Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 20185923

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

Abstract: In 1853, John McLaughlin bequeathed his four sons, Samuel, James, Charles, and George McLaughlin, "all of his property, both real and personal, consisting of a large amount of Lands, Negroes, plantation Stock &c." In 1854, "either from old age or from injuries received by reason of a fall," McLaughlin became "mentally incapable of transacting his own business and managing his own affairs." The next year, however, he conveyed several slaves in a deed of gift to his son Samuel. James died and Charles disposed of his interest in his father's estate. Following the father's death, George McLaughlin and John R. McLaughlin, the administrator of James's estate, ask the court to declare the father's deed of gift to Samuel null and void. The complainants pray that Samuel, who is the executor of John McLaughlin's will, be directed to distribute the property among the heirs and to account with them "for all the Negroes and other property and effects of said Estate and for the use profits and hires thereof."

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 20282801

State: Arkansas Year: 1828
Location: Crawford Location Type: County

Abstract: Israel Dodge writes that in 1826 he purchased a slave girl named Darius for $400 from Mitchell Malone, acting overseer of Alexander Mitchell. He paid $109.50 up front and executed a note to Malone for the outstanding balance. Dodge claims that, since the purchase, he has discovered that the slave is diseased and unable to work. He "expressly charges that both Mitchell & Malone both well knew of the aforesaid defects in mind & body of said Negro at the time of the sale ... & at the time said false & fraudulent representations." Dodge therefore asks the court to declare the sale void and return his money.

PAR Number 20284605

State: Arkansas Year: 1846
Location: Hot Spring Location Type: County

Abstract: William Pond Sr. is being sued by his children and son-in-law. The petitioners contend that their father improperly sold slaves that had been placed in trust for their benefit and that of their mother, Mary Pond, during her lifetime. They inform the court that and 1833 deed of trust stipulated that the children would have no claim to ownership of the slaves unless their mother remarried, if left a widow, or died before they did. In the occurrence of either event, the slaves would be divided among the children. The petitioners inform the court that their mother died in 1839, after which their father moved the family from South Carolina to Arkansas, keeping the slaves in his possession, with the exception of one young slave who was left with the trustee. In 1844, however, Pond, who is described by his children as a man of dissipated and reckless habits, sold four of the slaves to one William Barkman, who promptly sold them out of state. The petitioners contend that their father had no right to sell the slaves and that Marskman, the buyer of the slaves, knew the conditions of the trust and sold the slaves secretly in order to deprive the heirs of their rightful property. They ask the court to call upon William Pond Sr. and William Barkman to account for the slaves and profits resulting from their sale.

PAR Number 20284606

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

Abstract: In 1846, Edward L. Pryor files a suit against his brother-in-law, Benjamin F. Ryburn. Pryor asks the court to validate his claim to a female slave named Julia and her two children, who were taken away from his possession by Ryburn three years earlier and have since remained in the latter's possession. During the ensuing trial, several deponents revealed that Pryor had received Julia in 1826 as a wedding gift from his father-in-law, Matthew Ryburn; but Montgomery Ryburn, another Ryburn son who also called to depose in the case, claimed that he had heard his father say that Julia was only a temporary loan to his daughter and ownership had never passed to Pryor. Other depositions also reveal that in 1830 Julia had been seized and sold to pay for debts incurred by Pryor; she was purchased and temporarily remained in the possession of Samuel Pryor, Edward's father. By 1832, however, Julia had returned to Edward's possession. All these events had taken place in Tennessee. In 1836 or 1837, the Pryor and Ryburn families moved to Arkansas where they farmed together. During this time, Julia and her two children were moved around; sometimes they were hired out to one William H. Moore, sometimes they were found on the family farm. In 1843, however, the farming partnership was dissolved and the Ryburn brothers, Benjamin and Montgomery, thought it prudent to take Julia away from Pryor and return her and her children to the Ryburn family. They claim that they had heard rumors that Pryor was about or had already sold Julia. They kept her and her children until Pryor filed his suit. In 1850, four years into the trial, a jury in Lafayette County where Pryor had originally filed his suit returned a verdict in favor of Pryor. However, before the verdict was returned, Pryor had filed another suit asking for a change of venue, claiming that the inhabitants of the county were under the undue influence of the Ryburns and thus prejudiced against him. The change of venue was granted and the suit tried again in Hemptstead County, where the jury again found in favor of Pryor. By that time, Julia had born another child. Ryburn asked for a new trial; his request was overruled; he appealed to the Supreme Court of Arkansas.

