Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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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 20182701

State: Alabama Year: 1827
Location: Autauga Location Type: County

Abstract: Peter Wyatt purchased "a negro man slave named David" from Moses Greer in July 1822, in exchange for a note for $551.02, from his brother William Wyatt, along with a horse, saddle and bridle valued at $100. The petitioner states that he "had said negro only a few days before he ran away stole some property and in attempting to escape was shot at and hit -- after apprehension in a very few days he again ran away -- And again in the same manner a third time." The petitioner states that "he did not get more than about one weeks service from said negro in consequence of his running away." During David's third attempt at absconding, he committed a robbery and "was taken up, tried & hanged for the crime in May or June 1823." In the petitioner's mind, the slave's death "is fairly and alone attributable to his bad character," and he states that David "was sent or run from the State of Georgia on account of his bad character and that this was known to Greer previous to sale." In addition, the petitioner discloses that Moses Campbell has sued Greer for payment of the note tendered in the purchase of David and Campbell received from the court an $861 judgment, which remains unpaid. The petitioner charges that Greer and Campbell are attempting to defraud him and he asks the court to enjoin them from collecting the debt, and enjoin his brother, William, from paying it, until the court can hear the case. Wyatt, noting that "he has never received one cent compensation for the loss of the negro," also seeks said compensation along with a $100 reimbursement of the court costs of defending David's robbery charge.

PAR Number 20183404

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

Abstract: William W. Mock and Mary Ann E. Wyatt, the legal representatives of the late Peter Wyatt, seek the court's permission to revive a bill originally filed by Peter Wyatt in 1827. Wyatt's petition was initially dismissed, but upon his appeal to the state supreme court, a new ruling cited error in the case, thereby annulling the first verdict and remanding the case to a lower court. The court gave Wyatt leave to amend his bill and continue its prosecution, but Wyatt died before he could accomplish that task. Wyatt's administrators argue that they are "entitled to revive and prosecute said suit in the same manner as if the said Peter Wyatt had not departed his life," and "to this end therefore that the said suit may be fairly prosecuted and full and ample Justice done in the premises." The petitioners seek $2000 in damages as they contend that Greer sold Wyatt a slave of known "bad character."

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 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 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 20183812

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

Abstract: Jesse Carr, through his guardian and next friend David A. Monaghan, asks the court to make William Willborne return six slaves and their children, purchased from him at a price less than half their true value. Monaghan claims that Willborne took advantage of Carr because of his mental incompetence. Monaghan states that his charge is "a man of extremely weak & Unsound mind" declared by a court to be an "idiot or non compos mentis." The petitioners further request "an account be taken of the hire & said defendant compelled to pay the same to said guardian for use & benefit of your Orator."

PAR Number 20183905

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

Abstract: Michael Wright asks the court not to execute a previous judgment against him in the matter of payment for slaves he purchased from Ezekiel Salmon and Zera Davis. Wright says that in 1837, he paid the two men three thousand dollars for four slaves: "a negro boy slave named Dave, a negro boy slave named Jack and a negro woman slave Mariah and her child." Wright says Salmon and Davis "falsely and fraudulently represented to your orator that the said negroes ... were sound in body and in mind and entirely free & exempt from any disease or ailment whatever," and states that Mariah and Dave "are and were at the time of said sale diseased and wholly worthless and of no value." Wright refused to pay the remaining balance, and the defendants successfully sued him. The petitioner pleads that his lawyer was negligent in his defense and seeks an injunction preventing Salmon and Davis from carrying out the judgment, believing "that in equity and conscience they ought not to have or demand to have from your orator anything more than the said fifteen hundred dollars already paid ... the said sum being of the full value of the said negroes in their diseased condition."

