Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 20184625

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

Abstract: In 1838, slave owner James B. May died, leaving a will instructing his wife Mahala to serve as executrix, pay his debts, keep his plantation "under the superintendence of a good overseer," and educate his children. In the will, he also appointed his brother Philip as an executor. In 1842, Philip resigned as administrator of the estate, which at that point owned fifteen slaves. In 1844, Mahala started dividing the property among her children according to the will's instructions. By 1845, all property had been distributed among the heirs. In 1845, Mahala remarried, and the following year she sued Philip, as former administrator of the estate and guardian of some of her minor children, George Harper, as guardian of her other minor children, and Mary B. and Benjamin Cook, her married daughter and son-in-law. She and her new husband claim that, after Mahala took over administration of the estate in 1842 and while she kept the plantation going for several years, according to her late husband's wishes, she expended money on farming operations and for the maintenance and education of her children, and that the defendants, as heirs and guardians of the heirs, refuse to reimburse such expenses from their inheritance.

PAR Number 20184627

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

Abstract: Juliet G. Edwards, widow of the late John S. Edwards, states that her late husband left a large estate consisting of real and personal property, including several slaves. According to William Edwards, the money raised from the sale of the estate property not specifically divided was not sufficient to pay all the debts of the estate. As a result, he filed a petition asking the court to order the legatees to surrender some of the property they received from the estate. At the executor's request, the widow filed an answer to the bill and asked that it be granted, done in entire ignorance because she was "not accustomed to this kind of business." The petitioner adds that she sold two of her own slaves "for the purpose of Saving the property of her elder children from being Sacrificed." The petitioner states that William Edwards allowed the estate to be sued on several occasions, reducing the money to pay the debts. Juliet G. Edwards seeks either to withdraw her answer or to amend it and file another in accordance with these facts.

PAR Number 20184628

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

Abstract: William Edwards, executor of the will of the late John S. Edwards, states that the heirs of the estate have received the legacies specifically bequeathed to them in the last will and testament of the deceased. The petitioner states, however, that there is not enough property remaining in the estate to satisfy the $800 to $1,200 debt still outstanding. William Edwards states that when he told the legatees that they must either surrender a portion of their legacy or contribute money toward the debts, one of the legatees, Andrew J. Castleberry, ran his slaves out of the state and now threatens to leave the state as well. Richard Abercrombie, another legatee, also refuses to pay and threatens to leave the state. The petitioner asks the court to summon the legatees, their husbands, and Juliet G. Edwards, widow of John S. Edwards, and compel each of them to give $400 bond, or order the sheriff to confiscate $400 worth of property from each defendant. A related petition reveals that John S. Edwards died in 1840, and his widow had already sold one of her slaves, at the request of the executor, in order to protect her children's inheritance. In addition two other slaves, not disposed of in the will, were sold to satisfy the debts.

PAR Number 20184709

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

Abstract: In 1823, Margaret Miliver executed a deed of gift conveying "a certain negro girl named Rose," about seven years of age, to her grandchildren, William and Nancy Ann Seay, the children of her daughter Polly, also called Mary, who was then married to Jennings Seay. After the execution of the deed of gift, Polly had two more children by Jennings Seay. Following Jennings Seay's death, she married James W. Denton, and she had seven more children. The slave Rose now has three children, Mariah, a girl about twelve, Allen, a boy about eight, and Jane a girl about three, "all being of great value towit of the value of sixteen hundred dollars and the yearly value of two Hundred dollars." The petitioners, who are Polly's minor children by James W. Denton, claim that their grandmother's gift was intended to benefit all the children born of Polly's body, present and future. They therefore believe they are entitled to seven-tenths of the slaves. They claim however that they have not received their share of the hire and labor of the slaves, who are in the possession of their stepsisters, Margaret Seay Thomas and Nancy William Seay Waddle and their husbands, with the exception of Allen who is in their father's possession.

