Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 11681606

State: Virginia Year: 1816
Location: Dinwiddie Location Type: County

Abstract: Having purchased land in Virginia and moved to the state "with the bona fide intention of remaining therein," Patrick McGruder "finds himself so unpleasantly situated by the application of an act passed" by the legislature in 1811 "prohibiting the further importation of slaves." He explains that he and his children are the owners of "Sundry Domestic Servants" who are "particularly attached to himself." He believes that the law seeks only to prevent the importation of slaves for the purpose of speculation and should not apply to people such as himself whose only intention is to become citizens of the state. The slaves include William and Isaac, Milley and her three children, Jane, Nicholas, and another William, belonging to himself, a slave named Landy belonging to his son Napolian, and three others--a mother and two children--belonging to his daughter Adelina. Patrick McGruder seeks passage of an act that will authorize him to bring the slaves to Virginia.

PAR Number 11681612

State: Virginia Year: 1816
Location: Charles City

Abstract: Ann H. Lee, petitioning for herself and on behalf of her four minor children, and Bernard M. Carter, trustee, petition the legislature to obtain permission to sell the slaves in the trust estate held by Ann and her children. Ann H. Lee informs the court that she considers slaves "a specie of property extremely inconvenient and disagreeable," because, as a town resident, she does not "possess any farm, whereon such property is usually employed." She finds the ownership of slaves "absolutely precarious, on account of the facility of their Elopement" and the "hiring of said slaves is productive of very disagreable circumstances." Furthermore, the females have not proved to be productive and the males, representing "one half of the whole" are bound to diminish in value in proportion as they advance towards that period when" her children "may reasonably expect to come to" their possession. The trust estate was created by the last will and testament of Ann's sister, Mildred W. Carter. Mildred had inherited the slaves from their father, Charles Carter, Esquire.

PAR Number 11683812

State: Virginia Year: 1838
Location: Dinwiddie Location Type: County

Abstract: Sarah W. Harper, the widow of William H. T. Harper and the guardian of her six minor children, represents that her late husband held fourteen slaves at the time of his death. She further states that "a division of the negroes has been lately made under a decree of the County Court of Dinwiddie, in which seven negroes to wit one man, two women and four children have been assigned to her as dower in said slaves ... and to her children one negro each.” Harper notes that her one married daughter "has removed to the State of Missouri, and her oldest son ... who is now nearly grown, has determined to emigrate to that state himself, and only awaits the result of the present Petition with the hope of carrying his mother and younger brothers and Sisters with him." The petitioner therefore prays "that your honourable body will pass a law authorizing her to remove the slaves which have been assigned to her as Dower in her Husbands Estate, and to carry with her her infant children and their negroes &c to the said State of Missouri without the forfeit of her Dower in said slaves: where situated in a more fertile and plentifull country, and in the vicinity of her elder children and friends, she hopes to be able materially to benefit her younger children, as well as to promote her own, and their happiness and comfort."

PAR Number 11684301

State: Virginia Year: 1843
Location: King and Queen Location Type: County

Abstract: Edward S. Acree, the guardian of Pyke M., Enoch M., and Mary E. Clayton, minor children of Peter Clayton, who died about 1833, asks that the land or slaves the children inherited from their grandmother, Elizabeth Fox, be sold. The estate of Peter Clayton is insolvent and the only property owned by the children is what was left to them by their grandmother, which is "totally inadequate to their support." The petitioner states that the slaves in the estate consist of Caroline and her two children, who hired out in 1843 for "food and clothing only" and who in a few years will become "chargeable." The land consists of about fifty acres and can rent for only $18 a year. The Overseers of the Poor are unwilling to levy anything to support the children until after the property had been sold, the petitioner states.

PAR Number 11684603

State: Virginia Year: 1846
Location: Halifax Location Type: County

Abstract: Thomas Green represents that Hannah Green bequeathed to his thirteen-year-old son William a legacy of five hundred dollars. He reveals, however, that "it has been ascertained that her negro slaves will have to be sold to raise said pecuniary legacies." Green recounts that the said Hannah "was extremely averse to the sale of her negroes, & feels confident that she would have provided against such a contingency, could she have thought of its necessity." The petitioner further states that the said William "is desirous that his legacy aforesaid ... should be vested for him in such of the young slaves aforesaid of his aunt Hannahs Estate, as would be likely to increase to value." Believing that "such investment would be as judicious and safe for him, as any other, and would certainly be far more agreeable to his feelings and the wishes of his deceased aunt," the petitioner prays the said William receive certain slaves "in lieu of the legacy aforesaid, in the same manner as if the said slaves so purchased had been bequeathed directly to him." He "believes that the said negro women may be bought at a very reasonable price, if not as less than their real value."

