Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 11086301

State: Mississippi Year: 1863
Location: Clarke Location Type: County

Abstract: Reese Price requests compensation for his slave Anthony, who died from exposure after being impressed to work on fortifications near Columbus, Mississippi. Anthony was a "mechanic", that is a carpenter, and one of only three male and two female adults Price had to work on his farm. Although he owned twenty slaves, he notes that the others are children less than thirteen years of age.

PAR Number 11381305

State: South Carolina Year: 1813
Location: Barnwell Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: John Murphy, approximately fifty-five years old, laments that his two slaves died when rafts carrying timber, which they were conducting for Murphy, were blown from the Ashley River by a wind of "great violence from the Northeast, which drove them to sea." He recounts that "it being in the night they were not able to get any assistance and accordingly perished," adding that "this incident happened on the night of the 11th of December last, when the weather was extremely cold." Murphy notes that said slaves "were seen adrift by a guard Vessel which was stationed near fort Jackson, but who did not attempt" to retrieve them. The petitioner asserts that the value of the timber and rafts to be $500 and that each slave was "worth at least six or seven hundred Dollars." Noting that he is in debt and that "your Honors have always afforded relief to the unfortunate," the petitioner "trusts that you will not in this instance withhold it from him."

PAR Number 11381511

State: South Carolina Year: 1815
Location: Newberry Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Joseph Davenport, a lieutenant in the cavalry, states that he was ordered in March 1814 to begin a three-month tour of duty at Camp Alston. He reports that he took along one of his slaves to assist him "in the discharging of the menial duties." Davenport declares, however, that on the way to said camp Tom "was taken sick and left on the road and shortly after died." The petitioner prays that he be granted compensation for his slave, who was appraised at four hundred dollars and who died "while in the service of the state.”

PAR Number 11381512

State: South Carolina Year: 1815
Location: Newberry Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Joseph Davenport, a lieutenant in the cavalry, states that he was ordered in March 1814 to begin a three-month tour of duty at Camp Alston. He reports that he took along one of his slaves to assist him "in the discharging of the menial duties." Davenport declares, however, that on the way to said camp Tom "was taken sick and left on the road and shortly after died." The petitioner prays that he be granted compensation for his slave, who was appraised at four hundred dollars and who died "while in the service of the state.”

PAR Number 11382001

State: South Carolina Year: 1820
Location: Kershaw Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: William Love, the keeper of Kershaw District jail, represents that he committed "a negro man who called himself Jim" to jail on charges of being a runaway. Love recounts that Jim remained in jail "for the space of one hundred and seventy days" and that during said confinement, though efforts were exerted, "no one appeared to claim the said fellow." He further avers that "whilst in Gaol he became so sick as to require medical aid which your petitioner procured" and "notwithstanding the aid of an able physician and the great care of your petitioner the said negro died." Love therefore prays that he be reimbursed for medicine, food, and burial expenses, which he "is now informed are legal." In the account, one of the expenses included the following: "1818 Dec 26th To Boarding a Negro Man who Calld his name Jim and was Committed to goal as a runaway and never told his right owners name he took sick and died in the Goal To 170 days Board at 25 Cents per day $42.50."

PAR Number 11382002

State: South Carolina Year: 1820
Location: Kershaw Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: William Love, the keeper of Kershaw District jail, represents that he committed "a negro man who called himself Jim" to jail on charges of being a runaway. Love recounts that Jim remained in jail "for the space of one hundred and seventy days" and that during said confinement, though efforts were exerted, "no one appeared to claim the said fellow." He further avers that "whilst in Gaol he became so sick as to require medical aid which your petitioner procured" and "notwithstanding the aid of an able physician and the great care of your petitioner the said negro died." Love therefore prays that he be reimbursed for medicine, food, and burial expenses, which he "is now informed are legal."

