Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 20785022

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

Abstract: Thomas Bullock executed his will in 1834. He stipulated therein that "all my Slaves that have arrived at the age of twenty one years at my death shall have the privilege of going to Liberia or Some place of freedom out of the bounds of these United States;" all slaves younger than twenty-one were to be given the same choice when they became adults. Rachel Bell, one of Bullock's slaves who recently turned twenty-one, charges that William Bullock wrongfully sold her and her son to Archibald Williams, "a trader and dealer in slaves for a liveyhood," who purchased her and her son "as slaves for life and with the avowed intention of taking them to some one of the Southern cotton planting or Sugar growing states." Bell sues Archibald Williams and others for freedom and seeks a restraining order to prevent her and her son's removal from the county.

PAR Number 20785227

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

Abstract: On 23 October 1847, Fan was emancipated by F. P. Pennington's will and has been "permitted to be free" since November of that year. She contends that there are now plans to sell her and other property and to divide the proceeds among the heirs. Fan is "now about 59 years of age, has no property or estate of any kind" and asks to sue as a pauper. She seeks an injunction against William Morton, the administrator of Pennington's estate, that will suspend the sale. Fan also asks to be hired out until the case is decided and prays for a decree establishing her right to freedom.

PAR Number 20786003

State: Kentucky Year: 1860
Location: Pike Location Type: County

Abstract: Nathan Campbell, a free man of color, states that "James and John Fortune [Faulkner] did on the 6 day of January 1860 unlawfully assault and kidnap the plaintiff and with force tie and confine him with strong cords upon a horse with intent to remove him from this county and with intent to sell him into perpetual slavery." Campbell charges that he has suffered "great hurt and damage." He "prays Judgement for $1000 in damages and all proper Relief."

PAR Number 20786101

State: Kentucky Year: 1861
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: Sidonia states "that she is a person of color that she was the slave of Saml Hahn decd of the County of Nelson and state of Ky." She informs the court that Hahn "departed this life" in 1858 "first having made and published his last will & testament" that granted freedom to herself and her sister Margaret. She charges that the defendants "are seeking to obtain possession of her in order to make a sale of her and they will sell her into Slavery for life unless restrained by this Hon Court." The petitioner further argues "that since the death of her owner she has been hired and that she has receivd no part of the sums for which she was hired." Sidonia asks that the defendants "be restrained and injoined from selling her at least untill the aforesaid executors make a full settlement of Hahn's Estate."

PAR Number 20786102

State: Kentucky Year: 1861
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: Margaret states "that she is a person of Color that she was the slave of Saml Hahn decd late of the County of Nelson and State of Kentucky." She informs the court that Hahn "departed this life" in 1858 "first having made and published his last will & testament" that granted freedom to herself and her sister Sidonia. She charges that the defendants "are seeking possession of her in order to make a sale of her and she states and charges that unless restrained they will sell her into Slavery for life." The petitioner further argues "that since the death of her aforesaid Master & owner she has been hired by the aforesaid Executor & that She has received no part of her hires." Sidonia asks that the defendants be restrained "from selling her, at least untill the aforesaid Executors make a full settlement of the sd Hahn's Estate."

PAR Number 20881316

State: Louisiana Year: 1813
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Marie Gabriel, Carit, and Zilia, women of color, wish to ensure their freedom. They represent that, in Cuba, they were slaves of “Dame Magnan Widow Letourneur,” who, in order to "reward the good services that she had received," freed them. When the French population was forced to leave Cuba, the widow moved to New Orleans. In order to express their gratitude to Mrs. Letourneur, the three petitioners followed her to Louisiana and worked for her there until her death. Prior to her death, Mrs. Letourneur, fearful that her heirs might try to reclaim the petitioners as slaves, instructed in her will that her executor, Claude Magnan, should fulfill all the formalities required for emancipation in the Louisiana courts. Magnan has yet to do this and the petitioners worry that their freedom may be revoked. They pray that the court order Magnan to fulfill the wishes of the widow's will.

PAR Number 20882227

State: Louisiana Year: 1822
Location: Pointe Coupee Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Fanny, a woman of color, claims that, when she was five years of age, she was sold for $300 by one Piere Guého to a free woman of color named Junon. The act of sale included an emancipation clause, whereby Fanny was to be freed upon Junon’s death on condition of "faithful" service. Almost fifteen years have passed, during which time Fanny has been a diligent and faithful slave to Junon, always doing as she was told. Junon died some time ago, confirming Fanny's emancipation shortly before her death. Fanny is now a free woman. However, she has come to court because she believes that her freedom is endangered by the slanderous and malicious verbal attacks from one François Guého on her reputation, and by his attempts to reduce her to slavery by "acts of violence and threats." She asks the court to formally adjudge her "freed & emancipated," and to cite François Guého to be condemned to pay her $5,000 in damages, plus "general relief."

