At the age of 2 years 9 months Laney was not a slave therefore all of her children were born free. The Dawes Commission recorded all her children and grandchildren as being owned by some one. It is my mission to set the record straight. many of her off-springs and grandchildren were included in Equity Case 7071, however thanks to Lacy Stevenson Jr. who has found this case that has eluded me for more than 20 years I can prove without any doubt that we the COLBERT descendants have been wronged and seek Justice for the fight that Laney and her children put up on our behalf. Let it be clear that this issue is a separate issue from that of FD5CT, Inc. This one is personal. FD5CT, Inc. will continue its fight for the rights of all 5 Nations however at this time we DO NOT have a friend in the white house. I was named after a Great Lady Eleanor Roosevelt she is noted for many things she has said but my thought today as I post this case is " Do what you think is right in your heart. You'll be criticized anyway. - Eleanor Roosevelt"
Below is Laney's Case heard by and ruled by the Supreme Court of Texas.
ROBERT M. JONES
*1 Appeal from Lamar County.
The right of those Indian nations, residing within the limits of a state, to regulate their own civil polity has never been questioned, unless the state authority has, by some affirmative act, claimed a jurisdiction incompatible with such right. Their laws and customs regulating property, contracts, and the relations between husband and wife, have been respected when drawn into controversy in the courts of the state and of the United States.
The statutes of a state cannot be judicially known to the courts of another state, and they must be proven as other foreign laws. The courts can only judicially know the acts of congress and public treaties.
Where the plaintiffs, who were negroes, sued to establish the fact of their freedom, and gave in evidence thereof a deed of manumission in their favor, executed by their master whilst a citizen of the Chickasaw nation of Indians, and who, together with such negroes, then resided therein; and the judge charged the jury, “That in the absence of proof of any law, custom or usage of the Chickasaws forbidding the emancipation of a slave, if the deed presented was fully proven and they believed it to be good, genuine and authentic, the plaintiffs were entitled to their freedom:”Held, that such charge was correct.
Where the relation of master and slave is proven to have existed and the latter was freed by the former, the presumption is that such act was rightfully done, on the general principle that the right of property connects with it the right of relinquishing that property. This presumption can only be rebutted by proof of some municipal regulation applicable in restraint of such right, the onus of proving which must devolve on the party denying the right.
Where a witness swore to a fact as happening in 1821 or 1822, and other testimony was introduced showing that the fact did not happen until after 1823, it was not error in the court to charge the jury that it did not destroy the credibility of the witness as to other facts -- the witness being only presumed to swear as to the time according to his best recollection and belief.
The material facts of this case will be found stated in the opinion of the court.
Those Indian nations which reside in the limits of the states have a right to regulate their civil polity, unless there has been some affirmative act of the states incompatible with such rights.
A., who was the child of a slave belonging to a Chickasaw Indian, claimed her freedom by virtue of an instrument under seal signed by her owner, which made her free. Held, that every presumption was to be made in favor of the instrument, as the owner of a slave has the right to dissolve that relation, and that the onus probandi was cast on the opposite party to show that there was some law or municipal regulation which invalidated the instrument.
Where a witness swore to a fact as occurring in 1821 or 1822, and it was proved to have occurred in 1823, it was held not to destroy his credibility as to other facts.
*2 1st. That if the paper purporting to be a deed of manumission was genuine, still it was inoperative, because the same was made in violation of the laws of Georgia, which were then in full force in that portion of the Chickasaw nation where Gunn resided. They cited, in support of this position, the treaty of cession from Georgia to the United States made in 1805.
2d. That if the laws of Georgia did not prevail those of Mississippi did, and should have been the rule of decision; that they, also, were violated in the act of manumission.
3d. That if neither the laws of Georgia or Mississippi controlled, but the laws, usages and customs of the Chickasaw Indians did, then the jury found without evidence, as there was no testimony before them showing that there was a law, usage or custom of the Chickasaw nation governing or in any wise applicable to the case before the court. The plaintiffs, having alleged that such laws, usages, etc., governed the question at issue, should have been required to prove the same..
Mr. Justice LIPSCOMB delivered the opinion of the court.
The facts of this case, so far as they are deemed material to be stated, as presented by the record are, that Laney and the other petitioners, who are all the offspring of the said Laney, are negroes, and they filed by their next friend their petition in the court below, praying that they may be adjudged free.
