Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 20185512

State: Alabama Year: 1855
Location: Autauga Location Type: County

Abstract: Samuel P. Smith, administrator of the estate of Robert C. Beatie, deceased, requests permission to sell the estate's real and personal property and pay its debts. At the time of his death, Beatie owned land, livestock, household items, and ten slaves.

PAR Number 20185513

State: Alabama Year: 1855
Location: Dallas Location Type: County

Abstract: Elijah Bell, administrator of the estate of C. M. C. Walker, deceased, requests to sell two slaves. The sale is necessary to settle the debts of the estate.

PAR Number 20185514

State: Alabama Year: 1855
Location: Montgomery Location Type: County

Abstract: Elisha Moore, administrator of the estate of Elijah Moore, requests to sell five slaves--two adults and three children--as well as some personal property to pay the estate's debts and make distribution to heirs. Related documents reveal that Elisha's prayer is granted and that, at the sale, he purchases three of the five slaves. The documents also reveal that by 1858 Elisha Moore has departed this life and the three slaves he had purchased in 1855, as well as another one purchased by Mrs. Mahala Moore, are now in his estate. They are sold again.

PAR Number 20185518

State: Alabama Year: 1855
Location: Dallas Location Type: County

Abstract: W. E. Boyd, administrator of the estate of Malinda J. Rodgers, deceased, requests to sell four slaves and "prays further that said negroes be ordered to be sold for cash as there are many outstanding debts" of the estate.

PAR Number 20185528

State: Alabama Year: 1855
Location: Dallas Location Type: County

Abstract: W. E. Boyd, administrator of the estate of Reubin Harrison, deceased, asks to sell "all the perishable property" and slaves of the estate in order to pay "the overseer's wages and expenses of the plantation for the present year," as well as past debts.

PAR Number 20185536

State: Alabama Year: 1855
Location: Shelby Location Type: County

Abstract: David Overton and his wife Rachel M. Johnson Overton, petition the court for their fair share of the slaves in the estate of Hannah T. Frost Johnson, Rachel's mother and that of her siblings and co-petitioners, Jesse, Isaac, and Francis Johnson. At stake is a family of slaves, headed by Permelia, a slave that was initially given by Hannah Frost to her son-in-law, Moses Johnson. Sometime in 1838, when he had fallen on hard times, Moses Johnson put Permelia back in the possession of his mother-in-law. Hannah Frost, however, died soon in 1839, followed in death shortly thereafter by her daughter, Hannah T. Frost Johnson. In 1842, some arrangement was arrived at whereby Permelia and her children, born over the years, became the property of Hannah T. Frost Johnson's children. At that point, Permelia and her son William went back into the possession of Moses Johnson. In 1845, Moses Johnson, assuming de facto guardianship of his children, sold Permelia and her family, four children at that point, to one Daniel W. Prentice, and applied the proceeds to pay his own debts. The petitioners assert that Moses Johnson had no right to sell the slaves since he had relinquished his title to the slaves as a way to avoid payment of debts he had accrued at the time and thus had placed the slaves in the possession of his mother-in-law, Hannah Frost. Overton asks that Johnson and Prentice account for the slaves' hires and that a guardian be appointed to protect the property interests of the minor heirs.

PAR Number 20185705

State: Alabama Year: 1857
Location: Dallas Location Type: County

Abstract: Hamilton Coleman and James Duke, owners of the mercantile firm of Coleman & Duke, sue Henry and Julia Crocheron for about $250 on "merchandise and articles necessary for family use" ordered but not paid for during 1853, 1854, and 1855. Since the husband is "insolvent" and the wife, Julia, holds a trust estate with "a large number of negroes" and a plantation worth fifty thousand dollars, the merchants ask that the debt be charged "upon the Separate estate of the said Julia." They point out that Edward T. Watts, Julia's trustee, has received requests from the Crocherons to pay the bills but he has refused to do so.

