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Race, Slavery, and Free Blacks: Series I, Petitions to Southern Legislatures, 1777-1867

Race, Slavery, and Free Blacks: Series II, Petitions to Southern  County Courts, 1775-1867, Part A: Georgia (1796-1867),  Florida (1821-1867), Alabama (1821-1867), Mississippi (1822-1867)

 Southern History

Microform Collection Guides

 

Excerpts of Jefferson County, Mississippi

 

Transcribed and Contributed by Janice Stevens Rice

Please direct any inquiries to her (also thanks!)

 

Reel 3 Mississippi

 

0070. Jefferson County. Free man of color Malachi Hagins states that he is descended from

several generations of free ancestors. His grandmother was a white woman, and his father died

in the American Revolution fighting on behalf of the “Revolted Colonies.” Hagins notes that he

moved to Mississippi twenty-two years ago, married a white woman, fathered nine children, and

acquired land, cattle, and nine slaves. He is now subject to being driven from his county and

having his property confiscated and his life put in jeopardy “for want of the guardian protection of

the Laws of the Land.” He asks for an act to give him “security & protection, such rights and

liberties” as the legislature might deem “humane, politick and right."

 

0075. John B. Nicaisse purchased his two-year-old daughter, Izabella, in 1806 at the Bay of St.

Louis, which was then under Spanish rule. The bill of sale stipulated that Nicaisse legally

emancipate the child “before the commandant at mobile.” Before Nicaisse could do so, however,

the area became part of the United States. He now seeks to free her through the Mississippi

legislature.

 

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0105. A dozen residents of Jefferson County verify that Malachi Hagins was married to a white

woman. The couple had ten children: Sally, John, Mary, Malachi, Elizabeth, Angelina, Susannah,

David, Rhod[es], and Gideon. On all occasions Hagins conducted himself “with great propriety”

as an “honest and upright man.” He had long been a member of the Baptist church. The

petitioners ask the legislature to extend to Hagins and his children the right to sue and be sued

and “all the rights privileges and immunities of a free white persons of this state.” Petitioners {12}:

Duggan, E.; Dunbar, James; Durden, Washington; Harrison, P. W.; Hinds, Thomas.

 

Reel 3 Mississippi

 

1806

 

0181. Jefferson County. Benjamin Bullen, a close friend of David Carradine, asks to emancipate

the woman Juliett, a faithful slave who nursed Carradine “during a long distressing and lingering

illness.” Carradine had owned Juliett until shortly before he died, when he sold her for $1 to

Bullen and asked him to see that she was emancipated. Juliett was twenty-four years of age and

worked as a house servant. She should be freed, Bullen said, because of her “services, honesty

and fidelity."

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1820

 

0213. Jefferson County. Philip Harrison requests that the legislature fulfill the wishes of Adam

Rum, who in his will gave his “servant woman named Betty, her freedom after his death.”

 

0218. Jacques Andres of Natchez asks permission to emancipate a female “mulatto” slave who is

the daughter of Ema, a slave owned by the petitioner. He states that the girl, Maria Louisa, born

in 1820, “was regularly baptized according to the Holy ordinances of the Roman Catholic

Church."

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46

0273. Jefferson County. The son of a white man by a woman of mixed race, Andrew Barland

married into “a respectable white family.” He states that he was always received and treated as a

white man. He had served as a juror, given testimony in court, voted, and “enjoyed all the

privileges of a free white Citizen.” A controversy arose when Joseph Hawk called into question

whether Barland should testify because Barland was a man of color. Barland writes to the

legislature that “his education, his habits, his principles, and his society are all identified with your

views.” Barland notes that he owns slaves and therefore “can know no other interest than that

which is common to the white population.” He asks, therefore, that the state “extend to your

petitioner such privileges as his countrymen may think him worthy to possess.”

 

0278. As executor of her late husband's will, Elizabeth Bullen seeks to emancipate the slave

Thomas. She says that Thomas was a “faithful servant” and that her husband, the physician

Benjamin M. Bullen, wished him to be free.

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47

 

0298. Jefferson County. Gaspar Sinclair seeks to emancipate James and Franky, husband and

wife, as “they have been to him the Kindest and best friends in his sickly and solitary course

through this life.” Sinclair also wishes to give them use of land for life and “as much personal

property as will be equal to all their wishes.” He also proposes giving his property to a poor infant

orphan “now in the care of your petitioner and these black friends, by the name of Ann Maria

Eliza Stephens."

 

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48

 

1828.

