Sumner Co., TN Enrollment Book B, pages 184 - 197
Transcribed by Linda
E. Harper vs. John Parker & Others - April Term 1838 - Original Bill
To the Honorable Chancery Court to be held at Gallatin State of Tennessee
Humbly complaining shewith unto your Honor your orator Edmund Harper a citizen of Sumner Co., Tennessee that your orator is the son of Wm. Harper late of Sumner County & formerly of Warren County North Carolina, that the said Wm. Harper in the year 1786 in Warren County North Carolina intermarried with certain Patsy Yarbrow daughter of Wm. Yarbrow of said State & County aforesaid & that your orator is the only surviving issue of said marriage. Your orator was born in year 1787 & the said Patsy died Nov 1792. After the death of said Patsy your orator taken to the house of the said Wm. Yarbrow & was there kept for about the term of two years. In the mean time the said Wm. Harper, again intermarried with a certain Rebecca Bull & after said intermarriage your orator was again taken to the house of said Wm. Harper as the place of his residence. While your orator lived with his grandfather Wm. Yarbrow he the said William executed his last will & testament, by one item of which the said William bequeathed unto your orator a certain Negro girl slave for life by the name of Lucy, said girl Lucy remained in the possession of the said Wm. Yarbrow until his death which happened shortly after said will was made. Your orator will file a copy of said will as soon as the same can be procured & intends the same as a part of this bill marked A. After the death of the said Wm. Yarbrow the said Negro Lucy fell into the hands of the said Wm. Yarbrow (line through said Wm. Yarbrow) Executors of the said Wm. Yarbrow & the said Wm. Harper as your orator is informed & believes was appointed the guardian of your orator & under that authority by executing the usual bond obtained the possession the said Lucy & brought her the said Lucy & your orator to this County where he lived until the time his death in the month of Feb 1836. Your orator would show that the said Lucy since the time of said devise to him, has brought several
children (to wit) Abram, Mariah, Jinny, Rany, Aaron, Betty, Katy, Swaney. Jinny has brought one child, (to wit) Viny. Rany has brought two, to wit, Sam & Louisa. Betty one, to wit, Dick & Caty one called Jim. All of said Negroes are now living & all in the possession of the Executors of the said William Harper, except Abram & Maria, who have been disposed of by your orator, with the consent of the said Wm. Harper, in his lifetime. Your orator would show that he married in the year 1814 & went to house keeping & took home the whole of said Negroes. But his father the said Wm. Harper, who was then quite an old man expressed great dissatisfaction at his loss of the services of said Negroes, & orator retained the two Negroes above mentioned (to wit) Abram & Maria & sent back the balance of them to remain with the said Wm. Harper until his death. Your orator would shew that the said Wm. Harper had by the said Rebecca Bull after marriage one daughter, (to wit) Polly who intermarried with a certain John Parker, both of whom are now living, & two sons (to wit) Benjamine S. Harper & Samuel W. Harper, who are also now living. Rebecca Harper the relic of the said William Harper is likewise living, each of whom your orator prays may be made a defendant to this bill with apt words to charge them & Your orator would shew that the said Wm. Harper was taken with his last illness in the fall of 1835 & gradually grew worse until Feb 1836, at which time your orator was sent for to see the said Wm. Harper his father die, but before said last visit, some two or three weeks the said Wm. Harper asked your orator to him the said William have a certified copy of the Will of Wm. Yarbrow, which your orator had procured from North Carolina, containing the devise of the said Negro Lucy to your orator, & the affidavits of some two or three persons, establishing material facts relative to the title of your orator to the said Lucy & her offspring alleging that he the said Wm. Harper wished to see the said papers your orator at the request of his sick father placed said papers in the hands of him the said Wm. Harper shortly after your orator arrived at the house of the said Wm. Harper at the time above mentioned (to wit) Feb 1836. Said copy of said will and said affidavits were produced and the said Wm. Harper your orator to burn or have said papers burnt at that time the said Rebecca Harper, John Parker & his wife Polly & Benjamin S. Harper & Samuel W. Harper and other persons were present your orator did not burn said will and affidavits nor were they ever in his possession after the time your orator gave them to the said Wm. Harper at his request as above stated but a certain Joshua Harper nephew to the said Wm. Harper threw said will & affidavits into the fire in the presence of your orator and they were consumed.
