Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 20284904

State: Arkansas Year: 1849
Location: Bradley Location Type: County

Abstract: Edward and Catharine Barker write that Catharine's former husband, Simon Hiley, now deceased, left a considerable estate, including slaves. After Simon's death, Catharine collected a third of the estate as her widow's dower; the remainder was to be divided between her and her two children, Robert and Drucilla. Robert died in 1846, while still a minor, leaving Catharine, his mother, as the only person entitled to his share of the estate. However, Alfred Turner, Catharine's son-in-law and Drucilla's husband, has been named administrator, and as such he has taken possession of the property and refuses to settle. Catharine and her new husband, Edward Barker, now sue Alfred Turner, asking for a settlement of the estate.

PAR Number 20285001

State: Arkansas Year: 1850
Location: Union Location Type: County

Abstract: The widow of the late John Rhem, Ann, and her new husband, John Welch, petition the court to force the administrators of Ann's late husband to settle the estate. Joseph Rhem died in 1846 possessed of a considerable property, including twenty slaves. Ann Welch asks that she be given her widow's dower, a third share of the estate, to the value of the estate as it is calculated under proper management.

PAR Number 20285201

State: Arkansas Year: 1852
Location: Phillips Location Type: County

Abstract: Andrew Bagley desires to sell George, a slave belonging to the estate of his wife's former and late husband, William Tunstall. Bagley is the administrator of William Tunstall's estate and guardian of one of his minor children; he also petition as next friend to the other minor child who is without a guardian. The slave George is said to have a disease of the kidneys and possibly could be "valueless." Bagley "believes it for the interest of the heirs that said negro should be sold and his value and proceeds be distributed among the heirs." He has been offered "the sum of six hundred dollars for said negro and that he thinks this his full value in his present condition."

PAR Number 20285511

State: Arkansas Year: 1855
Location: Drew Location Type: County

Abstract: Sally H. Sanders, the widow of William Sanders, asks the court to confirm her title to the slave man Jerry and to lift the levies held on him. Upon her husband's death Sally Sanders received, as part of her widow's dower, "a one half interest in said negro boy Jerry and fifty dollars interest in Jerry's wife." Her son James held the other half interest in Jerry, which he sold to Samuel G. Sanders, a minor. Sally Sanders advanced the money on behalf of the minor, but she claims that she has never been paid for it and therefore has full title to the slave. Now Samuel is deeply in debt and Jerry has been levied upon in order to satisfy the many judgments obtained against him. He is "in the jail of the county" and has been "advertised for sale to satisfy the execution aforesaid issued against the said Samuel Sanders." Sally Sanders claims that Jerry "is worth the sum of one thousand dollars and his hire per annum is worth one hundred & fifty dollars."

PAR Number 20285514

State: Arkansas Year: 1855
Location: Pulaski Location Type: County

Abstract: James Swan and David Dickson petition the court for their share of the estate left by Gilbert Bardin in the care and possession of his wife, Charlotte. James Swan is the late Bardin's nephew and Dickson is the person to whom James's brother, Elijah Swan, has relinquished his interest in the estate. At the time of his death, Gilbert Bardin owned four slaves; at the time of the petition, seven slaves are being claimed by James Swan and David Dickson. The petitioners claim that, during her life time, Charlotte Bardin never settled the estate and continued to enjoy its benefits as its administratrix. Upon her death in 1851, Charles Bertrand became guardian of her estate, one third of which was left to a niece, the remainder to the Little Rock Methodist Episcopal Church in care of its trustees. In addition, by her last will and testament, Charlotte Bardin gave freedom to two of her slaves immediately after her death and to the other five slaves when they reached the age of twenty. She also bequeathed property to the slaves. Charlotte Bardin was following the directives of her husband who had bequeathed the same to his slaves prior to his death. Swan and Dickson charge that Charlotte Bardin "had no right or authority to dispose of any portion of said real estate or slaves after her decease, or of any portion of said personal estate" except the portion of the estate to which she was justly entitled "by way of her dower." Her will, and other deeds of manumission, stipulating the emancipation of the slaves, Swan and Dickson charge, should be considered "void and of no effect."