PAR Number 11382204

State: South Carolina Year: 1822
Location: Kershaw Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: William Love, the keeper of Kershaw District jail, represents that he committed "a certain negro man named Jim" to jail on charges of being a runaway. Love recounts that Jim "affirmed that he belonged to a Mr James Wade of Georgia to whom your Petitioner wrote requesting him to come and pay charges and take away his slave." The petitioner reports, however, that he "received no answer and the said slave died in goal on the eighteenth day of March last." Love therefore prays that he be granted $44.54 to cover Jim's expenses "during his confinement in goal."

PAR Number 11385202

State: South Carolina Year: 1852
Location: Laurens Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Gabriel South represents that his slave Nathan, "of the value of eight hundred dollars, was convicted of a capital felony, and sentenced to suffer death in February 1852." South declares, however, that said Nathan died previous to the day of execution from a "disease contracted in prison." South is concerned that "in consequence of the death of the slave before the execution, he may not be able to collect the amount of the appraizement by the Court that convicted him (towit) the sum of two hundred dollars, without the aid of this Honorable Body." The petitioner therefore prays "that his case may be considered, and relief granted him in the premises."

PAR Number 11680508

State: Virginia Year: 1805
Location: Mecklenburg Location Type: County

Abstract: Although the petition itself is not available, related documents help reconstruct the prayer of the petitioner, who is assumed to be Thomas Reekes of Mecklenburg County, and the events surrounding his filing suit with the legislature. In 1802, Henry Ashton, a magistrate in Mecklenburg County, issued an arrest warrant for three slaves, Dick, Frank, and Billy, charged with committing "felonious offences." A month after the arrest Frank was taken ill and later died; Dick was found guilty and executed. It appears, from the 1805 affidavit of one Richard Apperson, that Frank and Dick had been charged with plotting to poison Dick's owner, John Gregory; and that several other slaves, presumably including Billy, seemed to have had knowledge of the conspiracy. Dick was convicted but, Frank, while on his way from jail to stand trial, "died a very sudden death," the cause of which "was attributed to be, either the confinement in a wagon or his taking poison" before he left the jail. It appears that sometime between 1802 and 1805 Thomas Reekes, Frank's owner, applied for compensation on the death of his slave in the amount of one hundred thirty pounds.

PAR Number 11680803

State: Virginia Year: 1808
Location: Frederick Location Type: County

Abstract: Samuel Kerfott's slave, Joseph, was tried for attempted rape "on the body of Nancy Mitchell a free white Woman." He was convicted and sentenced to be castrated. A short time after the castration was performed, Joseph died of tetanus. Kerfott seeks compensation for his once healthy, twenty-six year old slave, for whom he claims to have paid 110 pounds "about one week before his Commitment." Contending that he "was obedient to the law" and immediately gave up his slave to meet the court's "fullest inquiry," he turns to the legislature for remedy because there is "no existing law embracing his case." Further elaborating on his reasons for asking for compensation, he avers that "a man whose slave is executed should be paid his value is founded on principles of Justice & sound policy."

PAR Number 11681215

State: Virginia Year: 1812
Location: Campbell Location Type: County

Abstract: Lynch Dilliard requests permission to keep four slaves that he had brought into Virginia from Tennessee. He recounts that he and his wife removed "to the western Country" in 1809 to be near his father-in-law who was gravely ill. Dilliard notes that within a short time his wife's father died and his wife became "dangerously ill her life being despaired of for some time and that his black family was also very sickly some of whom actually died." The petitioner reports that he and his wife have returned to Virginia "with some of the few slaves they had carried with them." Dilliard therefore "earnestly hopes that your Honourable body will grant such relief as in your Justice and wisdom shall be best suited to his case."

PAR Number 11681808

State: Virginia Year: 1818
Location: Culpeper Location Type: County

Abstract: In the winter of 1817, a slave belonging to Charles Huffman stabbed another slave and was arrested by the justice of the peace. While in jail, the slave "became grievously frost-bitten," and later died. The owner seeks compensation.