The said Wm. Harper & the said John Parker & perhaps others who were interested in the estate of the said Wm. Harper have been frequently heard to say that said copy of said will must be destroyed before the said Wm. Harper could dispose of the said Negroes by will after said papers was burnt the said John Parker & others got your orator into a dark room and by threats & coercion drew from him a bill of sale or release of his interest to said Negroes a copy of which shall be produced if it can be obtained on the final hearing marked B. & made a part of this bill, the said Wm. Harper after said release was executed by your orator proceeded to make his last will & testament in which he disposed of the said Negroes to the said Rebecca & his children by the said Rebecca and your orator all of which will fully appear from the will itself a copy of which is herewith filed marked C. and made a part of this bill. Your orator will further shew that the executors under the will of said Wm. Harper have proved said will & have advertised seven Negroes for sale on the 23rd of May 1836 and without the timely interference of your honor the said Negroes will be sold on that day regardless of the right of your orator to said Negroes all of which actings & doings we contrary to equity & good conscience and fought with great injury to your orator the premises considered and in as much as your orator is without relict in a court of law to the end that justice may be done & group fraud enkindled your orator ask for an injunction to stay the sale of said Negroes and to compel the executors of the said Wm. Harper to give bond & security in a sufficient amount that said Negroes and each of them shall remain in the County of Sumner until the final hearing of this bill and be subject to such decree as the chancellor shall make in said cause and let the said defts and each of them full true direct & perfect answer make upon the corporal oath of each of them to all and singular the allegations contained in the said bill in a full and ample a manner as they & each of them were here again repeated and they and each of them unto more particularly interrogated thereunto let the said John Parker & Benjamin S. Harper & Samuel W. Harper and each of them state whether your orator was not sent for in Feby 1836 to come to the house of the said Wm. Harper for the purpose of having the copy of Wm. Yarbrow will burnt in his presence and coercing him to execute a Bill of Sale or release of his right to said Negroes to enable Wm. Harper to dispose of said Negroes by will before his death to the said Rebecca Harper & her children and let each of said defts state whether your orator is not a man of very weak timid mind and whether threats persuasion & various other means were not on that occasion used to induce your orator to execute the said release and whether the same was not then executed let each of them state who wrote said release and particularly what were its contents and them produce the original release or bill of sale or a copy of their or each of their answers.
Let each of them state whether it has not been always the understanding in the family and so expressed that your orator was the real owner of the whole of said Negroes and whether it has not been the fined design and have not all the aspirations of the members of the family been directed to defeat and fraud the claim of your orator to said Negroes and grant to your orator such other further relief in the premises as the nature of the case may require grant writs of subpoenas directed & etc. commanding & etc. and your orator in duty councell ever pray this is the first application for an injunction in this cause.
Bledsoe & Trousdale for Compt
(State of Tennessee, Davidson County)
This day personally appeared before me Wm. T. Brown Judge of Sixth Judicial Circuit of the State of Tennessee Edmond Harper & made oath that the matters & things stated in the foregoing Bill as of his own knowledge are true & such as are stated as of the information of others he believes to be true. Edmond Harper
(Sworn to & subscribed) before me this 13th of May 1836 Wm. T. Brown
To the Clerk & Master of the Chancery Court at Gallatin upon Complainants enter into Bond & security conditioned to pay & satisfy the defendants, all costs, & damages they may Sustain by the wrongful suing out the processes herein pray for let writs of Subpoena & injunction issue according to the pray of the Bill and that the Sheriff of Sumner County take into his custody and care the slaves mentioned in said Bill to abide the final decree to be rendered in this cause to be released only upon defts enter into Bond & security in the sum of seven thousand dollars for the forth coming & delivery of the said slave to abide by & answer the final decree to be rendered in this cause.
