Tag Archives: manumissions

Pleasant Roane (Rowan) and the road to manumission in Lynchburg

I’ve been meaning to write about Pleasant Roane for quite a while.  I’ve always felt badly that other research and other stories commanded my attention more, and overshadowed his tale.  Well, as much of his tale as I’m aware of. It’s quite the interesting tale.

I’ve also been surprised that I see to be the only Roane family descendant researching Pleasant. Mine is the only family tree in which he appears. This, in part, probably has to do with the obscurity of his origins. Any Roane would be proud to claim him.

So what prompted my interest?  He is one of a handful of my enslaved ancestors who sued for his freedom…and then sued the State of Virginia to be allowed to remain in the state once he was freed.

Virginia had a statute on the books that slaves freed after 1806 had to leave the state or suffer re-enslavement (see http://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/_An_ACT_to_amend_the_several_laws_concerning_slaves_1806).  The only means by which a person freed from slavery after 1806 had to remain in-state was to sue the state and hope the state would find in their favour.  This was by no means guaranteed. The reason why they would wish to remain is pretty simple:  while they were free, other members of their family (i.e. spouse, children, siblings, etc) remained in slavery.

Access to the court wasn’t simple and straightforward for African-descended people.  A 19th Century person of colour, by law, could not sue the state or a person of European heritage. Not at the State or Federal level. A person of colour needed a European-descended person to bring a suite on their behalf, or act as their guardian and act as a proxy in order for a suit to be heard in court.  In the eyes of the law, people of colour had a legal status similar to a minor. That’s the short form backdrop to Pleasant’s story.

I know little about Pleasant’s origins. He’s believed to have been born in Bedford County, Virginia.  An approximate year of birth remains elusive. His first child with a known birth year, Charles, was born around 1815. Estimating that Pleasant was around 20 years old when Charles was born, a plausible birth year for Pleasant would be somewhere between 1780 and 1795.

His court papers provide some of his history.  He was enslaved by John Depriest, his first verified enslaver, in Campbell, Virginia.  There will be an earlier – and as of yet undiscovered – link to the Roane family. He saved Depriest from drowning.  There’s no known indication regarding how Depriest felt about this selflessness.  However, not long afterwards, Pleasant was sold and entered Robert C Steptoe’s household.

DATE:  Aug 1823 (proved 25 Aug 1823)

PARTIES:  Pleasant HAYTHE, Cornelius CRENSHAW and RandolphDEPRIEST, of Campbell County to Robert C. STEPTOE of Bedford County

DOCUMENT TYPE:  Bill of Sale

SOURCE:  Bedford County Courthouse, Bedford VA, Deed Book 18, p363

SLAVES NAMED IN DOCUMENT:    “a male slave named Pleasant,otherwise Pleasant Rowan”

COMMENTS:  Pleasant Rowan was sold to Robert C. Steptoe for $390.

Steptoe was resident in Bedford County, and closely allied with the slave owning Roane family, which provides some initial and interesting indications of how Pleasant was related to the Roane family.

I don’t know whether it was Pleasant or Steptoe who had the idea of freeing Pleasant from slavery. What is known is that a suit for Pleasant’s freedom was filed in Campbell County, the county where Lynchburg is situated, in 1824.

DATE:  1 April 1824

PARTIES:  Robert C. STEPTOE to Pleasant ROWAN

DOCUMENT TYPE:  Deed of Emancipation

SOURCE:  Bedford County Courthouse, Bedford VA, Deed Book 19, p43

SLAVES NAMED IN DOCUMENT: Pleasant ROWAN

COMMENTS:  “for and in consideration of the general good character and conduct of Pleasant alias Pleasant Rowan now my slave and especially for and in consideration of an act of extraordinary merit done and performed by the said Pleasant alias Pleasant Rowan in the life-time of his former master and owner John Depriest, late of the County of Campbell, in endeavoring to secure and save the life of the said John Depriest at the imminent peril and hazard of his own:

Wherefore I the said Robert C. Steptoe for and in consideration of the premises & especially the act last mentioned:  Have liberated, emancipated & from the shackles of slavery set free, and by these presents do liberate, emancipate and from the shackles of slavery forever set free the said Pleasant Roane alias Pleasant Rowan.”

James Hendrick and Nathan Read were witness to this deed.

Lynchburg

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An image of the  view of the Old Marketplace in Lynchburg, dated 1875. Image from King’s The Great South, published in 1875.

It appears that Pleasant, a skilled carpenter, was already resident in Lynchburg shortly before he was freed in 1824. Reviewing records, he seemed to have a great deal of liberty within the confines of enslavement under Stepoe. He hired himself out, an arrangement that Steptoe seems to have encouraged. He also appears to have had his own household, again, apparently with the blessing of Steptoe. While not free, he certainly moved with a great deal of freedom within Lynchburg.