PAR Number 20183921

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

Abstract: In December 1836, William Campbell purchased the slave Hardy, thirteen years of age, for $846 from John Dailey Jr. of Henry County, Georgia. As payment, Campbell transferred a note of $896 to Dailey, and Dailey paid Campbell fifty dollars in cash to balance out the transaction. Shortly after the sale, Campbell "discovered that the said negro was wholly unsound and worthless," and in March asked Daily to take back the boy and return the note used to purchase him. But before Dailey could respond, the slave died. The petitioner notes "that he has been greatly injured and endamaged by not having the possession of said note and that by reason of the wrongful acts of said Dailey," and he seeks an injunction against Dailey to prevent him from prosecuting the makers of the note and from collecting the money. In addition, Campbell requests recovery of the note.

PAR Number 20184104

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

Abstract: Joshua Cain seeks to protect his interest in the slave Sally and her children whom he purchased from John Stubblefield, his son-in-law, on 18 April 1839. Cain states that at the time of the purchase, he left the slaves in Stubblefield's possession to take care of his daughter, who was in ill health. After her death, Cain took possession of the slaves and has had them ever since. In May of 1840 Stubblefield's father petitioned the circuit court for the recovery of the slaves -- based on his claim to a life estate in the slaves -- and a jury rendered a verdict against Cain, assessing him "an aggregate of two thousand dollars and one cent damages for the detention of the same [slaves]." The value includes not only Sally and her two daughters whom Cain purchased from William Stubblefield in 1839, but also another child of Sally, whose named is now known, valued at $250. Cain asks that his interest in the slaves be affirmed and that Stubblefield be restrained from taking possession of the slaves.

PAR Number 20184613

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

Abstract: In 1844, John Strom purchased from Henry F. Slatter of New Orleans a slave named James for $690, but within four or five days James died from pleurisy "or a disease of like character." Slatter, the petitioner, contends that James was in good health when sold to Strom, but that he caught "pleurisy" from exposure to intemperate weather only a couple of days after the sale and while in Strom's possession. Slatter further contends that, at first, Strom did not make any demands on him but, being in small pecuniary circumstances, requested him to bear half the loss. Slatter denied the request. In 1845, however, Strom sued Slatter, who owned land in the city of Montgomery, arguing that James was sick when he was sold. The next year, Strom won a civil suit with a jury awarding him seven hundred dollars. Now, in a countersuit, Slatter contends that James died "from exposure to bad weather" and "was sound and free from disease" when sold. Slatter asks for an injunction restraining Strom "and all others his agents and attornies from the collecting of said judgment and any further proceedings."

PAR Number 20184633

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

Abstract: John M. McGaughey amends his original suit to confirm his title to slaves he bought from Charles Ewing Jr., one of the heirs of the late Charles Ewing Sr. In his amended suit, McGaughey argues that he purchased the slaves when Charles Ewing Jr. was perfectly solvent, and presents the bills of sale as exhibits. He again seeks an injunction to halt the said suit pending against him and requests a decree validating his title to the slaves. The related original bill reveals that three of the slaves, Lucy and her sons, Jack and Willis, had belonged to the late Charles Ewing Sr. During his lifetime, Charles Ewing the elder had given Lucy and Willis to Charles Jr. and Jack to another of his children. Charles Ewing Jr. had purchased Jack from his sibling before selling all three slaves to McCaughey.

PAR Number 20184716

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

Abstract: On 25 October 1844, Hardy Jones conveyed to his nephew, General Jackson Bryant, "a parcel of Negroes" for five hundred dollars. The conveyance was made "in consideration of services which the complainant had rendered" to his uncle by "ministering to his comforts and necessities in his sickness and in taking care of him when he seemed to be cast off by his own children." The slaves included thirty-year-old California, twenty-four-year-old July and her children, eighteen- or twenty-year-old Mary, a yellow complexioned woman, Harry, about twenty-eight, Griff, about twenty-three and yellow colored, and Anthony, twenty-five. Since Jones needed the slaves to "gather his crop and comply with the contract which he had made with his overseer," Bryant agreed to hire them back to him at twenty-five dollars per month. Shortly thereafter, Jones died and his heirs took possession of the slaves, including Mary, who was taken by Riley G. Ingraham, Jones's son-in-law. Bryant fears that Mary will be taken out of the state. He asks that Ingraham be subpoenaed, and that the sheriff seize Mary while the case is pending.

