Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 20184223

State: Alabama Year: 1842
Location: Russell Location Type: County

Abstract: The Lewis children appear in court with their father and next friend to amend their original petition filed in November 1840. Since then, the petitioners note, judgments amounting to several thousand dollars have been obtained against Jonathan Hudson, husband of their aunt Martha Abercrombie Hudson. The heirs report that Hudson moved to protect his assets by conveying a large portion of his property to Granberry Hudson, who in turn conveyed a portion to Daniel McDougald. The petitioners assert that the sale to Granberry Hudson was fraudulent and no money passed hands. They also assert that six of the slaves transferred were willed to them by their aunt; therefore such conveyances "are without consideration and fraudulent and void and made for the purpose of hindering and delaying creditors." In addition, they point out the Hudson is currently under arrest in Muscogee County, Georgia and in order to be released, he must surrender his personal property and titles to his real property to a court-appointed trustee. The Lewis children ask that the defendants be subpoenaed and provide bond securing the slaves in question. A related document reveals that several of the slaves supposedly sold to Granberry Hudson were mortgaged, a few months later, to one Alfred Iverson.

PAR Number 20184311

State: Alabama Year: 1843
Location: Lowndes Location Type: County

Abstract: Sarah D. and George E. Rochell, minors over the age of fourteen, and Thomas B. Rochell, who is under the age of fourteen, are entitled to a one-ninth part of "sundry slaves." The three minors do not have guardians, and, they, along with their mother, Elizabeth Rochell, petition the court to appoint guardians to represent their interests in the division of the property.

PAR Number 20184312

State: Alabama Year: 1843
Location: Lowndes Location Type: County

Abstract: The Bank of Mobile seeks to foreclose on a mortgage issued by them to John Maysant, via three promissory notes, totaling $13,230.51. In order to secure payment on these notes, the Bank contends, Maysant executed a deed of trust payable to the Bank mortgaging certain tracts of land and thirty-three slaves. Inasmuch as the notes remain unpaid, the petitioners request "your Honors to order and decree that said Mortgage shall be foreclosed" allowing the "lands conveyed thereby to be sold" and Maysant's "Equity of redemption be fore barred."

PAR Number 20184313

State: Alabama Year: 1843
Location: Barbour Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1820, a trust was established in the name of John L. and Sarah E. Bowler Hunter, which included land and slaves. The trust was designed for the use and benefit of the couple during Sarah's lifetime. Upon her death, John would receive one-third of the trust and the remaining two-thirds would be divided among her surviving children. William Aiken was appointed trustee. A separate trust was established for four other slaves for the sole use and benefit of Sarah. Sarah has recently died. Sarah and John's married daughters, Violetta Hoole and Elizabeth Merrill, along with their husbands, petition the court for their rightful share of the slaves mentioned in the said trust. They report that the trustee Aiken has died and that since their mother's death in March 1843 the entire trust estate has been in the possession of their father, John. Each petitioner requests that "the share of said personal property to which she may be entitled may be ... conveyed to some suitable person to be appointed in trust for the separate use and benefit of your Oratrix and the heirs of her body."

PAR Number 20184317

State: Alabama Year: 1843
Location: Sumter Location Type: County

Abstract: On 19 November 1841, Whitmill K. Bullock executed a deed of trust to James House, whereby he conveyed certain property, including twenty-two slaves, to House. At the time of the execution of the deed, Bullock was indebted to House, and House had served as security to several debts Bullock owed others. Most of the debts have been satisfied, and House has recently died; no administrator has yet been appointed to his estate. Bullock asks that another trustee be appointed in his stead.

PAR Number 20184502

State: Alabama Year: 1845
Location: Dallas Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1842, Henry J. King, conveyed to Damaris Barnes, and her four children, nineteen slaves to hold "share & share alike, the said Negroes and their increase forever." Damaris gave King two notes for $1,250 each, payable twelve months and two years afterwards, and took possession of the slaves. Later, Damaris married Elza Bland, who "assumed the Control and direction of most of said slaves, and evinced a disposition to possess, manage and use" them for his own benefit. In 1845, the two eldest children, Lucretia and William, ages eighteen and sixteen, left home because of their stepfather's abuse, and now live with their guardian, John S. Barnes, who, along with the other children, has now filed suit seeking compensation of four-fifths of the value of the services of the slaves. They are "family Negroes," Barnes says, and the children feel an "unusual family attachment for them." The plaintiffs ask that the sheriff "take possession of said slaves" and retain them in "safe Custody" until a decree can be issued.

