AfriGeneas States Research Forum
[IL] Slave Trial
I posted information on the Sankofagen Wiki about a Black Grove Plantation located in Illinois. The plantation was owned by General Robert Matson of Kentucky where he owned a plantation on which he had ten slaves. He brought the slaves from his plantation in Kentucky to work in Illinois. He took them back to Kentucky each year after rthe harvest to preserve their legal status as slaves. This way they were not permanent residents of Illinois and could not be considered as free. He appointed one of the slaves, Anthony Bryant, as overseer. Jane Bryant, Anthony’s wife, and her four children, had a problem with the house keeper who threaten to sell them. When it came to Bryant's knowledge that Matson was planning to return Bryant's wife, Jane Bryant, and four children back to Kentucky to sell them, Anthony sought protection for his family from Gideon Ashmore and Dr. Hiram Rutherford. Ashmore and Rutherford were two prominent individuals among about thirty Coles County abolitionists of the time. Following Matson's return to the county, he requested the return of his slaves. But the slaves were later moved to the county jail in Charleston on the orders of the Justice of the Peace, William Gilman and in line with the laws of the state. The county billed Matson for the upkeep of the slaves. Based on a writ of Babes Corpus, Ashmore applied to the Circuit Court for the release of Jane Bryant and her four children. Matson filed a counter suit against Ashmore and Rutherford claiming a sum for each slave as damages. Matson further claimed that the slaves were not Illinois residents, and as a result were not entitled to freedom. Ashmore and Rutherford on the other hand responded by arguing that Jane and her children were not Matson's property because the Illinois Law of 1818 declared slavery illegal in the state. This set the stage for a trial in Charleston in October 1847.
I was contacted two days ago by a museum consultant, Renee Henry, who is working with three historical organizations in Oakland, Coles County, Illinois to bring the story of the Matson Slave Trial to life. This will be presented on September 18-19, 2009. Click on the link below to read the information.
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