Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 20382402

State: Delaware Year: 1824
Location: New Castle Location Type: County

Abstract: Hannah Boyer, a free woman of color, sues Oliver Caulk who holds her eight-year-old son Abner as an apprentice. She charges that her son "is badly treated by his Master and others--that being but a weakly Boy, he is compelled to work beyond his ability, and obliged to go about in Frosty weather almost in a naked State." In addition, he is frequently "whipped and otherwise abused." Fearing the boy might be sold out of the state, Boyer asks that Caulk be summoned and answer to the court.

PAR Number 20484003

State: District of Columbia Year: 1840
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: Charles Magruder, petitioning by his father and next friend John Magruder, asserts that he is a free person of color unlawfully held in custody by Samuel Suit and David Stauton for the purpose of selling him beyond the jurisdiction of the court. He seeks a writ of habeas corpus.

PAR Number 20484203

State: District of Columbia Year: 1842
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: John Lee, petitioning by his next friend Hickey Lee, asserts that he is a free person of color who is illegally confined to jail on the charge of being a runaway slave. Lee claims he was manumitted by the last will and testament of Basil Hutton. He seeks a writ of habeas corpus and safekeeping from the marshal to prevent John Poole, who has claimed Lee as his slave, from removing him beyond the jurisdiction of the court.

PAR Number 20780403

State: Kentucky Year: 1804
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: Joseph Antoine, a free man of color, petitions the court to prevent Jonathan Purcel, Emanuel Lacey, Davis Floyd, or any other person, from selling him into slavery. Antoine, also known as Ben, was emancipated in Havana, Cuba. After moving to Virginia, Antoine took as his wife a slave owned by Purcel. About 1796, the petitioner, his wife, and Purcel moved to Post Vincennes. Antoine states that Purcel then threatened to sell his wife into "some part of the Spanish country" unless Antoine agreed to indenture himself to Purcel for seven and one-half years. As an added inducement, the petitioner states, Purcel promised that Antoine's wife would also be freed at the end of that time. Shortly before the end of the indenture, Antoine discovered that Purcel planned to sell him and his wife to Emanuel Lacey. Antoine agreed to be sold, fearing that if he refused, Purcel "might place him in a worse situation." Lacey purchased Antoine and his wife, took them to New Orleans and sold them as slaves for life. There, Antoine was able to gain an audience with the Spanish governor of Louisiana, who reviewed Antoine's deed of manumission and voided the sale. The couple, "anxious to return" home, then traveled up the Mississippi River with Lacey, who mistreated and abused them until they ran away. Antoine's wife, exhausted and suffering from ill treatment, died. Antoine made his way to Louisville, where he was jailed as a runaway. Davis Floyd, a slave catcher hired by Lacey, took him out of jail and tried to sell him across the Ohio River, but Antoine was too old and too weak to attract any bidders. He was taken back to jail in Louisville where he wrote his petition.

PAR Number 20780404

State: Kentucky Year: 1804
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: Joseph Antoine, also known as Ben, petitions that he was emancipated in Havana, Cuba, then moved to Virginia, where he "took to him a wife a negro woman slave the property of Jona. Purcel." The petitioner, his wife and Purcel moved to Fort St. Vincennes where Antoine was coerced into signing an indenture for seven and a half years, with the promise of freedom for his wife at the end of that period. Shortly before the indenture expired, Purcel told Antoine that the period of indenture was actually fifteen years. Purcel sold Antoine and his wife to Emanuel Lacy who took them to New Orleans and sold them as slaves for life. Antoine and his wife then returned north with Lacy. His wife died, and Antoine was placed in jail for a few days before being handed over to Davis Floyd who is trying to sell him. Antoine asks the court to issue an injunction preventing anyone from selling him until his case can be heard.

