Pennsylvania African-American Biographies

Daniel Ferrell

Submitted by: Bill Davison

My GGG Grandfather on my mother’s side is Daniel Ferrell.  Daniel was listed in the 1820 Greene County census as a “free person of color” in Jefferson Township .  Not a surprise considering my family is African American.  However, the plot thickens for in a later Greene County census, Daniel Ferrell and family, living in Cumberland Township as listed as “white”. 

Daniel is buried in Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Jefferson , Greene County , Penna..

“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 Jefferson , PA.,

“…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, Washington County , 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 Hughes’ will.

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 County 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 Daniel Ferrell.

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 Cemetery , Jefferson Greene County , Pa. .

So, Daniel seems to have resided in or near Jefferson , PA , from at least 1830 until his death in 1851. “Managed/manajed ”… not manumitted!  Cared for but not manumitted!

  Managed:  “To direct, control, or handle. 2. To administer or regulate. 3. To make submissive”.    But not manumitted!

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!