Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 20883594

State: Louisiana Year: 1835
Location: Pointe Coupee Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Benjamin Poydras de la Lande presents to the court that his uncle, the late Julien Poydras, directed in his last will and testament that all the slaves left "at the time of his death" be considered attached to "one or the other of his several plantations" and sold with that plantation. He further stipulated that any purchaser should bind himself, as well as his heirs and assignees, to liberate all the slaves twenty-five years after the sale and to allow those over the age of sixty when freed to remain on the plantation and be cared for, and to provide them with an annual stipend without requiring any work. Benjamim Poydras explains that, since his uncle's death in 1824, one of the plantations has changed hands several times and the various owners have until now met their obligations. However, the current owner, William Taylor, has recently sold eight slaves separately from the plantation, thus violating the terms of the testament and disregarding the rights of the "status libers" who are entitled to a "permanent abode" on the plantation. Benjamin Poydras therefore prays that William Taylor and the six individual new owners of the slaves be made parties to his suit, and the sale prevented from being consummated [Text in English and French; French version incomplete].

PAR Number 20883609

State: Louisiana Year: 1836
Location: Pointe Coupee Location Type: Parish

Abstract: The petitioners are the absent heirs of the late Julien Poydras and twelve slaves who once belonged to his estate. They are represented by a local heir, Benjamin Poydras de Lalande. Poydras de Lalande represents that, by his last will and testament, the late Julien directed that his slaves be considered attached to "one or the other of his different plantations" and sold with that plantation. He stipulated that any purchaser should be bound to free the slaves twenty-five years later, allow those over the age of sixty to remain on the plantation, and give them a stipend of $25 per annum without requiring work. Shortly after Julien’s death, his plantation in Pointe Coupée was sold with its one-hundred-and-forty slaves, among whom the twelve slave petitioners, to Pélagie Marguerite Garnier de Mulnière, widow Mourain, and Magdeleine Michelle Garnier de Mulnière, wife of Alex Bonneau, both residents of “the Kingdom of France” and both also heirs of the late Julien. Benjamin Poydras de Lalande claims that, although “amicably requested,” the two women’s representatives, Gustave Delamarre and Peter G. Mourain, have refused to bestow on the twelve elderly slaves the benefits to which they are entitled by virtue of their former master’s will. He therefore prays that the two men be ordered, on behalf of their absentee clients, to emancipate the slaves and pay each one of them $25 per year.

PAR Number 20883704

State: Louisiana Year: 1837
Location: Pointe Coupee Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Charles Dorsino Leblanc charges that Chalinet, a free woman of color, harbored and concealed his slave, Mary, for one hundred and eight days on the plantation of Benjamin Poydras. Leblanc claims that Chalinet resides on Poydras's plantation and “is considered the mistress” in Poydras’s absence. Leblanc adds that the Poydras plantation has become a "place of refuge to runaway negroes and particularly those usually Called 'Poydras negroes.'" He alleges that he has “amicably” approached Chalinet and proposed a compromise, but she has rejected his offer “with scorn and contempt.” He therefore seeks $108 for the loss of Mary’s services and $392 to compensate him for the “vexation & mortification” he had to suffer because of Chalinet’s “unjustifiable conduct.” We learn from several related petitions that Mary, also known as Marie Vitrac, had once belonged to the late Julien Poydras who, in his last will and testament, had stipulated that each one of his plantations only be sold with the slaves working on it, and that the purchaser be bound not to sell the slaves separately from the plantation and to free all of them twenty-five years from the date of the first sale following his death. A number of years later, several purchasers of the Poydras plantations violated the conditions of sale and Julien's nephew, Benjamin Poydras de la Lande, initiated a number of suits to protect the interest of some of the slaves, among whom Marie Vitrac [PAR # 20883528, 20883594, 20883609, and 20883937]..