PAR Number 20184509

State: Alabama Year: 1845
Location: Montgomery Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1839, John Duncan executed a deed of assignment conveying certain property in trust to John W. Withers for the payment of certain debts. The assignment included three slaves--Lettuce, William, and Dick-- who were in Withers's possession when he died, but were quickly "run off out of the State of Alabama." One of the creditors of the trust, Jack Thorington, discovered Lettuce and William in the possession of Withers's widow in New Orleans and brought them back to Montgomery County. Daniel N. Smith, administrator of Withers's estate, is suing Thorington to retrieve Lettuce. And, in this petition, Thorington asks for an injunction to restrain Smith from prosecuting his suit, and requests that the slaves be sold and the proceeds go to "your orator, and such other creditors in the same first class in said assignment."

PAR Number 20184511

State: Alabama Year: 1845
Location: Madison Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1829, Sarah Monroe and Adam Hall signed a prenuptial contract stating that the property each of them owned prior to their marriage "would remain with, and belong to each respectively." During their life together, the wife's property, including slaves, would be used "for their joint benefit & mutual support and subsistence," but the profits and appreciation in value of their estates should remain separate. Now, Sarah Hall explains, her husband has abandoned her with no "adequate provision for her comfort or subsistence." Moreover, he threatens to sell and dispose of her property. She asks that her husband surrender a "moiety of the real and personal property acquired by means of the joint profits of their united property since said marriage, together with a moiety of the invested profits arising from the same." She also seeks a divorce.

PAR Number 20184516

State: Alabama Year: 1845
Location: Mobile Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1842, Louisa S. Owen borrowed $28,172 from the Branch of the Bank of the State of Alabama, using as collateral twenty-eight slaves, mostly children. Louisa defaulted, so the bank is foreclosing on the loan, naming as defendants Louisa Owen, as administratrix of the estate of George W. Owen, deceased, Alexander Hollinger, Adam C. Hollinger, the Planters and Merchants Bank of Mobile, and the Presidents and Directors of the Bank of Mobile.

PAR Number 20184520

State: Alabama Year: 1845
Location: Mobile Location Type: County

Abstract: Robert Gale and his wife Frances W. Gale inform the court that, in 1840, Achilles S. Jeffries, originally of Petersburg, Virginia and Frances's first husband, conveyed to Frances a trust estate, which included three promissory notes worth approximately $5,300, and twenty-three slaves. Nathaniel G. Friend was named as trustee. Achilles and Frances had two children, William Wyndham Jeffries, born in 1840, and Achilles S. Jeffries, born in 1841, after the death of his father. In 1845, Frances W. Jeffries married Robert Gale, of Mobile, Alabama, where she now resides with her two children. The Gales declare that Frances wishes to receive more income from the trust than the trustee is providing. One-third of the annual hire and interest on the notes "is not enough for the reasonable, proper and sufficient maintenance and support of your Oratrix in her situation, condition, station and rank in society." She seeks "the whole of the annual hire of the said negroes and interest of the said monies." According to the copy of the deed of trust submitted with the petition, it appears that only nineteen slaves were included in the property deeded to Frances by the late Achilles.

PAR Number 20184523

State: Alabama Year: 1833
Location: Barbour Location Type: County

Abstract: Prior to her marriage to John P. Booth, in 1833, Martha R. W. Hodges signed an agreement that she thought stipulated that the real estate and slaves devised to her in trust by her father, Richard Hodges, would remain her separate property. The property included, among other items, plantation land and a number of slaves. There are now twenty-three slaves now in Martha's possession. They include the slaves originally given by her father, their children, one of them unnamed, and two slaves, Handy and Bob, purchased since that time. One slave descended from the slaves who had belonged to Richard Hodges, Jesse, was sold, and the profits expended in the purchase of Bob and Handy. Now Martha is suing her husband, claiming that he tricked her in 1833, telling her that the agreement promised the property would be "for the benefit of Martha" when it read "for the benefit of the parties." Had she known the actual wording she would never have signed; she asks that the wording be "reformed."

PAR Number 20184608

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

Abstract: In his will, written in 1844, Robert Hamlet left his daughter, Sarah Johnson, a life estate in four slaves: Jim, Toby, Jully, and Ann. Ann was to remain with Hamlet's wife until her death, and then transfer to his daughter. Two years later, Hamlet died. Now Sarah explains that her husband, Alexander Johnson, a merchant, is heavily in debt and has "no property or means." She seeks to put her inheritance in a separate estate for her sole and exclusive use.