PAR Number 20781601

State: Kentucky Year: 1816
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: William Cole claims that he has never been a slave of any person, but that recently threats have been made against him and he is apprehensive that "his liberty may be called in question." Cole, whose mother Fanny was once a slave of John Clarke, asserts that his father, Charles Cole, purchased Fanny from Clarke for "a good and valuable consideration" prior to William's birth. Fanny Cole was then emancipated. William Cole asks the court to take the deposition of Elizabeth Busey, an elderly woman and the only person who can supply testimony of his freedom, so that evidence of that freedom may be preserved.

PAR Number 20782301

State: Kentucky Year: 1823
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: Mary Ann Grayson claims she is a free woman of color, born in Virginia to Neicy Grayson, "who at the birth of your orax was a free woman of Color." Mary Ann was brought by her mother to Louisville and indentured to a certain Baylor Banks until she reached age eighteen. She was subsequently sold several times until she came into the possession of David Ruth. Mary Ann asserts that her time expired one year ago. However, Ruth still "claims and insists on the service of your oratrix" even though "many can testify as to her perfect right to freedom." In addition, she fears he intends to sell her to slave traders who will take her to Louisiana or Red River. Mary Ann has a young child, William Henry, and she is afraid that he also will be taken away and deprived of his freedom. She asks the court to restrain Ruth from selling her and "that her freedom be forever established."

PAR Number 20782807

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

Abstract: Fourteen years ago, George Mulholland, a man of color, was sold for a seventeen-year-term of service. Mulholland relates that he had several owners since then, and is presently owned by Pascolas Lebar in Louisiana, who holds him as a slave for life. Mulholland, the petitioner, is currently in Jefferson County, where there is evidence for his emancipation, but explains that John Colmesnil is attempting to return him to Lebar. If Colmesnil is successful, it will "utterly destroy every hope and expectation of his future emancipation." Mulholland asks the court to restrain the defendants from removing him and to compel Lebar to give security that he will be emancipated when his term is expired.

PAR Number 20782918

State: Kentucky Year: 1829
Location: Harrison Location Type: County

Abstract: William, a "boy of colour," petitions through his next friend and former owner, Leroy Cole, to protect his future emancipation. When William was very young, Cole and Samuel Rankin agreed that Rankin would raise William and in exchange William would serve Rankin until he reached the age of twenty-eight. Rankin, however, sold the residue of William's term to James Miller, and now Miller is planning to move to Missouri. William fears Miller will sell him as a slave for life in Missouri and he asks the court to restrain Miller from removing him and to compel Miller to execute bond of $500 or have the sheriff take charge of him.

PAR Number 20783210

State: Kentucky Year: 1832
Location: Todd Location Type: County

Abstract: Simeon Clark claims that he was born in New Jersey of a free woman of color named Pheby Clark. At the age of twelve or fourteen, "he was bound agreably to the laws of said state to one Joshua Austin till ... the age of 21 years." Austin took him to Ohio, then Illinois, where he sold him to Jeptha Lambkin for "the above named term of time he was to serve, & no more." Lambkin then sold him to Henry Carpenter, who held him for over ten years. Clark believes that Carpenter sold him about a week ago to a slave trader named Henry Keener. He "fled & has ever since secreted himself to avoid being taken off out of the State as a Slave." Clark asks for an order restraining the defendants from removing him from the jurisdiction of the court until the final trial of this suit. He further asks that the sheriff take him into custody unless the defendants post bond; he finally petitions that he be decreed a free man. After serving Carpenter for several years, the court decreed in 1835 that "Simeon Clark a man of Colour receive of the sd. Deft Carpenter his freedom forever & that he hence forth go free from the claim of sd. Carpenter and all others as a slave."

PAR Number 20783408

State: Kentucky Year: 1834
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: Marshall, a slave for life, was owned by Andrew Linn, who died in March 1834. In his will, Linn bequeathed Marshall to his son James Linn for a term of ten years, after which "your Orator ... was and is to be a free man, discharged from all the obligations of slavery." James Linn sold Marshall to Nathaniel Robertson, who brought him to Louisville and sold him to Zed Gozee as a slave for life. Marshall claims that Gozee plans to remove him from Louisville and has confined him in prison for that purpose. He asks the court to enjoin Gozee from removing him, to place him in the sheriff's custody, and to hire him out for Gozee's benefit until his 10-year term expires or the suit is resolved.