PAR Number 20184713

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

Abstract: In 1824, Robert S. Carson conveyed to his daughter Pamela Gibson nine slaves: Olive and her children Winny, Ibby, Rachel, Nicey, Sam, and Ailsey, and Jinny her child Charity. He believed that the conveyance would act as a will, and he could revoke it at any time. When he learned that this was not the case, he attempted to burn the deed, but it (along with a deed for his land) was "rescued from the flames" by a family member. Years later, Jacob Summerlin, administrator of Carson's estate, writes that Pamela and her husband Thomas tricked the illiterate Carson into signing the deed when he was "under the influence of intoxicating liquor ..., and greatly impaired & weakened from the long and habitual use of intoxicating drink." On 2 November 1837, Pamela Gibson died. The next day, Carson dictated a will, directing that his property and slaves be kept together until the youngest daughter by his second marriage came of age and then distributed among his wife Sabry or Sabrina and his children. That night Pamela's son Robert Gibson "seduced & enticed away" Carson's slaves--Jinny, Ibby, Rachel, Winny, Sam, Martha, Sarah, John, Charity, Rufus, Nora, Ailsey and Milly--worth "at least five thousand dollars." Summerlin now asks the court to set aside the controversial deed, to subpoena Pamela's children to account for the slaves in their possession, and to rule as to their rightful owners.

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 20184803

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

Abstract: In 1807, James Tate of Pendleton District, South Carolina, conveyed in a deed of gift to Margaret Speak, his daughter, a life estate in a slave named Rose, along with her "present and future increase." After Margaret's death, the slaves were to descend to her heirs. Margaret Speak died in 1838; her husband, Richard, had died the previous year. Sarah Speak, one of the couple's children still living in the family home took possession of the slaves, now consisting of Rose's children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Shortly after her parents' death, Sarah Speak married Benjamin Nixon. After Sarah's death in 1845, Benjamin Nixon kept possession of the slaves. Now, George T. Speak, Sarah's brother, writes that he has obtained a relinquishment deed signed by the other heirs giving him the right to four-fifths of "the value and interest of the slaves." He complains that Benjamin Nixon, who is insolvent or on the verge of becoming so, has "run off said Negro property to parts unknown," except Rose who is "old and of not much value," and Jinney who has escaped and is in his possession. George Speak seeks to prevent Nixon from regaining possession of Jinney, and asks a decree giving him "all the right title claim and interest of the negroes." A related testimony reveals that, during her lifetime, Margaret Speak had conveyed Jinney's title to Sarah Nixon, and that Benjamin Nixon was trying to regain possession of Jinney on that ground.

PAR Number 20184810

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

Abstract: When Nancy Griffith died in 1835, her will stipulated that her daughter, Caroline Colgin, should have the "use and benefit of her whole estate, real, personal, and mixed" during her natural life. Griffith also stipulated that following her daughter's death, the estate, including "a large number of valuable slaves," should be equally divided among her daughter's children. When Caroline died in 1839, however, the slaves did not go to her children. Instead, they were "seized and sold" by the sheriff to pay her husband's debts. Several of the slaves, including twenty-year-old Jesse, were then worth more than eight hundred dollars; and a number of them would hire out for at least two hundred dollars per year. Now, Caroline's children sue their own father, Edward B. Colgin, as well as the buyers of the slaves, to get compensated for the loss of their inheritance.

PAR Number 20184820

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

Abstract: Matthew Lyon, the Register & Master, submits his report in a case pitting William Sanders Hooper, Obadiah B. Hooper, and Mary and Robert Perkins against their co-heirs to an estate. Matthew Lyon asks for "a reasonable allowance" for the two days it took him to prepare the report concerning the distribution of slaves--Hannah and her two children, Rachel and Merrick--among the five heirs. The slaves cannot be equitably divided, he explains, and a sale will be necessary. A second report from the Master & Register, issued one year later, reveals that, although an order had issued for the sale of the slaves, the heirs finally came to an agreement, whereby one of the defendants, Sarah Hooper, was given the two slaves as a life estate.