PAR Number 20184622

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

Abstract: In 1805, Martha Walton of Prince Edward County, Virginia, conveyed in trust to her granddaughter Martha Williams and her children, a nine-year-old slave child named Nancy Dean and her future increase; in 1806, Thomas Scott conveyed to Martha and her children a ten-year-old child named Cloe, and their future increase. In 1807, General Thomas Glasscock of Richmond County, Georgia, conveyed to Martha and her children nine slaves, including Rose and her children Ben, Lizza, and Bob, and Jim and his wife Jenny and her children George, Anny, and Jim; and in 1807, James Gresham of Wilkes County, Georgia, conveyed to the same three more slaves. Martha and Zachariah had three children: Robert, Blanche, and Mary, who stood to inherit the slaves at Martha's death, but many years after Martha had died and Zachariah had remarried, the father maintained control over the slaves. In 1827, the children--Robert W. Williams, Blanche Gibson, and Mary W. Evans--conveyed to their father all of the slaves with their increase they had inherited from their mother. By then the slaves numbered "upwards of thirty." In 1837, Zachariah Williams moved from Richmond County, Georgia, to Barbour County, Alabama, where he died in 1840, leaving as heirs children from his first marriage and also children from his second marriage. Now Mary W. Williams Evans and her husband are suing Zachariah's widow, Sarah, and the children from the second marriage, including Zachariah, Evelina W. Dobbins, and Gazaway D. Williams. Mary Evans seeks a portion of the slave property, and compensation equal to the hire of slaves purchased by Zechariah "out of the trust funds in his hands."

PAR Number 20184710

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

Abstract: By 1836, Clarke County slave owner William Matheson had acquired a sizable estate: a saw and grist mill on the Alabama River, a "great quantity" of wood to supply steamboats, bank bills from various states, bank stock in the Planters and Merchants Bank of Mobile, and "many slaves." In his 1836 will, he bequeathed a slave girl Phillis to his daughter Mariah, and a legacy of thirty thousand dollars to Mariah and his two other daughters, Flora McCaskey Matheson and Caladonia Matheson. He directed that beginning in 1832 Mariah should receive one thousand dollars a year for ten years when she would reach age twenty-one. This was to be paid out of his estate by his executors who were directed to keep the mills and plantation in operation. Following Matheson's death, John Murphy and John Darrington became administrators. But Mariah, a minor, did not receive her bequests. In 1847, she and her husband seek damages from Darrington (Murphy had died), including the original bequests from her father and profits from wood sales and cotton production during the 1830s and early 1840s.

PAR Number 20184714

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

Abstract: On 2 May 1843 a suit was instituted by Ephraim Pharr and Thomas K. Beck against Bushrod W. Bell "for the recovery of thirty-five negroes." After the sheriff took the slaves into custody, Bell gave a replevin bond of $24,000, with John Hinkle and others as securities. In 1845, Beck and Pharr obtained a judgment in their favor for the recovery of several of the slaves in controversy. Soon thereafter, James C. Boyd sued to gain possession of the slaves recovered by Pharr and Beck. Bell and Pharr are now dead, and John Hinkle, the petitioner and security on Bell's bond, fears that the slave title dispute occurring between Beck and Boyd will result in his owing money to one or the other because of his part as security. Beck and Pharr already sold one of the slaves in 1845. Hinkle asks the court to award him custody of the slaves so that he may divide them between Beck and Boyd. Hinkle also asks the court to compel Beck to account for the value and the hires of the slaves in his possession, and if the court finds that Beck has a better title to the slaves, then Boyd should be perpetually enjoined from collecting his 1847 judgment.

PAR Number 20185006

State: Alabama Year: 1850
Location: Coosa Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1843, Milley David married Henry P. David in Autauga County, Alabama. The bride owned twenty-two slaves, eight mules, a stock of cattle, hogs, a piano, household goods, and about six hundred acres of land. She estimated the value of her property at $20,000. Henry David, a recent migrant from Georgia, owned two slaves and a small amount of land. In 1844, the couple moved to Coosa County. It was then, Milley contends, that her husband began to abuse her. He whipped her with a cowhide, inflicting ten lashes; "the blows were so severe," she said, "as to cut the skin." On another occasion, he put her head between his legs, "striped up the clothes," and "inflicted about a dozen lashes upon the bare person of your Oratrix with a whip which was commonly Called a negroe whip." In August 1847, Milley abandoned their farmhouse. She now asks for a divorce, and that all property acquired by her husband through his marriage to her and acquired "since the said marriage by & with the profits or proceeds of the property the said Defendant acquired by his said Marriage, be vested in your Oratrix to her sole and separate use free from the control, management, debts & liabilities of said Defendant." Henry P. David denied that he whipped or struck his wife, claimed she drank to excess, and when drinking was "of a very high and bad temper." His defense was eventually successful. In 1855, Milley's divorce suit was dismissed by the Alabama Supreme Court.

