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Abstracts from various Georgia County Courts

Posted 09 February 2008


Chatham County, Georgia. Sylvia Mitchell was born a slave and served several owners until 1784, when she was purchased by Thomas Mitchell. Sylvia claims that Thomas Mitchell announced, “in the presence of several respectable witnesses,” his intention to emancipate her, but he died without committing his wishes to writing. Currently, Matthew Crannot “pretends” that Sylvia Mitchell is still a slave and she asks that D. B. Mitchell

be appointed her guardian so she can try to secure her freedom.

Chatham County, Georgia. In 1785, Joseph Dobson (Dopson) borrowed £850 from Daniel Jennings and others. To secure the debt, Dobson mortgaged twelve slaves: Tom, Abraham, Ned, Ben, Adam, Captain, Lizey, Sue, Nancy, and Marissa and her two children, Virtue and Barbasha. The petitioners state that Joseph Dobson has died and that Joseph R. Dobson, his son and administrator of the estate, has neither paid off the note nor

turned over the slaves. They ask that Dobson be ordered to settle this account or that they may proceed with foreclosure on the property.

Greene County, Georgia. In 1798, Richard Foster possessed a Negro girl, Kate. Foster states that in March 1799 he “casually lost the said negroe Girl Kate out of his possession” and that she soon “came into the hands of” Nathan Gouch, Joseph John  Martin, and Augustin Williams. Since that time Foster has been unable to recover his property, and he now asks that the defendants be required to pay him $500 damages.

Greene County, Georgia. In January 1802, John Sims possessed “a likely negro man named Sam,” deemed $700 in value. He states that he “casually

lost” the man, who “came into the hands & possession of Benjamin Sims.” John contends that Benjamin knows that Sam is his but that Benjamin has kept him. John Sims estimates his

damages at $1,000 and asks for intervention on his behalf.

Jefferson County, Georgia. On 1 March 1804, David Ingram purchased the Negro man Cain from George W. Chisolm with the following condition. Chisolm had until 1 March 1805 to pay Ingram $300 if he wanted to redeem Cain. If Chisolm did not pay this amount to Ingram, then the sale would stand. Cain died before that date and in that case Chisolm was “to make the remaining part of his time good” to Ingram, but he has failed to do so.

Ingram asks for $450 damages.

Clarke County, Georgia. In 1807, Joseph Brown agreed to pay $401 to Samuel Brown for a slave named Viney. Samuel Brown has not received compensation for the slave; he claims damages of $800 and asks that Joseph Brown be compelled to answer his allegations at the next superior court session.

Wilkes County, Georgia. On 8 May 1810, Zunri Tait “casually lost” a slave named Phil, who ended up in the possession of Isaac McLendon “by finding.” Tait alleges that the defendant knew that Phil belonged to him but “converted and disposed of the said negro to his own use to the damage of your petitioner nine hundred dollars.” He asks that McLendon be compelled to appear and answer his allegations at the next superior court session.


Wilkes County, Georgia. On 20 April 1813, Samuell Jones “casually lost” Reuben, a slave valued at $600. Joel Terrell came into possession of the slave “by finding.” Jones alleges that Terrell “deceived and defrauded” him by keeping Reuben, because Terrell knew that Reuben was the property of Jones. He claims damages of $2,000 and asks that Terrell appear at the next superior court session to answer “an action of Trover

and Conversion.."


Liberty County, Georgia. On 1 August 1815, Charles W. Rogers paid Margaret Howell $200 for a slave named Aaron. Rogers states that Howell agreed to “refund the said amount of purchase money ... in case the said negro boy slave should die of the disease he was then sick of.” Aaron did die, but Howell refuses to refund the money as promised. Rogers claims damages of $400 and asks that Howell answer his allegations at the

next superior court session.


Greene County, Georgia. William Wagnon, a minor, petitions by his next friend Nathaniel Howell. Wagnon owned a slave named Tillah, valued at $500, but on 6 August 1815, he “casually lost” her. The slave ended up in the possession of George Slaughter “by finding.” Wagnon contends that Slaughter knew that the slave belonged to him but, “intending to injure & defraud your petitioner … Converted and disposed of the said Negro wench Tillah to his own proper use.” Wagnon claims damages of $1,000 and asks that Slaughter appear at the next superior court session to answer his “action of Trover & Conversion.”


Laurens County, Georgia. In 1817, Samuel Beaty died intestate, leaving behind a sizeable estate containing slaves. In January 1818, James Beaty and Thomas Beaty received letters of administration from the ordinary court and subsequently took the estate into their possession. The administrators, in June 1818, sold approximately $2,100 worth of the estate’s property and kept the proceeds, along with other estate property, for themselves. When James Beaty died, John Guyton and Elenor Beaty were appointed administrators of James Beaty’s estate and took into their possession not only James Beaty’s property but also the portion of Samuel Beaty’s estate that James Beaty had taken into his custody. Thomas Beaty died about the same time as James Beaty, and his widow, Nancy Beaty, assumed administration of the estate, including the other portion of Samuel Beaty’s estate. When Nancy Beaty married Darling Jones, he became administrator of Thomas Beaty’s estate. Shortly after the death of James and Thomas Beaty, John Thomas, the petitioner, was appointed administrator of the estate of Samuel Beaty. He asks the court to subpoena the defendants and

compel them to turn the estate of Samuel Beaty over to his custody so that he can distribute it among the appropriate heirs.


