Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 20782804

State: Kentucky Year: 1828
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: William Dorsey states that upon arriving in Kentucky from Maryland, he was "in immediate need of a riding horse for the purpose of exploring the country to enable him to select a farm." He traded a six-year-old slave named Charlotte and a saddle for a horse owned by Charles Sands. Although Sands assured him the horse was only five years old and healthy, Dorsey has since been informed that the horse is eight or nine "hipshot in one of his hips ... and a ridgling having been but half gelded & very unruly in the presence of mares which part was entirely & fraudulently concealed from your orator." Sands has refused to take the horse back, and Dorsey fears he will sell Charlotte, as Sands has "declared that he will (in his own words) 'very soon put her in his pocket.'" Dorsey has commenced an action at law for the recovery of the girl. He asks this court to issue an injunction restraining Sands from selling the girl and requiring him to give security that she will be present when the case is heard, and that finally the court will decree the contract be rescinded.

PAR Number 20783502

State: Kentucky Year: 1835
Location: Fayette Location Type: County

Abstract: On 21 September 1820, Sarah and Cager Etherington traded a black slave named Charles to Samuel and John W. Moore for twenty-six acres of land. Sarah Etherington says that her husband Cager fraudulently transferred the land to his mother Ann Mitchell on the same day they obtained it, but she and her children only discovered this fact recently. Sarah also claims that her husband "has been treating your Oratrix Sarah very cruelly, by the instigation and connivance of Said Mrs. Ann Mitchell." A few days ago, he and his mother left, having sold practically everything, including "her & her childrens cloathing except a few articles." She asks for an injunction to stop the defendants from interfering with any of the property, that it be awarded to her for her and her family's support, and that her husband be prevented from taking or contracting away any of her children.

PAR Number 20783810

State: Kentucky Year: 1838
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: Gabriel Farnsley charges George Love with having "knowingly and wilfully and corruptly perpetrated an outrageous fraud" upon him. Love traded a slave named James for Farnsley's slave Thomas, although James was included in a deed of gift to Love's children. Love allowed Thomas to be hired out to a steamboat captain, who has taken him on a voyage from "whence he may never return." Farnsley has returned James. He asks the court to rescind the contract of exchange and to compel the steamboat captain to return Thomas and to account for his hire.

PAR Number 20784010

State: Kentucky Year: 1840
Location: Fayette Location Type: County

Abstract: Phoebe Gillis, a woman of color, states "that she is a free woman and has for a long time been most unjustly held in bondage." Asserting that "she was born free," Gillis claims that Esther Morrison and Henry Clay have deprived her of her freedom. Noting that "she is poor and unable to pay the expenses of a suit," Phoebe asks that she "may have proper answers, subpoenas" and that she be provided "such full and perfect relief" to which she is entitled.

PAR Number 20784405

State: Kentucky Year: 1844
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: Charles Saunders, a free man of color, states that he was able to purchase his wife Matilda, a slave, from slave trader David Ross, with the financial assistance of Charles Kastenbine. The price agreed upon between Saunders and Ross was $600. Saunders claims that he arranged to make monthly payments to Kastenbine on said purchase. Matilda has since given birth to a boy, and Charles Kastenbine has died. The heirs and administrators of Kastenbine now claim that Saunders's payments were to hire Matilda and not payments towards her purchase. Saunders asks that the defendants be restrained “from taking seizing or in anywise disturbing said slaves or hindering him your orator in & from the quiet & peaceable possession & use of the said woman Matilda and her child George Saunders till the final trial of this suit” and that the Kastenbine heirs be prevented from removing his wife and child to places unknown.