PAR Number 20184841

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

Abstract: In 1827, William Patterson Sr. died intestate in Baldwin County, Alabama, leaving a large estate of "Lands, Negroes, and a large Stock of Cattle, Horses, Hogs &c." A short time later, William's widow remarried and then died shortly thereafter, and so did four of their sons. The surviving son and heir, William Patterson Jr., a minor, grew up and became, according to his aunt, the petitioner, a habitual drunkard. He "was in the continual habit of drinking ardent and intoxicating spirituous Liquors," she wrote, "and [was] almost perpetually drunk." According to the petitioner, William Jr. was "by nature an idiot, and that he was incompetent to hold and manage property in his won proper person. In 1845, William Jr. married Elizabeth Scypes. He died in 1847. The petitioner, Mary Wheeler, who is William's aunt, contends that Elizabeth Scypes married her nephew "for the Sole and avowed purpose alone of obtaining the possession and ownership of the property then in his possession." William Patterson Jr. conveyed in trust his property to Stephen Barclay for his wife. Now, following William Patterson Jr.'s death, Mary Wheeler sues the widow. She seeks, among other things, the fourteen slaves in the estate, arguing that her nephew was not only a drunkard but mentally incompetent to manage his property.

PAR Number 20184902

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

Abstract: At her death in 1823, Elizabeth Brewer of Limestone County bequeathed to her daughter Mary Horton, wife of John B. Horton, two female slaves, Winney and Harriet. The slaves were to be given to Mary in the form of a life estate. According to the terms of the will, at Mary's death the slaves would go to Brewer's grandchildren. In time, the slave Winney gave birth to three children: Lina, Alick, and John, and in 1844 the slave Harriet died in childbirth, leaving a daughter named Mary (frequently called Molly). The baby slave Mary was entrusted to the care of Mary Horton's daughter, Maranda who, "by great care and attention personally bestowed by her in nurturing said child, succeeded in raising it, and ... she was assured by her father, and sisters, that she should have said girl Molly, in addition to her distributive share of the balance of said slaves." Mary Horton died in 1836. Maranda has recently married John P. Willis, and her father has taken the young slave Mary from her possession. Now, Maranda and her new husband seek to regain possession of Mary as well as acquire a distributive share of the other slaves--Linda, now about twenty-one, Alick about nineteen, and John about sixteen.

PAR Number 20184917

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

Abstract: In an original bill, Mary Wheeler, the petitioner, sued the widow of her late nephew, William Patterson Jr., charging that she had married him, a weak-minded individual and a drunkard, for the sole purpose of getting her hands on his property. In the original petition, Mary Wheeler sued the widow and her new husband, seeking to recover the slaves which she claims were being divided among unscrupulous individuals in cahoots with the widow. She now amends her petition in order to correct the several errors contained in the original bill. She claims that she had the name of one of the defendants wrong in an earlier suit, and she asks to substitute John Clorvet for John Stuardi; moreover, she probably should not have called her nephew an "Idiot" but rather said he was "a man naturally possessed of a weak mind and easily frightened." Since the original bill, she asserts, John and Elizabeth Scypes Patterson Walton have sold two of the slaves--Leicester and Jane, and are trying to dispose of the lands "for a very low and inconsiderable price." The couple is also giving some of the property to John Barclay for his services as a trustee.

PAR Number 20185101

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

Abstract: According to Sarah A. W. Cohan, her father, Edward D. Branch of Green County, Alabama, died possessed of "Lands, negroes, stock of every Kind, promissory notes, accounts &c." She charges that, after her father's death, William G. Jones, her brother-in-law, obtained letters of administration on the estate. As administrator, Jones worked the plantation with the slave property, collected monies due on behalf of the estate, hired out some of the slaves and received the value of their hires, and sold the crops made on the plantation. Jones later sold the land and "a part of the Negroes, & Stock" for "large sums of money," and distributed the proceeds to members of the family. He even allowed to be sold a slave named Gustavus, who, although in Edward Branch's possession at the time of his death, was actually Sarah's property. According to Sarah, she had received Gustavus as a gift from a Mrs. Edwin Askew of Nottaway County, Virginia, but because she was a minor the slave had been placed and had remained in her father's possession until his death. Sarah charges that Jones, her brother-in-law, fraudulently mismanaged her father's affairs. Among other things, she asserts, Gustavus should never have been turned over to her guardian, Thomas P. Giles, another brother-in-law.