PAR Number 20783409

State: Kentucky Year: 1834
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: Marshall, a term slave, asks that he be granted "the privilege to sue as a poor person vs one Zed Gozee." Marshall asserts that Gozee is holding him "as a slave for life," which is contrary to the conditions stipulated in Andrew Linn's will; Linn directed that Marshall be free after completing a 10-year term of servitude. Since Linn's death, Marshall states that "his earnings have gone to his several masters," leaving him unable to pay the expenses of a suit. He states that he "must and will Suffer great injury and verily believes he will finally loose his liberty forever" unless he is allowed to sue as a poor person.

PAR Number 20783410

State: Kentucky Year: 1834
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: Lizzy, "a free woman of color," claims that she and her children are being detained in the city workhouse and that they are about to be sent down to New Orleans to be sold "so that they may be wrongfully defrauded out of their liberty." She states that, according to the terms of Isaac Carson's 1825 will, she and her children were to be freed after eight years; that time has now passed. The defendant Cutter claims that Carson mortgaged Lizzy to pay a debt, but Lizzy believes Carson's estate is sufficient to pay all debts. She asks the court to enjoin the defendants from removing them until their action for freedom is heard.

PAR Number 20783509

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

Abstract: Charles, "a man of color," claims that the will of the late John Hundley stipulated that he be set free after serving said Hundley fifteen years from date of purchase. Having completed said term of servitude, Charles now asserts that Hundley's administrators claim him as their property, and he "beleives himself to be in danger of being sent to a distant state ... with a view of preventing him from asserting his right to freedom." He asks that the defendants be restrained from removing him from the state until his case is heard and that he be granted his freedom.

PAR Number 20783512

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

Abstract: Newton, a twelve-year-old slave, who sues by his next friend Archibald Duncan, claims that in 1833 Duncan sold him for $200 to Daniel Musser "to Serve Said Daniel Musser until he arrived at 31 years of age at which time Said Musser was to Set your orator free." Musser, however, has sold Newton as a slave for life to Joseph Thompson, "a negro trader," and Newton believes Thompson will transport him to the lower country "and put it out of the power of your Orator when he may arrive at 31 years of age to assert his right to freedom." He asks that the defendants be restrained from removing him or "from disposing of your orator in any manner prejudicial to his rights."

PAR Number 20783703

State: Kentucky Year: 1837
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: Henry relates that his former owner John Sharp took him to Indiana, where Henry "by the Laws of Indiana had a vested absolute right to his freedom." Henry claims that he was induced to return to Kentucky by John Stagg, who then put him into the workhouse in Louisville as a slave and subsequently sold him to Simon Moses. He believes Moses is going to convey him out of the county and sell him as a slave for life. He asks the court to restrain Moses from doing so and to establish his right to freedom.

PAR Number 20783716

State: Kentucky Year: 1837
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: In his will, the late William White "emancipated and liberated certain ones of his slaves, some to be free at his death and others at stated periods thereafter." Turner, one of White's slaves, charges that the heirs destroyed the will when they became acquainted with its provision for emancipating the slaves, and that he has been sold by Robert Glass, one of the heirs, although by now he should have been freed. He asks the court to subpoena the defendants and determine what they know of the will, to restrain them from interfering with him, and finally to decree him his freedom plus compensation for his hire for the years during which he should have been free.

PAR Number 20784206

State: Kentucky Year: 1842
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: Dennis, a man of color, states that in 1830, William Isom, his master, and perhaps his father, granted him his freedom, effective 1 January 1842, but allowed him to live virtually free up until that time. Spilman Hord, a relative of Isom, seized Dennis and denied him his freedom when 1 January 1842 arrived. He then sold Dennis to Evans Beard, where he has remained since. Dennis now petitions the court to secure his freedom.