PAR Number 20183921

State: Alabama Year: 1839
Location: Coosa Location Type: County

Abstract: In December 1836, William Campbell purchased the slave Hardy, thirteen years of age, for $846 from John Dailey Jr. of Henry County, Georgia. As payment, Campbell transferred a note of $896 to Dailey, and Dailey paid Campbell fifty dollars in cash to balance out the transaction. Shortly after the sale, Campbell "discovered that the said negro was wholly unsound and worthless," and in March asked Daily to take back the boy and return the note used to purchase him. But before Dailey could respond, the slave died. The petitioner notes "that he has been greatly injured and endamaged by not having the possession of said note and that by reason of the wrongful acts of said Dailey," and he seeks an injunction against Dailey to prevent him from prosecuting the makers of the note and from collecting the money. In addition, Campbell requests recovery of the note.

PAR Number 20185908

State: Alabama Year: 1859
Location: Lauderdale Location Type: County

Abstract: S. A. M. Wood, administrator of the estate of Augustin Leftwich, deceased, asks to sell an infant, aged two years and four months, whose mother has died. "He further represents that there is no property save the negro child mentioned above" to pay the estate's debts.

PAR Number 20185939

State: Alabama Year: 1859
Location: Dallas Location Type: County

Abstract: Benjamin Woolsey, administrator of the estate of Calvin Norris, deceased, asks the court to record and file his statement regarding the slaves in the estate. He informs the court that five slaves, four of whom are children, have died. A twenty-year-old woman died of puerperal fever and the four children of scarlet fever.

PAR Number 20381401

State: Delaware Year: 1814
Location: Sussex Location Type: County

Abstract: Shortly before Samuel Jackson Bailey's death, his son Samuel Bailey prevailed upon him to "execute a Certain Instrument of writing" giving him nine slaves. After his death, James Badley, in behalf of his minor son Samuel Badley, and Roger Phillips, in behalf of his minor son Samuel Phillips, grandchildren of the deceased, charge that Samuel Bailey obtained the slaves by fraud. The slave owner was ninety years old, they assert, "and for a long time before and at that time under great debility of both Body and Mind, addicted to the intemperate use of Strong drink and almost blind & from such Causes rendered incapable of knowing his own Children, of attending to his business and unable to write his own name." In fact, they claim, Samuel J. Bailey bequeathed them two of the slaves, James and Betty. They ask the court to subpoena Samuel Bailey and Thomas Bailey, another son of the deceased, to answer their complaint.

PAR Number 20480801

State: District of Columbia Year: 1808
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: Andrew Villard seeks to settle a dispute with John Darby regarding compensation for a male slave, James, whom Villard sold to Darby for the sum of ninety-six pounds. James died shortly after the sale. Consequently, Darby brought suit against Villard. Villard prays for an injunction to prevent further proceedings until the matter is settled.

PAR Number 20484709

State: District of Columbia Year: 1847
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: John E. Ricard states that four or five years ago a Negro woman, Louisa Mason, placed her four-month-old son, Richard, under his care. Louisa has since died, and the Justices of the Peace for the Orphans Court bound Richard as an apprentice to Ricard "to learn the art trade and mystery of a Cook." Ricard complains that John Dandney and two other men seized the boy in the night and took him to "the Poor House Department of the Washington Asylum." Ricard seeks a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of Richard Mason.

PAR Number 20484905

State: District of Columbia Year: 1849
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: Gassaway and Lucinda Johnson state that Lucinda's sister, Elinor Taylor, a free born woman of color, died leaving one legitimate child, John, the son of her husband Thomas Taylor, a slave now sold to unknown parts, and two illegitimate daughters. The petitioners assert that the dying wish of Elinor Taylor was that they raise her son John. The Johnsons argue that they have legal right to custody and guardianship. However, Jacob Dodson and his wife, Jane, one of the illegitimate daughters of Elinor Taylor, have forcibly taken John from the custody of the Johnsons. Gassaway and Lucinda Johnson seek a writ of habeas corpus.