PAR Number 20883913

State: Louisiana Year: 1839
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Elizabeth, a mulatto woman, claims that she was baptized in New Orleans, in the year 1815, “by and with the consent of” her then owner, Victor Babin of Mississippi. After Babin’s death in 1830, his heirs sold Elizabeth to one André Beauvais, who bound himself to petition the New Orleans legal authorities for her emancipation before the age “prescribed by law.” Beauvais never applied for her emancipation in New Orleans; but, in 1837, he took her to Alabama, where he freed her and her young daughter, Marie Hyppolite, by "private act” in the presence of a witness. For this, she paid Beauvais $250. However, Beauvais is now dead and his executor, one Angelo Philippi, is threatening to have Elizabeth and Marie Hyppolite arrested as slaves belonging to the estate. Elizabeth therefore prays the court to decree her and Marie Hyppolite free. She also prays that, if her Alabama freedom cannot be legally recognized, Philippi be ordered to fulfill the requisites of the law for emancipation in Louisiana.

PAR Number 20982201

State: Maryland Year: 1822
Location: Montgomery Location Type: County

Abstract: Sally Toogood represents that Peter Gardner freed her, her sister Rachael Ann, and her mother Martha in 1821. She states that her father, Henry Toogood, had earlier attempted to purchase his family, "but Peter Gardner believing that this bill of sale was not valid afterward executes a deed of manumission to negroes Martha Rachael Ann and Sally Toogood." Now Sally is being advertised for sale as a slave in order to pay her father's debts. Sally asks the court for an injunction to prevent the proposed sale. Walter Stewart, a defendant and creditor of Henry Toogood, states in his answer that "he would prefer loosing his debt to the sale of the said sally as the property of the said Henry Toogood for the payment of said debt" and he "does now relinquish all claim that he had or may have to the said Sally as the property of Henry Toogood."

PAR Number 20982202

State: Maryland Year: 1822
Location: Montgomery Location Type: County

Abstract: Martha Toogood, next friend and mother of Sally, Mary, Rachael Ann, and Susan Rebecca, petitions for an injunction to prevent her children from being subject to sale "as the property of the said Henry Toogood as slaves for life." The petitioner asserts that Peter Gardner, their former owner, freed her and her daughters but the children have now been advertised to be sold in order to pay the debts of their father, Henry Toogood. The decree states "It is agreed between the Counsel for the different parties in this Case, that the negroes now taken in execution, shall be sold by Henry C. Gaither untill the Children arrive to the age of twenty five years for the purpose of pay the within debts."

PAR Number 20982218

State: Maryland Year: 1822
Location: Montgomery Location Type: County

Abstract: Sally Toogood claims that her former owner, Peter Gardner, freed her by deed of manumission. She also claims that before her manumission, Henry Toogood, Sally's father, attempted to buy her. Sally alleges this transaction was not valid. However, she is being held in custody and is in danger of being sold in order to repay Henry Toogood's debts. Sally asserts that she is entitled to her freedom, that she is not the property of her father, and asks the court for an injunction preventing the proposed sale.

PAR Number 20982713

State: Maryland Year: 1827
Location: Baltimore Location Type: County

Abstract: Easter, Susan, and Charlotte claim that the will of their former master, Amos Ogden Sr., manumitted them after specified terms, "said manumission to take effect at a period now past." They "now are and for a long time past have been in the enjoyment of freedom." However, on 11 August 1827 the orphans court decreed that Amos Ogden Jr., executor of Amos Ogden Sr.'s estate, pay William Bosley, executor of Mary Ogden's estate, a certain sum of money. Since Ogden's cash on hand amounted to only $532.33, the court appointed two men "to allot to the said William Bosley ... such and so many of negroes belonging to Amos Ogden deceased as will in their opinion be worth the further sum of $798.33," a decree injurious to the rights and freedom of the three women. Fearing that they will be sold, Easter, Susan, and Charlotte present fourteen reasons that the decree should be rescinded. They ask that Bosley and Ogden Jr. appear in court to answer their interrogatories, and they pray for any other relief that the court thinks proper.

