Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 20481404

State: District of Columbia Year: 1814
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: Sarah Burford seeks to settle an estate issue with her husband, John Burford, regarding ownership of five slaves and other personal property, left to her by her father, John Selby. She claims that Burford, "untill he could have an opportunity of getting her property into his possession as aforesaid, treated her with apparent kindness and affection; but as soon as he supposed he had secured her property to himself, he commenced a course of brutal & inhuman abuse of her." Sarah Burford asks that she "may be separated from bed & board during life, and your oratrix permitted to live as a feme sole, free and forever exonerated from the power, control & restraint of the said Burford."

PAR Number 20881105

State: Louisiana Year: 1811
Location: Feliciana Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Susan Thompson, widow of the late Ira C. Kneeland and now wife of Jason Thompson, seeks to recover her personal property as well as a share of the community property which is being held by the executors of her late husband’s estate. Susan claims that, at the time of her marriage and during her “coverture,” she received from her father, for "her own separate use & benefit," real and personal property that included land, husbandry equipment, animals, and three slaves named Little Dick, Will, and Anthony. At the time of the marriage, Kneeland had very little property of his own but, through "their mutual industry," Susan and Ira were able to gain an unspecified amount of community property. Now Ira has died and his will "neglected to make just & equitable provision" for his wife. Susan Thompson believes that she is rightly entitled to all the property from her dowry "and also one half of the acquests & profits of their joint Estates." She prays that the court annul Kneeland's will and that it order the estate's executors to deliver up her property.

PAR Number 20881206

State: Louisiana Year: 1812
Location: Territory of Orleans Location Type: Jurisdiction

Abstract: Vincent Sebastian Pintado seeks to recover a debt from the estate of the late Ira C. Kneeland. Pintado presents that Kneeland mortgaged his land and nineteen slaves to him to secure a loan of $4,030.75. The loan is now past due but Kneeland has died and his executors, Elijah Adams, Henry Stirling, and Charles McMicken, have yet to pay on the debt. In consideration of these facts, Pintado prays that the mortgaged property be seized and sold to satisfy the debt. In a counter-petition, Susana Kneeland, the widow of the late Kneeland, and her new husband, Jason Thompson, represent that part of the property seized by Pintado actually belongs to Susana. The property includes three slaves, one of whom she received from her father when she married Kneeland and the other two she brought from a previous marriage to one Mr. Cobb.

PAR Number 20881302

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

Abstract: Gertrude Reine Trepagnier seeks a separation of property from her husband. Gertrude represents that she intermarried with Laurent Trepagnier in 1803, bringing a dowry of two slaves, Françoise and her daughter, Manon, and $3,000 in cash. Since their marriage, Laurent has been "Growing poor & Contracting debts Either through misconduct or Bad management." Gertrude believes that her dowry property is now under threat from her husband's creditors. Therefore, she prays for a separation of property and asks that her husband be condemned to restore all of her dotal property to her.

PAR Number 20881507

State: Louisiana Year: 1815
Location: Natchitoches Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Marie Marguiritte Bastien Prudhom Case petitions to recover six slaves and receive compensation for their illegal detention by Marie Isador Pelagie Davion. Marie Marguiritte Case previously instituted a suit against her husband, David Case, in which she received a judgment for separation of property. Two female slaves named Lycad and Bridget, whom Marie Marguiritte had brought as dowry to her marriage to David Case, were recognized as her separate property. Now, Lycad and her five children "have come to the hands and possession of Marie Isador Pelage Davion," who refuses to return them. Marie Marguiritte Case prays that Davion, a widow, be ordered to return the six slaves and pay $4,000 in damages plus costs of the suit.

PAR Number 20881510

State: Louisiana Year: 1815
Location: Natchitoches Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Marie Marguiritte Bastien Prudhom Case petitions to recover four slaves and receive compensation for their absence. Marie Marguiritte Case previously instituted a suit against her husband, David Case, in which she received a judgment for separation of property. Two slave women named Lycade and Bridget were recognized as Marie Marguiritte's separate dotal property. Now, Bridget and her three children "have come to the hands and possession of a certain Dominique Bartholemew Racheal," who refuses to return them. Marie Marguiritte prays that Rachal [Racheal] be ordered to return the four slaves and pay $2,000 in damages plus costs of the suit.

PAR Number 20881521

State: Louisiana Year: 1815
Location: St. Landry Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Mary Stutes L'Enclos seeks the seizure and sale of property sold by her husband, Antoine L'Enclos, to John Snoddy. Mary previously received a judgment of separation against her husband in which he was condemned to pay her $1,000, the amount of her dowry. When the judgment was executed, the sheriff returned "with an endorsement of 'no property found'" as her husband had sold "all his property" to John Snoddy. By law, L'Enclos's marriage contract allows her a mortgage on both the "land and a slave man" currently held by Madame Baptiste Niveau. L'Enclos prays for an order of seizure and sale against the land now held by John Snoddy in order to satisfy the original judgment.