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 20185201

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

Abstract: On 15 February 1845, Elias and George Hodges purchased "as equal copartners" fifteen slaves. The natural increase since the purchase includes seven additional slaves, the youngest an eight-month-old baby. The slaves remained with George Hodges until his death in 1852, and are now in the possession of Andrew G. Neilly, the administrator of his estate. Elias Hodges, who confesses that he owes two hundred dollars on the purchase price, wishes to pay the balance due and get his share of the slave property. He asks the court to "ascertain the value of the hire of said negroes-deducting the ballance due of two hundred dollars" and then the Negroes should be "valued and equally divided."

PAR Number 20185203

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

Abstract: In 1838, George Hays, owner of several plantations and about 180 slaves, died leaving a wife and three small children. In his will he appointed William P. Gould and four other men as executors. In 1839, the other four men having declined the executorship, Gould qualified as such and took possession of the property as administrator of the estate. In 1844, Gould's administratorship was revoked but he continued to work the estate until January 1845. In 1852, when Gould tries to render a final account of his administratorship, the children and heirs, Charles, Mary, and George Ann, by their next friend Robert Leachman, sue. They charge Gould with waste and mismanagement, and specify a number of misdeeds committed by Gould during the years of his administratorship. They point out in particular that he hired an overseer who had a "cruel, brutish and inhuman disposition." The petitioners recount several examples of the overseer's abuse. He abused "a negro man by the name of George, by cruelly whipping him and putting out his right eye;" he abused "another negro man by the name of Claiborne by getting him down and jumping upon his back with the heels of his shoes;" and he beat a third slave so brutally that he later died. Moreover, Gould failed to provide slaves with "blankets or other bed clothing," pushed women to labor long hours in bad weather, and forced slaves to live in "miserable Hovels not fit for horse stables." Most of the "breeding women on said Plantations were rendered almost entirely barren, and worthless as such" and "are subject to continual miscarriages," the petitioners lament, while a large number of children have died. The heirs estimate that the maltreatment and malnourishment of the female slaves have cost them the loss of some forty children through either barrenness of the females or abortions. They also estimate that they lost another fifteen children due to neglect in their tender years. The Hays children, two of them still minors, seek an injunction to prevent Gould from settling the estate and to get compensation for the financial cost of his mismanagement.

PAR Number 20185204

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

Abstract: Emily Cornelius states that she had fled from her home with her three-month-old son, for fear of the violence inflicted on her by her husband, William Cornelius, a "habitual drunkard." She contends that William treated her in a most "cruel barbarous & inhuman" manner; he inflicted "violent blows with his fists & feet;" and he menaced her with threats of "the most dreadful character" including death. On one occasion, in a drunken rage, he even struck his own mother, who lived on the plantation. Emily seeks a divorce, custody of the child, and alimony as the court "may deem meet." Cornelius is a man of considerable wealth and property, Emily explains, worth between thirty-five and forty thousand dollars. He owns more than eight hundred acres of plantation land and "about thirty five" slaves. In addition, he "has a valuable crop of Corn & Cotton growing on his said plantation & a considerable Amount of good debts due to him." In response, Cornelius admitted that he occasionally drank to excess, but denied that he ever physically abused his wife. In any event, she knew he drank from the beginning. On their wedding day in 1845 he could barely stand and suffered from one of the "worst of his paroxysms of intoxication" during his life.

PAR Number 20185210

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

Abstract: William Waller, guardian of Alfred Loftin, minor, asks to sell the twenty-seven-year-old slave Fanny because she is "unsound."

PAR Number 20185330

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

Abstract: Informed that the guardian for his children is about to resign, G. W. Gayle requests that James L. Evans be appointed to manage his children's property. The children, Margaret and Thomas Gayle, are slaveholding minors. Gayle recognizes that as their father "he is entitled to their guardianship, high over any one else," but he states that "your petitioner does not wish to take it, if it can be avoided." The petitioner believes that Tabitha Kornegay, his children's grandmother, also wishes to be their guardian and "he enters his protest, and most solemn objection," against her appointment. It is Gayle's opinion that sixty-six-year-old Kornegay is "wholly unfit, from her sex, & extreme old age, to manage the estate of any ward to its advantage," and he concludes, "she has no more legal right to the guardianship of his children than Mr. Evans or any one else."

PAR Number 20185411

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

Abstract: A. J. McLemore asks the court to approve the sale of the personal estate, including slaves, of Elizabeth McLemore, deceased. McLemore explains that the estate cannot be properly divided without a sale of the property.

PAR Number 20185413

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

Abstract: Samuel Perry, joint owner of eight slaves with his sister Martha Perry, a minor, asks that the slaves be divided so he can receive his share. He is now twenty-one and his sister is between the ages of fourteen and twenty-one.

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