May 13th 1836
William T. Brown, Judge of the Sixth Judicial Circuit
State of North Carolina
This 25th day of July in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety three, I William Yarbrough of the County of Warren being at this time but weak of body, but of sound and disposing mind & memory thanks be to almighty God for the same but calling to mind it being appointed for man to die and not knowing how soon my change may come do ordain this my last will and testament first resigning my soul into the hands of God who gave it me humbly hoping for mercy and to be received into the number of blessed through the merits and intersession of Jesus Christ the Righteous and dear redeemer and for my mortal body, I desire may be committed to the earth and buried in Christian and decent manner at the discretion of my executors hereafter to be named and as for my worldly estate the blessed Lord has been pleased to
bestow upon me. I will and devise in manner and form following first that my just debts be honorably paid and funeral expenses discharged.
I will that my Negroes with all my other estate of every kind except such things as I shall hereafter particularly give away be kept together and remain as it now stands on my land and plantation I now live on for the use of supporting, maintaining and educating my four children namely; William, Joel, Rebecca, and Huldah Yarbrough under the care and direction of my executors until my son William shall arrive to the age of twenty one years. Then I will that my executors, or either of them choose three good reputable freeholders, then thus chosen shall value and appraise my Negroes and their increase and all my other estate and profits arising which shall then be, and my executors or either of them with the said freeholders shall allot one equal share thereof in a fair manner to my son William with my other three children namely Joel, Rebecca, and Huldah Yarbrough and such Negro or Negroes and other estate thus allotted to my said son William. I then give to him and his heirs.
After my son William receives his share thus laid off to him I will that the residue then remaining be still continued on together and my land and plantation aforesaid for the use and supporting all of my three children namely Joel, Rebecca and Huldah Yarbrough in manner before mentioned until my son Joel shall attain to the age of twenty one, then I give the whole residue estate & Negroes and their increase and other estate and profits arising which shall then to be equally divided between them my son Joel, Rebecca and Huldah Yarbrough in the same manner as the division made for my son William. Such estate thus divided and allotted them. I give each one of them such allotted Negro and other estate to them and their heirs.
In the case that either of the before mentioned children die before they arrive at the age of twenty-one years or have lawful issue of their body, then I will the surviving one or ones of them divide equally among them. Such estate of such one or ones of them so dying.
I give unto my beloved son William (when my son Joel arrives to age of twenty-one years) all my land including my Plantation which I hold and possess on the North side of Melton's Creek together with all that part of my lands on the South side of the said creek, included in the following bounds to wit; Beginning on the said South side of Melton's Creek, beginning at my bridge where my path crosses the same leading to Halifax Road, then running along where the said path as it directs to the said road until it forks, thence along the left hand fork through house and field to the said road then a direct line crossing the said road to the head of the Lick Branch to a blackjack a corner between myself and Joseph John Williams, then along the said Williams line to Melton's Creek; thence up the meadors of the said creek to the beginning. I give my said son William my large gun, to him and his heirs. In case my said son William dies before he arrives at the age of twenty-one
years or have lawful issue of his body, then in that case I give my son William's land devised to him to my son Joel and his heirs.
I give unto my beloved son Joel Yarbrough (when he shall attain to the age of twenty-one years) all the residue of land which I hold in Warren County on the South side of Melton's Creek (and not given my son William). I also give to my son Joel my small gun to him and his heirs. In case my said son Joel dies before he arrives at the age of twenty-one years or have lawful issue of his, then and in that case, I give my son William the lands divided to my son Joel to him and his heirs.
I give unto my beloved son Samuel Yarbrough my Negro wench Pati with her present and future increase what Negroes here of are possessed my said son Samuel with to him and his heirs.
