Alfred: Freedom Suit, Prince Edward County (Part 3 of 7)
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2 Your petitioners therefore pray the Court, in consideration of the promises to grant them leave to sue for their freedom in forma pauperis in this court, to assign them counsel to institute and prosecute their suit, and to make all necessary and proper orders to protect them from maltreatment and abuse and to afford them a fair trial of their claim to freedom: And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray &c. The petitioners by Flournoy Poindexter BH Nash their counsel 1856 5 May I certify that I have made inquiry and am satisfied of the truth of the facts stated in the foregoing petition of Betty and others, and that upon those facts the petitioners are entitled to their freedom. R W Flournoy 5 May 1856 The foregoing petition having been filed & the Court having assigned a Counsel for the petitioners, the petition and facts therein stated are adopted & submitted by us as the statement of facts required by the statute, and upon these facts we are of opinion that the petitioners are entitled to their freedom. Flournoy Poindexter BH Nash And thereupon, on the petition of Betty, Rebecca, Nelson, Peter, Aggy and her two children Caroline & Edmund, Sylvia and her three children, Dolly, Winny, & Vina, Joe, Orange, Isham, Isbell, Rachel, Sarah, Louisa, Mariah, Mary & Sophia, negroes who were detained in slavery by Jordan Anderson the younger in his life tiime and are now detained in slavery by Wilkins Hall his Executor, but who claim to be free, the Court doth assign Richard W Flournoy Parke Poindexter & Benjamin H Nash as their Counsel, who without reward shall aid them in the prosecution of their suit, and they having filed a statement of facts as required by law with their opinion thereon, leave is granted the petitioners to sue for their freedom in forma pauperis, and it is ordered that the said Wilkins Hall be summoned to answer said petition forthwith, And unless the said Wilkins Hall or some one for him upon being served with a copy of this order shall enter into bond with good security before the Court or its Clerke in the penalty of Fifteen Thousand Dollars payable to the Commonwealth of Virginia, conditioned to have the petitioners forthcoming to abide the Judgment of the Court, and in the mean time to allow them reasonable opportunity to provide for trial, the sheriff who shall execute this order shall take the petitioners into his possession and hire them out from time to time, taking bonds with security 3 from the persons hiring them to pay the hires and return the petitioners whenever required by the order of the Court. And the Court doth appoint Alexander Sims Agent for the petitioners to prosecute their suit. And whereupon the said Wilkins Hall in open Court, acknowledged legal service of the said summons, and having also executed the bond herein required with Anderson Tucker & B W Bailey his securities, filed his answer to the said petition, as follows. Betty & als vs Wilkins Hall. The said defendant for answer to the petition of the said plaintiffs, says, that he holds the said plaintiffs as the slaves of Jordan Anderson the younger dec'd, of whom the said defendant is Executor, and the said defendant therefore denies that the said plaintiffs are entitled to their freedom as in the said petition alleged. The defendant further says that he has no personal knowledge of the matters of fact alleged in the said petition, except as to the existence of the deed of April 7, 1790 and of the will of Jordan Anderson the elder and the fact that Jordan Anderson the younger derived and held the land in the said petition mentioned under the will of the said Jordan Anderson the elder. And he therefore calls for full proof of all the facts in said petition alleged. And the Counsel on both sides consent that all the depositions heretofore taken in the two cases of Milley & others against Anderson and Milley & others against Hall, one brought in 1836 the others in 1850, shall be read as evidence on the trial of this cause, without proof of the death of said witnesses or of their inability to attend the trial, but subject to all other just exceptions. And at another day to wit. At a Circuit Court continued and held in Chesterfield County at the Court House on the 7th day of May 1856 Came again the parties by their attornies, and thereupon a Jury, to wit, Daniel Dyson, Henry K Graves, Fendall C Chalkley, Joseph P Young John T Gregory, Ralph Brown, Frank G Ruffin, Jordan Cox, John G Turpin, George W Cox, James A Ellett and James J Ivey, were selected by lot and sworn well and truly to by the question whether the petitioners be free or not and sundry witnesses being sworn and examined and the Jury having partly heard the evidence were adjourned over until tomorrow morning at 10 Oclock. And at another day to wit, At a Circuit Court continued & held for