PAR Number 20185707

State: Alabama Year: 1857
Location: Lowndes Location Type: County

Abstract: During the early 1830s, John J. Funchess possessed "a small estate" worth about twenty-five hundred dollars which included a tract of land he had contracted to purchase and three slaves -- a woman, a boy, and "a very old man of little or no value." When John Funchess died intestate in 1834 or 1835, his widow Elenor took possession of "the entire Estate managed and controlled the property and converted all the property of the Estate to her own use." At her husband's death, Elenor had three "infants of tender years." No administrator was appointed to control the estate and Elenor took over its management. She hired out the slaves, bought and sold various items, and rescinded her husband's contract to buy the land. She later married one William Smith. By 1853, Elenor only has one surviving child, a girl named Martha, who around 1853 married one William Conaghy. Around that time, William Conaghy was appointed administrator of his late father-in-law's estate, but resigned within a few months without having rendered an account. The petitioner, Thomas Williams, was then appointed administrator de bonis non. He was given possession of one of the slaves, Abram, for whom he received hiring wages and whom he later sold. However, Williams was forced to sue Elenor and her new husband, William Smith, "for the conversion of Patience," another of the three slaves in the estate. He won a judgment of $1,416.60, but was unable to collect on it, because Elenor and William Smith were reported to be insolvent and with no property. Funchess seeks an injunction against the Smiths to restrain them from ever claiming their share of the estate of the late John Funchess, and prays that their share be instead granted to him.

PAR Number 20185718

State: Alabama Year: 1857
Location: Tallapoosa Location Type: County

Abstract: Mary Turner, by her next friend Perry D. Yancy, seeks a divorce from her husband Abner D. Turner. During the summer of 1853, she testifies, he attempted to "smother her with Tobacco smoke," knocked her down "with violence," gave her a venereal disease, and "whipped her severely with a Leather strop, with a wooden handle such as was used to correct disobedient slaves." This "cruel and inhuman" treatment came despite the fact that she was pregnant "with her first and only child, the fruit of said marriage, now a little Girl about four years old." In September 1853, he left for the west and she has not seen him since.

PAR Number 20185727

State: Alabama Year: 1857
Location: Dallas Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1840, Thomas Watts Sr. died leaving "a large number of Negro Slaves and a plantation of the value of Fifty Thousand Dollars" to his daughter Julia, who married Henry Crocheron of Mobile in 1841. At the time of the marriage, Crocheron was insolvent and owned "no property in his own right," and Julia's estate was for her "sole and separate use." In 1855, the couple signed a note for $484.06 with the firm of Boykin, McRae, and Foster, payable on 1 January 1857. When the note became overdue, the surviving partners in the company sue the Crocherons, asking that "the Separate estate of the said Julia A Crocheron May be Charged with the payment of the Notes."

PAR Number 20185728

State: Alabama Year: 1857
Location: Dallas Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1840, Thomas Watts Sr. died leaving "a large number of negro Slaves and a plantation of the value of Fifty Thousand Dollars" to his daughter Julia, who married Henry Crocheron of Mobile in 1841. At the time of the marriage, Crocheron was insolvent and owned "no property in his own right," and Julia's estate was for her "sole and Separate use." On 6 December 1855, the Crocherons signed a promissory note for $324.72 with John A. Lodor, payable on 1 January 1856. The note was for "money advanced" to "pay off satisfy and discharge Sundry notes and accounts." When the note became overdue, Lodor sues arguing that Julia has a separate estate of "land negroes money."

PAR Number 20185813

State: Alabama Year: 1858
Location: Mobile Location Type: County

Abstract: John H. Woodcock, physician, sues Peacham Alford and his wife E. H. Alford for payment of services and medicines rendered to them and to their slaves. Woodcock informs the court that Peacham is insolvent, but E. H. has her own separate estate which includes slaves and personal property. He asks the court to allow him to attach the debt to a mulatto woman named Noah or Naomie and a carriage valued at about $700. Woodcock prays that the court will allow him to seize this property to satisfy his debt.