I give unto my beloved daughter Rhodah Yarbrough my Negro girl Sarah with her future increase, one feather bed and furniture, one side saddle with one cow and calf to her and her heirs.
I give unto my beloved grand-son Edmond Harper my Negro girl Lucy and her increase to him and his heirs. In case my said grand-son Edmond Harper should die before he arrives to the age of twenty-one or have lawful issue of his body, then I give said Negro Lucy and her increase to be equally divided amongst my then living children and their heirs.
I give unto my beloved grand-daughter Nancy Person my Negro girl Winnah and her increase to her and her heirs. If my said grand-daughter should die before she should arrives to the age of twenty one years or have lawful issue of her body, then I will the said Negro Winnah and her increase be equally divided to and amongst my then living children and their heirs.
I do nominate and appoint my trusty friends Joseph M. Williams, Sterling Harwell and my brother in law John Mitchell, my whole and sole executors of this my last will and testament utterly revoking and disannulling all other will or wills made by me in witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal. William Yarbrough (Seal)
Signed, sealed and delivered in presence of:
Peter Randall, Jurat
Samuel Morris, Jurat
Peter (his mark) Randall, Jr.
Item. I give my son Joel Yarbrough in addition to the legacy before within given him twenty pounds Virginia money for the purpose of building him a house. As witness my hand this the 3rd day of September 1793. William Yarbrough (Seal)
Signed and delivered in the presence of:
Gid. Alston, Jurat
Warren County November Court 1793 - This will was proved by the oath of Peter Randolph and Samuel Morris and ordered to be recorded. Whereupon Sterling Harwell one of the executors named in said will qualified accordingly. Test, M. Duke Johnson, Clerk
State of North Carolina, I Edwin Drake clerk of the court of pleas of quarter sessions for the county of Warren in the state aforesaid do here by certify that the foregoing and within contains a true copy of the last will and testament of William Yarbrough, deceased late of this county as recorded in my office in Book volume 7, page 5 (A) in testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed the legal seal at office in Warrenton this 19th day of September. A D 1836. E. D. Drake, Clerk.
State of North Carolina
I Henry Fitts Chairman of the Court of Pleas & quarter sessions for the County of Warren in the State aforesaid do hereby certify that E. D. Drake whose attestation appears to the above certificate as now and was at the time of giving said certificate clerk of said Court and that his certificate as such is in due form of law and entitled to full faith & credit given from under my hand in the said County & State aforesaid the 19th day of September A. D. 1836.
Henry Fitts, Chairman of the Court of Pleas & Sessions, Warren County, North Carolina - filed 12 April 1837
Know all men by these presents I Edmund Harper of the County of Sumner & State of Tennessee doth this day deed & convey unto William Harper of the County & State aforesaid all the right title and claim that I have to the following named Negroes to wit, Lucy the Negro Girl named in my Grandfather William Yarbrough will also Daniel, Rena and two children Sam & Louisa Jane & her child Vina, Cate Betty & her child Dick & Swaney & Cales child Sam all the off springs of the said Lucy & her children and do hereby rescind any title or claim that I may have by virtue of said Will of William Yarbrough which will bears date July the 25th 1793. I do bind myself, my heirs, executors & assignees for ever to warrant & defend to William Harper the above named Negroes his heirs & assignee forever from me my heirs & assignees forever in Testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand & seal this 12th day of February 1836 Same words crossed off and some interlining all of which was done before assigned. Edmond Harper (Seal)
Signed sealed & acknowledged in presence of
Joseph (his mark) Harper
State of Tennessee, Sumner County - In the name of God Amen. I William Harper, being conscious that man is born to die, and being at this time in bad health but of sound mind and disposing memory, do at this time proceed to make my Will in the distribution of all my real and personal estate to my wife and children whose names shall hereafter inserted in the following manner to wit:
Item 1st: I give and bequeath unto my wife Rebecca Harper all my land West of the creek, beginning at the fork of the creek near the Willow Grove Meeting House, running the creek to a branch above Benjamin S. Harper's Shop, thence running up said branch and down to the corner of my farm, thence continuing a West course till it strikes the South boundary, thence west, thence North, thence East to the creek.
