Petition #20185329


In 1839 or 1840, slave owner Elizabeth Jones, of Coffee County, Tennessee, asked her nephew Samuel G. Berry, of Jackson County, Alabama, to become her "agent and advisor" as she was "unlearned, being unable to write or to read writing, unacquainted with figures." In 1840, she sent two of her slaves to work on his farm, and in 1843, she moved to Alabama with the remainder of her slaves, including Nancy, a gift from her father, and Nancy's children. At first she lived in Berry's house, but after eight months, she was asked to move into a nearby cabin. She later sold a slave named Pleasant to William Berry, Samuel's father, and sold a slave named Henderson to Samuel himself. Elizabeth describes Samuel's power over her as "absolute," almost the same "as that of a Master over his slaves" causing her to permit him to use her slaves as laborers on his farm and as hired hands. She contends that, over the years, Samuel grew "cold and morose" towards her. When she attempted to take over the management of her slaves, he implied that the slaves were actually his during her lifetime, by virtue of a document signed by her in 1843; a document she does not remember having ever signed or remembers as being something different that what it is now being purported to be. Elizabeth brings suit against Samuel. She seeks an injunction to restrain him from removing the slaves from the county and asks that he give an account of how he had profited from the use of her slaves.

Result: Dismissed.

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Citation information

Repository: Madison County Public Library Archives, Huntsville, Alabama