PAR Number 20784411

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

Abstract: Claiborne, a man of color, states that as a boy he was sold by James Overstreet to John W. Taylor for a term of servitude, at the end of which he would be free; Claiborne believes Taylor still has a copy of the bill of sale proving his claim. The term expired two years ago, but rather than freeing him, Taylor sold him to a Mr. Talbert who is now holding him in jail with the intent of selling him into perpetual slavery. Claiborne asks that Taylor be compelled to produce the original bill of sale that will verify his claim to freedom. He also asks that he be given back wages for the time he worked when he should have been free.

PAR Number 20784507

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

Abstract: Charlotte, a woman of color, states that she was freed by the last will and testament of her former owner, James Robeson. William Trigg, owner of her husband, "induced" her and her children to move to Kentucky with him, "under his pledge solemnly made that he would protect them in all their rights as free people." Trigg has acted "in bad faith," and she and her children are now threatened with being sold back into slavery as Trigg "has already brought a negro buyer to inspect her for purchase." Charlotte asks for an injunction against Trigg to prevent him from selling her and that she and her nine minor-aged children be declared free.

PAR Number 20784601

State: Kentucky Year: 1846
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1836, Reverend John Littlejohn stipulated in his will that his slave Mary should be freed in March 1845, when she reached the age of twenty-five. However, she was sold by Littlejohn's grandson-in-law, William Hughes, to George Miller, who claims her as his slave and wants to remove her from Kentucky. Mary sues Miller for "a year in hard labor." She asks the court for her liberty and for monetary compensation.

PAR Number 20784602

State: Kentucky Year: 1846
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1836, Reverend John Littlejohn stipulated in his will that his slave Mary should be freed in March 1845, when she reached the age of twenty-five. However she was sold by Littlejohn's grandson-in-law, William Hughes, to George Miller. Miller claims her as his slave and wants to remove her from Kentucky. The deed of manumission was disregarded by Miller and he took Mary "with the intention of selling and disposing of her beyond the limits of this Commonwealth." Mary sues Miller for "the reasonable value of her services while kept by him as his slave" and asks the court to "decree that she is free."

PAR Number 20784803

State: Kentucky Year: 1848
Location: Christian Location Type: County

Abstract: In January 1828 Elisha Atkinson executed a deed of emancipation for his slave, Burrel. Elisha Atkinson, however, had given Burrel to Amos Atkinson about seven or eight years earlier. Amos Atkinson then sold Burrel to James Robinson in January 1845. Now a pauper, Burrel is suing Robinson for his freedom. Burrel claims that the $500 Robinson received for his hire was in fact a sum agreed upon by the two as the amount necessary for the purchase of Burrel's freedom. Burrel asserts that Robinson refuted the existence of the said deed of emancipation. He further charges that Robinson's administrators coerced him to sign a document on 26 January 1848, whereby he relinquished his right to freedom and claims to compensation for his labor. Burrel seeks liberty and back wages.

PAR Number 20784807

State: Kentucky Year: 1848
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: George, a man of color, charges that Joseph A. Kean fraudulently sold him to Thomas Powell as a slave for life. George attests that he is entitled to his freedom "at the end of seven years." The petitioner seeks "to prosecute his suit 'in forma pauperis' & without cost."

PAR Number 20785002

State: Kentucky Year: 1850
Location: Fayette Location Type: County

Abstract: Nineteen-year-old Rebecca is suing Venus Breckenridge, a black woman, for freedom and back wages. Rebecca states that she was born in 1831, a slave of Thomas Stephenson. In April 1837, she was purchased for $180, by John Gilbert. The petitioner declares Gilbert "purchased her for the expressed purpose of setting her free, and allowing her to live with her father Leander." Her father, a free person of color, "in all probability furnished Gilbert a portion of the money" to make the purchase. Leander and his family moved to Kentucky, where Rebecca was raised as free. Leander purchased "an old negro woman" named Venus Breckenridge, with whom he "associated and cohabitated." Leander has since died, and Breckenridge claims Rebecca as her slave and has hired out her services. Rebecca asks for protection from "the rapacity of this old woman" who is "endeavoring unjustly and inhumanely" to seize her liberty.

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