And I bequeath to Rebecca Harper three Negroes, Caty, Sawney & Aaron and three such horses as she may make choice of, and one yoke of oxen and one wagon, two cows and calves, and all the household and kitchen furniture, and one years provision.
I bequeath unto Edmond Harper the tract on which he now lives, and after his death it is to be left his heirs.
I bequeath unto my son Benjamin S. Harper the parcel of land where he now lives on beginning at the branch above the shop where it empties into the creek, thence running up said branch and down to the corner of my farm, thence continuing a West course till it strikes the South line, thence running South, and then running with the old line around to the creek, thence running up said creek to the beginning.
I bequeath unto Samuel W. Harper where he now lives beginning at the fork of the creek near the Willow Grove Meeting House thence running down with the meanders of said creek to Francis Rickman's line.
I bequeath unto Samuel W. Harper one hundred and fifty dollars to make his land equal.
I bequeath to Polly Parker, her part is to be made equal out of the family of blacks.
I bequeath unto General S. Harper, my grandson, twelve hundred and fifty dollars. It is his full portion of my estate and if he dies before he is twenty-one years of age, it is to be equally divided among my four children.
After the death of my wife Rebecca Harper, the land and property which is left to her, is to be sold and divided equally between my four children.
John Parker and Benjamin S. Harper and Samuel W. Harper are appointed guardians for General S. Harper, my grandson.
Now lastly, I do appoint John Parker, Benjamin S. Harper, and Samuel Harper Executors of my last Will and Testament. Sealed Signed & delivered in the presence of these witnesses February 14, 1836. William Harper (His mark)
Test: Richard Franklin
William T. Stovall
Joseph (his mark) Harper
State of Tennessee to the Sheriff of Sumner County Greeting are command you Summon John Parker & his wife Polly & Benj. S. Harper & Samuel W. Harper & Rebecca Harper if to be found within your County to appear to the Chancellor of our fourteenth district at the next Chancery Court to be held for the Counties of Sumner & Robertson at the Court House in Gallatin on the 2nd Monday in October next then & there to answer bill in equity exhibited in the said Court by
Edmond Harper complt against the said John Parker & Samuel W. Harper et alias defts and further to do & receive what our said Court shall then there consider herein let them fail not under the penalty inflected by law and have then there writ witness. Wm. Blackmore - Clerk & Master of our said Court at the 2nd Monday in April in the year 1836 and 60th year of American Independence. William Bkackmore
Answers John Parker & his wife & et alias - The answer of John Parker & his wife Polly & Benjamin S. Harper, Samuel W. Harper & Rebecca Harper to the bill of complaint filed against them by Edmond Harper in the Chancery Court held at the Town of Gallatin.
