Pennsylvania African-American Biographies
Submitted by: Bill Davison
My GGG Grandfather on my mother’s side is
Daniel Ferrell. Daniel was listed in the 1820
census as a “free person of color” in
. Not a surprise considering my family is African
American. However, the plot thickens for in a later
census, Daniel Ferrell and family, living in
as listed as “white”.
Daniel is buried in Presbyterian Church
Cemetery in Jefferson
“Daniel Ferrell d. Jan 22, 1851
aged 53 yr, 1 m, 5 d”. So, not only does
my Daniel have a date of death, he also has a date of birth!
In the 1823 Will of Thomas
Hughes, ESQ , of
“…I also will and direct that Jane the
black woman be maintained on the premise during her natural life---I
also will and direct that Danl Ferrel (a man
of colour ) be managed
at the discretion of my Wife Elizabeth and the Executors of this
my last Will.”
The above mentioned Jane, then aged 39,
along with Sam, then aged 6, were two slaves
registered by Thomas Hughes in 1782,
, PA (Negro
Slave Register). However, where Daniel Ferrell came from is a mystery to
this day. It is said that Daniel earned his freedom by digging 5000
bushels of coal for his master Thomas Hughes. If this is fact, then
Daniel might have been a slave! Or an indentured servant! But Daniel is
never noticed listed as a slave! As I read and re-read the Will of
Thomas Hughes, I try to understand the meaning of “maintained” and “managed
”. I am of the thinking that “maintained” is not the same as
“freedom”. The word “freedom” is absent from the Thomas Hughes Will!
“Maintained”…( American Heritage Dictionary)
…To provide for; support. Giving further thought to Jane the black
woman, Maintained is not the same as Freedom! Thomas Hughes was an
intelligent man who I believe knew the difference between “Maintained”
and Freedom”. While I also believe Jane was granted permission to live
out her natural life on the Thomas Hughes premises, I do not believe she
was ever “freed” as there has never surfaced a
“Manumission for Jane the black woman ”.
Now, Daniel Ferrell and “manajed
” (managed). 1. To
direct, control, or handle. 2. To administer or regulate. 3. To
make submissive. While a “ Manumission” is
“freedom”, I do not see “manajed /managed”
as freedom or a manumission! And that Daniel is not seen listed or
registered as a slave of Thomas Hughes or anyone else…and that Daniel
was a free person of color in 1820 and a “white” man in 1830.
It is said that Thomas Hughes freed his
slaves prior to the Civil War and that his Hughes House became a stop on
the Underground Railroad! Which slaves did Thomas Hughes free? Thomas
Hughes, ESQ, still paid taxes on 2 slaves in 1819! Who were they?
Jane and Daniel Ferrell? Moses was freed
in 1824 while Thomas died in 1823! Jane the black woman was to
be “ maintained” and Daniel
Ferrel , a man of
colour , was to be “manajed /managed
at the discretion of my Wife Elizabeth and the Executors of” Thomas
Where was Daniel
Ferrel /Ferrell between 1798 and 1820? Good question!!!!
However, we are able to track Daniel …and
later his wife and children … until the year after Daniel’s death in
1851. The Greene
census show Daniel in the
county. The November Term 1850 show Daniel listed in The Account of
Thomas & Charles Hughes, Executors of the last Will and Testament of
John Hughes, Dec’d . Daniel was paid “18
3/4'”! Paid for what, it does not say. But, in the census, Daniel was a
‘butcher’ by trade.
The DEED: Charles Rex & Wife to Daniel
Ferrel /Ferrell in trust for his wife &
children…an Indenture made the 245th(
?) day of 1852 between Charles Rex of Jefferson and Mary his wife
of the first part and Daniel Ferrel of
Jefferson in trust for his wife and children of the other part….in
consideration of $150.00, the house and ground formerly owned by Thomas
Fletcher is to be deeded to Daniel Ferrell in trust for his wife and
children. This Indenture was made the year following the death of
In 1844, Charles Rex purchased, at
Sheriff’s sale, property once belonging to Thomas Fletcher, who died in
1845…and whom is also buried in the Presbyterian Church
Jefferson Greene County ,
So, Daniel seems to have resided in or
PA , from at least
1830 until his death in 1851. “Managed/manajed
”… not manumitted! Cared for but not manumitted!
direct, control, or handle. 2. To administer or regulate.
3. To make submissive”. But not
The trail for Daniel’s past has been
running cold since discovery of the Deed and November Term 1850
documents. Now, the trail is “hot” again for the name “Daniel Ferrell”
appears in a book, the George Rex Genealogy by Leda Ferrell Rex, 1933.
Not only do the surnames Ferrell and Rex appear in writing, there also
appears Daniel Ferrell. Leda Ferrell Rexnamed her son “Daniel Ferrell
Rex”. I know of NO KNOWN CONNECTION BETWEEN LEDA FERRELL REX and my
DANIEL FERRELL! My search continues!