 

0361. James Parker and E. Ogden ask the legislature to pass an act of emancipation to free a

slave named Hannah, a “woman of colour aged about forty year.” She was past childbearing age

and had always conducted herself as “a good and useful citizen in her sphere of action.” She

could post bond and was a person of “uniform good conduct.” Petitioners {33}: Buck, John L.;

Callender, L.; Ogden, E.; Parker, James P.; Robertson, John.

 

0367. Natchez barber William Hayden, a man of color, says that the Mississippi Act passed in

1822 concerning slaves and free people of color might well “produce absolute ruin to his

prospects.” He states that he has a good business, has a good reputation, and owns property. In

constant danger “of being driven from his home,” he asks for “a special act exempting him from

that part of the said act which requires his removal from the state."

1830.

 

0372. Jefferson County. Theodore Richey asks the legislature to pass an act of emancipation to

free a woman slave named Ama. Richey states that Ama married an “honest and industrious free

man of colour” who had saved his earnings and was willing to purchase her freedom. Ama was a

woman of good character and could provide adequate security against becoming a public charge.

 

0375. Citizens of Jefferson County support Theodore Richey's petition to emancipate Ama, who,

they say, “is and always has been remarkably honest, faithful and trust worthy.” Neither the state

nor any citizen would suffer any inconvenience if the emancipation were granted, they state.

Petitioners {13}: Bolls, Alex; Hughes, Philip O.; Jenings, D.; Torry, John M.; Torry, Neal.

 

0378. As administrator of the estate of Phillip Alston, James Enloe asks to emancipate Sam, a

slave about sixty years old. The slave was a man of “good character for honest fidelity and

correctness of deportment.” The recently deceased Alston had provided for Sam's freedom in his

Reel 3 Mississippi

49

 

0386. Jefferson County. Working and saving for many years, free man of color Jeremiah Gill

purchased his wife, Amy, and daughter, Betsey. Now being “advanced in years,” he asks the

legislature for an act of emancipation for his family. He feared that if he were to die his wife and

daughter might “through the tyranick grasp and relentless cupidity of some unfeeling wretch, be

deprived of that portion of liberty, which the sweat of your petitioner's humble brow has

purchased for them."

 

0405. Eleven Jefferson County residents ask for the emancipation of Elizabeth, a sixty- or

seventy-year-old slave. Elizabeth's owner, Isaac Corey, said on his deathbed that he wished her

to be freed and that after his debts were paid the residue of his estate should be paid to her. The

citizens seek to carry out Corey's final wish. Petitioners {11}: Baldwin, John; Duncan, John H.;

Lewis, Pierson; Mead, W. C.; Pipes, Isaac.

 

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339

0342 (Accession # 21085116). Jefferson County, Mississippi. Washington L. Burch died leaving

an estate consisting of “a considerable number of slaves,” several plantations, and other

property. Burch’s son, Isaac W. Burch, now twenty-one years old, seeks his share of his father’s

estate.

 

0395 (Accession # 21085204). Jefferson County, Mississippi. Nancy Burch executed a will on

15 June 1844 in which she bequeathed to her three grandchildren, Nancy Burch Campbell,

Eliza Jane Burch Miller, and Isaac W. Burch, her lands, property, and more than seventy slaves,

to be divided equally among them when all the grandchildren turned twenty-one or married. The

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340

grandchildren report that they have all met the requirements. The petitioners seek an order to

divide and distribute the estate.

 

0498 (Accession # 21085220). Jefferson County, Mississippi. Peter Fairley died on 7 June

1852, leaving an estate consisting of about “seventeen or Eighteen Negroes slaves, (Male and

Female),” and other plantation property. The will named his sons, Alexander and Hugh J., as

executors, but Alexander Fairley renounced the executorship. Hugh Fairley, having qualified to

be an executor, prays to receive testamentary letters. He also asks that appraisers be appointed

to inventory Fairley’s estate.

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342

with several women, including Sarah (a slave woman owned by a Mrs. Sparkman) and

Henrietta (a slave woman owned by a Mrs. Goodman). She says that Campbell “has almost

entirely abandoned his lawful employment and has consorted with gamblers and drunkards.”

Elizabeth Campbell asks for a divorce, guardianship of their child, and alimony.

 

0516 (Accession # 21085222). Jefferson County, Mississippi. Anna Gilchrist, widow of Malcolm

Gilchrist and Administratrix of his estate, prays for immediate division and distribution of the

estate, including the slaves, to herself and their nine children.