PAR Number 20185836

State: Alabama Year: 1858
Location: Shelby Location Type: County

Abstract: Margarett A. Campbell informs the court that her second husband, John C. Campbell, is a man of intemperant habit who had no "estate" and many debts at the time of their 1848 marriage, whereas she owned substantial property. In 1853, in order to prevent him or his creditors from seizing her holdings, Margarett deeded most of her estate, including a number of slaves, to her only son who lived in Texas, reserving to herself the right of use during her lifetime. She asserts that the deed was executed with her husband's consent, for which the latter received $1,500. She then describes how her husband, a physician unable to practice his trade on account of his intemperant habits, took her from town to town as he engaged in various business ventures. In Columbiana, for example, he rented a tavern at the head of the Alabama and Tennessee River Rail Road, which proved to be quite profitable, although she did not reap any of its benefits. Her husband also hired out several of her slaves, and rented a house she owned in Selma. She charges that her husband's goal is "to convert as much of complainants said separate estate to his own use" as possible. Through her next friend and son John C. Tomlinson, Margarett Campbell seeks a divorce. She also asks that her husband be forced to account for the rents and profits he made using her property, and that he be enjoined from further intermeddling with her separate estate "in any way."

PAR Number 20185840

State: Alabama Year: 1858
Location: Tallapoosa Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1845, Joshua Paulk married Martha Billingshea, who, nearly a decade later, received a gift from her father of three slaves: Jenny, age twenty-two, Lucy, age thirteen, Nerva, age nine. The slaves were for "her sole and separate use and benefit" during her life and following her death they were to descend to her children. Her husband, Martha writes, "has been very unsuccessful in business and very improvident." The small patrimony left by his father "has been ruinously invested and lost by him in an unsuccessful mercantile business." Martha Paulk complains that her three slaves have been confiscated by the sheriff to pay her husband's debts. Although he is the trustee of her property he refuses to "interpose a claim at Law for her interest." Martha sues her husband, and asks for an injunction against various merchants to prevent the sale of her slaves.

PAR Number 20186022

State: Alabama Year: 1860
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1857, Claiborne Carter sold Eliza A. Wainright a female slave for six hundred dollars, accepting as payment a promissory note signed by Eliza and endorsed by her husband Luck Wainright. The note has gone unpaid, and he has learned that Eliza sold the slave for a thousand dollars, so Carter sues Eliza Wainright. "Your orator further shows that the separate estate of said Eliza consists of a tract of land near old St. Stephens in the County of Washington in this State," Carter wrote, "which she cultivates as her plantation together with a number of slaves owned by her and who are employed in and about the cultivation of said plantation."

PAR Number 20186105

State: Alabama Year: 1861
Location: Autauga Location Type: County

Abstract: Allen Sims, executor of the will of deceased slave owner William Betsell, asks the court to establish the will as a valid instrument for the distribution of property. A related document reveals that Allen Sims was back in court several years later to declare that, "owing to the fact of the emancipation of the slaves belonging to the estate of said Betsell and by reason of the losses thereto during the war," the estate is now insolvent.

PAR Number 20186309

State: Alabama Year: 1863
Location: Lauderdale Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1861, George G. Armistead signed a thirty-thousand-dollar security bond in behalf of James B. and Young A. Gray, administrators of the estate of Elizabeth Childress, deceased. Now, Armistead asserts, the Grays are fighting between themselves, are insolvent, and Young Gray has left the state. Several estate slaves are imprisoned "at expense." He asks to be discharged from his responsibility; otherwise, he contends, he will sustain a substantial loss. Accounts of Elizabeth Childress with James B. Gray reveal hiring rates for two slaves, Lucinda and Isaac.

PAR Number 20186310

State: Alabama Year: 1863
Location: Mobile Location Type: County

Abstract: Following Thomas Baird's death, several half-brothers and a half-sister, Elizabeth Robinson, divided his eleven slaves among themselves, believing that the deceased left no will. Preston Baird, Thomas's full brother, however, found a will, and now petitions to claim his share of the inheritance, contending that Thomas "gave all his property to your orator, Except one hundred Dollars to be paid Each of his Brothers & Said Elizabeth." The petitioner is especially concerned about the slaves Jacob and Harriett, valued at about three thousand dollars "at present prices, in present Currency," who "fell to" Elizabeth Robinson. Preston "has been informed by direct testimony" that said Elizabeth plans to sell them or "run said negroes out of this state." He asks that the two slaves be seized and held until his brother's will is probated.

PAR Number 20186430

State: Alabama Year: 1864
Location: Lowndes Location Type: County

Abstract: Benjamin H. Craig, administrator of the estate of John H. Walker, deceased, represents that he "came into the possession of no money to pay the debts of said estate, nor has he any means to pay said debts ... unless he should sell property for that purpose." Believing that "it will be most to the interest of said estate to sell slaves, (three in number and least valuable to said estate)," Craig prays that "such sale be ordered accordingly."

