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AfriGeneas Slave Research Forum

William Young Lewis Slave Indentures, New Orleans

New discovery found while researching a divorce in 1831, Louisiana. William Young Lewis was a lawyer & notary in New Orleans who made & notarized indentures of slaves for their masters who were looking to move their slaves from Louisiana to Mexican Texas. Mexico at that time had made it illegal to move slaves into Texas but you could move long term indentured servants there with a notarized document stating they were such, also their names, ages, & the amount of their indenture (really what they were worth on the current market). The one I obtained from LSU Library Special Collection (they have seven indentures) makes it out like the individual slaves know they are going to Texas & are going freely & happy to accompany their master & work off their indenture of ninety years (no joke) in any capacity. The document states that they will be well cared for, etc. It has to be read to be believed. This particular indenture was for one woman & five children, most under 16. It called her their friend & guardian & that she had explained it all to them & they agreed to it. Their owner was sending them to Texas to keep his wife from getting them in a divorce settlement that was going badly for him & the same day the document was drawn up, the slaves were on a ship & bound for Brazoria, Texas. I do not know if there are other of these indentures drawn up by other lawyers in New Orleans or elsewhere for other slave owners moving to Texas between 1830-1836. I do know that when their owner died in Texas in 1836 on his estate inventory the same people were called slaves & inventoried as such, no calling them indentured servants. So just a new place to look for anyone researching slaves in families who moved from or through Louisiana 1830-1836 to Texas may find them in these indentures as there are likely more than the seven I found. The ones in LSU Special Collections in the collection have the names of the owners & what parish in Louisiana they are from & all indentures were done in New Orleans by Lawyer Lewis.


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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