PAR Number 11685008

State: Virginia Year: 1850
Location: Surry Location Type: County

Abstract: John N. Land died intestate. On behalf of his widow, Clara, and children, Mary E. and John Robert, the administrator of his estate and guardian of his children, James A. Temple, asks the legislature to sell 485 acres, a tavern, and various buildings, worth about $6,000, rather than his fourteen slaves. The sale is needed to pay off debts. His wards would greatly benefit if they could keep the slaves.

PAR Number 20182701

State: Alabama Year: 1827
Location: Autauga Location Type: County

Abstract: Peter Wyatt purchased "a negro man slave named David" from Moses Greer in July 1822, in exchange for a note for $551.02, from his brother William Wyatt, along with a horse, saddle and bridle valued at $100. The petitioner states that he "had said negro only a few days before he ran away stole some property and in attempting to escape was shot at and hit -- after apprehension in a very few days he again ran away -- And again in the same manner a third time." The petitioner states that "he did not get more than about one weeks service from said negro in consequence of his running away." During David's third attempt at absconding, he committed a robbery and "was taken up, tried & hanged for the crime in May or June 1823." In the petitioner's mind, the slave's death "is fairly and alone attributable to his bad character," and he states that David "was sent or run from the State of Georgia on account of his bad character and that this was known to Greer previous to sale." In addition, the petitioner discloses that Moses Campbell has sued Greer for payment of the note tendered in the purchase of David and Campbell received from the court an $861 judgment, which remains unpaid. The petitioner charges that Greer and Campbell are attempting to defraud him and he asks the court to enjoin them from collecting the debt, and enjoin his brother, William, from paying it, until the court can hear the case. Wyatt, noting that "he has never received one cent compensation for the loss of the negro," also seeks said compensation along with a $100 reimbursement of the court costs of defending David's robbery charge.

PAR Number 20183203

State: Alabama Year: 1832
Location: Talladega Location Type: County

Abstract: Drusilla McMeans and her children claim ownership of a female slave and her six children. Becky was bequeathed to Drusilla by her father Rheuben Allen as a life estate. In his will, dated 5 March 1812, Allen gave "one negro woman with her increase named Becky which negro has heretofore been loaned to my daughter Drusilla to be hers during her natural life and after her death to be equally divided between her children the heirs of her body." Because Drusilla "was at the time of the said bequeath covert of Isaac McMeans," her husband took possession of the slaves when Allen died. The McMeans family moved to Alabama, taking with them Becky and children. The petitioners state that at present Isaac McMeans is "much involved in debt and that he is probably wholly insolvent." They point out that his creditors have obtained judgments against him, and "have levied an execution on all the said Negroes slaves and will proceed to sell the same unless restrained by the injunction of Your Honor." The petitioners insist that "the said Negroes are the seperate property of your Oratrix Drusilla and after her death of your other Orators jointly," yet the defendants pretend that the terms of the will stipulate that Isaac McMeans has a vested interest in the slaves. The petitioners therefore seek an injunction to prevent a sale of the slaves and ask that Hubbell Pierce be appointed as trustee. They also pray that the court will award a writ of subpoena directing the defendants to answer the bill of complaint. In her amended petition, Drusilla McMeans informs the court that she and her husband had in fact made a gift of the slaves to their children before the husband got involved in debt.

PAR Number 20183401

State: Alabama Year: 1834
Location: Madison Location Type: County

Abstract: Thomas Lowry, guardian of William E. Gardner, states that twenty years ago Abner Eason died in Bertie County, North Carolina, bequeathing "a life interest" in two slaves, Kate and Harry, and Kate's future issue to his daughter, Penelope Gardner, and "that at her decease the same should belong to her heir." In 1832 when Penelope died, Kate's increase amounted to eleven children and grandchildren, who, according to the provisions in Eason's will, descended to Penelope's only son, William E. Gardner. Lowry asserts that William Daughtry, administrator of the estate and Penelope's second husband, and Nathan Smith, William Gardner's guardian at the time, contrived to deprive William E. Gardner of his rightful inheritance by dividing the slaves among themselves. Lowry contends that Daughtry, who received six slaves, sold Harry to William Vesey and has attempted to sell the other slaves and has "made preparation to remove" some of the slaves "to parts unknown with a view of preventing the recovery of them for said Ward, and that for that purpose he has manacles in readiness to force them away contrary to their will also, they being anxious to be restored to their rightful Master." Since the partition, the slave Hester has died in Daughtry's possession. Lowry asks the court to nullify the partition and the sale and requests that the slaves be returned to the possession of his ward. In addition, he asks Daughtry and Vesey to account for and pay to his ward for the hiring out of the slaves.