PAR Number 20184808

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

Abstract: In 1839, Elizabeth Hassell of Hickman County, Tennessee, married Alexander C. Hamilton, who had many debts and no property. Elizabeth's father, Joseph Hassell, gave the bride 220 acres of land, and loaned the couple a family of slaves consisting of Sophia and her seven children. Before long, Hamilton had sold the land and one of the slaves. Joseph Hassell sued to recover his other slaves, but Hamilton refused to turn them over. Then in 1843, the two men reached a court sanctioned agreement, whereby Hassell gave the couple a life estate in the slaves, on the condition that the slaves not be subject to Alexander's debts and not be taken out of the state of Tennessee. The agreement also stipulated that, in case Elizabeth died without children, the life estate would be split between James Hassell and Alexander Hamilton. Later Elizabeth and Alexander sold Alexander's interest in the life estate to James, but later Alexander purchased the slaves back, a transaction attested by two bills of sale. Alexander later sold two more slaves. Elizabeth charges that Alexander then began to treat her "with great Cruelty & barbarity." Once, she said, he nearly choked her to death; he was also guilty of adultery. And one night in 1848, Alexander stole away, taking five of the slaves to Dallas County. Elizabeth seeks an attachment on the slaves, and a subpoena requiring her husband to answer charges. Related testimony reveals that Alexander was in the habit of frequenting houses of ill repute and even applied to a physician for medicine to treat a venereal disease. This case was filed in both Tennessee and Alabama, the latter being the state where James had taken the slaves; it went up all the way to the Alabama Supreme Court. Alexander and Elizabeth where divorced. In 1850, Elizabeth was awarded the slaves who had not been sold by Alexander; the slaves were delivered to her in 1852.

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 20184901

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

Abstract: In 1823 and 1824, Margaret (Peggy) Price received from Williams McClellan of Hancock County, Georgia, two slaves—Mariah and Jerry respectively--through a life estate. After her death, the slaves were to descend to her heirs. The slaves were placed in the possession of one of the trustees, Henry McClellan. Now Henry McClellan has died, and Margaret Price fears that, with nobody to manage her slave property, her estate will be wasted. She asks the court to permit her to bring Jerry, Mariah and Mariah's children and grandchild into Alabama, and to appoint a new trustee for the estate.

PAR Number 20185105

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

Abstract: In 1841, William H. Jemison purchased five slaves--a Negro man named David, a girl named Judy, a boy named Isaac, Jenny and Rachel--for nineteen hundred and fifty dollars from Claiborne Griffin, who signed a warranty guaranteeing their titles. A year or so later, Griffin died, leaving his property as a life estate to his wife Sarah, who also died leaving the estate to Archibald, James, and Daniel Griffin. When, in 1851, a group of claimants argued that the slaves were actually part of the legacy of a Georgia widow and should be turned over to them, Jemison sought the assistance of Claiborne Griffin's heirs to verify his warranty. They not only refused, but secretly transported their own slaves to Mississippi so that no claims could be made against them. Jemison institutes a suit to obtain "security & indemnity" on Claiborne's warranty on the titles of the slaves.

PAR Number 20185108

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

Abstract: In 1841, Elizabeth Woolfolk sold to Thomas Carpenter of Sumter County a slave for $1,001. The bill of sale "bound herself, her heirs, Executors, administrators and assigns forever to defend the right and title of said Negro slave" against the claims of "all persons whomsoever." In 1849, however, Alfred E. Going, as administrator of Thomas Woolfolk's estate, sued Carpenter for $1,772, the value of the slave. Carpenter claimed that he had lost his bill of sale, and when the Greene County Court ruled against him in 1850, he appealed to the Alabama Supreme Court. While this suit was pending, Carpenter learned that Elizabeth and her new husband, Arthur McCracken, were planning to leave Pickens County where they lived. Carpenter seeks a writ "restraining them under penalty from removing from said state."