 

0522 (Accession # 21085223). Jefferson County, Mississippi. Malcolm Gilchrist died in March

1851, leaving an estate of about fifty slaves, a plantation, and other property. Gilchrist’s widow,

Anna, says that John Gilchrist, one of Gilchrist’s children, is not entitled to a distributive share of

the estate “Except on the terms and Conditions prescribed by Law,” because his father “did in

his life time amply and Equally provide for the said John Gilchrist, by way of advancement in

Marriage.” However, John has filed a suit to claim more of the estate. Anna Gilchrist asks for a

writ of dower on the estate.

 

0535 (Accession # 21085225). Jefferson County, Mississippi. Daniel Sillers died intestate on

1 March 1852, leaving an estate that included seventy-five slaves. Walter E. S. Sillers, by his

mother and next friend, Rosamine M. Sillers, prays for a citation against the estate’s

administrator, Wiley B. Stuart, and the other heirs. The petitioners seek to receive his rightful

share of the estate distribution.

 

0548 (Accession # 21085226). Jefferson County, Mississippi. Walter Sillers died in 1848 in

Louisiana, leaving a widow, Rosamine M. Sillers, and minor son, Walter Eugene Shelby Sillers.

Slave owner Daniel Sillers, father of Walter and grandfather of Walter Eugene Shelby, died

intestate in 1852 in Mississippi. Rosamine states that she is Walter E. S. Siller’s legal guardian

in Louisiana and that it would be in his interest to remove the property inherited from his

grandfather to Louisiana. She asks permission to remove her son’s property to their state of

residence.

 

0552 (Accession # 21085227). Jefferson County, Mississippi. Benjamin A. Bullen is the

guardian of Henry J. and Frances A. Mayberry, minor beneficiaries to the estate of Abram

Mayberry. Bullen believes that a division of the minors’ joint property, including slaves, would be

most beneficial to their interests. Bullen, therefore, seeks to have commissioners appointed to

divide the estate.

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343

 

0565 (Accession # 21085230). Jefferson County, Mississippi. James M. Sillers is the son of the

deceased Daniel Sillers, a slave owner. He petitions to sell two tracts of land, saying that a

division would give two heirs land with “not a sufficiency of timber to fence and Enclose the

same . . . and for other necessary purposes.” Sillers says that most of the heirs favor a sale and

he asks permission to do so.

 

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346

smallness of the tracts into which they would necessarily be divided, would render them

valueless.” Johnson seeks permission to sell land from the estate, which includes fourteen

slaves mentioned in her earlier petition.

 

0768 (Accession # 21085326). Jefferson County, Mississippi. The petitioners, as heirs of the

Jacob Guice estate, petition the court to approve the division of the estate, which contains thirty

slaves. Each petitioner received land and slaves in a meeting of the heirs held on 23 December

1852, and they seek to legalize the results of the gathering.

 

0773 (Accession # 21085327). Jefferson County, Mississippi. David Harrison and Wiley B.

Stuart ask the court to probate the will of William P. Briscoe, grant them letters of testamentary

naming them executors of his will, and appoint three commissioners to appraise Briscoe’s

estate, which includes fifty slaves.

 

0778 (Accession # 21085328). Jefferson County, Mississippi. Abram W. Sutphin, named as

trustee of Margaret Ann Kelly in the will of her grandfather, James Kelly, asks the court to issue

him letters of guardianship for Margaret and her estate. The estate contains eight slaves.

 

0782 (Accession # 21085329). Jefferson County, Mississippi. William Stewart, “the principal

creditor” of the late William L. Jones, asks the court to grant him letters of administration for

Jones’s estate, which includes one “Negro woman, worth about Eight Hundred Dollars.” He also

asks that commissioners be appointed to appraise the estate.

 

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347

 

0807 (Accession # 21085333). Jefferson County, Mississippi. John H. Duncan asks to be

appointed administrator of the estate of Margaret Hughes, who left eleven slaves, two hundred

acres of land, and farming implements upon her death in August 1853. Zilpha C. McGinty was

named executrix in Hughes’ will but relinquished that responsibility. Duncan also asks

permission to distribute the property and slaves, which are listed in a related petition, among

eight heirs.

 

0811 (Accession # 21085334). Jefferson County, Mississippi. Zilpha C. McGinty renounces her

appointment as executrix of the will of her mother, Margaret Hughes, and asks the court to

appoint John H. Duncan as administrator of the estate. The estate includes eleven slaves,

according to a related petition.

 

0829 (Accession # 21085338). Jefferson County, Mississippi. Malcolm McPherson,

administrator of the Rebecca Smylie estate, asks the court for permission to sell property in the

estate, including two slaves named Mingo and Charles, various household implements, and five

head of livestock.