The record shows that Jones, the appellant, claims to hold the petitioners as his slaves by purchase made of Rhoda Potts and Joseph B. Potts, her husband claiming to be, together with Molly Gunn, the heirs at law of the said James Gunn. That Rhoda Potts is the daughter of James Gunn, and Molly Gunn is his widow and the mother of Rhoda. That Rhoda Gunn claims as the residuary legatee, under the will of her father, James Gunn. The evidence shows that the claimants all lived in the Chickasaw nation, in the immediate neighborhood, not more than one and a half miles from Susan Colbert, in whose family the petitioners resided. The will of James Gunn, after making specific devises of two or three slaves by name, devises the balance of his slaves without designating them by name to his daughter Rhoda, and the name of the petitioner, Laney, is not mentioned in the will. That the petitioners emigrated with the family of Susan Colbert in 1842 to the Choctaw nation, and continued to live with her as free persons until November, 1846. It is shown that the appellant, Jones, is of Indian descent and lived in the Choctaw nation. The writing under which the appellees claim their freedom is as follows, i. e.:“Chickasaw Agency, 28th of January, 1814. To all who shall see these presents,
Chickasaw nation, being in my proper senses, and owing no individual person any just debt, have thought proper, of my own free will and accord, to enfranchise a mulatto female child named Laney, two years and nine months old, which girl was borne and raised my own property, no other person having any claim to the said girl but myself. I hereby give to Laney her freedom from this date. She is no longer a slave. Given under my hand and seal, the day and date above written.
U. S. C. A. “Indorsed,” recorded in the Chickasaw agent's office, January 13, 1844.
A. M. UPSHAW, C. A.
The death of both McCoy and Robertson was proved, and their handwriting, and that the latter was Chickasaw agent, and the former clerk to the agency at the time the instrument bears date, and that the body of the instrument was written in the handwriting of McCoy.
The evidence of the appellant to establish the state of slavery of the appellees was the testimony of Molly Gunn, the widow of James Gunn and the mother of Rhoda Potts, under whom the appellant claimed title by purchase. She swears that Laney was born the slave of her husband, James Gunn; that the mother of Laney belonged to him; that she had never heard of her emancipation or claim of freedom until a very short time since; that she had never heard of the paper purporting to be a letter of emancipation until not long since; that Laney lived with James Gunn until his death; that some time after she went to live with Susan Colbert, two or three years after the death of James Gunn; until that time she had labored as a slave; that Laney had two children after the death of James Gunn before she went to live with Susan Colbert. Witness did not make a demand of her, but her daughter Rhoda told Laney to go home; but she replied that her husband would not permit her. She said the Colberts were strong and she was weak, and that was the reason she did not assert her rights; that the strongest party held possession in the nation; she thought that it was probably about three years from the date of the will that her husband died. It was in proof that the will of James Gunn bore date in 1823.
*4 The judge charged the jury “that by the treaty entered into by the United States and the Chickasaws in ____, the same were recognized to be a separate and distinct nation of people. That their laws and customs and usages, within the limits defined to them, governed all property belonging to any one domesticated and living with them, and that in the opinion of the court neither the laws of Georgia, Mississippi, state or territory, nor those of Texas, can be the rule of decision in this case. The court also charged that by the principles of the civil law, under which slavery such as ours existed, the owner could free his slave, provided no statute prohibiting such manumission existed, by simply discharging him from service and saying “go, you are free.” This doctrine has been partially recognized in various states of the Union, by ruling that in the absence of statutes prohibiting manumission, only the fact which amounts to proof of an actual discharge from service, with an expressed determination, either parol or written, of no intention to revoke such discharge, will amount to emancipation. Taking these principles as our guide, in the absence of proof of any law, custom or usage of the Chickasaws forbidding the emancipation of a slave, if the deed presented be fully proved, and by the jury believed to be good, genuine and authentic, the plaintiffs are entitled to their freedom. The court also charged that it was incumbent upon the defendant to prove that it was against some law or usage of the Chickasaws for slaves to be freed, as plaintiffs claim to be, or the presumption arose that it was in accordance with such laws and customs.
The court also charged the jury that where a witness swore to a fact as happening in 1821 or 1822, and better testimony was introduced to show that the fact did not happen until after 1823, it did not destroy the credibility of the witness as to other facts, the witness only being supposed to swear as to the time according to his best recollection and belief.”
To the several charges so given, the appellant by his counsel in the court below excepted, and on the supposed error of the judge in giving them, he relies in this court for a reversal of the judgment rendered on the verdict of the jury in favor of the appellees.