These defendants saving & reserving to themselves all manner of exceptions to many errors imperfections and untruths contained in the said bill for answer to the same or so much thereof as they are advised is material for them to answer unto they answer and say they admit that it is true that the said William Harper intermarried as they are informed and believe with Patsy Yarbrough in Warren County, North Carolina in 1785 that the Negro girl, Lucy mentioned in the bill was then given to the said William Harper by the said William Yarbrough as an advancement to him who had married his daughter who took the possession of her and claimed her as his own from that time that they admit it to be true that the said Patsy died in November 1792 and that Wm. Harper had had then the possession of the said Lucy for about the space of six or seven years claiming her as his own these defts further answering say that they have been informed and believe that by the said Patsy the said Wm. Harper had three children to Edmond the complainant , John, and infant born at the death of the said Patsy in 1792 which died in a few days of its mother they would shew that the said John died some time in the year 1794 they admit the said Edmond is the only surviving issue of that marriage they further answering say that after the death of the first wife Patsy and at the time of her death in 1792 the said Wm. Harper lay very dangerously sick and the surviving children Edmond & John went to their Grandfathers William Yarbrough and Samuel Harpers to live occasionally at one place and then at the others that after the death of the first wife Patsy the said Wm. Harper broke up house and overseed until he married defendant Rebecca which the 26th of December 1793 which were the only reasons why the said William did not keep possession of his said children Edmond & John they further shew that the said Lucy went along with the said children Edmond & John to mind & take care of them but they express deny that the possession of the said Lucy was thereby given up by the said William Harper to any one or his claim to her was by any means effected thereby depts. further answering say that they informed & believe that the said William Yarbrough executed his will some time in July 1793 and died shortly there after they have been informed that the said Wm. Yarbrough attempted to will the said Negro Lucy to the said Edmond Harper & perhaps his heirs but these depts. expressly
deny that the said Wm. Yarbrough had a right or title to the said slave Lucy, on the contrary he the said Wm. Yarbrough several year previous to the making of the said will had given said slave Lucy to the said Wm. Harper as an advancement & that the said Wm. had had at least seven years, adverse possession of said Lucy claiming her as his own independent of the said Wm. Yarbrough or the world. Depts further answering state that the said Wm. Harper intermarried with defendant Rebecca on the 26 of Dec 1793, at which time the said Edmond & John with Lucy to attend on them were at their grandfather's in said County Warren North Carolina, that the said Wm. Harper & defendant Rebecca lived with their father Samuel Harper some five or six weeks & then went to house keeping, taking the said children Edmond & John & Lucy and continued in possession of said Lucy, claiming the said Lucy as his own, which fact is positively stated by the said Rebecca and as stated by the other defts upon their information & belief. The Defts expressly deny that the executors of Wm. Yarbrough ever set up any claim to said Lucy on the ground of said will. On the contrary, they are informed and believe, that the said executors stated the property was Wm. Harpers and that the said Wm. Yarbrough had not the title to said Lucy to devise, that the defts deny that the said Wm. Harper was the guardian of the said Edmond in N. Carolina, or ever gave any bond whatever, which affected his right or claim to said Negro slave and upon all those controverted allegations the defts. require full proof. They further answering say that they are informed and believe that the said Wm. Harper lived in Warren County N. Carolina about three years after his last marriage and the said depts. Rebecca states that the said Wm. still continued in the possession of said Lucy claiming her as his own without his title being controverted and that they peaceably removed from that State to Tennessee with said slave without giving as she ever understood or believes any paper writing showing that he had yielded his claim or title, that the said Wm. Harper settled in the County of Davidson about fourty years ago & lived there one year & then removed to the County of Sumner & settled where he resided till his death, that he continued in possession of said Lucy claiming her as his own, that complainant Edmond Harper arrived at the age of twenty one years on the tenth of Febry 1808, that he married in the year 1813 and previous to that time she never heard of his siting up any whatever to said Lucy or her increase, that the said Edmond after his marriage settled in Ky & his father the said Wm. as they have been informed and believe gave to the said Edmond two or three of the said Negroes and they were to live with him