PAR Number 20284702

State: Arkansas Year: 1847
Location: Chicot Location Type: County

Abstract: At issue is the estate of the late Susan Mills, widow of the late Ambrose Mills. The petitioners are the couple's children and their spouses. The minor children are represented by their next friend, Thomas H. Humphries. They inform the court that the heirs of the late John W. Maulding are in fraudulent possession of a female slave named Cinthy and her daughter Sarah, who by right both belong to their mother's estate and must descend to them according to the laws of Arkansas. They explain that, in 1826, their mother, Susan Mills, most commonly known as Suky, received Cinthy, in the form of a life estate, from her father, Thomas Humphries. At that time, Suky and Ambrose Mills were residents of the state of Kentucky. Sometime between 1830 and 1833, the couple moved to the territory of Arkansas where Ambrose died shortly thereafter. In 1833 or 1834, Suky sold her life estate's rights in Cinthy to her neighbor, John W. Maulding. However, after Maulding died, in 1836 or 1837, Cinthy and Sarah were not returned to Suky's heirs as they should have been according to the terms of the life estate and the laws of Arkansas; they remained in Maulding's estate until 1844 and then passed into the possession of Maulding's heirs, where they both are at the time of the filing of this petition. The petitioners contend that Maulding knew at the time of the purchase that Suky Mills only had a lifetime investment in the slave and that she had no right to transfer title of ownership, which, by the laws of Arkansas, belonged to her heirs. The petitioners assert that they have asked Maulding's heirs to return the slaves, but to no avail. The petitioners therefore sue Nancy Maulding, John W. Maulding's widow, and her children.

PAR Number 20285102

State: Arkansas Year: 1851
Location: Ouachita Location Type: County

Abstract: At her death in 1824 Mary Croom of Wayne County, North Carolina, left to her daughter Sarah Coor "one negro Girl by the name of Ginne & one Cow and Calf." It was her desire, she said in her will, that "the property so to be settled that my said Daughter shall have the benefit thereof clear from the controle and debts or engagements of her husband during her life and at her death the said property be settled on the children she may leave surviving her." Now, in 1851, James Vaughan, the administrator of the estate of Sarah Coor, who died in 1843, seeks to gain possession of Ginne from one William Parr, who, he contends in his amended petition, fraudulently purchased Sarah's life interest in the slave. Vaughan, representing the heirs of Sarah Coor, contends that the purchase was fraudulent because the bill of sale was executed by Sarah Coor and her brother, Council B. Croom, when both were minors and under duress. Vaughan states that since the purchase Ginne has given birth to eight living children: Jane, Wright, Jordan, Lucy, Tom, Jack, Caroline, and Minerva. They range in value, he claims, from three to eight hundred dollars, and their labor has been worth at least seven hundred dollars per year, including lawful interest. Vaughan says that Sarah Coor's estate is "entitled to the negro girl Slave Ginne and her said Issue from while in possession of the said defendant since the Death of the said testator [1824] together With the hire and proffits of the said negroes Slaves since the Death of the Said Sarah Coor [1843]."