PAR Number 20784510

State: Kentucky Year: 1845
Location: Scott Location Type: County

Abstract: Willa Viley charges Thomas McCargo with fraud for misrepresenting the age and condition of two infant slaves he purchased from McCargo. The two babies were six weeks and six months old, but Viley states that McCargo described them as being older. Viley paid for the babies with horses, worth "at least $160.00." He further states that McCargo claimed "that sd children were sound, hale and healthy, when in fact at that time and now sd children were and are extremely delicate, sickly and feeble, and it is very doubtfull whether they can be raised at all." McCargo's only property in the state of Kentucky appears to be a slave named Alfred, co-owned by James McHatran and now in the possession of a Stephen Jackson. Viley is suing McCargo for $170, the sale price plus interest, and $200 in damages. He asks the court to issue a warning order and subpoena against Jackson and McHatran to advise them of the suit and prevent them from removing Alfred from the court's jurisdiction until the case can be heard and settled.

PAR Number 20785107

State: Kentucky Year: 1851
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: William H. Kelly and James M. Covington established a partnership "to purchase and sell negroes." Kelly died intestate, and his administrator, Levi Tyler, charges Covington with defaulting on several loans from Kelly. Tyler informs the court that his intestate advanced Covington $5600 in August 1848 "to be laid out in negroes at fair prices;" in September 1848 Kelly advanced Covington $2000 for the same purpose. In addition, Tyler charges Covington with taking Kelly's slaves south and selling them. The petitioner demands an accounting of all transactions, repayment of the debt, and settlement of at least $20,000.

PAR Number 20785114

State: Kentucky Year: 1851
Location: Warren Location Type: County

Abstract: The heirs of M. Amanda Marshall ask to sell Lucy and her four children "for the payment of debts." The slaves include 28-year-old Lucy, "Sally a girl thirteen years of age afflicted with scrofula appraised to $100," 6-year-old Joseph, 3-year-old Charles, and "Mary her daughter two months of age."

PAR Number 20785209

State: Kentucky Year: 1852
Location: Scott Location Type: County

Abstract: Mordacai Offutt states that he traded "a likely negro boy named Joseph" to John Emison in exchange for "an old negro man and woman named George and Clarissa" and $225 in November 1852. Offutt confesses that he is "by nature of feeble mind and disposed to believe every thing said to him." As a result, Offutt charges that he was defrauded out of $600 by Emison because the total value of George and Clarissa is not more than $400 and Joseph is worth $800. Offutt seeks to have the contract rescinded and Joseph returned to him. He also asks the court to prevent Emison from removing Joseph beyond the jurisdiction of the court.

PAR Number 20785518

State: Kentucky Year: 1855
Location: Barren Location Type: County

Abstract: William Sampson states that Nancy Kilgore "proposed to trade a negro girl named Nancy the property of Wm B Kilgore decd ... for a negro girl of plaintiffs named Rebecca." He reports that she told him "that said Nancy some five or six years previous had had a rising on her neck which had broke & left a scar, & that since that period there was an occasional swelling of the glands of the throat when she took cold, and that these were the only manifestations of disease that she ever had, that she would not warrant her sound, as those symptoms were indications of scrofula." Sampson charges that Kilgore withheld from him that "Nancy was a notorious thief" and "intended to poison" her family. The petitioner "prays for a recission of the said contract and a decree directing the defendant to surrender the said woman Rebecca and that his bill of sale for her ... may be cancelled."

PAR Number 20785717

State: Kentucky Year: 1857
Location: Butler Location Type: County

Abstract: Mark Phelps reports that he "purchased from Eliza J Phelps and William H Phelps who was then her husband their undivided interest in a tract of 100 acres of land." After the transaction, Eliza divorced William, and the petitioner was appointed her trustee. The petitioner "further states that before the decree for a divorce he made a swap of Slaves with said Eliza J and she agreed to pay him $350." He notes that other transactions were made surrounding the slave exchange, whereupon he is still owed money. The petitioner seeks an affirmation of the sale and an appointment of a commissioner.