that in 1814 said Edmond came to the said Wm. Harper's in a secret manner late at and carried off the whole of the Negroes, that is the increase of Lucy, and claims them as his own and refused to deliver them back to his father the depts. are informed and believe that the said Edmond Harper consulted two years in relation to his title to the said Negroes, who was then advised that his title could not prevail against the said Wm. Harper, and then upon an amicable settlement and adjustment was made between the said Wm. Harper & the said Edmond Harper, which was as follows, The said Wm. Harper gave to the said Edmond Harper two of said Negroes Abram and Maria, and the said Edmond conveyed all the right title claim & interest, which he had in Lucy, Jiney, Rainey, and Daniel (or called Aaron in the Bill) to the said Wm. Harper and his heirs forever, which fee simple conveyance of said Edmond was duly executed by him and witnessed by Benjamine Sewel Jr. and Benjamine C. Seawell Esquire, which conveyance was duly proved at May term 1815, of the County Court of Sumner, which title paper defts are unable to produce as yet in their answers, which they will try to do so, and if it cannot be found Defts. will be enabled abundantly to prove its contents, which the defts. set up against the said Edmond and plead the same in as far of any pretended night which now set up to said Lucy and her increase. They would further shew that the said Negroes were delivered to the said Wm. Harper & Edmond Harper in pursuance to said conveyance and settlement of their rights. The said Edmond continued in possession of Abram and Maria several years when he sold them and applied to his own use, he having by virtue of said settlement and absolute title in said two slaves. Deft, John Parker and wife answers and saith that the said Wm. Harper gave to them the said girl Rainey in the year 1819, when she was about nine years old and that she has continued in the possession of said John Parker claiming her as his own adversely without any claim being set up from Edmond till after the death of the said Wm. Harper. Which Negro and her increase is held by him the said John Parker in his individual capacity and not as Executor as is charged in complainant's Bill. Deft's further answering state that the said Lucy has had the increase mentioned in the Bill. The following are the Negroes held by deft's as executors, Lucy, Viney, Jinny, Betty, Dick, & Jane. The then willed to deft. Rebecca, on the 21st of March 1836, was delivered over to her by the executors in pursuance of said will. Deft's further answer and say that it is false that either of these deft's considered the said Lucy
or her increase as belonging justly to the said Edmond, or that there was any design formed by either to entrap or over rash the said Edmond in relation to his claim to said Negroes as is falsely charged or the other hand. They never heard the said Edmond Harper, after the adjustment and conveyance of 1814, put up any claim to said Negroes, till after the death of the said Wm. Harper. It is true that Wm. Harper was declining for some time previous to his death was confined from Novr till his death in Febry 1836. And during his illness, which he was satisfied would result in his death, he had been informed as Wm. Harper said that it was reported in the neighborhood, that the said Edmond intended at the death of the said Wm. Harper, to disturb his title to the said Negroes and that he said he would sue for them, and that after he heard this report he conversed with the said Edmond upon its truth, and he denied it to be true, and said that he neither had or intended to set up any title to said Negroes. Defts will here state the circumstances of making the will and the execution of the quit claim deed of the said Edmond Harper. Benjamine S. answers and says about three weeks previous to Wm. Harper's death, perhaps on the 11th of Febry last between ten & eleven o'clock at night he was awoke up & his father said that he felt bad & wished him to send for all the children, which was done, they arrived that night & by next day in the morning. The deft. John Parker answering says that next morning after Edmond came in the said Wm. Harper requested him to talk to Edmond about those Negroes, that Edmond had told him that he had no intention of suing & Edmond was in the yard & deft. in presence of deft. Benjamine S. Harper commenced a conversation with Edmond Harper in relation to his claim and mildly told him Edmond that the old man wished to settle his affairs before his death and that it was reported that he probably would set up a claim to the said Negroes after his death & if that was so he ought to make his claim known, Edmond replied that he had no such intention that he does not believe that he could recover them if he sued, and all that he wanted was an equal divide with the rest of the children, he then came in & told his father not to be concerned at what he had heard, for all he desired was and equal divide with the balance of the children. It is expressly denied that there was any threats, coercion, or persuasion used or he taken in any dark room, as is falsely charged. This was the only conversation upon the subject Deft. Parker ever had with him previous to Wm. Harper's death, and deft's deny the truth of said allegation as far as concerns them. The old man did not doubt the soundness of his own title, but concluded that a release would do no harm & perhaps prevent the balance of the children from being harassed after his death and requested deft.
