Case: Burkhead vs. Colson
Loose papers of the North Carolina Sepreme Court
Record found at North Carolina State Archives

Note: included more than 75 more pages of record and testimony arising from
Montgomery, Anson, Moore, Davidson and Cumberland Counties NC and Georgia, Alabama, and Stewart County Tennessee.

North Caroliona
Davidson County
In Equity

To the Honorable the Judge of the Court of Equity the Bill of complaint of James Burkhead and Charity Burkhead his wife humbly complaining showeth unto your honor

That James Muse who was the father of your Matron Charity Burkhead made his last will and testament in the year of our Lord 1786 and some few years there after died in the county of Cumberland in this state we __________ having altered or evoked the same. The will after the testators deat was probated in (1)due form of law in the county of pleas and quarters sessions of Cumberland County and admitted to probate in that court Among other bequests in said will contained is one to the effect following, that is to say, “I give and bequeath to my daughter Charity Muse one negro girl called Rachel to be delivered to her at the age of sixteen or day of Marriage.” The testator in said instrument appoints his widow Charity Muse his Executrix and his sons Daniel and Jesse Muse Executors to the said will. (2)Charity and Jesse qualified and took upon themselves the trust of executioning the will, but Daniel renounced the executorship and did not interfere in the management of the estate. At the death of the testator your matron Charity was an infant about under the age of twelve twenty one years having been born on the 24th of November 1770. Some short time after the qualification of the said Executor and Executrix while your orator was under age and before she was married they morgaged the negro woman Rachel bequeathed to your oarator (3) to one Joseph Colson who now deceased for the sum of ninety dollars or thereabouts and conveyed said negro to said Colson in pledge for that sume, whether the sum advanced was mentioned in the conveyance was conditional or not is not certainly known to your orator. The said Joseph Colson at the time knew that said slave was bequeathed to your orator and that the Executor and Executrix had no right to sell and dispose of the same and some time (4) after the purchase while your orator was still under age the said Joseph surrendered to said Executor the transfer which he hand received from them of said slave and in lieu therof & while your orator was well under age, to wit being about the age of seventeen & before she was married the said Joseph Colson by an artful condtrivance obtained your Orators signature to a piece of paper which was represented to her was a new instrument of writing giving longer time to raise the money for which (5) the negro was pledged and which she thought was signing as a witness when she afterwards was informed was a bill of sale conveying her right and title of Rachel to said Joseph Colson she at that time was entirely ignorant of the manner of transacting such business and stated she was afraid that the writing was to dispose her of her negro, but being assured by Colson that it was no such writing she signed it in the manner which Colson directed and at the time of the signature (6) she was not more that seventeen years of age. Complainants show that in the 13th day of July 1790 they were married. Your orator being there in her twentieth year and that she has been a Feme Court ever since. They show that Joseph Colson is dead and that the negro woman Rachel who is also dead & her increase had & has descended or been bequeathed to the heirs and descendants of said Jospeh Colson – to wit to Thomas Colson the son of said Joseph who has now (7) in his possession the following increases of Rachel to wit, Pen, Philis, Doreas, Spicey, Ralph, Ned, Quenney, Jenny, Vicey, Cander, Sophy, and to Christopher Wadkins who married Harriet Colson who became by the death of her brother the sole heir of her father Jacob Colson deceased who was the son of said Colson decd – which said Jacob & Thomas Colson were the only heirs at law of Joseph Colson decd. In the possession of Christopher Wadkins is the following slaves the increase of said Rachel to wit Winney, Cander, Ben, Jenny, Marchel, Sandy, Will, Minny, Jenny, together with a young child not named, all of which slaves are the increase of said Rachel and have either discended or been bequeathed to the said Thomas and ths said Christpher Wadkins in right of his wife by Joseph Colson Decd. Your orator show that having been and infant and Feme Court continually since said slave was conveyed she had no power of commencing a suit therfor, nor could she prevail on her husband to permit, he being averse to law and being (9) put off from time to time by Joseph in his life time untill some short time before this suit – they show that both Executrix and Executor of James Muse are dead. Therfore we show that to avoid a law suit she made application to Thomas Colson and to Christopher Wadkins for the negros and hoped that they would surrender them as in Equity they ought, But now so it is, that the said Thomas Colson and Christopher Wadkins can bring and confuse and try to cheat your complainants wholly (10) refuse to surrender the same sometimes pretending that your compainants had no title therto, wheras they show from the will of James Muse and the apent of the representatives appointed under his wife will that they had title – at other times they endeavour to protect themselves by the statute of limitations whereas they suggest that the rights of feme court ought not be affected by it.

In under consideration wherof and for that complanants are remedyless except in this hororable court there matters of trust and matters of (11) account & discover are receivable may it pleas your honor to grant to your orator this states court of Subbona to be directed ti the Sheriff commanding him to summon said Thomas Colson Christopher Wadkins to appear at next court and answer upon oath the several matters of fact in this bill contained as fully as if herein again expected – [particulary to set forth the names of all the increases of Rachel & when she died-] May it please your honor to __________ that said negroes be surended and that (12) an account be taken of they & them here an the profits of their labour and both be discerned in favour of yout petitioners complainants . And Complainants as in duly bound & c.

G. Martin for comp’ts


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