Petition #21484527


Burkley Reed Thomas seeks a divorce from his estranged wife, Martha Bailey Thomas, apart from whom he has lived for at least two years. Reed alleges that Martha continues to have intimate contact with Robert Coleman, a man to whom "she had been attached & and to whom she had been engaged to be married" before she married the petitioner. He contends that his wife was not only verbally abusive to him, but would order the overseer "to seize & strip naked the negro women & men, & have them cruelly beaten & tortured when no offence had been committed." Thomas further reveals that his wife confessed to him "that she had a plan" to kill him and the slaves and that she carried arsenic "for the purpose of poisoning petitioner." He asks that he be "freed and discharged from the obligations" of marriage. A neighbor alleges in a related document that Martha Thompson "whipped to death" one of her servants "before her marriage and one Since" her separation from her husband.

Result: Granted.

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Citation information

Repository: Memphis and Shelby County Archives, Memphis, Tennessee