Parker to draw a release of any claim or title which he the said Edmond had to said slaves, which was done and the said Edmond executed the same, under his hand & seal. In the evening of the same day he executed his will, dividing by his will his property equally between all his children, the said Edmond included. The foregoing on the circumstance attending the execution of the said release, which was altogether voluntary on his part. The following are the circumstances in relation to the burning of the said papers mentioned in the Bill, that after signing of the release, which was done in the presence of Wm. Harper & others, the old man observed to Edmond what he was doing to do with the copy of Wm. Yarbrough's will & one or two certificates, which certified that Lucy was willed to Edmond Harper, he replied he did not care what was done with them, they were no account. The old man then said that if he was a mind to he could direct Joshua Harper to burn them. He told Joshua Harper to burn or hand them to him, which he burnt in the presence of Wm. Harper, Edmond & others. This was not a certified Copy of a will, yet purported to be a copy of Wm. Yarbrough's will, a copy of which be easily procured from N. Carolina, and the burning of this writing could not necessarily prejudice any one, as a copy can be procured particularly when done by the direction of Compts Deft. John Parker expressly denies as is charged that he ever said that the will of Wm. Yarbrough must be destroyed before said William Harper could make his will nor is it believed that the Wm. Harper ever said so himself. These defts further answering say although the compt in his bill does not seek to cancel his deed executed as in 1844 or his release of 1836 which were executed under his hand & seal and on a valuable consideration on the ground of his being a non compos mentis or weak mind for this is alleged or charged in the bill yet an interrogatory is put in the bill about his mind which defts will answer. Defts do not consider him of a sprightly mind neither is he timid yet he is and has been from the usual age of discretion a man of common intellect & discretion that he understands his rights as well as men in his circumstances generally do who would well understand the nature of a conveyance bill of sale or release. That he is by no means a non compos mentis. Defts by way of defense to complts bill plead in bar first that the title of said slaves Lucy was vested in William Harper previous to the death of Wm. Yarbrough, 2nd The statute of limitations of three years to 1813, 3rd The deed of conveyance of 1814 executed by Edmond Harper upon a valuable consideration to Wm. Harper, 4th acquiescence and the part of Edmond Harper for upwards of Thirty years, 5th The transfer of the said Raney to John Parker in 1819 without notice, 6th The statute of limitations of actions from the conveyance in 1814 to the death of Wm. Harper, 7th the release executed in 1836. The defts. deny all fraud where with they are charged or combinations to defraud
the said Edmond all which they are ready to mention & more as this honorable Court may direct and prays to be hence dismissed with their cost in this behalf expended. Joseph Guild, Sol. for Defts.
State of Tennessee, Sumner County - This day 27th day of May 1836 personally appeared John Parker, Samuel W. & Benjamin S. Harper & Rebecca Harper before me Zechariah G. Goodall and acting Justice of the peace for said County and made oath that the matters & things stated in the foregoing answers as of their own knowledge are true and those things stated as of the information of others they believe to be true.
Rebecca (her mark) Harper
B. S. Harper
S. W. Harper
Z. G. Goodall Justice of the Peace for said County
April Term 1838 - Final Decree
Be it remembered that this cause came on for final adjudication on the
12th day of April 1838 before the honorable L. M. Bramlet Chancellor for
the Middle Division of the State of Tennessee on the pleadings and proofs
in the cause and it is thereon appeared to the satisfaction of the Court
the title of Lucy the mother of the slaves in controversy in this cause was
vested in William Harper Testator at the death of William Yarbrough in 1793.
She being given to said Wm. Harper's wife Patsy by said Yarbrough her father
previous to his making his will in 1793, it further appearing to the satisfaction
of the Court that said compt. in years 1814 & 1836 executed deeds of
release to the said Wm. Harper of all his right to said Lucy and her increase
as aforesaid which binding on compt. It further appearing to the Court that
the said Wm. Harper held the possession of Lucy and increase as his own property
& adversely to said Edmond from the year 1814 and previous up to his
death in 1836 & that the compts. right if any he had is barred by the
statute of limitations and that the title of said Negroes was in said Wm.
Harper at his death except Raney & increase given to John Parker. It
is therefore ordered adjudged & decreed by the Court that compts. bill
be dismissed and that compt. pay the cost of this suit with the exception
of the cost of dept depositions which is ordered to be paid by the defts.
and the Fi fa issue as at Common Law.
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