 

0833 (Accession # 21085339). Jefferson County, Mississippi. Nicholas S. Roy asks the court to

probate the will of William B. Smith and to appoint him the executor of Smith’s estate in

Mississippi. Roy states that the will was probated in Warren County, where Smith lived at the

time of his death, and that it exempted Roy from posting security as executor. Roy writes that

Smith “died Seized and possessed, of Estate real and personal, in said County of Jefferson” in

Mississippi. The estate includes slaves and a plantation.

 

0071 (Accession # 21085414). Jefferson County, Mississippi. In April 1839, Arthur B. Simms,

the grandfather of Rosaline Frisby, gave several slaves to his daughter, Martha Simms, in a

deed of gift. In 1843 Martha married Thomas H. Frisby without her father’s knowledge or

consent and Arthur became angry and hostile towards his daughter, repudiating her claim to the

slaves he had given her. She later gave birth to the petitioner, Rosaline. Martha and Thomas

both died intestate in 1853 leaving no debts. According to Rosaline, Lewis H. Simms claims that

Tamor, a slave listed in Arthur Simms’ deed of gift, was given to him by Arthur Simms and he

has the seventeen-year-old female slave of “copper complexion” in his possession. The

petitioner claims that she is entitled to Tamor and the slave is “of peculiar value to her.” Fearing

that Lewis may remove Tamor from the jurisdiction of the court, Rosaline requests that an

injunction be issued to stop Lewis from removing Tamor from the area and that Tamor be

seized by the sheriff.

 

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0870 (Accession # 21085345). Jefferson County, Mississippi. In 1847 Clarinda Newman died

and the court appointed Osburn Scott as executor of her estate. Obadiah D. Hammett reports

that two slaves, William and Louisa, were omitted from the estate inventory filed by Scott in

1847. Hammett, as administrator of William Boyd’s estate, has a claim against the Newman

estate that remains unpaid. He asks the court to subpoena Scott and require him to file an

additional inventory accounting for all property mentioned in Newman’s will, especially the two

slaves William and Louisa. In the answer, Scott states that around 1842 Newman traded William

and Louisa for the slave Asa, who was named in the inventory.

 

0081 (Accession # 21085415). Jefferson County, Mississippi. The petitioners, fearing that three

slaves whose ownership is in dispute will be removed from the jurisdiction of the court, ask for

an order that the slaves be held by the sheriff until the dispute is settled. They also ask for a

clear declaration of their ownership of the slaves and for remuneration for the slaves’ hire since

they have been in the defendants’ possession. The slaves were among several that Arthur B.

Simms gave to his daughter, Martha Jane, in 1839 when she was ten years old. When Martha

married Thomas H. Frisby in 1843 without her father’s permission, Simms “endeavored to

 

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Reel 19

Mississippi cont.

1857

 

0008 (Accession # 21085703). Jefferson County, Mississippi. Mary Cogan seeks a divorce from

her husband, Charles Cogan. Shortly after their marriage in 1853, Charles became a “habitual

and confirmed drunkard,” and he once “pointed a loaded gun [at her] with which he threatened

to shoot her.” She also charges him with having “carnal conversation” with other women,

including female slaves. Charles’s abusive behavior combined with financial mismanagement

and other provocations caused Mary to leave her husband in January 1856, and she has had

little contact with him since.

 

0024 (Accession # 21085704). Jefferson County, Mississippi. Louisa Hamberlin [Hamberlain]

charges her husband Thomas with “frequent acts of adultery - with a Certain negro woman

slave - named Cora,” having committed the act “in the same room where [the] complainant

was.” Louisa claims that her husband’s illicit relationship took place from 1853 to 1857. The

petitioner also states that a child was born of this adulterous affair, “which said Child he

[Thomas] openly and notoriously claims as his by said Cora.” Louisa asks for “a decree

divorcing her from the Bonds of matrimony.”

 

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373

 

 

1859

0663 (Accession # 21085902). Jefferson County, Mississippi. Jacob Stampley, administrator of

the estate of Henry Stampley, states that an order was passed to sell “the lands tenements and

real estate,” leaving the “Negro slaves alone to be divided and distributed to the heirs.” The

petitioner asks that the heirs and distributees come together and show cause, if any, why

commissioners should not be appointed to distribute the slaves.

 

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375

resolved and the petitioners ask that appraisers be appointed to ascertain the value of the

slaves and their labor so that they may be sold and the proceeds distributed among the heirs.

 

0811 (Accession # 21085915). Lowndes County, Mississippi. B. S. Long Jr., as heir and

administrator of the estate of Thomas J. Brownrigg, asks permission to sell the slaves from the

estate so that the proceeds may be distributed among the heirs. Long notes that were it not for

a request by a Mrs. Sparkman that a portion of the proceeds be invested in an annuity, he

would have preferred to divide up the slaves. However, under the circumstances, he has agreed

to sell them.