PAR Number 20285701

State: Arkansas Year: 1857
Location: Saline Location Type: County

Abstract: Elizabeth Kirkpatrick, widow of Paisley Kirkpatrick, who died intestate, asks the court for new commissioners "to lay off and designate by proper metes and bounds the dower of your petitioner in the lands of said estate, and slaves of said estate in accordance with the said decree of this court made at the January term thereof A.D. 1853." She states that after her husband's death the court acknowledged her right to a dower out of her husband's holdings and appointed William Milliner, a son-in-law, as guardian over the minor children. Kirkpatrick claims that said commissioners assigned her "a child's part of the slaves of said estate instead of one third of said slaves," and "never assigned your petitioner the one third part of the land of said estate." In addition, she contends that the court failed to issue a final order directing that even this portion of the property be transferred into her ownership. Now one of the minor children claims that she is not entitled to any increase among the slaves in the dower, as part of the family's estate. Kirkpatrick disputes this claim, asserting that the dower is separate from that property left to the children.

PAR Number 20285705

State: Arkansas Year: 1857
Location: Phillips Location Type: County

Abstract: Frances Erwin is the widow of James Erwin who died intestate in 1857 with sizeable property holdings, including seventeen slaves. She asks the court that her children and their spouses, as well as her co-administrator, be cited for defendants. She asks the court to appoint a guardian for the minor heirs and "lay off and assign" to her a dower interest in one third of the slaves. She also requests one third of the profits from the hire of their slaves and one third of proceeds from rental of their plantation during the period between her husband's death and the allotment of her share of the estate.

PAR Number 20285707

State: Arkansas Year: 1857
Location: Pulaski Location Type: County

Abstract: Amelia C. Newton, widow of Thomas W. Newton who died intestate in 1853, asks the court for her dower share in nine slaves worth between six and eight thousand dollars. The other heirs include Thomas's children -- John William, Allen, Anna, Robert, Thomas, and Charles. With the exception of John William, who is serving as the estate's administrator, all of the children are minors.

PAR Number 20285708

State: Arkansas Year: 1857
Location: Pulaski Location Type: County

Abstract: To pay the debts of his deceased father's estate, Administrator John William Newton asks to sell "the remainder (after the life estate of the widow of said deceased), in certain slaves, to wit; Henry, Pauline and Ellen."

PAR Number 20285712

State: Arkansas Year: 1857
Location: Phillips Location Type: County

Abstract: Sarah H. Grant is the widow of Henry M. Grant, who died intestate. She states that Grant died with a considerable estate -- including at least seven slaves -- and that she has not been assigned her dower. Therefore Sarah Grant asks the court to appoint commissioners to establish her dower and assign a guardian for the affairs of her minor children.

PAR Number 20285803

State: Arkansas Year: 1858
Location: Pulaski Location Type: County

Abstract: Diadema Collins, widow of John F. Hudson who died in 1854, seeks her share of slaves in his estate from the county sheriff, acting as "public administrator." Hudson's estate included land and six slaves, including a dark mulatto woman named Leath and her five children: Sam, age twelve; Green, age ten; Ann, age seven; Mary age four; and Francis, age ten months. Diadema, who has since married Alexander Collins, owned two slaves in her own right, Malinda, age twenty, and her infant son Henry, but she never received a dower from her late husband's estate. Now, four years later, she and her husband are petitioning for her rightful share.

PAR Number 20285905

State: Arkansas Year: 1859
Location: Phillips Location Type: County

Abstract: Sarah Beaty, wife of the late W.O. Beaty, asks the court for her dower of "Negroes belonging to the Estate of my Deceased Husband." Her husband had owned three "stout, healthy and likely" slaves -- Jack, age forty-three; Margaret, age about fifteen; and Adeline, age about twelve. The commissioners assigned Jack to the widow, explaining that though each of the female slaves would sell for more, the service "of said Negro Man" was "fully as valuable to Mrs. Beaty during her life time, as the services of either of the other two negroes."