PAR Number 20881608

State: Louisiana Year: 1816
Location: East Baton Rouge Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Mary Connor Young sues for separation of bed and board, and of property, from her alcoholic and abusive husband, Christopher Gayle. Mary states that she brought to the marriage a number of slaves, some land, and money. She claims that Christopher "repeatedly struck, beat, bruised and wounded” her and “by force & violence compelled her to leave the marriage bed & common dwelling and for days and nights together to seek her safety” in “negro cabins of the plantation." She further states that, "owing to the excesses, and treatment & outrages of her said husband towards her, she has been compelled to leave their common domicil" without taking any of her rightful property or her six children. She now believes that Gayle is planning to remove the children and the slaves out of the jurisdiction of the court and to sell her other property. She prays that all of the property she brought to the marriage be legally declared hers; that the children be placed in her care; and that Gayle be made to pay support for herself and the children.

PAR Number 20882020

State: Louisiana Year: 1820
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Catherine Lacoste petitions to recover the value of her dotal property, a privilege that was granted to her in a previous suit for “separation of goods” from her husband, Pierre Laporte. Catherine Lacoste Laporte represents that her husband has removed himself from the city, leaving only a slave woman and her son named John Baptist, as well as "some articles of furniture or merchandize of very unconsiderable value." Pierre Laporte's creditors, Thomas and David Urquhart, merchants, have already obtained an order for John Baptist’s sequestration, and Gordon Grant & Co. have "caused five trunks of merchandize to be seized by the sheriff." These actions have threatened Catherine’s ability to collect her dowry, despite the fact that she has "privilege and preference to any other creditors." Catherine Lacoste Laporte therefore prays that her husband’s creditors and the sheriff be cited to answer the petition and that her claim to $2,500 be satisfied out of the proceeds from the sale of the seized property, including John Baptist.

PAR Number 20882026

State: Louisiana Year: 1820
Location: Pointe Coupee Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Seline Barra petitions for a separation of property from her husband, Louis Viales. Seline Barra Viales represents that, at the time of her 1804 marriage to Louis Viales, she received as dowry a share in her late father’s estate, cash, furniture, cattle, and a slave named Joseph. Joseph was valued at $600. In 1817, "owing to unforeseen and unfortunate circumstances," Louis Viales was forced to abandon his property to his creditors. His affairs are now in a state of “disorder” and Seline fears that his estate will not be sufficient to meet her “dotal rights and property.” She therefore prays for leave to sue her husband and to be separated in property from him. She asks that Louis be ordered to restore all her “dotal” property, as well as other property “he may have received during the marriage” in her “right.”

PAR Number 20882028

State: Louisiana Year: 1820
Location: West Baton Rouge Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Alexis Trudeau petitions for a separation of bed and board from Julie LeBeau Trudeau, his wife of fourteen years. Trudeau cites repeated acts of adultery with "several persons" and other licentious behavior by his wife as the cause of his complaint. In addition to praying for separation of bed and board, Trudeau asks to be entrusted with the guardianship and care of his children. In her answer, Julie LeBeau Trudeau alleges that her husband's accusations are false and they are brought about for the purpose of depriving her of her dowry and "what is coming to her in the Community for one half of the aquests & gains."

PAR Number 20882127

State: Louisiana Year: 1821
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Celeste Vinet petitions to be separated in property from her husband, André Lacouture, and to recover her “dotal” property. On the day of their marriage, April 15, 1820, Celeste Vinet and André Lacouture signed a marriage contract "whereby a community of goods was to take place between them, under the express stipulation" that Vinet "should always be at liberty to renounce the said community." Vinet brought into the marriage twelve slaves, land, money and furniture. Since the marriage, Lacouture has already sold two of his wife's slaves, Edouard and Silla-grin, for $3,200. Celeste Vinet Lacouture, fearing that her husband's debts are endangering her “dotal” property, has legally renounced the community of goods. She now prays for the authorization to sue her husband for separation in property. She asks that Lacouture be condemned to restore all her “dotal” property, including the unsold slaves, and to compensate her for the sale of Edouard and Silla-grin.