PAR Number 20185317

State: Alabama Year: 1853
Location: Tallapoosa Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1841, Tennessee slave owner James Pitman, of Roane County, gave his grandchildren, William and Sarah Lamira Pitman, two slaves: Lyshia, about twenty-five, and her small child Patsey. The slave Lyshia has since the gift given birth to three more children: Benjamin Franklin, Oliver Cromwell, and Governor Daniel, "all of whom are boys and very young." William and Sarah Pitman live in Alabama, and both their father and mother are dead. Sarah has now come of age and William, still a minor, must be educated. The petitioner, who is William's guardian represents that funds are needed for William's education and there is no other property to be used for that purpose. He therefore seeks permission of the court to sell the slaves.

PAR Number 20185329

State: Alabama Year: 1853
Location: Madison Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1839 or 1840, slave owner Elizabeth Jones, of Coffee County, Tennessee, asked her nephew Samuel G. Berry, of Jackson County, Alabama, to become her "agent and advisor" as she was "unlearned, being unable to write or to read writing, unacquainted with figures." In 1840, she sent two of her slaves to work on his farm, and in 1843, she moved to Alabama with the remainder of her slaves, including Nancy, a gift from her father, and Nancy's children. At first she lived in Berry's house, but after eight months, she was asked to move into a nearby cabin. She later sold a slave named Pleasant to William Berry, Samuel's father, and sold a slave named Henderson to Samuel himself. Elizabeth describes Samuel's power over her as "absolute," almost the same "as that of a Master over his slaves" causing her to permit him to use her slaves as laborers on his farm and as hired hands. She contends that, over the years, Samuel grew "cold and morose" towards her. When she attempted to take over the management of her slaves, he implied that the slaves were actually his during her lifetime, by virtue of a document signed by her in 1843; a document she does not remember having ever signed or remembers as being something different that what it is now being purported to be. Elizabeth brings suit against Samuel. She seeks an injunction to restrain him from removing the slaves from the county and asks that he give an account of how he had profited from the use of her slaves.

PAR Number 20185338

State: Alabama Year: 1853
Location: Sumter Location Type: County

Abstract: When, in 1851, a group of claimants argued that slaves purchased a decade before by William H. Jemison from Claiborne Griffin were actually part of the legacy of a Georgia widow, Jemison filed suit to protect his property. In 1852, the claimants countersued. Jemison, in turn, seeks to revive and supplement his original suit.

PAR Number 20185408

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

Abstract: Indebted to Trotman & Nance, a trading company, for $1,528, and to Hugh N. Moore for a bill of exchange worth $1,661 drawn on a company in New Orleans, Robert Freeman, a Jackson County planter, offers to sell his creditors ten slaves for four thousand dollars with the understanding that he could purchase them back within two years. The creditors agree, take the slaves, and travel to Madison County. They soon learn, however, that Freeman owes many other creditors when the slaves he sold them are taken up by the sheriff. "The said negroes have been advertised for sale at the Court house-door in the town of Huntsville," Trotman, Nance, and Moore explain, asserting that Freeman has the wherewithal to pay his debts but refuses to do so. Meanwhile, they seek an injunction to halt the sale of the slaves.

PAR Number 20185413

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

Abstract: Samuel Perry, joint owner of eight slaves with his sister Martha Perry, a minor, asks that the slaves be divided so he can receive his share. He is now twenty-one and his sister is between the ages of fourteen and twenty-one.

PAR Number 20185616

State: Alabama Year: 1856
Location: Randolph Location Type: County

Abstract: During the early 1850s, Ruth Williams, fearful of a twelve or fourteen-year-old male slave named Pickens, whom she had received by division of property given by her mother to her two daughters, asked her husband William Williams to sell or trade the slave and acquire a black woman in the boy's stead. William Williams did so, and in 1852 purchased Nancy, fifty or sixty years of age, with his wife's money, but he also signed an "individual note for a part of the purchase money, which arrangement she states she knew nothing about at the time, nor until long afterwards." Now Ruth Williams, who claims to be illiterate, sues through her next friend William A. B. Falkner, asking the court to prevent her husband's creditors from seizing Nancy, arguing that she could not read the original bill of sale and that she trusted her husband who said he had bought the woman in her behalf.

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