PAR Number 20285306

State: Arkansas Year: 1853
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: Ann Eliza Rives seeks title to a female slave named Betsy and to Betsy's two daughters. In 1832, Martha Rowlet, Ann Eliza's mother, purchased Betsy from Thomas Rives, Ann Eliza's husband, and immediately placed the slave in trust for the use and benefit of her daughter. In 1838, Thomas Rives, in violation of the trust, sold Betsy and her daughter Sarah, born since the creation of the trust, to one Sam C. Roane. In 1852, Thomas Rives died and so did Sam Roane. Betsy, Sarah, and a third child named Josephine are now in the possession of Roanes' widow, Julia Roane. Ann Eliza Rives contends that, while she was a married woman, she was not able to sue on her own behalf to regain possession of her slaves. She is now a single woman and is therefore entitled to do so. She petitions to nullify the sale so that she and her children may benefit from the possession of three valuable slaves.

PAR Number 20285407

State: Arkansas Year: 1854
Location: Arkansas Location Type: County

Abstract: In October 1819, Leah Machen received as a gift from her mother, Nancy Renwick of Newberry, South Carolina, a slave woman named Sarah and her two children. The slaves were given to Leah Machen, via a deed of trust, in the form of a life estate. Nancy Renwick's intent in establishing the trust was to "create and secure" for Leah and her children, "a separate property" that would remain "free from the control of" Leah's husband. Leah and John Machen later moved to Georgia, taking the slaves with them. There, Sarah gave birth to another child, Celia. Later, the Machens moved to Alabama. There, in 1843, the Machens claim, Celia was taken from their possession by one Isaac Payne, who sold her to one Henry J. Thompson. The Machens assert that both Payne and Thomspson knew that Celia belonged to Leah Machen's life estate, and were well aware that they could not have any legal claim to her. They assert that they have recently been informed of Celia's whereabouts and sue to recover possession of her and her children from Thompson. Leah Machen asserts that "the said Girl Celia is a family Negro and greatly endeared and attached to the family," and "your complainant is greatly attached to Celia and prizes her above money and that no amount of money would compensate your complainant for the loss of her." Nevertheless, she seeks to be compensated for the value of Celia's hires since 1843. In his answer, Henry Thompson denies having any knowledge of the Machens or the circumstances surrounding the deed of gift of Nancy Renwick to her daughter. He claims that Celia "was openly and publicly offered for sale by one I. B. Payne" in the slave mart at Memphis and that he and his partner, Dr. Lewis Shanks, purchased her for $412.50.

PAR Number 20480801

State: District of Columbia Year: 1808
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: Andrew Villard seeks to settle a dispute with John Darby regarding compensation for a male slave, James, whom Villard sold to Darby for the sum of ninety-six pounds. James died shortly after the sale. Consequently, Darby brought suit against Villard. Villard prays for an injunction to prevent further proceedings until the matter is settled.

PAR Number 20482208

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

Abstract: Elias Caldwell purchased the slave Charles from George St. Clair, assured "that said negro man was an excellent farmer, faithful, honest & sober" and that he could return Charles to St. Clair within a year and receive a refund. Caldwell maintains that St. Clair supported such an agreement as "it would prevent the negro man's being sent to Kentucky." Now Caldwell charges that St. Clair misrepresented the value of Charles "for the purpose of deceiving & defrauding your orator." He says that Charles is "dishonest & given to intoxication." Caldwell seeks reimbursement of the purchase price and "such other damages for not complying with said agreement."

PAR Number 20582205

State: Florida Year: 1822
Location: Escambia Location Type: County

Abstract: On 26 March 1820, Henry Potts purchased a slave named Lewis from Charles and Thomas Baler for three hundred and sixty dollars. The bill of sale stipulated that the Balers would deliver Lewis on 25 September 1820. Charging that the said Balers “refuse to deliver to your petitioner” the said slave, Potts prays that the defendants be compelled to appear at the next Superior Court session to answer his allegations; that they "deny or acknowledge their signatures to the said Bill of Sale;" that they “give Security for the wages due and unpaid and also damages for the detention of the said Negro Lewis;" and that Lewis be "sequestered" until the suit is settled.