Another suite was brought in 1826 for Pleasant to remain in Virginia, near his wife, Nancy Stewart, and the four children who were born prior to 1826.  Nancy and Pleasant’s 4 children remained enslaved. His wife and children were free by 1830 census.  I’m assuming at this point that, he had saved enough money, through his hard work and industry, to buy their freedom. His children who were born after 1830 were all born free.

There are a few things that stand out in his 1826 suit to remain in Virginia. The first is the number of European-descended people who vouched for his good character and industry. It’s a slight exaggeration, yet, it seems as though half the European-descended population of Lynchburg came out in defense of Pleasant to remain as part of their community. Beloved may be over-egging the pudding.  Nonetheless, their testimony paints a picture of a man who was indeed respected, admired, and valued by many within his community.

I don’t know what prompted Robert Steptoe from taking this course of action. Perhaps, one day, one of his descendants can fill in this part of the story.  I, for one, thank the cosmos that he did. It was far, far from being a straightforward endeavour.

Pleasant’s children and descendants would become part of the African American bourgeoisie, as well as leaders within the religious and Civic spheres of Lynchburg.

As you read through the court records (with transcripts) that follow below, I’d ask you to keep this thought at the back of your mind:  this is what a African-descended person of good, sober, and unblemished conduct had to endure in order to remain in the state of his or her birth once freed from slavery.

Manumission document

I haven’t been able to access the original records in order to make better copies than those which appear below. You will find the original filings and court papers along with an accompanying transcriptions for each image. The original images are small and difficult to read (hence the transcriptions). However, I am mightily indebted to the Library of Virginia for digitizing these records and making them available for free online via http://www.virginiamemory.com/transcribe/scripto/transcribe/13404/40948.

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Robert Steptoe’s Manumission Petition for Pleasant Roane

Transcription:

To the Honorable the Speakers and members of the Senate and House of Delegates of Virginia – The petition of Pleasant Rowan a freeman of Color respectfully sheweth [sic] – That on the first day of April in the year 1825, your petitioner was in due form of law emancipated by Robert E. [Steploe?] Esqr of the county of Bedford (in Virginia). As will fully appear by reference to the original deed of emancipation herewith exhibited and marked – From an inspection of that document, it will be found that in addition to his general good character and conduct an act of extraordinary merit was likewise one of the inducements to his emancipation, and from this Your Honorable bodies might with some plausibility conclude that his present application should in strict [propriety?] have been addressed to the court of the county in which he was emancipated, and not to the Legislature. Upon this point your petitioner begs leave to be indulged with a few words of explanation. Your petitioner in common with a majority of the people of his condition has never been blessed with the [lights?] and advantages of learning and education, and savoring the little information he has picked up in his unequal intercourse with the enlightened part of society, he is yet in the condition of native ignorance. In such circumstances prudence seems to dictate the propriety of relying upon the counsels of the better informed. By these he had been advised that the provisions of the law which conferd [sic] on the county courts power & jurisdiction to hear and determine applications like the present are so [illegible] limited & restricted as to promise nothing but defeat and [discon?], results which are rendered infinitely more intolerable by the reflection, that the same law especially inhibits a second application, no matter from what cause the first failure may have proceeded – For the [illegible] of these remarks your petitioner begs leave to refer generally to the 62nd Section of the act” concerning Slaves, free negroes [sic] and mulattoes” 1.Vol.Rev:Code of 1819.h43b, but more especially
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Leave to remain in Virginia Court affidavits

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Transcript:

[written on left side of page]
to that part of the section quoted which requires the presence of a majority of the acting magistrates of the county whenever such application shall be acted upon – Your petitioner is advised that in almost every other instance in which the laws require the presence of a majority of the justices to act upon a specified subject, they at the same time provide for the contingency of their failure to [illegible], by declaring that a summons duly executed requiring their attendance for the contemplated [illegible], shall be held to be a [illegible] compliance with the law, and that the justices attending the [illegible] that a majority may proceed in the discharge of the prescribed duty – But in a case like the present, when an application is made in behalf of a manumitted slave for leave of residence; no matter how [illegible] all the forms of law may [illegible] been complied with, no matter what [illegible] may have been made to procure their attendance, yet if the required majority be not actually present, the court have no authority to proceed – Your petitioner need I [casualy?] remind your honorable body of the degraded condition of most of that unfortunate race of people with which it is his misfortune to be connected – Denied the use and enjoyment of many of the most valuable rights and priveleges [sic] of free men: Subjected in all cases of offences to the most [illegible] as actions of penal law; and sunk by long settled and inveterate opinion into a state of contempt & degradation the most deplorable, their personal influence, unaided by legal coercion, [illegible] hope to do but like towards convencing [sic] a majority of the justices of a county, even when the most interesting publick [sic] sessions, much less where such convention concerned their own personal interest – Yet not withstanding these appalling difficulties your petitioner was prompted in order to afford a more complete foundation for his present application, to attempt the [illegible] prescribed by law of applying to the county court for relief, he accordingly at the last March [illegible] of the county court of Campbell applied to the said court for an
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[written on right side of page]
order directing the magistrates of said county to be summoned to take into consideration his petition for leave to reside in said county – as well fully appear by reference to a copy of said order herewith exhibited [illegible]
they were accordingly summoned but failed to attend and thus the anticipation of your petitioners advisers were fully [illegible] – From hence if evidently appears that all hope of bringing his application before the county court is utterly vain unless [illegible] some occasion of publick [sic] interest should call together majority of the justices, a contingency not to be relied upon [illegible] any safety, especially by one whose liberty is every moment [illegible] to for future under the existing laws – Your petitioner trusts that in the considerations thus suggested our honorable body discern a reasonable excuse for his present application – He is well aware of the strong prejudices, almost universally prevalent against people of his condition, insomuch that they are generally regarded as a nuisance rather than a benefit to society. Yet he [illegible] that however [illegible] this opinion may [illegible] in General. The respectable testimonials herewith exhibited [illegible] be sufficient in your minds to make him an Honorable [illegible].
Your petitioner in conclusion would respectfully state that many years prior to his emancipation, he intermarried with a slave the property of Mr. Richard Walker of Bedford, by and with the consent of her master, that he has by her four small children for whom he cherishes a fond & [illegible] affection and this connection it is hoped will have its due weight in and of the present application; should it fail, he will be reduced to one of two dire alternatives, either he must forfeit his freedom [continued in the next image and transcription below].
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Transcript:

so likely acquired or preserve it by removeing [sic] to a distant state and at once burst [assunder?] those tender ties of affection & feelings which are most deeply implanted in the Human heart –

In [illegible] consideration of the premises your petitioner prays that a law may be passed by the legislature authoriseing [sic] him to reside in the county of Campbell, Virginia, under such conditions the [illegible] [at?] to the legislature may seem [illegible] And as in duly bound your petitioner will ever pray [illegible]
Pleasant Rowan [his mark]

]written in meddle of page]
Petition of Pleasant Rowan for Leave to reside in the County of Campbell
Decr[sic] 28th 1826 ref’d to Ct of J
Wm M Rives
1827 Jany [sic] 2. Reasonable
Bill drawn
[written on right side of page]
[Pleasant] on P Rowan [illegible][illegible] for several years [illegible][illegible] of [illegible][illegible] by whom he had several children. The [illegible] has [illegible] [illegible] to [illegible] [illegible] [illegible] attention to his conduct, with [illegible] him to be [illegible] [illegible] as a likable carpenter. I have [illegible] [illegible] [illegible] [illegible] of a [illegible]. Rich’d Walker [illegible]
I add my testimony to that of Mr. Walker in stating that the character of Pleasant stands uncommonly fair as a peaceable, sober, industrious and honest man – His [illegible] in [receiving?] matters is as good as that of any white person of moderate circumstances. He is entirely humble in his deportment nor have I ever heard a vice of any kind alleged against him. He has a wife, the slave of Mr. Richard Walker, in my immediate neighbourhood [sic], and I believe five young children from whom he will be separated unless he be permitted to remain in the State of Virginia.
Wm Radford

Bedford County
November 15th 1825
I have been acquainted with the above named Pleasant for several years and have employed at [illegible] times to [illegible] work for me in his line of business, and always considered him an honest respectable man, and have never heard anything to his prejudice and thinks he deserves the character given him by the Gentlemen above named. Given under my hand this [illegible] of November 1825. John Waltz
The above [illegible] on P Rowan, (some years ago) did some Carpentry work for me and he appear’d while doing it, a very Sober, Industrious, honest man. Given this 16th Nov. 1825. Harlan Reid
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Transcript:

[written on left side of page]
Pleasant or Pleasant Rowan, a free Man of Colour [sic], has worked for me for some years past as a Carpenter – I consider him a Man of uncommon worth. Js. Steploe Nov. 17. 1825
Pleasant or Pleasant Roan a free man of Colour [sic] I have known from his Infancy first as a slave and him as a free man in both capacitys [sic] he has always supported a good character. I have even considered him a remarkable well behaved honest Industrious sober man. I believe him to be a valuable carpenter. I know of no coloured [sic] man more deserving a residence in the State – William Clements Campbell County November 21st 1823
Certificates J. Steploe & others

[written on right side of page]
Pleasant is a colour’d [sic] man that I have long known, first as a slave & hence, as free man in both capacitys [sic] he has at all times supported a good character as a well behaved, honest, Industrious Man, he is a good mechanic as a Carpenter, & presume he whould [sic] be a loss to the neighbourhood [sic] in which he resides if remov’d [sic] therefrom – given in Campbell County – 12 Novr 1825 M Lambeth ~ Jacob White
I have been acquainted with Pleasant [illegible] numbers of years and think he deserves the characters given him by the gentlemen above named. John [illegible] 15. Nov. 1825
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Transcript:

[written on right side of page]
Campbell County Va November 2nd 1825
I have Rec’d the [illegible] Certificates obtained by Pleasant a free man of colour [sic] and I can only add that he is deserving the character given him by the Gentlemen that [has?] given him their certificates of his character and have long known him both as a slave and [since?] he has been emancipated and never knew or heard anything to his prejudice. Given November 1825 John [Alexander?]
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Transcript:

[written on left side of page]
Certificates
M Lambeth [illegible]
[written on right side of page]
Campbell April Court 1826
On the petition of Pleasant Rowan It is ordered that the Justices of this County be summoned to appear at the next Term of this court to take into consideration the petition of said Rowan for leave to reside within this commonwealth it appearing to the Court that such notice of his petition has been given as the law required. Teste John Alexander Clk [sic]
Upon which order the Sheriff made the following return “Executed on William C. McAllister, Edward B Withers, John E Woodson, Adam Clement, Thomas Harvey, Richard Harvey, Richard Perkins, James Bullock, Meredith Lambert, Thomas Callaway, Henry T Early, Joseph McAllister, Alexander Austin, Samuel Pannill – Rich’d Morgan DS for [illegible] West Shff” [illegible] Teste Jno Alexander Clk
I James Hendrick to hereby certify that I was the counsel of Pleasant Rowan in his application to the county court for leave to reside in the State of Virginia – I do further state that I was present at Campbell May Court 1826 & that a majority of the court did not attend at that term according to the summons as annexed & furthermore I do certify that from my experience in such matters it is exclusively difficult if not impossible to get a competent court in such cases – J. Hendrick 13 Decem. 1836
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Transcript:

[written on left side of page]
Order for Pleasant Rowan ~~
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[written on right side of page]
I have know Pleasant alias Pleasant Rowan a free man of color for several years, which times, I have had many opportunities to observe his general conduct and deportment. The result of my observation is a belief that he is an honest, industrious, sober, and discreet man – I know him to be a useful mechanic – and as far as concerns myself I should regret his being compelled to leave the neighborhood – Given under my hand this 26th Novr 1825 J. Hendrick
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Transcript:

[written on left side of page]
J. Hendricks Certificate
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[written on right side of page]
To all & singular persons to whom these [illegible] shall [illegible] by [illegible] – Know ye That I Robert C Steploe of the County of Bedford & State of Virginia for & in consideration of the general good conduct and character of Pleasant alias Pleasant Rowan now my slave, and especially for and in consideration of an act of extraordinary merit done and performed by the said Pleasant alias Pleasant Rowan in the life time of his former master and [illegible] John Depriest late of the county of Campbell, in endeavoring to reserve and save the life of the said John Depriest at the imminent peril & hazard of his own, Therefore, I the said Robert C Steploe for and in consideration of the promise especially the act last mentioned have Liberated, Emancipated from the shackles of Slavery forever set free the said Slave, Pleasant alias Pleasant Rowan – In testimony whereof I the said Robert C Steploe have hereunto set my hand & seal this the first day of April in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred & twenty four Signed, sealed & delivered In presence of J. Hendrick
Robt C Steploe seal
N. Reid
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Transcript:

[written on left side of page at bottom]
At a Court held for Bedford County at the Courthouse the 27th day of December 1824. This [illegible] [illegible] [illegible] was exhibited in Court proved by the oaths of James Hendrick and Nathan Read subscribing witnesses & ordered to be recorded – Teste [illegible] Steploe C.B.C.
Robert C. Steploe to Pleasant Rowan
Disp of Emancipation
1824 December 27th
Rec’d & Ord to be rec’d
Recorded Page 43 Book L & Ex’d

[written on right side of page]
I hereby certify that I have been acquainted with Pleasant Roan free man of colour [sic] and a carpenter by trade for several years and do now consider him an honest, industrious, and good conditioned man and have heard many persons speak highly of him and never heard any thing otherwise. Rich’d [illegible] Bedford [illegible] Nov 1825
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Court ruling on Pleasant’s leave to remain in Virginia

court-ruling

Excerpt from Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia
By Virginia. General Assembly. Published by House of Delegates. Courtesy of Google Books https://books.google.com/books?id=HVhNAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA87&lpg=PA87&dq=%22pleasant+rowan%22,+petition&source=bl&ots=BvHIV0znuv&sig=Jk23k-MV5Z1b-OFTP3ot2kqfICA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiuu7vAoOXRAhVF5YMKHYIpCusQ6AEIOzAG#v=onepage&q&f=false

Transcript:

Resolved, as the opinion of this committee, That the petition of Pleasant Rowan, a man of colour, of the county of Campbell, who has been lately emancipated, praying that he may be allowed by law to remain as a free man in the said county, where he has a wife and children who are slaves, is reasonable.