PAR Number 20186434

State: Alabama Year: 1864
Location: Limestone Location Type: County

Abstract: William H. Walker, administrator of the estate of Tennessee resident William Brown, states that there is not enough personal property to satisfy the debts of the estate, and he asks the court's permission to sell real estate belonging to the estate. Brown died in 1862 possessed of one hundred forty-seven slaves, of which "65 or 70 [were] children not old enough to work -- There were 45 or 50 field hands," and considerable property, primarily agricultural products. However, most of the property was destroyed, run off, or consumed by either the Confederate forces which occupied the deceased's land and conscripted some of his slaves to be teamsters, or the Federal forces, accompanied by "contraband negroes," former slaves who followed the Union army, which occupied the lands for a period of time.

PAR Number 20186507

State: Alabama Year: 1865
Location: Lowndes Location Type: County

Abstract: Benjamin H. Craig, administrator of the estate of John H. Walker, deceased, submits his annual settlement of the estate. He refers to an earlier petition in which he requested the sale of some "worthless negroes" in order to pay debts. Only one slave was sold, he explains, and the proceeds went to pay taxes imposed by the Confederate government. Craig complains that in 1864 an abundant crop was largely destroyed by an "early rise in the Alabama river." Further, the present crop was destroyed when the "United States forces passing by the plantation on their way to Montgomery destroyed almost every thing on the plantation so that now the estate is wholly insolvent nothing being left but the land." Craig prays that the court will allow him to be released from his duties as administrator after an examination of his account.

PAR Number 20186601

State: Alabama Year: 1866
Location: Henry Location Type: County

Abstract: Eugenia Atwell seeks a divorce, arguing that her husband, James Atwell, mismanaged their property, including five slaves, and abandoned her vowing he would never return. She charges her husband with "the grossest dissipation & prodigality," and says that the only "reason for his unnatural conduct" was her refusal to sacrifice "two Slaves given to her by her Father." She also asks for custody of their two children.

PAR Number 20186603

State: Alabama Year: 1866
Location: Henry Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1858, at the time of her marriage to Edward J. Ward, Eliza possessed in her own right promissory notes worth $1,800; after her marriage, her husband collected the debts, and bought five hundred acres of land. In 1862, Edward died, possessed of a large estate in land and slaves, which was worth twenty-thousand dollars and amply sufficient to discharge all his debts as well as provide the widow with an "ample legacy." In 1865, however, following emancipation of the slaves at the end of the war, Edward J. Ward's estate became insolvent unless his lands could be used to pay his debts. Owing "to the supposed & probable insolvency of said testators Estate, the Complication of the same in the probate Court of Said County, and her individual interest conflicting with those of the creditors," Eliza resigned as administratrix of her husband's estate. She asks for "an equitable portion of said lands."

PAR Number 20186604

State: Alabama Year: 1866
Location: Perry Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1857, Mary Pool possessed a small estate, consisting of "Negroes and Some Money" given to her by her father. When she married Anderson J. Pool, a man of substantial wealth, she gave up title to her slaves but in return received a deed to a tract of land near Marion, purchased by her husband from Henry W. Nave, so that she would have a home even if her husband's fortunes changed. During the war, Mary moved a house from one of her husband's plantations to the land and, with the "labor of herself and servants," rebuilt it. She also built fences, cleared land, and planted ornamental shrubbery, substantially enhancing the value of the property. As a "consequence of the emancipation of the slaves in the Southern States," Mary explains, her husband lost his great fortune and went heavily into debt, owing creditors more than one hundred thousand dollars. Some of his creditors are now levying attachments on her real estate, and planning to sell her property to pay his debts. She asks the court to protect her property rights.

PAR Number 20186606

State: Alabama Year: 1866
Location: Dallas Location Type: County

Abstract: Elizabeth R. Golson, administratrix of the estate of her late husband, Louis P. Golson, asks the court to settle the affairs of the estate. The slaves were "manumitted by the United States Govt & the State of Alabama" and all other property of the estate was sold under court order. Of course, she adds, the Confederate States Treasury Notes are of no value.

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