PAR Number 20882215

State: Louisiana Year: 1822
Location: Natchitoches Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Marie Margueritte Bastien Prudhomme, wife of David Case, files suit against Mrs. Dominique Davion and Dominique Barthelemy Rachal to recover thirteen slaves. Prudhomme informs the court that her husband, from whom she is separated in property, has authorized her to sue. She avers that she brought three slaves, named Laïte, Rose, and Bridgite, into her marriage with Case. However, "eversince 1810," Laïte, Rose, and their children have been in the possession of Mrs. Davion, while Bridgite and her children have been in the possession of Rachal. Marie Margueritte asks the court for possession of the slaves or payment equal to their value plus that which would have been earned from hiring them out. She places the combined value of Laïte, Rose, and their children at $8,000 and the value of their hires at $3,000. Bridgite and her children are valued at $4,000 with a hire value of $1,500.

PAR Number 20882224

State: Louisiana Year: 1822
Location: St. Landry Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Betsy Kimball sues Wade Kimball, her husband of 23 years, for separation of property. Betsy informs the court that she brought into her marriage three slaves, Margarite, Dick, and Mary. During the marriage, Margarite has had seven children and Mary eight, bringing the total number of slaves to eighteen. Betsy argues that Wade's "affairs are very much deranged" and that he "is in such failing circumstances" that her property is in "jeopardy." Betsy notes that two of the slaves, Nancy and Peter, have already been sold without her consent. Betsy prays for a separation of property.

PAR Number 20882236

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

Abstract: James Mitchell presents to the court that he received from his father-in-law, Benjamin Jewell, three slaves as part of his future wife's dowry. He claims that one of the slaves named Jack was fraudulently assessed at $500 more than its real value by an unsuspecting appraiser prior to the finalization of the marriage contract. He explains that he has found out that Jack had been kept in "chains or irons" for several months prior to the time of the appraisement, but that Jewell had ordered the shackles removed for his appearance before the appraiser. The shackles were immediately replaced after the appraiser had conducted the valuation. Mitchell therefore seeks to recover the amount of money of which he was cheated by Jewell.

PAR Number 20882320

State: Louisiana Year: 1823
Location: Natchitoches Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Celeste Touzin explains that she brought $400 “in money” and “a negress” named Eulalie, worth $500, into her 1815 marriage to Benjamin Dranguet. However, Benjamin is now “in failing circumstances” and “his affairs,” notes Celeste, “are greatly embarrassed.” Celeste now fears that her dowry “is in great danger of being lost.” She asks the court for a separation of property, a judgment for the “balance that is four hundred dollars,” and costs of suit.

PAR Number 20882528

State: Louisiana Year: 1825
Location: St. Landry Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Margarite Brasseur seeks a separation of property from her husband, François Richard. Margarite represents that, at the time of her marriage to Richard, she owned a slave named Babé, “two gentle horses,” forty horned cattle, and “ten head of horse creatures,” amounting in value to $500. She now informs the court “that from the failing circumstances and pecuniary embarrassments of her said husband she is apprehensive that her aforesaid dotal effects are in danger of being sacrificed and lost.” Therefore, Margarite prays that the court grant her a separation of property from Richard.

PAR Number 20882724

State: Louisiana Year: 1827
Location: West Baton Rouge Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Henriette Serret petitions for a separation of property from her second husband, Hypolite Hébert. Henriette informs the court that she brought considerable property, valued at over $1,200, into her 1822 marriage to Hypolite. Included in her possessions were ten slaves. Since her marriage, Henriette and her husband have sold some of her land and slaves. Another of her slaves, named Noël, has been seized in order to satisfy her husband's debts. Citing her husband's "embarrassed and endebted" state, Henriette declares that she is fearful "that her estate may not be sufficient to meet her rights and claims." She therefore asks the court for the authorization to sue for a separation of property from her husband and for the right to manage and administer her own property.

PAR Number 20882727

State: Louisiana Year: 1827
Location: West Feliciana Location Type: Parish

Abstract: America Anne Kirkland sues her husband, Richard Kirkland, to enforce their marriage contract. In the 1818 contract, Richard vowed to give America Anne $3,000, as pure donation and a dowry, in "consideration of the sincere friendship and affection" which he bore her. However, Richard has thus far failed to fulfill the agreement. Furthermore, due to her husband's mismanagement of his affairs, America fears that her dowry is "in danger of being lost." She asks that the court order a separation of property and allow her the "sole management of her own affairs." In addition, she asks that the money coming from the sale of a tract of land belonging to the estate of Richard's late father be used to fulfill the donation in the marriage contract rather than invested in slaves as directed by the will.

