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[TN] and [VA] 'Slave' Milly sues John Squibb

This information was provided to me by one of the Embree ancestors. Her ancestor Thomas Embree helped the free person of color Milly sue John Squibb for holding her as a slave. Milly was originally from Virginia but John Squibb took her to Tennessee. We learn from the depositions that her mom's name is Molly and that her mom's husband was Coffee. The family could have been using the name Perry (which was Coffee's slave masters name) or Plummer (which was the name of the family Molly gained her emancipation from) or something else. We are really not quite sure. The rest of the TN court records did not survive so we don't know the outcome of this case. Transcribed depositions below:

The Depositions of Saundry Witnesses taken at the House and Tavern of Isaac Woodrow in the Corporation of Winchester on Saturday the fith day of July in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred, between the Hours of ten o'clock in the fornoon and seven in the afternoon of that day before James G Dowdall & Joseph Caldwell Gentleman Justices of the Peace in and for the County of Frederick and Commonwealth of Virginia by virtue of a commission to them directed from the County Court of Washington in the State of Tennessee in as such depending on the said County Court of Pleas and greater sessions wherein John Squibb is plantiff and Thomas Embree Defendant.

Joseph Plummer of lawaful age, to wit about seventy two years old (being one of the people called friends of Quakers) being first Solemnly affirmed deposeth time in about the year of our Lord 1753. Samuel Plummer this Deponent's father made and published his last Will and Testament and thereby devised to his wife Sarah Plummer (this Deponent's mother) all his Estate both real and personal, to be at her own disposal, that a certain negro Woman named Molly whom this Deponent supposes to be the Mother of Milly a negroe girl held by John Squibb as a Slave, belonged to this deponents said Father, and by the Will aforesaid to his father, that about twenty years afterwards to wit about the year 1773 the said Sarah Plummer emancipated and set free all her slaves, of which the said negro Woman Molly was one and further this deponent saith not. Joseph Plummer

John Trimble aged about fity four years/ on of the people called friends of Quakers/being Solemnly affirmed deposeth and saith that some time on or about the year 1781 Negro Molly came to the deponent to get employment, that the Deponent had known the said Negro Molly for several years before that time who had as a free woman, that this Deponent also knew a negro man the property of Ignatius Perry called Coffee Husband to the said Molly, that when Molly applied to this Deponent as aforesaid she expressed a wish to live with him as he lived near to the said Ignatius Perry who had removed from Maryland to live in Frederick County State of Virginia and owned her Husband Coffee this Deponent accordingly employed the said Negro Molly who lived with him upwards of two years, and while she lived in his employ she had a daughter Born which she called Milly, which child was born in the fall of the year 1781. That after the said Negro Molly left the Deponent, the Deponent understood the said child Milly was in the profession of John Squibb, who hath since removed from Berkely County Virginia to the State of Tennessee. And further this Depontent saith not. Jno Trimble

Sarah Brown aged about forty seven years (being one of the Society of people called friends or Quakers being Solemnly affirmed Deposeth and saith, that after negro Molly had left John Trimble, she came to live with the Deponent, and had with her a negro child called Milly, then about two or three years of age, that, the said Molly continued with the Deponent about six Months, and then left her and removed aways, 'ine' years past Deponent was at the house of John Squibb in 'keley' County Virginia, and saw the girl Milly in profession of the said John Squibb, that the Deponent knew the Child by a striking likeness of her Mother, and conversed with Sarah Squibb wife of the said John Squibb about the girl Milly, and the said Sarah Squibb then informed the Deponent that Negro Molly had put the child there, that the child was not Bound to them, but they intended to have her Bound this Deponent hath since understood that the said John Squibb hath moved to the State of Tennessee and taken the said Negro Milly with him. And further this Deponent saith not. Sarah Brown

Frederick County to wit, In Obedience to a Commission from the Country to wit of Washington in the State of Tennessee directed to James G Dowdall & Joseph Caldwill Esquires of the County of Frederick & State of Virginia we the said James G Dowdall & Joseph Caldwill met at the House and Tavern of Isaac Woodrow in the Corporation of Winchester on Saturday the fith day of July in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and then and there between the Hours of ten o'clock in the forenoon and seven in the afternoon of that day took the Depositions of Joseph Plummer, Doctor Robert Pottenger, John Trimble and Sarah Brown which Depositions are hereto annexed on this sheet of paper, to which Depositions the several Deponents were duly Sworn and affirmed before us as above and within Stated Certified under our hands & Seals at the House and Tavern aforesaid at Winchester this 5th day of July 1800. James Dowdall & J. Caldwill

The Deposition of Doctor Robert Pothinger aged about fifty ---------years taken at the time and place within mentioned by virtue of the authority within 'tioned' to be evidence in the Suit within mentioned. This Deponent being duly Sworn deposeth and saith, that he was well acquainted with Sarah Plummer within mentioned, that he was in habits of intimacy and friendship with the Family and was acquainted with negro Molly, while she belonged to the said Sarah Plummer, that he hath understood and been informed by the said Sarah Plummer's family that she had emancipated her the said Molly, This Deponent further saith that the said Negro Molly had a Husband, named Coffee who belonged to Mr. Ignatius Perry and the said Perry removed from Maryland to Virginia and the said Negro Molly as the Deponent understood came to Virginia with her said Husband, and the Deponent hath since seen the said Negro Molly in Frederick County, State of Virginia, at the said Ignatius Perry's and afterwards saw her at the warm Springs in Berkely County, that she at the several times he saw her as aforesaid professed as a free woman and hath so professed and been represented free ever since she was emancipated, and the Deponent is certain there is no doubt but that the said Negro Molly is free, and he hath understood that the said Molly had children but how many, or what are their names, or ages this Deponent knows not. And further this Deponent saith not. Robert Pothinger

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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