PAR Number 20883738

State: Louisiana Year: 1837
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Charles Belot has power of attorney to act on behalf of Hélène Lepage, a free woman of color. He presents to the police jury that, by an 1836 act duly passed before a notary public, Hélène Lepage had promised to give "liberty" to her then sixty-year-old slave named Nina, as a reward for Nina's long, faithful, and important services. He explains that Lepage has now asked him, in her absence, to act on her behalf and proceed with Nina's legal emancipation. Belot declares that Nina, who is a laundress ["blanchisseuse et repasseuse"], is capable of earning a living. He avers that she has always behaved well and no complaint has ever been lodged against her. He asks the police jury to authorize him to free Nina without compelling her to leave the area ["le pays"] [Original in French].

PAR Number 20883830

State: Louisiana Year: 1838
Location: West Feliciana Location Type: Parish

Abstract: David Bradford, formerly a resident of West Feliciana and currently of New Orleans, petitions for the emancipation of two "elderly" slaves, a man named Frank and his wife Nancy. Bradford represents that he purchased Nancy from the estate of his late mother, Elizabeth Bradford, for the purpose of emancipating her “in consideration of” her having rescued him from drowning when he was an infant. As for Frank, whom he purchased from John T. Alexander, he wishes to emancipate him because he is Nancy’s husband. Bradford therefore asks the court to order posting of the necessary legal notices of emancipation.

PAR Number 20883879

State: Louisiana Year: 1838
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: François Layet is petitioning as the special agent of his mother, Marie Madeleine Géré, widow of the late François Layet. He presents to the court that his mother is the owner of a fifty-year-old female slave named Marie Claire, whose freedom she "feels bound by every principle of morality and justice" to secure as a reward for Marie Claire's exceptional, long and loyal services. François Layet explains that Marie Claire was born in the "Island of St Domingo." After the troubles "had commenced" on the island and the "whites were forced to fly for their lives," Marie Claire voluntarily followed Marie Madeleine's family, "as a slave," to the state of Louisiana and continued to serve them "honestly and faithfully." François Layet vouches that Marie Claire has never been guilty of any crime and that she is "respectful and submissive towards her owners & the whites her superiors." He therefore asks the court to "authorize and direct" the sheriff to post up the "notices required by law."

PAR Number 20883919

State: Louisiana Year: 1839
Location: Iberville Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Sophie Polard [Pollard], a free woman of color, presents to the court that Eugénie Decuir, widow of Louis Polard and a free woman of color, recently "departed this life" and her estate is now "open under the jurisdiction" of the present court. Sophie Polard claims that the late Eugénie Decuir Polard left a last will and testament, in which she believes she has been "instituted a legatee." Sophie claims that the said will is "contained in a sealed packet" in the possession of a family friend named Pierre Durand and she is desirous to have it "opened, proven and ordered for execution." Sophie Polard therefore asks the court to order Pierre Durand to deliver the will to the court for this purpose.

PAR Number 20883937

State: Louisiana Year: 1839
Location: Pointe Coupee Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Benjamin Poydras de Lalande, representing himself and seven residents of France, seeks the court's assistance in carrying out the wishes of the late Julien Poydras. Poydras died in 1824, directing by his last will and testament that all his slaves be "considered attached" to his plantations and only sold under specific conditions. Namely, the purchasers should agree to free all the slaves twenty-five years after the date of purchase, allowing those sixty years or over to remain on the plantation without compelling them to work. The slaves should be cared for, treated with humanity, and even paid a $25 dollar annual stipend. In 1825 one of the plantations was sold to two residents of France, the widow Mourain and Mrs. Bonneau, and later partitioned between the two women. Benjamin Poydras alleges that six slaves now belonging to Mrs. Bonneau reached the age of sixty in 1833; yet her agent, Gustave Delamare, has so far refused to pay them the $25 annual stipend. Arguing that the plantation sale price to the two women was discounted for the payment of the annuity, Poydras prays that Mrs. Bonneau and her agent be ordered to pay the estate $900 for the years 1833 through 1838 and to pay each of the six slaves $25 per year "from the 1st January 1839."