PAR Number 20983513

State: Maryland Year: 1835
Location: Prince George's Location Type: County

Abstract: Milly Bowser, a free woman of color, petitions to be released from jail. She claims that she was illegally imprisoned after moving from the District of Columbia to Maryland, "by which said judgment a fine of six hundred dollars was imposed upon your Petitioner, and that your Petitioner is still in said Jail and is now advertised to be sold to satisfy said fine." Bowser asks for a writ of habeas corpus. In her petition she cites specific laws of the Maryland General Assembly concerning the travel of persons of color between states and points out three reasons why she has not violated laws. Her primary argument is that the laws apply "exclusively to 'Males.' "

PAR Number 20983720

State: Maryland Year: 1837
Location: Anne Arundel Location Type: County

Abstract: Robert Carter, a "Coloured Boy free," represented by his next friend, Kitty Kent, claims that he is the child of a free woman of color who has long since died and a male slave belonging to John Randall of Annapolis. Carter has been retained by William Caton, who by "some pretended Claim without authority," threatens to sell him. The petitioner seeks protection until the court can act on his petition. In his answer, Caton counters by claiming that Carter has been "duly indented" to him under the name of Marcellus Carter by two justices of the peace for Anne Arundel County.

PAR Number 20983803

State: Maryland Year: 1838
Location: Frederick Location Type: County

Abstract: On 3 May 1828, Chester and Eliza Coleman manumitted John, the petitioner. The deed of manumission stated that John was to be freed on 22 October 1837, on the condition that he leave the United States. He was then sold to Joseph Wagner to serve the remaining length of his term. Now that his term of servitude has expired, John is "anxious to avail himself of the kindness of his former master, by leaving the United States and removing to Liberia." Chester Coleman, John's former master, tried to provide John with new clothing for the trip "and other necessaries requisite to his comfort" and booked him passage on a ship owned by the American Colonization Society. However, Wagner refused to let John meet with Coleman, instead promising John that he would take him to Baltimore to catch the ship. John believes that Wagner is trying to defraud him and keep him as a slave. John asks the court to issue a writ of habeas corpus so that he may appear before the court and plead his case and be allowed to leave the United States for Liberia.

PAR Number 20984108

State: Maryland Year: 1841
Location: Frederick Location Type: County

Abstract: Dennis Anthony, a thirty-seven-year-old black man, states "that he is unjustly claimed held and detained in slavery" by Joseph G. Hays, administrator of the late James L. Higgins's estate. Anthony is currently in jail and fears that Hays will sell "him into slavery, and perhaps to some person who will export him to the south." Anthony asks that he be released from jail, discharged from servitude and set free.

PAR Number 20985817

State: Maryland Year: 1858
Location: Baltimore Location Type: City

Abstract: The last will and testament of Edward Gollorthun freed a slave named Caroline Wilkinson and her twelve-year-old illegitimate son, William Phillips. Lloyd Phillips, a free person of color, took "forcible possession" of her son and took him "to some unknown place where She cannot have access to him." Wilkinson fears that the boy may be "fraudulently Sold into Slavery." She says that she "is able & willing to bring up & Support her Said Son." Wilkinson asks the court for a writ of habeas corpus to force Phillips to produce her son. She also asks that her son "may be delivered to her Custody."

PAR Number 21082602

State: Mississippi Year: 1826
Location: Wilkinson Location Type: County

Abstract: Cezar Jackson represents that "he is a free man of color, that he was brought from Virginia without his consent or agreement that there is one Daniel Blackman who wishes to deprive him of his Services and confine him to slavery for life." Jackson therefore "prays your honor to grant him such relief as is directed by an act of the General Assembly in such cases made and provided."

PAR Number 21182903

State: Missouri Year: 1829
Location: St. Louis Location Type: County

Abstract: Vincent, a man of color, states that his master, Jesse Duncan of Kentucky, hired him out in Illinois in 1815 or 1816. He reports that the said Duncan died in 1818 or 1819 and that his heirs -- James, John, and Coleman Duncan -- continued to hire him out in that state. Vincent informs the court that the Duncans carried him to Missouri in 1826, where they have hired him out for the past three years. The petitioner, fearful of being taken to New Orleans and sold, argues that he is entitled to his freedom. He therefore prays that "he may be permitted to institute suit as a poor person to establish his freedom that counsel may be assigned to him & that such order may be made for his security as the Law & his case requires."

PAR Number 21183003

State: Missouri Year: 1830
Location: St. Louis Location Type: County

Abstract: Ralph, "a man of colour," relates that James Duncan hired him out in Illinois and the Michigan Territory. He further reveals that he sued Duncan for his freedom in Illinois in 1827; however, the court dismissed the suit because Coleman Duncan was Ralph's actual owner. Ralph reports that Coleman Duncan fled the state before a suit could be filed against him and that "James Duncan kidnapped your petitioner & brought him to St. Louis." Ralph fears that "it is the intention of said James & Coleman to take your petitioner to some place where the fact of his freedom is unknown & sell him for a slave." He therefore prays that "he may be permitted to sue as a poor person to establish his freedom" and that he may be assigned counsel and "that such order may be made ... in his behalf as his personal safety requires."