PAR Number 20183505

State: Alabama Year: 1835
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1822, Turner Christian of Charles County, Virginia, gave the following slaves to his grandchildren, the petitioners: Henry, Suggy and her son, William, and Hannah and her children Charles, Suckey, Fanny, and Marsha. The grandchildren moved with their father, Tyler Hardyman, and his wife, Catherine, to Jefferson County, Alabama. In 1824, Hardyman, "surrounded by perplexing pecuniary difficulties & harassing embarrassments," sold Suggy and her children, William and Crespy, the property of his children, conveyed to them by their grandfather, "whilst they were all tender minority incapable of self protection strangers in a strange land," to Mark Harris. Octavius Spencer then purchased Suggy and her son, Jack, described by the petitioners as possessing "great value & capable of performing much service," from the estate sale of John Riley, who had purchased them from Harris. The petitioners aver that Hardyman disposed of all of their property in order to pay his debts, "stripping them of their all and have caused them to feel poverty in all its bitterness which abides with them still," leaving them in "depressed circumstances." They ask the court to nullify the sale of the slaves and recognize their rightful ownership. In addition, the petitioners argue that the slaves are "family negroes the gift of their Grandfather," having "long resided with him and with them in their father's family." They further state that they "have all that personal regard for them that is commonly felt & entertained for property of this kind by all families possessing it and it is now from motives of the highest humanity & benevolence to the negroes themselves that" they seek the recovery of the slaves. The petitioners also request compensation for the slaves' hire and an injunction preventing Spencer from selling the slaves beyond the jurisdiction of the court.

PAR Number 20183506

State: Alabama Year: 1835
Location: Shelby Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1822, Turner Christian of Charles County, Virginia, gave the following slaves to his grandchildren, the petitioners: Suggy, William, Hannah and her children Charles, Suckey, Fanny, and Marsha. Shortly thereafter the petitioners moved with their father, Tyler Hardyman and his wife, Catherine, to Jefferson County, Alabama. In 1824, Hardyman, claiming ownership of the slaves, sold Suggy, William, and Creasey, Suggy's daughter born after execution of the deed of gift, to Mark Harris. Harris then sold Creasey to John Riley. After Riley's death, Elizabeth Riley, his mother, took possession of Creasey. The petitioners have already filed a bill for the recovery of Suggy and her children from one Octavius Spencer. They now sue Elizabeth Riley for the recovery of Creasey. The petitioners assert that Hardyman has disposed of all of their property in order to pay his debts, leaving them in "depressed circumstances." They ask the court to nullify the sale of the slave and recognize their rightful ownership. In addition, the petitioners argue that the slave is a "family negro" in that she belonged to their grandfather and their father. They further state that they "have all that persona[l] regard that is commonly felt and entertained for property of this kind by all familys possessing it is now from motives of the highest humanity and benevolence to the negroes herself that" they seek the recovery of the slave. The petitioners also request compensation for the slave's hire and an injunction preventing Riley from selling the slave beyond the jurisdiction of the court.

PAR Number 20183507

State: Alabama Year: 1835
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1822, Turner Christian of Charles County, Virginia, gave the following slaves to his grandchildren, the petitioners: Henry, Suggy, William, and Hannah and her children--Charles, Suckey, Fanny and Marsha. Shortly thereafter, the petitioners moved with their father, Tyler Hardyman, and his wife, Catherine, to Jefferson County, Alabama. In 1827, Tyler Hardyman sold Hannah, and two of her children, Joe and Betsy, born after the deed of gift to the petitioners, to William R. Saddler. Saddler died, and Hannah passed into the possession of his son, William Saddler of Franklin County. Joe, age ten, and Betsy, age twelve, passed into the possession of another son, Isaac Saddler. Hannah has since had three more children, also now held by William Saddler. The petitioners assert that Hardyman has disposed of all of their property in order to pay his debts, leaving them in "depressed circumstances." The petitioners ask the court to validate their original claim to ownership of the slaves and nullify subsequent sales. In addition, the petitioners argue that since these slaves are "family negroes," they "have all that personal regard for them that is commonly felt and entertained for property of this kind by all families possessing it and it is now from motives of the highest humanity & benevolence to the negroes themselves" that the petitioners seek the recovery of them. The petitioners also request compensation for the slaves' hire and an injunction preventing Saddler from selling the slaves beyond the jurisdiction of the court.