PAR Number 20881504

State: Louisiana Year: 1815
Location: Pointe Coupee Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Richard Graves seeks to collect a debt from George Depassau. Graves represents that Captain George Depassau is indebted to him for $29, the balance due on a judgment he obtained in his favor "against the sd Depassau." Graves prays that Depassau pay the debt plus interest and costs of the suit. A related document reveals that the dispute between the two men initially arose when Graves traded a female slave for two of Depassau's young male slaves. Depassau claimed that the female slave he had received from Graves was in fact "unsound," while his two young slaves were worth $450 each. He sued Graves for fraudulent representation. The suit was discontinued and Graves was allowed to recover costs.

PAR Number 20881923

State: Louisiana Year: 1819
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Manuel T. Beauregard, tutor of Rose Adelaide Leonard, presents to the court that his ward is the "legal owner" of a thirty-year-old mulatto slave named Manette and her eighteen-month-old child named Odile. Manette and Odile are currently in the "wrongful and illegal possession" of Thomas S. Cunningham who refuses to deliver them to their rightful owner, although "often requested and amicably demanded" to do so. Beauregard prays that Cunningham be forced to return the slaves and pay $3,000 in damages. He also asks for an order of sequestration in order to facilitate identification of the slaves.

PAR Number 20882816

State: Louisiana Year: 1828
Location: Iberville Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Christopher Adams asks for an injunction to prevent the sale of his slaves, who were seized to satisfy the recovery value of a judgment won by one Joseph Fenwick against him; a judgment that since been transferred by Fenwick to one Joseph Erwin. Adams contends that, far from his being indebted to Erwin, the latter is indebted to him. He explains that after the transfer of the judgment, he traded a slave named Sally for a "mulatto woman named Peggy" that belonged to Erwin. But Peggy has since "obtained her freedom in a suit instituted" against him, a loss Adams estimates at $1,000. Although he considers that he has thus settled with Erwin and Fenwick the requirements of the judgment of the original suit, and that money is in fact due him, the two men have caused nine of his slaves to be seized and advertised for sale by the sheriff. Adams therefore prays that Erwin, Fenwick, and the sheriff be made parties to his suit and that an injunction be issued against the sale of the slaves. Finally, he prays for compensation from Erwin and Fenwick.

PAR Number 20883031

State: Louisiana Year: 1830
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Isaac T. Preston presents to the court that William Zabrisky, a free man of color, fraudulently "dispossessed" him of his two slaves, twenty-one-year-old Judea and fourteen-year-old Joe. Preston alleges that Zabrisky entered his house and enticed his slaves to leave, intending to take them into his possession. He claims to have amicably asked Zabrisky to restore the slaves, but Zabrisky has refused to do so. He therefore asks the court to sequester the slaves pending resolution of the suit and, after due delay, to condemn Zabrisky to return the slaves and pay him $2,000 in damages. Related testimonies and the conclusions of the related judgment reveal that Zabrisky and Preston had entered into a tentative agreement to trade slaves on a trial basis. Zabrisky would exchange Judea and Joe for Preston's three slaves, Melissa and her two children. Zabrisky, however, decided not to complete the deal and to end the experiment; upon Preston's resistance to return Judea and Joe, he took matters in his own hands.

PAR Number 20883209

State: Louisiana Year: 1832
Location: St. Landry Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Elizabeth Frances Rogers represents that, shortly after marrying William Collins in 1825, she received from her mother's succession five slaves valued at $2,000. In 1829, her husband swapped one of the slaves, named Maria, for another slave, named Narcisse. He then sold Narcisse for $600 and converted the proceeds to his own use. He sold three more slaves and used part of the proceeds to buy two male slaves in Kentucky. He also bought a female mulatto slave named Martha. She contends that, although Collins gave her possession of the slaves for a while, he had in fact purchased them in his name. He has now "clandestinely" removed the slaves from her possession, is repeatedly threatening to "ruin" her, and has abandoned her. Claiming that the “embarrassed circumstances” in which her husband finds himself are putting her property in jeopardy and that his cruelty makes it impossible for her to continue living with him, she prays the court for a separation of "bed & board." She asks that the slaves be recognized as her separate property and seeks a writ of sequestration for their protection until the case is resolved. She also prays for a mortgage on her husband’s property to secure her claim.