 

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Filed under AfAm Genealogy, AfAm History, ancestry, Black History, family history, genealogy, Roane family, Uncategorized, virginia

Me, Quaker manumissions – and an 1828 voyage to Liberia

This post is a companion piece to my previous post, Quakers & Slavery: 50 shades of gray and then some.  It’s more or less the other side of American Quaker’s history with slavery. The theme of this post is the practice among a growing number of slave owning Quakers who freed their slaves.

What I uncovered had me doing a dad dance…not too unlike Matt Bomer’s smooth moves in the TV series American Horror Story. Yeah, I had a revelation so unexpected, so cool, that, well, I just ‘went there’.

I’ve spent the past month tracking down and reading the Wills of my slave owning Quaker cousins; those who not only sired many of my mother’s Carolinian ancestors, but also owned them. I’ve begun tracing ownership of her more distant African descended ancestors from the Colonial Pennsylvania of the 1600’s to Maryland, Delaware and 18th Century Virginia…down to the Carolinas . And yes, that’s a whole lot of probate to read. I’m still working my way through quite a batch of them.

I won’t re-hash what I wrote in the last post. Suffice to say that there was a growing movement within the Quaker faith to end slavery within its ranks. Quakerism and slavery were no longer compatible. I’ve read around 50 Last Wills and Testaments written by Quaker ancestors who owned slaves and died between 1690 to 1790. 90% of these cousins freed their slaves when they died. No caveats, no indentures. They freed their slaves.

The remaining 10% were split 50/50 along two lines.  Those who moved into Virginia and the Carolinas became ever larger slave owners. Not surprisingly, all either left the Quaker faith or were removed by the Quakers for various reasons.

The other camp were Quaker cousins who had an unusual paragraph that kept appearing in their Wills. This paragraph, phrased in slightly different ways in the Wills it appears in, transferred ownership of their slaves to their local Quaker Meeting House until such a time that it was safe for said slaves to be officially freed. This paragraph is telling. It speaks about the concerns for the safety and security of freed slaves in the American south throughout the 18th and early 19th Centuries. Another variation of this paragraph typically requested that slaves were deeded to a family member who was instructed to keep the slaves together until such a time that it was safe for them to be freed, with further instructions that the slave owner’s heirs should assist these slaves in relocating to other states, notably Indiana, Illinois and Ohio.

Slaves held by either the local Quaker Meeting House or by designated family members were to be paid, with their wages being held for safekeeping to support them once they were freed. Slaves in this scenario were either hired out or had enough say of their own to hire themselves out.

What the Wills don’t clarify, however, is defining what constituted a ‘safe environment’ in which the slaves could be freed. I’m still researching what those qualifiers would have been. The more of these Wills I read the more I get the impression that some Quakers who had slaves were actually shielding their slaves from the criminal acts that could take place in the hands of other less thoughtful owners or the agents of less thoughtful owners.

I’ve found a cousin, Robert Peelle (1709), who was a very politically astute person. He seems to have possessed good knowledge of the then current laws because he could see the ultimate impact that changes like The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northwest_Ordinance) would have upon the South. I won’t get into what this Ordinance was. Suffice to say it set forth how new states would be admitted in to the new Republic. The formal slave state vs free state argument was still a ways off, however, the roots of this future argument can be seen in the Ordinance.

In his will dated 21 January 1782, Robert Peele included the following:

Item: It is my will and desire that all my Negroes to wit, James, Pen and Kader, Dinah and her four Children, Viz., Heather, Molly, Ginny and Teressa and all the increase of said Dinah and four children if any, shall have their freedom if ever the Laws of the Land should admit of their having that privilege freely, clearly and absolutely….

Robert wanted all slaves to be free. He wrote his will five years before Congress passed the Northwest Ordinance. I believe that he knew that, once there was a slave-free area established, it would eventually expand into the entire South and that it would not be a quick process.

Now, what got me doing a dad dance? It all has to do with four ancestral cousins – three of them are a father and his two sons – John Jellory Peele and his sons, Edmund and Thomas. The fourth is another cousin, Thomas Outland.  All of these men were resident in Rich Square, Northampton County, North Carolina…a town founded by some very old Quaker families.

John Peele (1729-1804), originally from Nansemond, Virginia, was a Quaker Minister at Rich Square who also owned slaves but felt very strongly about their freedom. John came to own slaves via his wife, a Nansemond, Virginia plantation heiress. By all accounts, slave ownership did not sit easily with her. I don’t have contemporary correspondence or written thoughts from John. His Will, however, speaks, volumes.

He stated the following in his will written 29 January 1799:

Item. I leave all the Negroes that have been or now are under my care (living) in trust altogether of my two sons Edmund and Thomas Peelle, for them to take care of and place as they may think most proper, as also to direct as they may from time to time find necessary, until the Laws of the Land will admit of their freedom and that they may then enjoy it fully, and all necessary expenses accruing there from to be paid out of my Estate.

