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1854 Texas Estate Division Document including Slaves
1854 Texas Estate Division Document including Slaves

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A manuscript document relating to the division of items from the estate of John Carpenter. This document states that there was “Received of Nathaniel W. Townes Administrator of the Estate of John Carpenter deceased, all of the distributive share of Amanda Dewitt one of the heirs at Law … as partitioned and distributed by Commissioners appointed for that purpose, by the County Court of Grayson County … and received by me as Guardian Ad Litem …”. According to the document, Dewitt’s portion consisted of “… ******* Adaline and Anthony valued at Twelve hundred (1200) Dollars, and Divisional Lot of Land No. (8) valued at Three hundred Dollars $(300) making in all property to the amount of Fifteen Hundred Dollars …”. The document is signed at the conclusion by “H. R. Mann” in his capacity as “Guad. Ad Litem” (Guardian Ad Litem) and is dated “March 1st 1854”. It is interesting to note that this document does not mention who many heirs were involved in the division of the property, so that the value of the estate cannot be determined (presumably, the numbers presented in this document are Dewitt’s share and not the entire value). The back of the document was originally blank, though notations were made in period ink to facilitate filing and storage. Though not titled or headlined, it will be noted in the text that the commissioners who made the original distribution were appointed by the court of Grayson County, so one assume that this document emanates from the same locale. Penned in period ink on pale blue paper, this piece would make a great addition to any slavery or Texas collection. It is possible that with the further research, the principals mentioned in the document may be located and a fuller story obtained.

The presently offered specimen exhibits signs of period use and subsequent long term storage. Three horizontal folds are present, the lowest one not affecting any of the text. Toning is present across the entire surface, significantly darker and more pronounced at the edges. This edge toning has caused the paper to split at the folds, with minor paper loss as a result. Ink bleed through is noted when the piece is viewed from the back, with scattered erosion associated with some of the letters. Ink smearing noted on several letters, though this does not affect the legibility of the piece. Measuring approximately 8 x 9 inches, this piece would make an interesting addition to a slavery related collection, reflecting as it does the division of property including slaves.

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