Barbara: Freedom Suit, Scott County (Part 1 of 2)
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this deft in nowise admits) yet they are not so entitled, till the death of Comfort the widow of said Stephen, who is yet living; so that during her life they are slaves, and the life estate of said Comfort and the remaining interest of the heirs of said Stephen having been transferred to this deft & possession delivered with the assent of the administrator, he had the right to the possession of said slaves, during the [continuum?] of the life estate at least; and he cannot but feel the injustice and oppression of the order of this worshipfull court by which he has been deprived of them. This deft understands that the order complained of was made with the assent, probably at the instance of the admr who had given bond & security. How this worshipfull court could at his instance whilst the bond was in force or without allowing this deft (the real owner of the complt & her children) the opportunity of giving such bond & security, he is at a loss to discover. This deft has been already much harrassed and oppressed respecting these slaves. He was criminally prosecuted for removing his own property, in which he was acquitted, and now he is deprived of possession by the order of this worshipfull court, and no provision therein made to secure to your Orator the hire and profits thereof. Your Respdt understands and believes that the Sheriff of Scott County, took the said slaves out of his possession and has placed them or some of them with complts counsel on what terms or by what authority he has so placed them your Respdt knows not. This deft again objects to the jurisdiction of this worshipfull court and contends that the order by which our Respdt has been deprived of his property is illegal oppressive and unjust. He contends that the only order this court could legally make in this case (if they have any jurisdiction thereof which this deft in no sort admits) would be to require of this deft bond & good security to have the said slaves forth coming to answer the decree of this court, and if great injury was like to accrue to complts and the bond not given to order the sheriff to hire out the slaves till the penal decision of the cause. In this mode some respect would be paid to your Respdts rights & interests, but by the present course of proceeding, they are wholly disregarded. Your Respdt admits that Comfort Ozborne is aged, but not so old as stated by complts. This deft believes from the statements of Comfort Ozborne that she is under eighty years old; and how long she may live is uncertain and unknown, probably she may live several years, during which the hire & profits of the complt & her children will be worth several hundred dollars. This deft is now in jail in Scott County and intends remaining till the decision of this suit. This deft denies all fraud and combination and all parts of the bill not herein admitted, prays that the order made in this cause by which he has been deprived of his property may be rescinded, and he hence dismissed with his costs thus most wrongfully expended. Estill for Deft
Scott County to wit This day Isaac Richmond made oath before me the undersigned a justice of the peace for the County aforesaid that the statements in the foregoing answer made as of his own knowledge are true; and those made on the information of others he believes to be true. Given under my hand this 15th day of November 1823 James H. Stewart