PAR Number 20583201

State: Florida Year: 1832
Location: Gadsden Location Type: County

Abstract: William D. Harrison purchased four slaves from John G. Armstead in 1830 for fourteen hundred dollars. One slave, Edmund, became ill and died, even though he was under the care of a physician. Harrison attempted to pay Armstead one thousand dollars, the total due for the three other slaves, but Armstead refused and initiated a suit against Harrison for the entire amount, plus interest, requiring that the entire sum be paid in a timely manner. Harrison states that the seller knew the slave was "unsound" and therefore asks to be relieved from obligations stemming from the purchase. He asks the court for a "perpetual injunction" against the collection of money for the purchase of the slave boy Edmund.

PAR Number 20583304

State: Florida Year: 1833
Location: Escambia Location Type: County

Abstract: Harvey Harrington purchased a slave named Betsey from James Cole, an agent for George W. Barkley. At the time of the purchase, Cole represented Betsey as being sound and of good health. Harrington alleges that, in fact, Betsey had "a disease of long standing and of an incurable nature." Harrington asks the court "to order the said contract to be rescinded and to decree that the said George W. Barkley and James Cole pay and refund to him the purchase money."

PAR Number 20584103

State: Florida Year: 1841
Location: Leon Location Type: County

Abstract: James Trotti asks that Ephraim Ponder be enjoined from further action against him with regards to his note for the purchase of the slave Clinton. Trotti explains that he bought two slaves, Henry and Clinton, from Ponder for $2500. Trotti charges that Clinton was of an unsound mind and body, often suffering fits of an "aggravated character" that rendered him a liability. Trotti asks that Ponder "be decreed to credit thereon the price of said Clinton."

PAR Number 20585104

State: Florida Year: 1851
Location: Escambia Location Type: County

Abstract: Francis Bobe petitions the court to reverse an action against him filed by a Richard Mayben, involving slaves Bobe purchased from Rosanna and Joseph Shomo. Bobe explains that although he legally bought and paid for the slaves, the Shomos, intending to defraud him, registered a deed of trust for the slaves, naming Mayben as trustee. Mayben has filed for, and received, an action of trover against Bobe. The petitioner asks the court to stay the judgment against him and to require Mayben to appear in court to explain his "beneficial interest" in the slaves.

PAR Number 20585910

State: Florida Year: 1859
Location: Alachua Location Type: County

Abstract: Isaac J. Carter and Thomas J. Privatt seek an injunction restraining John J. Underwood and Maston Folsom from foreclosing upon a $600-promissory note made by Carter as payment for a slave named Charlotte. Claiming that Charlotte was "of weak body and habit unsound and unhealthy both of body and mind" and that she was "entirely valueless," the petitioners ask the court to set aside the promissory note and void the contract between Folsom and Carter, as the slave's condition caused "an absolute and entire failure of the consideration for which the said described promissory note was given."

PAR Number 20586008

State: Florida Year: 1860
Location: Leon Location Type: County

Abstract: Francis Ann Allen, daughter and heir of Laban Rawls, asks the court to issue a subpoena to James F. McGriff, executor of her father's estate. Contending that her share of the estate was not equal in value to the other shares, Francis Ann asks for a new division of the estate by the court. The petitioners aver that "in January last a division of the slaves [in] said Estate was made for the purpose of enabling your Oratrix to obtain possession of her share of sd slaves." They further acknowledge that "the said slaves were divided into five lots and valued" and that Francis Ann drew a lot containing 19-year-old Ned, 13-year-old Mary Ann, and 6-year-old Wash. The petitioners argue, however, that the slave Mary Ann was "entirely unsound and subject to a most dangerous disease - that of Fits or Convulsions." Francis Ann further states that she was given a smaller portion of the land in the estate and is therefore "entitled to a much large Sum" from the estate.