PAR Number 20185104

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

Abstract: In 1840, Mary A. Harris and Henry Trippe of Perry County, Alabama, signed a prenuptial agreement; the wife would keep as her "sole and separate property and estate" a large amount of property, including thirty-four slaves, mules, horses, cattle, sheep, hogs, plantation tools and wagons, household and kitchen furniture, and several tracts of land containing about 640 acres. In 1843, Mary A. Trippe deeded her slaves to William F. and Martha F. Trippe, minors, Henry's children by a previous marriage. The husband died in 1843, and Mary in 1845. When Joseph R. John, administrator of Mary's estate, refuses to give up the slaves, the children, by their next friend John D. Catlin of Marengo County, sue. In 1854, the slaves are divided into three lots among William and Martha Trippe, and Joseph R. John.

PAR Number 20185107

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

Abstract: When Mary Wellborn's husband, Isaac Wellborn Sr., died about 1839, she received his entire estate for her use during her lifetime, including four hundred acres of cotton land, horses, mules, cattle, hogs, sheep, farming utensils, corn, fodder, oats, household and kitchen furniture, and thirty slaves. Mary was, however, "very feeble in mind and body," and "wholly incompetent to manage her affairs." As the years passed, she became childish and imbecilic. Between the death of her husband and Mary's own death in 1850, Elias Wellborn moved on her plantation and ran it, working the slaves on her land as well as on his. In 1842, he harvested sixty-one bales of cotton, averaging four hundred pounds. He shipped the cotton to New Orleans, and netted about $732 in profits. Between 1843 and 1850, he harvested between 45 and 80 bales each year. By 1850, the date of Mary's death, the number of slaves in her life estate had risen to thirty-seven, including twenty-five children under age ten. Following Mary's death the Probate Court appointed James Thomas, Madison County Sheriff, as the administrator of her estate. Thomas seeks a full account of Elias Wellborn's profits during the eight years he managed the plantation.

PAR Number 20185205

State: Alabama Year: 1852
Location: Pickens Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1845, Zenas L. McCrary, slave owner and farmer, died. He left a widow, Delia C. McCrary, and three children: Nancy, Clementine, and three-year-old James. McCrary was "seized and possessed of a considerable estate," including ten slaves. In his will, he appointed Richard M. Doss as executor, and requested that his lands, horses, cows, hogs, farming equipment, and crop be sold to pay his debts. He gave his wife and son seven of the slaves to be equally divided between them when the son arrived at maturity. Doss turned the seven slaves--Judith, Ellen, Mary, Jane, Alabama, John, and Louisa--over to the widow, who, in 1847, married Abraham L. Ferguson. The slaves remained in Ferguson's possession until his death in 1852. Robert T. Johnston became administrator of the Ferguson estate, and took possession of the slaves. He also holds a girl named Savilla born "of sd female slaves" since Ferguson's death. James McCrary, now ten, claims that he has never received his "interest and property in sd slaves, and his rights to one half of the yearly product [hire] of sd slaves." He requests that an account be submitted and the usual subpoena issued.

PAR Number 20185324

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

Abstract: Harriet Hooper, a free "yellow" woman of color, and her six minor children, Ellen, William, Mary Jane, Zachariah, Eliza Ann, and Joseph seek their rightful legacy from the estate of the late John Hooper. Now residing in Ohio, Harriet asserts that the said John fathered her said children and held her and them in slavery; John Hooper's last will and testament, executed 28 May 1848, however, manumitted Harriet and her children. She states that said will stipulated that the executor, Zachariah L. Hooper, should take the family "to the State of Ohio and free them, then settle them comfortably in the Country and after settling them, to place in some solvent Bank in Ohio the sum of ten thousand dollars." Harriet reports that "the said sum of Eighteen hundred dollars constitutes the whole & the only monies & legacies paid to your Oratrix and the said Six children mentioned in the will" and that the said executor used these funds to pay all the expenses of moving the family from Alabama to Ohio. Charging him with having "fraudulently, wilfully and unlawfully converted the said sum of ten thousand dollars to his own use," the petitioners pray that Zachariah L. Hooper be decreed to perform "all his duties as such under & by virtue of the provisions of the last will & testament of his testator for & on behalf of your Oratrix & six children" and that the sum of ten thousand dollars "be applied ... for the benefit of the said Complainants." Harriet insists that the executor's failure to "to perform or execute that trust" has "reduced [her family] to utter poverty & destitution" and that "she and her six children aforesaid have not been settled comfortably in the state of Ohio according to the provisions and directions of the said last will & testament, but they are now uncomfortable poor and destitute."