PAR Number 20884012

State: Louisiana Year: 1840
Location: St. John the Baptist Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Pierre Aymé Becnel presents to the court that he wishes to emancipate his two Africa-born slaves: eighty-year-old Coffee and sixty-year-old Joseph. Becnel claims that he wishes to "make free" his two slaves in order to reward them for their "good and faithful services." He vouches that Coffee and Joseph have always "behaved themselves perfectly" and have never run away. He prays that his petition be submitted to the police jury, for their review and consent.

PAR Number 20884043

State: Louisiana Year: 1840
Location: Orleans Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Etienne Saulet and his adult children, Charles, Marie, and Charlotte, ask the court to order the sheriff to post the required emancipation notices so that they can free their female slave named Catiche Macarty, a sixty-five-year-old Creole. They vouch that Catiche Macarty is a good individual, who has never committed any crime and has always been respectful toward whites. In addition, she is capable of earning a living and will not be a charge to the parish [Original in French].

PAR Number 20884220

State: Louisiana Year: 1842
Location: West Feliciana Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Thomas Fair seeks an injunction on the seizure and sale of his land and slaves. On 2 May 1842, Fair bought a tract of land in West Feliciana Parish, sixty-two slaves living on the land, and various livestock and other property from James Fair and Mary Herrin. He paid $3,000 for the property and took over all mortgages that applied to the property. Despite Fair's purchase of the land and slaves, Henry Smith of Mississippi "hath caused a writ of seizure and sale" on the property in the suit of Henry Smith vs. James Fair & Cyrus Ratliff. Fair claims that the suit was not brought against him, as the legal owner of the property, and that the writ was not recorded in the West Feliciana Parish Court, so there was "no warning to your petitioner of the Existence of the said debt." Fair prays for a writ of injunction against Smith and the United States Marshals who seized the property. He also seeks one $1,000 in damages from Henry Smith for falsely bringing suit against him.

PAR Number 20884519

State: Louisiana Year: 1845
Location: West Baton Rouge Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Louis Favrot claims that Valentin Dubroca is justly indebted to him for $7,087.50 plus interest. Favrot prays that the court condemn Dubroca to repay the debt and interest plus court costs. Related documents show that Dubroca is a slave owner who claims that his "maternal tongue" is French and that his poor command of English prevents him from responding to an order from the court.

PAR Number 20884620

State: Louisiana Year: 1846
Location: West Baton Rouge Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Amaranthe Landry, the widow of Jean Baptiste Hebert, seeks the court's assistance in recovering a debt. On 29 January 1842, Erasmus P. Wood and Isham F. Wood purchased, for the sum of $28,000, two tracts of land and sixteen slaves from the petitioner. According to the terms of sale, the purchase price was to be paid in several installments with interest paid on a yearly basis. The interest for 1844 and 1845, in the amount of $486.85, is due and "payment thereof has been refused altho amicably demanded." As Erasmus Wood is now the sole owner of the property, the petitioner requests that "he be adjudged and decreed to pay to your petitioner the aforesaid sum." Landry further requests that she be "decreed to have the benefit of her mortgage on the said property."

PAR Number 20884701

State: Louisiana Year: 1847
Location: Pointe Coupee Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Henriette, a free woman of color, petitions for the emancipation of her slave and son, Charles, who is more than fifty years of age. Henriette represents that Charles has always led an honest conduct, has never been a runaway, and has never committed robbery or any other misdemeanor. Henriette explains that she has already secured the consent of the police jury, who has authorized her to proceed without having to post the bond required by law. She therefore prays that the notice of emancipation be posted in the French and English language and that, after forty day, she may be authorized to pass the act of emancipation if no valid opposition is sustained.