PAR Number 20183602

State: Alabama Year: 1836
Location: Dallas Location Type: County

Abstract: William T. Minter, guardian of George J. and Sarah R. Bowie, minor heirs of John Bowie seeks to recover slaves belonging to his wards. Minter charges that George Bowie, former guardian of his wards and their uncle, spent "about four thousand and five hundred dollars" on the purchase "of negroes for the benefit of the heirs aforesaid." Bowie "has repeatedly said the negroes were bought with the money of his wards and for their use and benefit," says Minter, but has "employed them in his own plantation and for his own benefit without once accounting to the wards." Minter seeks recovery of the slaves and compensation for their hire while in George Bowie's possession.

PAR Number 20183701

State: Alabama Year: 1837
Location: Lawrence Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1827, Bennett Wood Sr. conveyed six slaves in trust to Bennett Wood Jr. for use by Anna Thompson (daughter of Bennett Wood Sr.) and her children during her lifetime. Wood specified "at the death of said Anna said negroes and their increase should be taken by said Trustee and be equally divided between the female Children of said Anna." In addition, he forbade the trustee to sell any of the slaves or their offspring. Joseph Trotter and Samuel Baker, merchants, assert that they sold Thompson over nine hundred dollars in merchandise on credit, believing that the hire of the slaves would be sufficient to make the required payments. They charge, here, that Wood failed to keep an accurate account of the hire of the slaves and refused to pay the debt. The petitioners further state that Thompson died two years ago and that the slaves were divided among her heirs. Trotter and Baker seek an account of the estate and payment of the debt.

PAR Number 20183705

State: Alabama Year: 1837
Location: Dallas Location Type: County

Abstract: In a prior petition, William Minter charged that George Bowie, former guardian of Sarah R. and George J. Bowie, retained slaves belonging to the wards and refused to return them or pay for their hire. Minter, the present guardian, now states that the bond with which Bowie secured his guardianship was destroyed when the Monroe County Courthouse was consumed by fire in 1833. The petitioner asserts that Bowie, who still retains the slaves, "might easely remove said property from the jurisdiction" of the court. He seeks an order directing Bowie to secure the slaves with a sufficient bond while the court renders its decision.

PAR Number 20183804

State: Alabama Year: 1838
Location: Lowndes Location Type: County

Abstract: John N. Smith seeks to settle a title dispute involving four slaves purchased by him in 1836 from Thomas W. Pastell. The petitioner, "not having any reason to suspect a fraudulent intent" purchased the slaves for $4800. Shortly after the sale, Smith discovered that the slaves belonged to Charles Williams in trust for a Mrs. Mary W. Pastell and her children. Smith refuses to pay the balance of the debt for the slaves until he receives legal title. He charges that Thomas Pastell and Mary Pastell gave him an invalid deed in order to obtain payment. Now Mary Pastell has initiated a suit against Smith to force payment of the debt. Smith seeks an injunction preventing her from further prosecuting her suit. In addition, he asks the court to nullify the debt until he receives a lawful title to the slaves.

PAR Number 20183805

State: Alabama Year: 1838
Location: Madison Location Type: County

Abstract: William E. Gardner petitions through his guardian, Richard B. Purdom, for the return of a slave, Harry, and compensation for his hire while in the possession of Nathan Smith and William Vesey. Gardner states that in 1819, Penelope Gardner inherited from her father Abner Eason of Bertie County, North Carolina, "a certain negro man slave named Harry to hold during her life and after her death to go to her child or children." William Gardner charges that after his mother's death in 1832, William Dougherty, Penelope's second husband and administrator of her estate, conspired with Nathan Smith, his court-appointed guardian, to cheat and defraud him out of his rightful legacy. The court "in ignorance of the facts thus suppressed," gave Harry to the defendant Dougherty, who in turn sold him to Smith "for the sum of three hundred dollars, about one half of his then value." In July 1832, Smith sold the slave to William Vesey. Gardner asks that Smith's settlement of his guardianship accounts be reopened and "that said Harry be restored to him," along with $125 per year as compensation for his hire.

PAR Number 20183923

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

Abstract: Elizabeth Maxey seeks to add three more defendants to her original petition dated 6 March 1839. In the intervening six months, Maxey points out, two of the twelve "family negroes" have been sold under false pretenses. Maxey asserts that Theophilus Lacy "is now in possession of two of said negroes, namely, Caroline & Sam, claiming to own them." Lacy acquired the slaves "under a pretended purchase" from William Wilson and Robert Thompson. Wilson and Thompson, in turn, had each separately acquired one slave "under a pretended purchase at Sheriff's sale," where the slaves were sold "as the property of said William J. Gilbert." Maxey assures the court that William J. Gilbert "never had any interest in either of said negroes, except as is stated in her Original bill." She asks that Wilson, Thompson, and Lacy be subpoenaed and the court grant her "just & equitable" relief.