PAR Number 20883610

State: Louisiana Year: 1836
Location: West Feliciana Location Type: Parish

Abstract: William R. Stevens, of Boone County, Kentucky, represents that he recently purchased from Joseph Carmena, of West Feliciana, an eleven-year-old female slave named Fanny, for the sum of $600 “in hand.” He claims that, although Fanny came “warranted” to be a slave for life and sound “in body and mind,” she is in fact “incurably diseased.” According to Stevens, Fanny suffers from what is supposed to be “Dropsy in the Chest” and is thus unfit for “all useful purposes” and "valueless." He therefore prays that the sale be “annulled and rescinded” and the purchase price returned, together with $200 for medical expenses incurred in caring for Fanny. In his related answer, Carmena claims that he gave Fanny and $300 cash to Stevens as a trade for a slave named Matilda.

PAR Number 20883871

State: Louisiana Year: 1838
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Juan de la Peña presents to the court that, in 1831, he "bartered" with Mrs. Gertrude Daigle a female slave named Mary in exchange for another female slave named Marthe. Juan de la Peña further presents that he is now desirous to set thirty-five-year-old Marthe free, in consideration of the "many good services" she has rendered him and the "utmost faithfulness" with which she has "attended to his domestic concern." He vouches that Marthe is "of good morals" and character, has never been guilty of any crime or misdemeanor, and "is capable by her daily labour to provide for her maintenance." He therefore asks the court to order that the "publications prescribed by law" be made and, if there if no opposition, to authorize him to pass the act of freedom.

PAR Number 20884802

State: Louisiana Year: 1848
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Sarah Conner, a free woman of color, intervenes in a suit filed by the Bank of Kentucky against Theophilus Freeman. She seeks to recover her two female slaves, twenty-six-year-old Mary Ann and nineteen-year-old Ellen, who have been seized by the sheriff on a writ of fieri facias to satisfy the Bank’s claim against Freeman. Sarah contends that she is the "true and lawful owner" of the two slaves, having recently acquired them from Mrs. Caroline M. Williams, a widow. She paid $600 for Mary Ann and got Ellen, plus $300, by exchanging her for a male mulatto slave named Lewis. She charges that the seizure is therefore illegal, unjust, and oppressive. She prays that John L. Lewis, the sheriff, as well as the Bank of Kentucky and Theophilus Freeman, be cited to appear and answer her suit. She asks to be allowed to give bond for the return of her two slaves.

PAR Number 20884831

State: Louisiana Year: 1848
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Pierre Grégoire Vigneaud seeks the dissolution of a contract between him and Phineas Solomon. Vigneaud represents that he recently entered into a contract of “exchange and sale” with Solomon, whereby he gave Solomon a twenty-eight-year-old slave named Joseph, valued at $800, in exchange for a twenty-six-year-old slave named Tom, valued at $850, plus $50 cash. According to Vigneaud, Tom was fully “guarantied” against all “redhibitory vices, maladies and defects prescribed by law.” Notwithstanding the warranty, Vigneaud claims, Tom is in fact “unsound and unhealthy in body.” He is afflicted with a “chronic syphilitic malady” and “chronic rheumatism,” which make him of “no value.” Vigneaud charges that Solomon was well aware of Tom’s condition at the time of the sale and concealed it from him. He therefore seeks an order directing that the contract be dissolved. He asks for an order condemning Solomon to return the slave Joseph or to pay his value plus $50 for the balance of the price of adjudication. He also seeks $300 in damages to cover the loss of his slave’s use, medical expenses, and legal fees.