PAR Number 20884713

State: Louisiana Year: 1847
Location: West Baton Rouge Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Fergus Mahier presents to the court that he is the owner by inheritance of an undivided half of a mulatto slave named Rosa and her children. In 1809, Fergus Mahier's father, Joseph Mahier, and his uncle, Anselm Mahier, inherited Rosa's mother, Agnès, from the estate of their father, Michel Mahier Senior. Fergus claims that Joseph and Anselm Mahier formed a partnership in 1809, which lasted until Joseph's death in 1824. According to Fergus, Agnès and her child Rosa were the property of this partnership. In 1819, however, Anselm Mahier emancipated Agnès and, in 1823, he sold four of the partnership's slaves, including Rosa, to Agnès for $1,000 cash. Fergus Mahier contends that both actions were taken without Joseph Mahier's consent and therefore are null and void. He further claims that Agnès emancipated her fifteen-year-old daughter Rosa in 1827. Agnès has since died. He alleges that he is now the sole surviving heir of the family's estate, his brother Peter having died and his mother having renounced her share in both her son's and husband's estate. He therefore prays that the court will decree Rosa and the children "born of her body" his property "for the undivided half."

PAR Number 20884720

State: Louisiana Year: 1847
Location: West Baton Rouge Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Antoinette Hébert, wife of Jean Rosemond Landry, seeks to recover a debt from Frame A. Woods. Antoinette Hébert Landry represents that, in 1842, Amaranthe Landry, widow of the late Jean Baptiste Hébert, sold a plantation and slaves to Isham F. and Erasmus P. Woods for the sum of $28,000. By the act of sale, a mortgage was placed on the property to secure $17,040, which represented the portion of the sale’s proceeds to be paid to the late Landry’s minor children when they came of age. In 1844, Isham F. Woods departed this life and his interest in the property was bought by Erasmus, who assumed all obligations toward the debt. In 1845, Antoinette, one of the late Landry’s children, was married, and thus emancipated and entitled to receive her share of the sale’s proceeds. However, she never received any money. Erasmus P. Woods is now dead and Frame A. Woods has been appointed testamentary executor. Antoinette therefore prays that Frame be ordered to pay her share of $5,680 in the sale’s proceeds, plus interest at the rate of 10% per annum from the date of her marriage. She also prays that the mortgaged property be sold to satisfy her claim.

PAR Number 20884740

State: Louisiana Year: 1847
Location: West Baton Rouge Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Jean Pierre Tounoir, a free man of color, petitions to emancipate his thirty-year-old daughter named Artimise and five-year-old grandson named Ursin. Tounoir explains that Artimise is his “natural” daughter, i.e., his daughter born out of wedlock. He represents that he has already obtained the consent of the police jury to proceed with the emancipation. He therefore prays that the court will order the sheriff to give notice of his intent to emancipate Artimise and Ursin, and to authorize their emancipation if no opposition is sustained.

PAR Number 20884901

State: Louisiana Year: 1849
Location: St. John the Baptist Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Lézin Becnel represents that his late wife, Thérèse Fanny Baconais, died intestate and “without descendants” in 1848. Her heirs are her mother and four siblings, only one of whom lives in Louisiana. The others live in France and Cuba respectively. Becnel explains that, as no marriage contract was “passed” between him and his late wife, he is the legal “full” owner of one half of their joint property and the “usufructuary” owner of the other half. The property consists of a sugar plantation and sixty-six slaves. Sixty of the slaves are mortgaged and the other six, valued at $2,900, were brought to the community property from his first marriage. Desirous to settle the estate with the other heirs, he asks that an inventory be conducted before “interested parties,” including the “under-tutor” of his minor children from the first marriage. To this end he prays for the appointment of a “Public Officer” duly authorized by the court to conduct the inventory and for the appointment of his brother-in-law, Charles Baconais, to represent the “absent heirs."

PAR Number 20884932

State: Louisiana Year: 1849
Location: Natchitoches Location Type: Parish

Abstract: John Molony, testamentary executor of the last will and testament of Malinda Burger, a free woman of color, petitions to have "an inventory and appraisement of the effects" in the succession of the deceased taken by "competent authority." Molony also prays that Winney, a free woman of color and Melinda Burger's "universal legatee and heir," be notified of the time and place.