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 20184405

State: Alabama Year: 1844
Location: Madison Location Type: County

Abstract: Alcuin Eason, guardian of his half-sister, minor Ann L. Eason, asks the court to confirm the purchase of a slave named Horace and permission to purchase other slaves for the benefit of his ward. Ann owns Horace's wife, Eason explains, and when it was learned that the slave was about to be sent to North Carolina he made the purchase. Horace is "young & extremely valuable by reason of his good health, Sound condition, great Strength and many good qualities." The price of six hundred dollars "was at the time of purchase & is now a small sum for so valuable a Slave."

PAR Number 20184411

State: Alabama Year: 1844
Location: Sumter Location Type: County

Abstract: Elizabeth Greene asks the court to settle the estate of her husband, Zachius Greene, deceased. She writes that prior to their marriage in 1827 the couple agreed "that as each one had brought into the matrimonial union about an equal share of property ..., that upon the death of each other the survivor was to be entitled to one half the estate left," and that the lawful heirs "should be entitled to the other half." Zachius died on 11 August 1844. The petitioner charges that Samuel Robert Grigsby, the son of Zachius's daughter by a previous marriage, took advantage of Zachius's failing memory and induced him to draw up deeds of gift giving Samuel and his siblings "an undue and unreasonable share of his property." Elizabeth states that she never saw these "pretended" deeds, designed "in fraud and with the intent to defeat her of her just marital rights," until Samuel M. Grigsby, the guardian of his children, showed them to her after her husband's death. The petitioner points out that he "now has the slaves in his possession," and intends to disburse a portion of them to Mississippi and keep a portion "for the use & benefit of his said children." Elizabeth Greene asks the sheriff to take the slaves into custody until the defendants post bond, and that if they should default on such security, return the slaves to her until the suit is resolved.

PAR Number 20184503

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

Abstract: In February 1840, Peter Williamson and Arthur F. Williamson became farming partners, renting a plantation from Edmund Tatum on the Alabama River in Lowndes County. They agreed to divide the profits in proportion to the number of slaves each provided (Peter nine and Arthur five) and that Peter's overseer Richard Clanton would work the hands. Before the crop was harvested, Arthur complained that Peter was indulging "a negro woman in a state of pregnancy ... although the said negro was employed in the service of the family during the time she was withdrawn from the labours of the plantation." To satisfy his partner, Peter agreed to split that year's cotton profits of $1,178.19 down the middle. The two had another dispute over Peter's purchase of "a negro boy named Dick." The partnership continued, however, but in 1845 Peter filed suit, charging, among other things, that Arthur failed to produce an account of profits from the 1843 cotton crop, and refused to pay his share of the bills. The dispute also involved a debt due by Arthur for the hire, in the year 1839, of a slave belonging to William Tatum, a minor, who was Peter's stepson and for whom Peter was guardian.

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 20184702

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

Abstract: In 1843, Arnett W. Harrell placed five slaves in trust with Augustus Brooks for the children of the late John F. Everitt. The gift was made "in consideration of the friendship and kindness" Arnett "had experienced at the hands of" John Everitt during his lifetime. The trust also contained real estate and the trustee was instructed to "husband said property for the sole use and benefit" of the children, John Fannin Everitt and his siblings, Margaret, Helen, and Fanny. In 1844, his widow, Ann B. Everitt, died leaving a separate estate, including Slade's Plantation in Washington County and ten slaves. When Brooks resigned and John Rolston was appointed trustee. Now John Fannin Everitt explains that the estate "is not sufficient to maintain and educate him and his sisters in a proper and respectable Manner." He asks that Rolston be removed from his "office of guardian & trustee," that the estate be divided among the minor heirs, and that guardians be appointed for each of them. John Fannin Everitt points out that the slaves are badly managed and, as a result, are insubordinate, and addicted to running away and intemperance.

PAR Number 20184703

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

Abstract: In 1832, George Williamson created a deed of trust for his grandchildren. The trust included a slave family--Isaac age forty and Rachel his wife age thirty-five and Rachel's three children: Esau, a boy six, Margaret age three, and Jacob age six. William Bettis was named as trustee. Emily Howell, one of the granddaughters, explains that the trustee is now dead, as is her grandfather. She asks that Lucy Arrington, wife of Dr. Joseph Arrington and one of Williamson's grandchildren, be allowed to "claim an interest in said trust property," and that Elum Philips be appointed as trustee.

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