It’s what came next that made me giddy.

So what happened to the many slaves that John Peele owned and passed to his sons Edmund and Thomas?

The Quaker Monthly Meeting House in Rich Square, Northampton County, North Carolina

The Quaker Monthly Meeting House in Rich Square, Northampton County, North Carolina

The Peeles, along with cousin Thomas Outland, being legally authorized and empowered by trustees of the yearly meeting of the Society of Friends of North Carolina, conveyed 58 freed slaves to the states of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, to areas deemed safe for them as they were to be settled in areas of these states largely peopled by Quakers. The Quakers, would keep these freed slaves safe.

Edmund Peele, a prominent Friend of Rich Square, liberated a further 125 slaves in 1827. However, he didn’t just free them. He arranged for their safe passage to Liberia, Africa. At his own expense. He also gave each $25 with which to start their new lives. That’s approximately $650 per freed slave in today’s money (https://books.google.com/books?id=MWFHAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA64&dq=edmund+peele+slaves&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj0s72yzITLAhVCWT4KHaklBMsQ6AEIOzAE#v=onepage&q=edmund%20peele%20slaves&f=false). I’ve read hundreds of Wills from ancestors who owned slaves. This is a first. I have never come across anything remotely like this.

Illustrative image of African Americans arriving in Liberia. This is not a picture of the Nautilus.

Illustrative image of African Americans arriving in Liberia. This is not a picture of the Nautilus.

Liberia. Now that’s a thing I’ve never considered in my many genealogy adventures. My curiosity piqued, I had to know the names of the freed men, women, and children who made that journey. It took plenty of perseverance…but I finally found their names.

I needed to find the name of the ship these souls sailed aboard. I Googled all manner of search strings based on North Carolina slaves, 1827 & 1828 and Liberia. Nothing much turned up. And then I struck gold: the US Brig Nautilus, which set sail from Hamtpon Roads, Virginia and arrived in Liberia on 19 February 1828. The voyage had lasted 54 days:

Now that I had a date, and the name of the ship, I could start searching for passenger manifests. Two family groups immediately leapt out at me: the Outlands and the Peeles. These freed slaves who had journeyed to Monrovia Liberia were my cousins on my mother’s side of the family tree.

All of the individuals below, highlighted in red, are my ancestral cousins (apologies for any formatting glitches. WordPress doesn’t make it easy to create tables):

Names
Age
State or place from which they emigrated
Free born or otherwise
Emancipated in view of emigrating to Liberia and by whom
Where located on their arrial in the colony
Extent of education
Profession
Date of death
Cause of death
Removed to what place
Removal date
Lucretia Outland
70
North Carolina
Unknown
Millsburg
1830
Old age
 
 
Bryan Outland
20
do
do
do
1837
Pleurisy
 
 
Joseph Outland
40
do
do
do
1838
Consumption
 
 
Jane Outland
30
do
do
do
1838
Consumption
 
 
Annet Outland
15
do
do
do
 
 
 
 
 
Kader Outland
13
do
do
do
 
 
 
 
 
 
Allen Outland
12
do
do
do
1828
Fever
 
 
Byas Outland
9
do
do
do
 
 
 
 
 
 
Gatsy Outland
7
do
do
do
 
 
 
 
 
 
Owen Outland
5
do
do
do
 
 
 
 
 
 
Zachariah Outland
3
do
do
do
1828
Fever
 
 
Dorothy Outland
42
do
do
do
1843
Decline
 
 
Isabella Outland
12
do
do
do
 
 
 
 
 
 
Penina Outland
10
do
do
do
1828
Fever
 
 
Rufus Outland
8
do
do
do
1829
Pleurisy
Olin Outland
6
do
do
do
 
 
 
 
 
 
Harry Davis
45
do
do
do
 
 
 
 
 
 
Darcus Davis
45
do
do
do
1828
Fever
 
 
Tabitha Davis
14
do
do
do
1828
Fever
 
 
Cherry Davis
12
do
do
do
1828
Fever
Joseph Davis
10
do
do
do
Stephen Davis
9
do
do
do
1828
Fever
Mary Davis
7
do
do
do
Marinda Davis
5
do
do
do
1828
Fever
Council Davis
3
do
do
do
Penina Davis
2
do
do
do
Rhody Outland
18
do
do
do
1829
Unknown
 
 
Jane Outland, infant
do
do
do
1828
Fever
 
 
Rosetta Outland
22
do
do
do
 
 
 
 
 
 
Reddick Outland
8
do
do
do
1828
Fever
 
 
Tobias Outland
6
do
do
do
 
 
 
 
 
Maria Outland
4
do
do
do
 
 
 
 
 