PAR Number 20586701

State: Florida Year: 1867
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: William R. Bell asks the court for an injunction to stop all proceedings against him with regards to his purchase of two female slaves from slave traders in 1860 and for a final settlement to be made by the court for all claims. Bell purchased "two Negro women" for the sum of $2600 and paid the entire purchase price except $326, for which he signed a promissory note to be held in trust by Charles L. Powell, a partner in the slave trading concern. In 1861, Bell "commenced an action of Covenant against McCall & Hardee [the other two partners in said slave trading concern] for the unsoundness of one of said Negro slaves," not knowing at the time that Powell was a partner. During the 1861 suit McCall died, and Bell obtained a judgment for the sum of $1238.61 against Hardee, the surviving partner. Now Bell's property is being levied against from claims against the estate of McCall.

PAR Number 20680304

State: Georgia Year: 1803
Location: Greene Location Type: County

Abstract: Henry Peeples paid $425 to William Harris for a slave named Will. Harris assured Peeples that Will would be "an excellent plantation hand." However, the slave "proved himself to be lazy rougueish & unfaithful in every respect." There have been several runaway incidents. Peeples contends that Harris knew of Will's "evil" character but has refused any compensation to Peeples. The latter asks for intervention on his behalf.

PAR Number 20680704

State: Georgia Year: 1807
Location: Greene Location Type: County

Abstract: Moses Speer purchased Jack from Samuel Pollett in January 1807. Pollett assured Speer that "Jack was a sound healthy and Valuable Slave." However, Speer claims he found out that Jack is blind and has rheumatism, and therefore is "wholly useless as a slave." He alleges that Pollett well knew these facts at the time of the sale. He is suing for $400 in damages.

PAR Number 20680706

State: Georgia Year: 1807
Location: Greene Location Type: County

Abstract: James Huling bargained his female slave named Mary for Wingfield Shropshire's female slave named Chloe. Huling claims that Chloe was sold to him as being thirty-two years of age and sound of mind and body. He alleges, however, that Shropshire is guilty of trying to deceive him, as he knew full well at the time of the sale that Chloe was in fact "unsound in her intellect" and weak in her body. Chloe turned out to be "of no value" to Huling, who contends he has incurred $550 in damages. He sues Shropshire for this amount.

PAR Number 20680913

State: Georgia Year: 1810
Location: Oglethorpe Location Type: County

Abstract: Horatio Offutt alleges that George Carter deceived him on the sale of a slave. Carter sold Ben for $500, promising Offutt that the slave was "sound, healthy, & entirely clear of any sickness, disease or complaint whatsoever." Offutt claims, however, that Ben was "unhealthy, unsound & afflicted with a certain chronic disease called the dropsy, or some other fatal & incurable complaint," a fact that Carter hid from him with the intent of defrauding him. Ben is near death and useless to the plaintiff. Offutt sues Carter for $1,000 in damages.

PAR Number 20681014

State: Georgia Year: 1810
Location: Oglethorpe Location Type: County

Abstract: John Billups presents that he paid Richard Goolsby $325 for a slave named Jim. Goolsby "did covenant to warrant the said man to be Sound & well free all disasters whatever." However, Jim had previously committed the crime of "breaking open the Brandy house of Charles Hardman & taking there out brandy." After the sale, he was "arraigned before the tribunal appointed by the laws of this state for the trial of Negroe Slaves for offenses of a capital nature," and he was sentenced to hang. Billups argues that, by committing the crime, "said negroe had forfeited his life to the State and destroyed the right & power of the said Richard to convey a good & valid right & title to the said negro." Billups claims $1,000 in damages.

PAR Number 20681507

State: Georgia Year: 1815
Location: Liberty Location Type: County

Abstract: On 1 August 1815, Charles W. Rogers paid Margaret Howell $200 for a slave named Aaron. Rogers states that Howell agreed to "refund the said amount of purchase money ... in case the said negro boy slave should die of the disease he was then sick of." Aaron did die, but Howell refuses to refund the money as promised. Rogers claims damages of $400, and asks that Howell answer his allegations at the next Superior Court session.

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