PAR Number 20885029

State: Louisiana Year: 1850
Location: East Baton Rouge Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Catharine Wilson Chestnut Very seeks to be separated in property from her husband, Lorin Very. Catharine represents that, upon her marriage to Very in 1842, she owned in her own right sixteen slaves and their children. During that year, she hired out her slaves for $600. In 1843, she hired them out for $1,000. Catharine claims that Lorin pocketed the money and used it for his own benefit. Lorin also appropriated the money from the sale of two of her slaves in 1843 and 1844. Catharine contends that her husband’s affairs are now in such disarray that her separate interests are in jeopardy. She therefore seeks a separation in property from her husband and the authorization to administer her property. She also seeks to recover the monies appropriated by Lorin and asks that a mortgage be placed on his property to secure her rights.

PAR Number 20885036

State: Louisiana Year: 1850
Location: Catahoula Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Talbot A. Bouton, administrator of the estate of his late parents, John and Martha Bouton, represents that his parents’ land and personal effects have been sold and the proceeds are sufficient to pay the estate’s liabilities. He now wishes to partition their slaves among the heirs. In order to achieve the partition, he prays for several orders from the court. First, he seeks the appointment of a tutor and “under Tutor” for his minor brother, James L. Bouton, and his nieces, Sephronia and Semantha Nix. He prays to be appointed James’s tutor, but declines the tutorship of his nieces. He also seeks the appointment of a “curator ad hoc” to represent his nephew, William H. Bouton, who resides with his mother in Alabama. He asks that a family meeting be convened to consider the appointment of a tutor for Sephronia and Semantha, and to take into consideration matters relative to the interest of the minors. Finally, he recommends that the minors be given their share of the value of the slaves in cash and the slaves be divided in kind among the adult heirs. He prays that all the heirs be cited to hear a “judgment and decree of partition.”

PAR Number 20885106

State: Louisiana Year: 1851
Location: St. Landry Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Antoine Donato Meuillon, a free man of color, represents that his wife, Elizabeth Donato, departed this life a few months ago, leaving eight minor children, issue of their “legitimate” marriage. Meuillon seeks to be permitted to take the oath as “natural tutor” of his children. Related documents reveal that Antoine and Elizabeth Meuillon owned forty slaves at the time of Elizabeth's slaves.

PAR Number 20885128

State: Louisiana Year: 1851
Location: St. John the Baptist Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Georges Vinprenne seeks the court’s authorization to sell the property belonging to the community that existed between him and his late wife, Héloïse Edler, and to which he and his children are now heirs. Vinprenne represents that the estate is largely encumbered with debts and mortgages, and that there is no other means to liquidate it and operate a partition among all the heirs without selling the property. Vinprenne therefore seeks an order citing his children to appear and show cause as to why the property should not be sold at auction.

PAR Number 20885135

State: Louisiana Year: 1851
Location: Pointe Coupee Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Julie Celeste Croizet, widow of the late Pierre Gondran, seeks to emancipate her sixty-six-year-old female mulatto slave named Victoire. Mrs. Gondran represents that she has obtained the consent of the police jury to proceed with the emancipation and has been dispensed from giving the bond required from owners to ensure that a freed slave will leave the state. In fact, Victoire has been authorized to remain in the state after emancipation. Julie Croizet Gondran therefore prays for an order directing the sheriff to post notices of her intention to free Victoire from the bonds of slavery. She also prays to be authorized to free her slave if no opposition is raised within the legal delays of forty days.

PAR Number 20885144

State: Louisiana Year: 1851
Location: St. John the Baptist Location Type: Parish

Abstract: Pierre Aymé Becnel and Valsin Brou are joint owners and co-proprietors with Florestan Becnel of a sugar plantation, including twenty-three slaves, livestock, and other property. Pierre Becnel and Valsin Brou represent that they no longer wish to hold the property undivided and want to dispose of it in order to achieve a fair partition among the three owners. Therefore, they pray for an order directing that an inventory of the property be taken. They also pray that Florestan Becnel be cited to answer their suit and show cause as to why the property should not be sold at auction and the proceeds divided among the three partners.

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