 
Garcy Outland
1
do
do
do
1837
Pleurisy
 
 
Phoebe Outland
16
do
do
do
 
 
 
 
 
 
Erone Outland, infant
do
do
do
1828
Fever
 
Luke Kennedy
32
do
do
do
Jesse Kennedy
38
do
do
do
C. Kennedy, twin
12
do
do
do
B. Kennedy, twin
12
do
do
do
Asbury Kennedy
10
do
do
do
1836
Anasarca
William Kennedy
8
do
do
do
Shedrick Kennedy
6
do
do
do
Wiley Kennedy
1
do
do
do
1840
Unknown
Christian Outland
17
do
do
do
Farmer
 
 
 
 
Hilliard Outland
1
do
do
do
 
 
 
 
 
 
Delila Outland
20
do
do
do
1828
Fever
 
Zaney Overman
1
do
do
do
Joseph Peele
37
do
Mr. Peele
do
1840
Consumption
 
 
Chany Peele
23
do
do
do
1840
Consumption
 
 
Mary Peele
5
do
do
do
S. Leone
1837
Parthena Peele
4
do
do
do
1828
Fever
 
 
William Peele
1
do
do
do
1828
Fever
Catharine Peele
56
do
do
do
1839
Consumption
 
 
Isaac Peele
15
do
do
do
1839
Anasarca
 
 
Wiley Peele
12
do
do
do
1840
Anasarca
 
 
William Peele
19
North Carolina
Mr. Peele
Millsburg
U. S.
1828
Venus Peele
30
do
do
do
1833
Anasarca
 
 
Abraham Peele
7
do
do
do
1840
Pleurisy
 
 
Peter Peele
5
do
do
do
 
 
 
 
 
 
Lydia Peele
3
do
do
do
1836
Pleurisy
 
 
Catharine Peele
1
do
do
do
1828
Fever
Bridget Peele
30
do
do
do
1837
Diseased lungs
 
 
Winney Peele
14
do
do
do
1838
Diseased lungs
 
 
Charles Peele
10
do
do
do
1828
Fever
 
 
Judith Peele
7
do
do
do
 
 
 
 
 
 
Rachel Peele
38
do
do
do
1843
Consumption
 
 
Penina Peele
5
do
do
do
 
 
 
 
Harriet Peele
3
do
do
do
1828
Fever
 
 
Edmund Peele
1
do
do
do
 
 
 
 
 
 
Ceily Peele
57
do
do
do
1829
Decline
 
 
Loretta Peele
14
do
do
Monrovia do
 
 
 
 
 
 
Chaney Peele
63
do
do
do
1829
Decline
 
Edith Peele
35
do
do
do
1836
Decline
 
 
Peggy Peele
41
do
do
do
 
 
 
 
 
 
Edney Peele
14
do
do
do
 
 
 
 
 
 
Anaka Peele
12
do
do
do
 
 
 
 
 
 
Edward Peele
10
do
do
do
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sylvia Peele
1
do
do
do
 
1828
Fever
 
Ceily Peele
61
do
do
do
 
 
 
 
 
 
Nancy Peele
14
do
do
do
 
 
 
 
 
 
Olive Peele
11
do
do
do
 
1837
Pleurisy
 
 
Rachel Peele
9
do
do
do
 
 
 
 
 
 
Willis Peele
17
do
do
Millsburg
 
Farmer
1839
Casualty
 
 
Sarah Peele
21
do
do
do
 
1836
Pleurisy
 
Elizabeth Peele
5
do
do
do
 
1828
Fever
 
 
Allen Peele
18
do
do
do
 
Farmer
1828
Fever
 
 
Mary Peele
16
do
do
do
 
 
 
 
 
 
Reuben Peele
29
do
do
do
 
Farmer
 
 
 
 
Abraham Peele
20
do
do
do
 
Farmer
 
 
Patience Peele
25
do
do
do
 
 
 
 
 
 
Richard Peele
8
do
do
do
 
 
 
 
 
 
Charity Peele
16
do
do
do
 
 
 
 
Benjamin Lawrence
26
do
Unknown
Caldwell
Farmer
1838
Diseased lungs
Adeline Lawrence
1
do
do
do
Judith Lawrence
46
do
do
do
1839
Diseased lungs
Isaac Outland
16
do
do
do
 
Farmer
 
 
 
 
Edward Outland
48
do
do
do
 
Farmer
1839
Diseased lungs
 
 
Hester Outland
30
do
do
do
 
 
 
 
 
 
Jeremiah Outland
15
do
do
do
 
S. Leone
1837
Elizabeth Outland
13
do
do
do
 
1836
Unknown
 
 
Penina Outland
12
do
do
do
 
 
 
 
 
 
Henry Outland
5
do
do
do
 
1828
Fever
 
 
Dempy Outland
27
do
do
do
 
Farmer
 
 
 
