed to redeem John. Shortly thereafter, Tiffett discovered that John was missing. He states that Jenkins "had secretly seised the said negro in the night, and had carried him off upon the route to the Western Country, with design to sell & dispose of him." Tiffett seeks court assistance in securing his property, recovering his expenses, and ensuring that Jenkins "may be prohibited & injoined from disturbing your orator in the possession & enjoyment of his right of property & possession of the said negro."

PAR Number 20481601

State: District of Columbia Year: 1816
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: Thomas Harris accepted from Thomas G. Slye "his deed of Indenture" for $234, whereby Slye mortgaged two slaves: thirty-five-year-old Harry and thirty-three-year-old mulatto Pressy. Despite this mortgage, Slye "has been permitted to continue in possession . . . and the reception of the issues and profits of the same." The agreed upon time for the loan has now elapsed and Harris now petitions the court for full payment with interest from Slye. He asks that the court order the sale of the slaves if Slye is unable to repay him.

PAR Number 20482207

State: District of Columbia Year: 1822
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: John Lyons seeks the settlement of a slave title dispute with Zedekiah Lovejoy, Robert Kirby and William W. Clagett concerning Tom, a male slave. In 1820, Lovejoy mortgaged his slave Tom to the petitioner as collateral for a $400-note. When Lovejoy failed to repay the note, "the said Deed of Morgage became & was forfeited & the said negro Tom liable to be sold for the indemnification of your orator." However, Lovejoy, being in debt to Kirby and Clagett, "did by Deed of Indenture convey the same negro man Tom . . . in trust to pay them the said Debt & delivered the said negro Tom, in to the possession of the said Kirby & Clagett who hold the said negro & refuse to deliver him up to your Orator." Lyons requests that the "Defendants may be decreed to pay your orator the amount of the said note" as well as be enjoined from removing Tom from the District of Columbia until a ruling is reached.

PAR Number 20482503

State: District of Columbia Year: 1825
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: In February 1820, John Kirby loaned John Addison $531.50. In return, Addison issued Kirby a deed of mortgage, "strictly for the consideration of the said securing of money did convey to your Orator . . . two negro slaves . . . Dennis & George Marshall." Upon repayment of the loan by the specified date, the deed of mortgage would be deemed void. As Addison has "heretofore neglected & still neglects to pay your Orator the said Sum of money with the Interest thereon," Kirby asks the court to order Addison to pay him and "in default thereof that the said negro slaves Dennis & George Marshall may be sold to pay & satisfy your Orator his said debt with interest & the cost of this suit."

PAR Number 20482605

State: District of Columbia Year: 1826
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: Levin Boone, executor of the estate of the late John Boone, seeks to settle a debt dispute with Walter Clarke involving several slaves. In 1814, Francis Boone executed a deed of trust to John Boone conveying the slaves "John about 28 years old, James about 45 years old, Negro woman Bess about 45 years old, Nat about about 22 years old, Felix about 20 years old, negro girl Charity about 13 years old, negro girl Ellen about 11 years old together with their increase and fine feather beds, Bedsteads and furniture, to secure the payment of $385.70 with interest." Francis Boone died in 1816 leaving Walter Clarke and others who claim his property. Levin Boone claims that Francis "never paid any thing to the said John Boone in his life time, or to your orator since his death." He prays that the court will subpoena the defendants and order them to satisfy the claim against the estate of the late Francis Boone.

PAR Number 20482703

State: District of Columbia Year: 1827
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: William Thomson Jr. provided slaves as collateral for a debt his firm, George Thomson and Company, owed to Joel Cruttenden. Cruttenden has since sold the slaves at auction for $1310, a sum which Thomson considers to be a "great reduction and sacrifice." Thomson believes the sale was made to a person "who in this behalf acted solely as the agent of the said Joel." He further charges that as a result "persons disposed to purchase at the said sale were deferred therefrom." He seeks a subpoena, an injunction to prevent removal or further sale of the slaves, and a settlement of the dispute.

PAR Number 20482807

State: District of Columbia Year: 1828
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: Elizabeth Parker of Charleston, South Carolina, executrix of the estate of the late Isaac Parker, seeks to settle a debt dispute with William Gibson, executor of the estate of the late John Parker. John Parker asked Isaac Parker to serve as surety on a debt and indemnified the said Isaac by a mortgage of five slaves. John failed to pay the debt, forcing Isaac to repay the amount due. Elizabeth Parker contends that the mortgaged slaves were captured by the British during the War of 1812, and, in violation of the Treaty of Ghent, they were carried out of the country. Parker seeks recourse and compensation from a Congressional Act that provides "for the adjustment of claims of persons entitled to indemnification, under the first article of the treaty of Ghent." Parker states that the legal representatives of John have been awarded $2340 for the lost slaves. Gibson is applying to receive the money, and Parker believes that once he acquires it, Isaac's estate will not be compensated. Elizabeth Parker asks for an injunction prohibiting Richard Rush, Secretary of the Treasury, from paying the money, and preventing Gibson from receiving it.

PAR Number 20483615

State: District of Columbia Year: 1836
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: Rigby Hopkins of Maryland and James Tilton of Indiana state that in 1818 they agreed to serve as sureties for Edward R. Gibson, administrator for the estate of the late Jacob Gibson. Because Edward Gibson mismanaged his duties, a judgment was obtained against Tilton in 1835. Tilton and Hopkins assert that Gibson now has in his possession several slaves, including Peter and Kassiah, named in a deed executed as part of his administration. The petitioners ask that Gibson be prevented from selling the slaves outside the jurisdiction of the court and that the court decree the slaves be sold to satisfy the judgment against Tilton.

PAR Number 20483804

State: District of Columbia Year: 1838
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: John and Mary Mellon seek the settlement of an ownership dispute regarding a slave named James, who was delivered to Lewis Piles by George Mellon, deceased father of the petitioners, to secure a debt of $30. Piles, in violation of the agreement, has sold nineteen-year-old James to William H. Williams, a slave trader, as a slave for life. The petitioners claim that Piles had no right to sell James since the $30-debt has been paid and since they still have title to James until he reaches the age of twenty-eight after which time he is to be freed. The Mellons seek the return of their slave and an injunction preventing Piles and/or Williams from removing or selling James beyond the jurisdiction of the court.

PAR Number 20485107

State: District of Columbia Year: 1851
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: Ancus Hoffar complains of the loss of his slave John. Hoffar explains that he needed to raise a sum of money and Charles Eckel, an acquaintance of his, offered to loan him $250. Hoffar gave a bill of sale for slave John as collateral. Hoffar raised the money to repay Eckel, but consented to Eckel's request to keep John for the remainder of the year. However, Eckel died without returning the slave. Hoffar applied to Charlotte Eckel and Morris Adler, the executors of Eckel's estate, to settle the account for the return of the slave, but his requests were refused. He asks the court to order the executors to return John.

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