PAR Number 20885027

State: Louisiana Year: 1850
Location: Catahoula Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Mahala Sheffield, widow of the late Thomas Humble, tutrix of her three children by Humble, and now wife of James P. Sheffield, seeks permission to make an exchange of slaves with Gilbert Buie. Mrs. Sheffield represents that she is desirous to swap four slaves for three plus $250 with Buie. However, the slaves that she plans to trade away, a mother and her three young children, belong to the undivided property that she owns in community with her children. In order to make a “valid and legal” exchange, she must first obtain the “sanction Advice and consent” of a family meeting. Therefore, Mahala, authorized and assisted by James Sheffield, prays for an order to convene a family meeting to be held in the “Town of Harrisonburg” on the 9th of November 1850.

PAR Number 20885215

State: Louisiana Year: 1852
Location: East Baton Rouge Location Type: Parish

Abstract: John Buhler seeks to rescind an exchange of slaves between him and James A. McHatten. Buhler represents that, in 1851, he purchased from McHatten a twenty-six-year-old woman named Jane and her two-year-old daughter named Martha. Jane and her child were valued at $900 and Jane was verbally “warranted” as a “good & efficient cook.” In exchange, Buhler gave McHatten a slave named Betsy, valued at $300, plus $600 in cash. Buhler claims to have found out that Jane cannot cook at all and is insane. According to Buhler, not only is Jane “valueless” but she is also dangerous. Buhler has approached McHatten on this matter, but the latter has refused to take back the slaves. Buhler therefore asks the court to order McHatten to return Betsy, or her value in cash plus $600, and to take back Jane and Martha. He prays that the sale be declared “null & void.” Furthermore, he seeks $125 for expenses incurred and as remuneration for the loss of Jane’s services while in his possession.

PAR Number 20885225

State: Louisiana Year: 1852
Location: Natchitoches Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Amelia Luse seeks a separation in property from her husband, William P. Owings. Amelia married Owings in 1848 in Mississippi and the couple moved to Louisiana after the marriage. Amelia represents that she has inherited a total of twenty-three slaves: eleven from one grandfather, John Holliday, eleven from her father, Henry Luse, and one from another grandfather, Nathan Luse. According to Amelia, these slaves and their offspring were hers under the laws of Mississippi and they are hers under the laws of Louisiana. She contends, however, that her husband has received $800 for the hires of her slaves and sold one of them, Sandy, for the sum of $675, all of which he has applied to his own use. Furthermore, Owings has swapped three more of her slaves for two new ones. Finally, he has received and has applied to his own use $220 from her grandfather’s estate. Amelia charges that her husband is in debt and that his estate is not sufficient to meet all his liabilities. Desirous to preserve her "paraphernal" property, she seeks to be separated in property from her husband. She also seeks a judgment against him for the total sum of $1,695, plus interest at the rate of 5% per annum. She also seeks a mortgage on her husband’s property to secure her rights and claims.

PAR Number 20885623

State: Louisiana Year: 1856
Location: East Baton Rouge Location Type: Parish

Abstract: James Turner seeks $300 in damages from Edward Hailey [Healy]. Turner represents that he owns a female slave named Hanah, on whom Hailey claims to have an interest or mortgage. Turner charges that Hailey has “falsely and maliciously” asserted on many occasions and to “divers persons” that he has title to Hanah or that Hanah is mortgaged to him. Turner claims that, in consequence of such malicious assertions, he has been prevented from selling Hanah, whose value he assesses at $1,200. He therefore seeks to be compensated by Hailey for damages sustained.

PAR Number 20984407

State: Maryland Year: 1844
Location: Baltimore Location Type: County

Abstract: Ann Shaw and Charles Davis, on behalf of his ward Ann J. Shaw, ask to exchange with each other two slaves distributed to Ann and Ann J. Shaw from the estate of the late Thomas Shaw. The slave devised to Ann Shaw, Emily, is the daughter of a slave in the possession of Charles Davis belonging to Ann J. Shaw. The slave devised to Ann J. Shaw, Harriet, is the daughter of a slave in the possession of Ann Shaw.

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