PAR Number 20485104

State: District of Columbia Year: 1851
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: Margaret M. Ashton, petitioning by her next friend Thomas Hereford, seeks the resolution of a property dispute. She states that her father, Hugh Steuart, now deceased, gave her a slave, Kate, and her future increase. Since his death, Kate has had five children: James, John, George, Jerry (or Gerry), and Martha. Ashton avers that her mother, Ann Steuart, now deceased, persuaded her to sell John, "who had become very valuable," and to invest the proceeds from the sale in real estate at Greenleaf Point. Ann Steuart then convinced Ashton to sell three more slaves and the property in Greenleaf and invest in several lots in Washington City for the petitioner's sole use and benefit. Ashton states that it was the intention of her mother to convey the ownership of the lots to her or to bequeath them to her in her Last Will and Testament. Ann Steuart, however, died before this was done. Ashton asserts her mother's heirs have contested her ownership of the lots and have persuaded the court to divide the lots amongst them. She asks that the defendants be called to answer her complaint and requests recognition of her right to the property.

PAR Number 20486006

State: District of Columbia Year: 1860
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: Mary Curry, a woman of color, states that her daughter, Catharine, was indentured as an apprentice at the age of six to William Ford, a man of color, "to learn cooking, plain sewing house work and habits of industry," as well as reading and writing. Curry asserts that the purpose of indenturing her daughter to Ford was that she would have the "benefit and advantage of the care and nurture of Susan Ford the wife of the said William Ford." The petitioner informs the court that Susan Ford has since died and that William Ford "is a man of violent & immoral disposition & habits." Curry argues that Ford never executed the indenture papers, and therefore the indenture is null and void. She seeks a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of her daughter, Catharine.

PAR Number 20583201

State: Florida Year: 1832
Location: Gadsden Location Type: County

Abstract: William D. Harrison purchased four slaves from John G. Armstead in 1830 for fourteen hundred dollars. One slave, Edmund, became ill and died, even though he was under the care of a physician. Harrison attempted to pay Armstead one thousand dollars, the total due for the three other slaves, but Armstead refused and initiated a suit against Harrison for the entire amount, plus interest, requiring that the entire sum be paid in a timely manner. Harrison states that the seller knew the slave was "unsound" and therefore asks to be relieved from obligations stemming from the purchase. He asks the court for a "perpetual injunction" against the collection of money for the purchase of the slave boy Edmund.

PAR Number 20680502

State: Georgia Year: 1805
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: David Ingram presents that George Washington Chisolm agreed to mortgage and place in his possession a male slave named Cain as security against a debt of $300. The deal was sealed with "a certain instrument of writing" couched as a sale and dated the 1st of March 1804, whereby Chisolm would be required to pay the debt by the 1st of March 1805 and thus redeem his slave. Should he fail to pay the debt, the sale would stand and Ingram would keep the slave. However, the slave has now died and the debt is still to be paid. Ingram claims he has asked Chisolm to make good on his promise, but Chisolm has refused to do so. Ingram asks for the court's assistance and $450 damages.

PAR Number 20681014

State: Georgia Year: 1810
Location: Oglethorpe Location Type: County

Abstract: John Billups presents that he paid Richard Goolsby $325 for a slave named Jim. Goolsby "did covenant to warrant the said man to be Sound & well free all disasters whatever." However, Jim had previously committed the crime of "breaking open the Brandy house of Charles Hardman & taking there out brandy." After the sale, he was "arraigned before the tribunal appointed by the laws of this state for the trial of Negroe Slaves for offenses of a capital nature," and he was sentenced to hang. Billups argues that, by committing the crime, "said negroe had forfeited his life to the State and destroyed the right & power of the said Richard to convey a good & valid right & title to the said negro." Billups claims $1,000 in damages.

PAR Number 20681507

State: Georgia Year: 1815
Location: Liberty Location Type: County

Abstract: On 1 August 1815, Charles W. Rogers paid Margaret Howell $200 for a slave named Aaron. Rogers states that Howell agreed to "refund the said amount of purchase money ... in case the said negro boy slave should die of the disease he was then sick of." Aaron did die, but Howell refuses to refund the money as promised. Rogers claims damages of $400, and asks that Howell answer his allegations at the next Superior Court session.

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