PAR Number 20286102

State: Arkansas Year: 1861
Location: Saline Location Type: County

Abstract: Elizabeth Camp, widow of Martin Camp, asserts that she is entitled to one third of the lands and personal property that her husband owned at the time of his death on 19 July 1860. She therefore prays that three commissioners be appointed "to lay off and assign her said dower in the property aforesaid." The receipt from the guardian of Camp's minor children establishes that the said children jointly own two slaves named Crisy and Lue.

PAR Number 20380401

State: Delaware Year: 1804
Location: Sussex Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1796, Jemima Ingram, who owned a "very considerable personal estate," published her will, bequeathing to her daughter Peggy Ingram some furniture, curtains, a large chest, £10 "lawful money," and "one Negro Girl -- named Ginna." Following Jemima's death in 1799, John Ingram, executor of the estate, took possession of the property and refused to honor Peggy's legacy. Peggy Ingram Carey and her husband Cornelius Carey charge that "John Ingram and his confederates, do now absolutely refuse to deliver and pay the legacies"; consequently, although they had wished to avoid litigation, they have no choice but to sue the executor.

PAR Number 20382003

State: Delaware Year: 1820
Location: Sussex Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1815, Mitchell Kershaw of Sussex County published his will, freeing a number of slaves: Peter, Sarah, Rachel, Jack, Isaac, Lizey, Phillis Williams, Mahaley, Jesse, and Maryatta when they reached age twenty-one. "George and Easter is already free," Kershaw wrote; "I pronounce them free." He also stipulated that, except for his wife's dower, his executor should sell his property and the money "put on interest by loan" to be distributed equally among his slaves as they gained their freedom. Three years later, Kershaw died. His widow Sally, however, failed to live up to the provisions of her husband's will. Obtaining letters of administration, she kept the slaves' trust funds for herself; she also cut and sold wood on the farm, receiving "large sums" of money and keeping the money "to her own proper uses and purposes." Peter, Sarah and Rachel Robinson (who has married Samuel Redden) are now free as they have attained the age of twenty-one. They, with the seven slaves who are still minors, seek an account of the widow's handling of the estate. Demanding their due share, the petitioners request that Sally Kershaw "and her confederates" pay them "such sum as shall be found due to them."

PAR Number 20482804

State: District of Columbia Year: 1828
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: Eleanor Kirby, widow of John Kirby, seeks to claim a portion of her husband's estate. She charges that George Kirby, nephew of the deceased, "gives out in threats that She Shall be prevented from using or retaining any portion of Said property ... and refuses and omits to set off and apportion her dower in any part of the said real estate," which includes valuable tracts of land as well as a large number of slaves. George Kirby justified his actions by producing "a paper which he stated to be the last will & testament of said deceased." The widow notes, however, that "said pretended last will and testament was not signed by the said John B. Kirby ... but only purported to have his mark, the name being written by some other person." Eleanor Kirby petitions the court for her dower and asks for an injunction to prevent the defendants' attempts "to oust or dispossess your oratrix of any part of said real estate, or to interfere with her use & enjoyment of the Same or of the rents issues and profits thereof."

PAR Number 20482805

State: District of Columbia Year: 1828
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: Thomas Willock, owner of a coffee estate in Cuba, owes a debt of $6,704.25 to James Jenkins Wright and Henry Shelton, who advanced said sum "to aid him [Willock] in the purchase, and stocking with negroes &c, a coffee estate." Learning that Thomas planned to transfer ownership of the estate, including his slaves, to his son William and William's wife Sarah, the petitioners immediately went to Cuba to stop the transfer until the debt is settled. It was agreed that William would sell thirty lots of land in Washington, D.C., on which Sarah would relinquish her dower rights. However, Thomas and Sarah have failed to execute the proper papers. Wright and Shelton ask the court to order the defendants to "execute the said agreement in good faith; ... that lien of your Orators on said Lots may be Established, that the said described Lots may be decreed to be sold, free and disencumbered, of the claim of Dower of the Defendant."