PAR Number 20882827

State: Louisiana Year: 1828
Location: West Baton Rouge Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Felicity Bourk Ferrary Escalin asks the court to authorize her to sue her husband, Joachim Escalin, for separation of property; and to order Escalin to return the property she brought into the marriage or pay her for it. The petitioner, widow of Bernard Ferrary, claims that, when she married Joachim Escalin in January 1808, she brought one hundred "arpents" of land, a thirteen-year-old "Mulatto wench", a mare, and $1,550 in "claims" to the marriage. Felicity now states that she is in danger of losing her "dowry" due to various "misfortunes" and her husband's mismanagement of their property. According to Felicity, Joachim has sold almost "every part" of his property and "even disposed of" the land and the slave she brought into the marriage. In order to prevent the loss of her dowry, Felicity asks the court to direct her husband to "restore" her property or, failing to do so, to pay $5,000 for the land, $1000 for the slave, and $25 for the horse.

PAR Number 20883006

State: Louisiana Year: 1830
Location: Pointe Coupee Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Hetty Jewell Mitchell seeks a separation of "bed and board" from her husband's of ten years, James Mitchell, on the grounds of cruelty and abuse. She explains that she was "tenderly raised and abundantly supplied and sustained by a tender wealthy father" and had expectations of "comfort and felicity." But "so it is," she claims, that she "has been sadly disappointed" and that her husband has proven to have such "a cruel & unnatural temper" that she can no longer dwell with him. She claims that, at the time of her marriage, her father settled $2,650 in slaves on her new husband, as part of her dowry, stipulating that the slaves would remain mortgaged to her. She therefore asks the court to order a separation of property and to recognize the "mortgage and rights" she holds on the land and slaves in "partnership" with her husband. She also asks the court to enjoin her husband from disposing of the property and wants an inventory and appraisement of the property. In a related answer, James Jewell charges his wife with abandoning him during periods of severe illness, leaving a suckling child to his care, and being unkind to their servants.

PAR Number 20883205

State: Louisiana Year: 1832
Location: Pointe Coupee Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Claire Décuir, a free woman of color, represents that, upon marrying Louis Severin in 1820, she entered into a marriage contract that stipulated that all her property, “present & future,” should be considered “dotal.” She claims that, at the time of the marriage, she was possessed of fifteen slaves, a plantation, cattle, and personal property, altogether valued at $4,868. She has, since that time, inherited another $38,200 from Joseph Décuir. Claire Décuir Severin now contends that her husband has sold her plantation, and the state of his affairs is such that her entire dowry is in jeopardy. She therefore prays for a judgment against her husband to recover the full value of her dowry, which amounts to $43,068, and for a separation of property from her husband.

PAR Number 20883309

State: Louisiana Year: 1833
Location: West Feliciana Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Emily Bradley Richardson represents that, upon marrying Charles Richardson in 1831, she possessed a slave named Alice. She also brought to the community of marriage other property valued at $346, which has been converted to cash. She claims that the “embarrassment & general disorder” of her husband’s affairs are now such that his estate may not be sufficient to meet her rights and claims for the recovery of her “paraphernal & dotal” property. She therefore asks for a separation in property from her husband and a judgment against her husband for the recovery of $346 and her slave. She also asks for a judgment granting her “sole, full & exclusive administration” of her property.

PAR Number 20883603

State: Louisiana Year: 1836
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Marie Paméla Fortier petitions for separation of property from her husband, Jean Baptiste St. Amand. Marie Paméla Fortier St. Amand represents that, by the terms of her 1816 marriage contract, she brought to her husband a dowry consisting of obligations valued at $4,000 and a “sixteen or seventeen years old” female slave, a "griffonne" named Henriette, valued at $700. Since her marriage, Marie Paméla has added to the marriage community another $9,000, which represents her share in her late father’s estate. Marie Paméla now claims that her husband’s affairs are in such “disorder” that his estate will not be sufficient to meet her “rights & claims.” She therefore asks the court to grant her a separation in property from her husband. She also prays to be allowed to exercise her “mortgage & privilege” on the property, and she asks the court to order her husband to pay her $13,700 from the proceeds of the sale of said property.

PAR Number 20883613

State: Louisiana Year: 1836
Location: Natchitoches Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Margaret Beard represents that, at the time of her marriage to George Meadows, she owned land, livestock, furniture, and money. In addition, through “labour and industry,” she and George have since acquired considerable additional property, which belongs to the marriage community. Recently, however, George has sold four slaves, land, furniture, livestock, and a wagon, and Margaret believes that he is about to leave the state. She claims that she is “infirm” and her husband has left her “without means of support.” He has abandoned her “in sickness, destroyed her happiness, and left her dependent upon strangers.” In a word, he has been “guilty of such excesses as to render” their living together “insupportable.” Margaret therefore prays to be authorized to sue her husband for separation in property.

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