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Hester Davis Court Case - Loudoun

Of Ethnicity and Migration: Hester Davis v James Allen, Loudoun Co.

The May 2008 issue of The Magazine of VA Genealogy has a transcription of a court case submitted by Marty Hiatt "Davis v Allen, 1822, Loudoun Co. Circuit Court Clerk's Office, Leesburg" loose papers.

Hester bought the suit claiming her freedom based on her descent from an Indian mother. The article provides a transcription of the depositions of individuals who knew Hester, both in NJ and VA and who were questioned on whether or not she was known to be Indian. The records of the General Court were burned so the article does not provide information on the final outcome of the suit. (I took a look at the Abstracts of Loudoun Co. Register of Free Negroes 1844 to 1861 and did not see a Hester named but did see the DAVIS surname.)

It appears that Hester (also called Kauff, Koff, and Bet) was born in NJ (near Princeton) and she and her mother were owned by one John Skilman. The Skilman family migrated to Loudoun Co VA. Hester's mother died before the move. Following Skilman's death in VA Hester was sold at public auction and purchased by one Stephen Rosell

1. Oct 17, 1821 - Saml M. Edwards
Whereas Hester Davis a mulatto woman now in th possession of of James ALLEN hath complained to me...that she is illegally detained in Slavery by the said James ALLEN although she is entitled to her freedom...Allen is to appear to answer the complaint.

2. Sampson Blincoe is appointed her attorney "do enquire into her pretentions thereto and Report to the court Whether in his Opinion she has a right to her freedom or not.

Depositions were provided by a number of people including Catharine Edwards, wife of John Skilman who remarried following his death. If I am reading this correctly Catharine Edwards at the time of the deposition was residing in Adams County, Ohio a as were one Sarah Wykoff, John Bateman, who were also interviewed.

Catherine Edwards reports that Kauff was a "white mulatto and that her name has since been called Bett,..that she was the child of a white man Thomas Coffee..that she was generally thought to be a molato and never heard any one call her an Indian while they lived in NJ."


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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