PAR Number 20482901

State: District of Columbia Year: 1829
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: Walter T. Brooke seeks to settle a slave title dispute with his mother, Lucy Brooke, and other heirs of the Walter D. Brooke estate. He claims to be entitled to "certain negro slaves," who were in the possession of Walter D. Brooke's mother, Ann Brooke, now deceased. The slaves are currently held by Lucy Brooke. The petitioner prays that the court will appoint commissioners to divide the slaves according to the interests of the parties.

PAR Number 20484404

State: District of Columbia Year: 1844
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: Samuel Davidson and Mary Chapman seek the settlement of an estate issue regarding the estate of Lewis Davidson, who died intestate. The estate included "some old family servants" which the family was forced to sell in order to make payments on several debts. The petitioners now ask the court to allow them to sell the unimproved real estate so that they may be able to pay some of the considerable debt owed due to the maintenance of the family. They ask that the surplus proceeds be used for the future support and education of the minors.

PAR Number 20486105

State: District of Columbia Year: 1861
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: Jane Elizabeth Martha Mackall seeks a divorce from her husband Brooke Mackall. She states that since the birth of her youngest child in 1857, her husband "began to exhibit evidence in some strange consistencies of conduct, of alienation from her, which have since developed themselves into an almost insane hate." At times, he has deprived the petitioner and nine of her ten children of sufficient funds, food, and shelter. In April 1859, Jane Mackall went to Pennsylvania, where she owned property, to obtain money for her children. She states that she left her infant in the care of her eldest daughter, fearing to leave the infant in the care of the nurse, "a young mulatto woman belonging to the defendant." The defendant, according to Mackall, refused to allow the eldest daughter to sleep in the small flat with her brothers and sisters unless she left the infant with him. When she refused to do so, he directed two of his young male "negro servants" to sleep in the chamber with his daughter. The petitioner avers that her husband was in the habit of beating the children and poisoned her and her children by putting rat poison on their food. In addition, Mackall states that her husband attempted to sell a house servant who was very close to the petitioner and her children. When he was unable to obtain a purchaser, he returned to the house with the slave. Jane Mackall hid the slave in her chambers for several months. She states that when the defendant found the slave, he locked her in his chamber and then sold her to a slave trader. Mackall requests a divorce, alimony, and custody of her children.

PAR Number 20583401

State: Florida Year: 1834
Location: Leon Location Type: County

Abstract: Sarah Whitehurst, widow of Peletiah Whitehurst, asks that commissioners be appointed "to ascertain & set off the dower to which petitioner may ... be entitled." Peletiah Whitehurst died "seized and possessed of" land and "sundry personal property, negroes cattle household & kitchen furniture &c."

PAR Number 20583402

State: Florida Year: 1834
Location: Leon Location Type: County

Abstract: Lydia Lambert, widow of Antonio [Anthony] Lambert, asks the court to appoint commissioners to appraise his estate and establish her dower. Stating that her husband died intestate, Lambert contends that she is entitled to his estate, which includes land and "a large personal property consisting of slaves goods wares and merchandise cattle of various kinds and other personal property."

PAR Number 20583801

State: Florida Year: 1838
Location: Leon Location Type: County

Abstract: Edward and Penina Grant ask the court to grant "as the dower of said Penina one third part of said Eighty acres of Land and one half of said negroes" which belonged to Penina's first husband, the late Durant C. Craft. Craft left an estate that included five slaves and property.

PAR Number 20584402

State: Florida Year: 1844
Location: Jackson Location Type: County

Abstract: Catharine Kenan, the widow of William O. Kenan, who died intestate, asks "that her Dower may be allotted." William Kenan left behind two slaves, Bill and Henry, and other property that is now being administered by John Tanner.

PAR Number 20584411

State: Florida Year: 1844
Location: Leon Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1844, Jesse M. Robinson purchased "a certain negro girl named Judah aged about thirteen years" from Rutha Ann Alberson Burnett and her husband, Samuel W. Burnett and Jesse Atkinson, trustee of said Rutha Ann. Judah remained in Robinson's possession until she was seized by the marshal under an order issued in favor of James Newby against Rutha Ann's late husband, Joseph Alberson, to satisfy debts owed to Newby by Alberson's estate. Robinson seeks an injunction against the sale of Judah and a settlement of the dispute by the court.

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