PAR Number 21183101

State: Missouri Year: 1831
Location: St. Louis Location Type: County

Abstract: Jonathan and Gilbert Duncan, men of color, charge that Coleman Duncan seized Gilbert and held him as a slave. They further contend that Coleman offered to sell Gilbert to Jonathan and "threatened that if Said Jonathan would not purchase Said Gilbert to take said Gilbert to Some other place & sell him as a Slave." Believing that Coleman had a title to Gilbert, Jonathan admits that he agreed to give Coleman one hundred dollars in advance; he and Gilbert then signed a promissory note for an additional three hundred dollars. In addition, Jonathan executed a "Deed of emancipation for Said Gilbert which Deed of emancipation it was Suggested Said Jonathan should keep untill the said sum of $400 should be paid by Gilbert," who agreed to "earn the money ... by his labor." The petitioners argue that Gilbert was entitled to his freedom long before these transactions were made. They assert that Coleman falsely imprisoned Gilbert and held him as a slave and that Edward Tracy and Charles Wahrendorff now hold the bond for $300. The petitioners seek an injunction preventing Tracy and Wahrendorff from suing them for payment and that "Said Bond may be delivered up & cancelled."

PAR Number 21184003

State: Missouri Year: 1840
Location: St. Louis Location Type: County

Abstract: Brunetta Barnes represents that she was born to free parents but is held in slavery by Berry Meachum, a free person of color and a Baptist preacher. Barnes charges that Meachum treats her "with harshness and inhumanity to wit by frequently & cruelly beating her." Barnes prays the court "to grant unto your petitioner permission to sue for her freedom as a poor person." Fearing that Meachum will remove her from Missouri as a result of her petition, the petitioner also asks the court to issue a warrant for her seizure and to compel Meachum or whoever possesses her to abide by the court's orders.

PAR Number 21184412

State: Missouri Year: 1844
Location: St. Louis Location Type: County

Abstract: Mary Ann Speaks, a twenty-three-year-old woman of color, asks for a writ of habeas corpus and for the recognition and granting of her freedom. Speaks reports that she was born in "Alexandria in the District of Columbia" and was apprenticed to Susan Blunt "to learn the art & mistery of a housewife." She later moved with Blunt to Missouri with the understanding that two years would be deducted from her ten-year contract. Speaks alleges that she is currently being held by James Quissenbury, the administrator of the estate of the late Susan Blunt, and John M. Jameson, the "keeper of the prison." The petitioner charges that the said men admit "that she was born free of free parents and is of right free," yet they maintain that she has not completed her term of indenture. The petitioner represents that "she is entitled to her own earnings because of the terms of her coming to this state with said Blunt ... and having served out full the term of eight years, she has performed her part of said contract."

PAR Number 21184426

State: Missouri Year: 1844
Location: St. Louis Location Type: County

Abstract: Twenty-four-year-old Mary Ann Speaks was indentured by her free mother to Susan Blunt for ten years to learn "the art and mystery of a good house wife." Eight years into said apprenticeship, Blunt died intestate, and her administrator, James Quissenburry, claimed Speaks as a slave in Blunt's estate. Speaks alleges that Quissenburry "without the order or authority of the St. Louis Probate Court ... has advertised your petitioner as the property of his said intestate, and intends to sell her to the highest bidder for cash at the Court House in said County on Monday the twenty first day of October instant." Currently "held in close confinement in the Common Prison of the County aforesaid," Speaks believes that she "will be in danger of loosing forever her freedom." She therefore prays "that your honor will allow her to sue as a poor person for her freedom."

PAR Number 21184427

State: Missouri Year: 1844
Location: St. Louis Location Type: County

Abstract: Martha Drusilla was born free in Alabama. She represents that she is "so near white, that she has not got one fourth of negro blood in her veins." When Martha was one year old, her mother indentured her to John Cotton. Martha lived with Cotton until his death, which occurred in Arkansas at the residence of his son-in-law, Thomas Isbel, with whom he and Martha had been living. Martha continued to live with the Isbels until September 1844, when Thomas's brother William took her up the Missouri River and tried to sell her in Lexington. Martha claims that Isbel "would not dare to attempt to sell her in Alabama or Arkansas, where the fact of her being born free is well known." William Isbel then brought Martha to St. Louis and placed her in the possession of Richmond J. Curle, a “General Agent, for selling & leasing property, as well as the buying and selling of negroes.” The petitioner charges that Curle "intends sending your Petitioner out of the state of Missouri, and down the Mississippi river and sell her as a slave, tomorrow." She therefore prays "that a warrant may issue as is provided by ... an act to enable persons held in slavery to sue for their freedom."

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