PAR Number 20185335

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

Abstract: Following the death of Sarah M. Gerrald, a minor, her guardian, Balinda Mosser, formerly Balinda Gerrald, made a final settlement of her accounts. Sarah's sister Eliza Tompkins claims that many of the charges against the estate should not have been allowed. Moreover, she contends that she and her three minor brothers should be included as heirs. Eliza Tompkins asks that guardians be appointed for the three minors and that they all be granted a "distributive share." In a related petition, filed ten years earlier before the death of Sarah Gerrald, Balinda Mosser was then identified as Malinda Gerrald and Sarah's mother. In the same related petition, the slave Minerva, who is mentioned in this petition as having four children under the age of ten, was shown as the mother of three now grown slaves, Zeno, Holland, and Maranza (the latter identified in the related petition as Maranda).

PAR Number 20185409

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

Abstract: In 1844, Mahala Bird's great-grandfather, Willis Wyndham, executed a deed of gift of six slaves to her and her siblings, George, Harriet, and Rebecca, whereby he and his wife would retain the slaves during their lifetime, and the children would inherit them at this death. When Willis Wyndham and his wife died, two or three years prior to the filing of the petition, the children were still minors and their father took possession of the slaves. Mahala is now married to William Trainor, but her father refuses to turn the slaves over until all of the children have reached adulthood. Mahala Trainor finds this arrangement "directly repugnant to said deed." She asks for a division, or sale, of the slaves, and one-fourth of the value of their "hire and labor."

PAR Number 20185414

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

Abstract: When David Tate died in 1829, his daughter, Josephine, inherited a portion of his sizeable estate. As Josephine was a minor at the time of her father's death, the property went to the possession of her mother and guardian, Margaret Tate. Margaret kept and managed the property with the assistance of her son, William T. Power, until Josephine's marriage to James B. Driesback. The property consisted of a plantation on the Alabama River, four hundred head of cattle, and twenty-two slaves. In subsequent years, the slaves were hired out "for large amounts," and the cattle "greatly increased in number & value." Following the death of her mother and of William T. Powell, Josephine and James Driesback sue Powell's heirs, his widow, and the administrator of his estate. They seek an account of the profits and interest on Josephine's property during the years that it was managed by Powell and her mother.

PAR Number 20185425

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

Abstract: In 1824, South Carolina Simeon Clay conveyed to his daughter Nancy, "for her only proper use and behoof," a one-year-old slave girl named Louisa, from "the family of negroes being the best he ever knew." The family had been "entailed to him" by his grandfather, and he hoped to pass on their descendants to his grandchildren. About four years later, Nancy married George Cameron, and some years later the couple moved to Greene County, Alabama, where George "repeatedly and publicly" declared that Louisa and the children born to her over the years belonged to his wife. Nancy and George had one child, Lucretia Ann. Nancy Clay Cameron died in about 1849, and George remarried. By that time, Louisa had given birth to seven children. In 1853, George Cameron mortgaged Louisa and her children to Charles and John Roberts "in trust" to "indemnify" a bill of exchange for one thousand dollars. He executed another mortgage that same year for $777.77 the same family of slaves. After George Cameron's death that same year, his widow, Sarah Swilley Grant Cameron, took possession of the slaves; she has since repeatedly refused to hand them over to Lucretia Ann and her husband Jacob Lockhart. Lucretia is now suing her stepmother, her stepmother's father, and brother, and the two men who were parties to the mortgage executed by George Cameron in 1853. She tries to gain possession of the slaves. She also seeks an injunction to prevent their sale, an account of their hire since Nancy's death, and any other relief the court "shall seem meet."