To the first charge there can be no controversy. The United States have frequently acknowledged these Indians as an independent nation, to the extent accorded to such nations within the boundaries of the United States, and they have treated with them as such, under the treaty-making power contained in the constitution.
To the second, there is believed to be as little doubt as to the correctness of the charge. The right of those Indian nations residing within the limits of a state to regulate their own civil policy has never been questioned, at least until the state authority has, by some affirmative act, claimed jurisdiction that would be incompatible with the existence of such rights, in the nation of Indians. Their laws and customs, regulating property, contracts, and the relations between husband and wife, have been respected when drawn into controversy in the courts of the state and of the United States.
*5 The concluding part of the second charge was clearly not objectionable, because it must be borne in mind that the record does not show the shadow of evidence that any law of the description mentioned was offered on the trial as evidence to control the right of the Indians to govern themselves as to right of property. If such laws had been offered in evidence, it would have devolved on the court to have decided how far the rights of parties were affected by them. The statutes of a state cannot be judicially known to the courts of another state; they must be proven as other foreign laws. The court can only judicially know the acts of congress and public treaties.
In the third charge, the judge prefaces it with his reasons for believing the charge about to be given is correct. It has nothing to do with the charge given, even if not sound. It only shows the process by which the mind of the judge is brought to the conclusion; and if that conclusion is right, it is not material whether the judge's process of reasoning be so or not, but in this instance we believe that he has not only reasoned well, from legitimate premises, but that his conclusion is also right. The conclusion is: “That in the absence of proof of any law, custom or usage of the Chickasaws, forbidding the emancipation of a slave, if the deed presented be fully proved, and by the jury believed to be good, genuine and authentic, the plaintiffs are entitled to their freedom.”
We believe the right of property connects with it the right of relinquishing that property. If the right of property was in James Gunn, the former owner of the appellee, Laney, the presumption is that there was also a right to dissolve the relation of master and slave. This presumption could only be rebutted by proof of some municipal regulation in restraint of such right. The appellees, on making proof of the relation of master and slave, subsisting between Lucy and James Gunn, and then proof by the writing of manumission, make out at least a prima facie case that would, by all rules of evidence, throw the onus of proving whatever might operate in restraint of those rights on the appellant.
The supreme court of the United States say that “as a general proposition, it would seem a little extraordinary to contend that the owner of property is not at liberty to renounce his right to it, either absolutely, or in any modified manner he may think proper. As between the owner and his slave, it would require the most explicit prohibition by law to restrain this right.”
The fourth charge is embraced in the decision on the preceding one. The last charge is on the effect or the credibility of a witness, when he swears to a fact happening at a particular date, and better testimony was given showing that it was not true. One of the witnesses swore that Gunn died in 1821 or 1822. It was shown by the will of Gunn that it was after 1823. The rule of evidence is never to presume a witness guilty of perjury if a more charitable construction can be put on his oath. The witness is, in the language of the judge in the court below, “presumed to swear to the best of his belief,” and where he swears that an event occurred at a particular date and it should turn out that he is mistaken, not in the event but in the date of its occurrence, it would be an exceedingly rigorous rule that would hold such witness perjured. Then there was no error in the court charging the jury that it did not destroy the credit of the witness who swore to the time when Gunn died, that it afterwards turned out that he did not die until after 1823.
*6 To prevent misconception we will again advert to that part of the second charge of the court, as to the laws of Georgia, Mississippi territory or state, or the state of Texas. So far as the charge of the court refers to the state of Texas, it must be understood as applicable to the time when the rights of the parties accrued, and as they accrued in favor of Laney, in the Chickasaw nation in 1814, the laws of Texas did not govern the rights of emancipation in the master.
In that view, there can be no doubt the charge of the court was correct, and it was doubtless so intended to be understood, and not to extend to laws regulating remedies. We are fully satisfied that there was no error in any one of the several charges of the court to the jury. On the facts of the case as presented by the record the verdict of the jury is well sustained, and there can be no ground for setting aside the judgment. It is therefore affirmed.
Jones v. Laney
2 Tex. 342, 1847 WL 3563 (Tex.)
LANEY COLBERT STEVENSON'S CASE #241 (CHICKASAW NATION
June 7 1823 A black woman named Dinah , belonging to Mr James Gunn, applied to be received into the newly organized church. After a careful examination the session felt satisfied with her Christian experience, and accordingly admitted her to the privileges of the household of faith.