In 1835 Bibb County, Georgia. Caroline, Mary, and Cornelia Snelgrove are the minor children of William Snelgrove, petitioning the court by their next friend, Sterling S. Snelgrove. By deed of gift from their father, Caroline was to receive the slave, Hannah, Mary was to receive Isaac, and Cornelia was to receive Clarissa. Sterling Snelgrove was empowered to manage the Negroes. He states “that Negroes are now selling for very good prices, and that they are a species of property subject to accident and death.” Moreover, Sterling has heard that William intends “to seize said property.” Sterling asks the court for permission to sell the Negroes.



Houston County, Georgia. The last will and testament of William Britton, deceased, late of South Carolina, bequeathed a slave, Cobon, and her ten children to Mary Wallace, “for her own proper use and benefit ... and that after her death the same was to vest absolutely in the issue of her body, or her children.” Wallace fears that she may be deprived of her inheritance by her husband, Richard Wallace. She requests that James Holderness be appointed as trustee to secure her rights.

Troup County, Georgia. Thomas and Lucy Hodnett state that their reputations as “good honest just and faithful citizens” have been damaged by the slander of Wade Jones. When one of their hired slaves, Caroline, died of disease in February 1841, Jones accused Lucy Hodnett of mistreatment. He informed a group of citizens that Lucy Hodnett was guilty of “beating her (the said girl) with a loom bench quilting frame & hickory Stick!” The

defendant remarked that if he had been the physician, he “should have to have the girl (meaning Caroline) taken up (that is to have disinterred & a post mortem examination had over her.).” The petitioners aver that Lucy Hodnett is now suspected of murder and that their neighbors have “wholly refrained from having any transaction acquaintance or discourse with her.” The petitioners seek $15,000 in damages.


Laurens County, Georgia. Ann Watts states that in 1834, her father, Frederick Askew, executed a deed that equally divided his fifteen slaves among his children. Upon Askew’s death in 1840, Jacob Linder received two slaves, Selah and her son, Wright, in trust for Ann Watts, who was a feme covert. Watts avers that her husband, William Watts, contrary to the deed and will of Frederick Askew, sold Selah and Wright to Nathan Tucker, who, “by threats and violence,” unlawfully took the slaves from Linder’s possession. In 1843, Linder instituted a suit against Tucker and the slaves were returned to him. Ann Watts writes that Tucker has now filed a claim against Linder, and she fears that if the suit comes to trial, she will lose the slaves because Linder is no longer her trustee and cannot prosecute on her behalf. Since the death of her husband, Ann Watts has become a feme sole and is capable of suing in her own right. She seeks an injunction preventing Tucker from continuing the suit and asks the court to compel Tucker to litigate with her. In addition, she requests that the sale of the two slaves to Nathan Tucker be declared null and void.


1848 Petitions of Guardianship

Jefferson County, Georgia. Caleb Curtis, a free person of color, asks the court to appoint Thomas H. Polhill as his guardian.


Jones County, Georgia. Philip Bowman, a free person of color and a farmer, was born in Virginia. Bowman is “now a resident of Jones County ... a resident of this state since the year 1830.” He seeks the appointment of Joshua Davis as guardian for himself and his property.


Jones County, Georgia. As free people of color, the Cousins family—Sally, Arnold, Nancy, Emily, Thomas, Bessey, James, Missouri, and Martha—petitions the court to appoint Seth Mills as their new guardian.


Jones County, Georgia. As free people of color, the Brasil family—Milley, Anthony, Elizabeth, Levi, Eli, Samuel, Jane, and William—petitions the court to appoint John Jones as their guardian.



Troup County, Georgia. The Anderson family, free persons of color, seeks the appointment of James Alford as their guardian.


Wilkes County, Georgia. The Ordained Ministers of the Gospel of the Baptist Denomination recommend that Billy Lennard, “a Colourd man” belonging to the estate of William Jones, receive a “Liscence to teach and exort among people of his own



Wilkes County, Georgia. The Ordained Ministers of the Gospel of the Baptist Denomination recommend that Lewis, “a Colourd man the property of A Pope Senior,” receive a “Liscence to teach and Exort among people of his own Colour.”




Jones County, Georgia. Emily Smothers, a free woman of color, informs the court that her guardian, Sterling W. Smith, has moved to Bibb County. Smothers seeks the appointment of Jesse Doggett as her new guardian.


Jones County, Georgia. Nancy Cousins, a free woman of color, informs the court that her guardian, Washington Burnett, has “removed from the county to the county of Taylor.” Cousins seeks the appointment of Davis Seaborn as her new guardian.


Jones County, Georgia. Martha Smothers, a free woman of color, informs the court that her guardian, Sterling W. Smith, has moved to Bibb County. Smothers seeks the appointment of Jesse Doggett as her new guardian.




Wilkes County, Georgia. William M. Reese wishes to resign as guardian of John Burks, a free man of color.


Wilkes County, Georgia. John Burks, a free man of color, claims that William M. Reese has resigned as his guardian. Burks seeks the appointment of William M. Booker as his new legal guardian.


Wilkes County, Georgia. Nathan Dal, a free person of color living in Wilkes County, upon the resignation of William Gurley, his guardian and a resident of Columbia County, asks the court to appoint James Smith as guardian in Gurley’s place.