PAR Number 20185508

State: Alabama Year: 1855
Location: Mobile Location Type: County

Abstract: In an earlier suit, Mahala Trainer, sued her brother, sisters, and father--George, Harriet, Rebecca, and James Bird--for a portion of slaves belonging to them as "tenants in common." In response, the court ordered a division of the slaves. However, Trainer's allotment was worth less than the portions allocated to George, Harriet, and Rebecca. Therefore, the court ordered that the Bird family hire out the slave Peter until his earnings could provide Trainer with three hundred dollars and interest. In this petition, the Bird family complains that the hiring-out of Peter would leave them "destitute of means, without the sale of other property," to pay the costs of the suit and taxes. They also argue that hiring Peter out would "greatly lessen the value to them of said slave, --by the danger to his health and habits to which he would thereby be subjected." The Bird family prays that the court will allow Peter to be sold in order to discharge the debt and the court fees leaving the remaining balance for their own use.

PAR Number 20185509

State: Alabama Year: 1855
Location: Madison Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1846, William Weeden died possessed of a large and valuable plantation and a number of slaves. In his 1845 will, Weeden bequeathed sums of money to his children by a first marriage, among whom is the petitioner, Frederick A. Weeden. He left the rest of his estate, real and personal, to his second wife and their children. Frederick Weeden asserts that, according to his father's will, he is entitled to a three-thousand-dollar bequest that has never been paid by either the former administrator of the estate, Alexander Ewing, or by the current administrator de bonis non, William Read. Furthermore, Frederick Weeden takes issue with Read's insistence "that it requires & has taken the proceeds arising from the property belonging to the estate of the said Weeden dec to pay the debts and expenses incurred in supporting the family and improving the plantation." This is contrary to the terms of the will. He especially takes issue with the use of funds due him for the purpose of supporting his father's last child, a girl born after his death and therefore not provided for in the will. He prays that the court will require the administrator to pay him his due including interest.

PAR Number 20185510

State: Alabama Year: 1855
Location: Talladega Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1839, John S. Edwards wrote his will, bequeathing to his wife Juliet "one negro man by the name of sam & one negro girl by the name of Mary her increase excepted" as well as his stock of horses, cattle, hogs, and his sixty-acre plantation. At her death, he stipulated that the property should to be equally divided among his children. Following Edwards's death, Juliet married a man named Henry Shrader who took possession of the property except for Mary who had died. When Juliet died, the heirs complain that Shrader surrendered Sam but has "refused to deliver the remainder of said property." They pray that the court will require him to provide compensation.

PAR Number 20185536

State: Alabama Year: 1855
Location: Shelby Location Type: County

Abstract: David Overton and his wife Rachel M. Johnson Overton, petition the court for their fair share of the slaves in the estate of Hannah T. Frost Johnson, Rachel's mother and that of her siblings and co-petitioners, Jesse, Isaac, and Francis Johnson. At stake is a family of slaves, headed by Permelia, a slave that was initially given by Hannah Frost to her son-in-law, Moses Johnson. Sometime in 1838, when he had fallen on hard times, Moses Johnson put Permelia back in the possession of his mother-in-law. Hannah Frost, however, died soon in 1839, followed in death shortly thereafter by her daughter, Hannah T. Frost Johnson. In 1842, some arrangement was arrived at whereby Permelia and her children, born over the years, became the property of Hannah T. Frost Johnson's children. At that point, Permelia and her son William went back into the possession of Moses Johnson. In 1845, Moses Johnson, assuming de facto guardianship of his children, sold Permelia and her family, four children at that point, to one Daniel W. Prentice, and applied the proceeds to pay his own debts. The petitioners assert that Moses Johnson had no right to sell the slaves since he had relinquished his title to the slaves as a way to avoid payment of debts he had accrued at the time and thus had placed the slaves in the possession of his mother-in-law, Hannah Frost. Overton asks that Johnson and Prentice account for the slaves' hires and that a guardian be appointed to protect the property interests of the minor heirs.

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