 

0821 (Accession # 21085916). Lowndes County, Mississippi. Sue M. Pearson, heir to the estate

of Thomas J. Brownrigg, seeks permission to sell the estate’s slaves around the first of January

1860, at which time they would bring full value. Pearson states that the sale of the slaves would

facilitate the division of the estate.

 

0825 (Accession # 21085917). Jefferson County, Mississippi. Thomas P. Cogan, administrator

of the estate of his brother, David S. Cogan, states that certain slaves were erroneously

inventoried and appraised as property of the estate. Cogan states these slaves, with an

aggregate worth of $7,500, should be stricken from the estate inventory as they were the

property of Edward W. Adams, also deceased, and were the subject of a suit between the two

men. Thomas Cogan also asks that a guardian be appointed for David Cogan’s children.

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376

commissioners to divide the estate, including thirty-one slaves, among the heirs. They also ask

for the appointment of a guardian to protect the interests of the minor heirs.

.

0875 (Accession # 21085921). Jefferson County, Mississippi. The administrators of the

Jeremiah Terry estate, Evan S. Jefferies and Jesse Terry, seek the appointment of commissioners

 to divide the estate, including thirty one slaves, among the heirs. They also ask for the appointment

of a guardian to protect the interests of the minor heirs.

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377

 

Reel 20

Mississippi cont.

1860

 

0046 (Accession # 21086005). Jefferson County, Mississippi. Olivia Dunbar, a feme sole, died

in September 1859, leaving a large estate of land, money, and slaves. A Dunbar heir, Mary M.

Gee, and her husband, John Gee, ask for their portion of the distribution of the estate, for the

nullification of the will,

 

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379

 

0129 (Accession # 21086019). Jefferson County, Mississippi. Mary Ann and Absolem Spielman

seek permission to sell slaves purchased by Mary Ann and her children from John M. Whitney.

Since the purchase in 1855, “there has been an increase of two more, the children of the negro

woman Violet To wit Harriet & Charlotte.” Mary Ann and Absolem name their children as

defendants. They wish to sell the slaves since they are moving “to another section of the County

where slave property would be valueless to them or their said children.”

 

0136 (Accession # 21086020). Jefferson County, Mississippi. Absolem Spielman states that he

purchased from John M. Whitney a slave woman named Violet, for $500, on 11 October 1847,

but Whitney did not give Spielman a bill of sale. In 1855 Whitney executed the bill of sale,

without Spielman’s knowledge, placing the slave in the possession of Spielman’s children. Since

the purchase of Violet, her children, “Ede, Joe, Virge, Harriett & Charlotte,” have been born.

Absolem and his wife, Mary Ann, sold their interest in the slave family for $3,000 to Joseph

Pruitt. The petitioners pray to have the 1855 bill of sale annulled.

 

 

1861

 

0187 (Accession # 21086103). Jefferson County, Mississippi. John E. McPherson, guardian of

Arthur B. Sims, seeks an order to divide into three equal lots the slaves that his ward owns

along with Mary McPherson and Joseph Stephens. It is necessary that the slaves be divided so

that the petitioner “may account to this court for the income of those of them, who may be

distributed, to his said ward.”

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380

 

0192 (Accession # 21086104). Jefferson County, Mississippi. William Thompson, administrator

of the estate of William Sellers, states that Sellers was the owner of “a certain slave named

Jonathan of dark complexion about 46 years of age a blacksmith by trade of great value to wit:

of the value of $1800.” In addition, he was in possession of a $1,100 promissory note signed by

Robert Sellers. The slave was levied to settle a suit brought by John Burch against Sellers. On

12 October 1859, Sellers, while in a state of intoxication, executed a bill of sale for the slave

Jonathan and the promissory note, for about $800, to attorney Robert Duncan. Sellers died

intestate and now William Thompson, questioning the aforementioned transaction, seeks to

cancel the 1859 bill of sale.

 

of George W. Null’s estate, asks permission to sell “all the personal & perishable property of the

estate” so that she can pay the outstanding debts.

 

1864

0341 (Accession # 21086401). Jefferson County, Mississippi. Samuel P. Scott died in August

1864, leaving a $20,000 estate consisting of a plantation, slaves, and other property. Athens F.

Scott and Benjamin A. Bullen seek letters “ad-collegendum” on the estate until the rights of

administration can be determined.

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If you paid to get here you should know this is a free site!

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