 
Winney Outland
23
do
do
do
 
 
 
 
 
 
Samuel White
48
do
do
do
 
Farmer
 
 
 
 
Axem White
22
do
do
do
 
do
1829
Diseased brain
 
 
Hester White
15
do
do
do
 
 
 
 
 
 
Penina White
13
do
do
do
 
1828
Fever
 
 
Lucinda White
11
do
do
do
 
1828
Fever
 
 
John White
1
do
do
do
 
1828
Fever
 
 
Margaret White
17
do
do
do
 
 
 
Morning Toms
27
do
do
Monrovia
1843
Decline
Jacob Toms
1
do
do
do
1828
Fever
Cambridge Toms
77
do
do
do
1828
Fever
Francis Toms
56
do
do
do
Farmer
1828
Fever
Charlotte Toms
15
do
do
do
1830
Decline
Marinda Toms
12
do
do
do
1828
Fever
Dempsy Toms
9
do
do
do
1828
Fever
Mary A. Toms
5
do
do
do
1828
Fever
Emily White
15
do
do
do
 
 
 
 
Chancy Fletcher
30
do
Mr. Fletcher
do
1833
Anasarca
Lydia Fletcher
12
do
do
do
C. Palmas
Matthew Fletcher
5
do
do
do
Mary Fletcher
3
North Carolina
Mr. Fletcher
Monrovia
Ann Fletcher, infant
do
Unknown
Caldwell
1828
Fever
Rhody Jordan
27
do
do
do
 
 
1832
Consumption
 
 
Chancy Jordan
8
do
do
do
 
 
1828
Fever
 
 
Nixon Jordan
6
do
do
do
 
 
 
 
 
 
Lusanna Jordan
4
do
do
do
 
 
1828
Fever
 
 
Miley Jordan
2
do
do
do
 
 
 
 
 
 
Solomon Jordan, inf.
do
do
do
 
 
 
 
 
Ruth Trublood
12
do
do
do
1828
Fever
Hannah Trublood
10
do
do
do
1828
Fever
Diver Fletcher
22
do
Mr. Fletcher
do
Thomas Fletcher
20
do
do
do
1840
Drowning
Jesse White
21
do
do
do
Gilley Toms
18
do
do
do
1828
Fever
Ceiley Fletcher
30
do
do
do
1840
Consumption
Annis Fletcher
25
do
do
do
1840
Consumption
Calvin Fletcher
7
do
do
do
Clarissa Fletcher
3
do
do
do
Dempsy Fletcher
51
do
do
do
1832
Decline
Cave Jones
55
Virginia
Unknown
do
 
 
1828
Fever
 
 
Winney Jones
65
do
do
do
 
 
1834
Decline
 
John Brisbane
29
do
do
do
1830
Consumption
Jane Brisbane
27
do
do
do
1833
Consumption
John Brisbane, jr.
5
do
do
do
Catharine Brisbane
3
do
do
do
1838
Consumption
Francis Brisbane
1
do
do
do
1828
Fever
Wiley Reynolds
24
do
do
do
U. S.
1828
Remus Harvey
30
Maryland
Free born
do
 
 
1836
Diseased lungs
 
 
Malvina Harvey*
25
do
do
 
 
1838
Decline
 
 
Rebecca Harvey
6
do
Free born
do
 
 
 
 
 
 
Susan Harvey
3
do
do
do
 
 
1828
Fever
 
 
Elizabeth Harvey
1
do
do
do
 
 
 
 
 
 
John Stansbury
19
do
do
do
Maria Stansbury
22
do
do
do
1833
Consumption
Jane Bryant
4
do
do
do
 
 
 
 
 
Jane Bladen
30
do
do
do
1828
Unknown
Richard Prout*
45
do
do
1828
Fever
Susan Prout
12
do
do
do
William Prout*
8
do
do
do
C. Palmas
1834
John Brown
37
do
do
do
do
1836

Source: Christine’s Genealogy Website – Emigrants to Liberia – Ship Lists
http://www.ccharity.com/contents/roll-emigrants-have-been-sent-colony-liberia-western-africa/emigrants-to-liberia-ship-lists

This document is illuminating for a few reasons. There seems to be a high mortality rate amongst those who arrived in Liberia via the 1828 trip. The illnesses which they died from pretty much speak for themselves.

The other reason this discovery is so profound for me, yet equally simple: There were enormous holes, dead ends and brick walls in my genealogy research for many of my Rich Square black ancestral lines. Hundreds of people simply vanished from all of the usual American records just before 1830. Now I know why. These people were no longer living in America. They were living in Liberia. Now I can update the information I have for them in my family tree. And, hopefully, connect with some of their descendants in Liberia.

Next will be researching the freed families who quit Rich Square for Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. And, of course, reading up on what it was like in Liberia when these Americans arrived.

For now? It’s dad dance time. And I’m fine with that.

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