Materially and essentially promoted.

State of North Carolina, Wilson County  }   Court of Equity, Fall Term 1860

To the Honorble, the Judge of Said Court

The Petition of Joshua Barnes Trustee of Mary Harper and of John Harper & Mary Harper his wife

Humbly complaining respectfully Showeth unto your Honor that on the 12th day of May AD 1855 a deed was executed by your Petitioner John Harper conveying certain slaves to your Petitioner Joshua Barnes in trust for the benefit of your Petitioner the said Mary Harper who is the wife of your petitioner John Harper for a more minute description of which Refference is hereby made, and a true and verified copy of which is hereunto Attached Marked A and prayed to be taken as a part of this your Petitioners Petition

Your Petitioners further show that in pursuance to said deed your petitioner held said Slaves therein conveyed until some time in the month of [blank] when one of the slaves man named Jason therein conveyed becoming so disorderly and rebellis that it became unsafe for him to remain in this community for his life having been frequently threatened on an account of Spirit of insubordination and rebellion when your petitioner took him & sent him out of the State & sold him the sum of fifteen hundred and fifteen dollars and out the proceeds of said he purchased a negro woman Named Agnes & child for the sum of twelve hundred and fifty dollars this was done by and with the consent and approval of your petitioners John & Mary Harper and under the advice of many of the friends of all your petitioners.

In as much therefore as the acts and doings of the trustee aforesaid are not binding and legitimate without the Sanction of the this Court and in as much as the interest of his cestui que trust has been materially and essentially promoted by the sale of Slave Jason and purchase of Woman Agnes & child (now [blank] children)

Your petitioners do therefore pray your Honor to duly consider the premises and make a decree confirming the sale of said Slave Jason and also the purchase of the Agnes & child and ordering, directing and decreeing that the Said Joshua Barnes as trustee aforesaid shall keep hold use and apply to the same uses purposes and trusts as was expressed and implied in the original conveyance from Harper to Barnes aforesaid the said woman Slave Agness & children and their increase and the balance of the money arising from the sale of Jason after paying for the woman Agness & child and all necessary expenses of selling Jason and purchasing Agness & child together with the costs of this proceeding

And as in duty bound your Petitioners will ever pray &c      E.A. Thompson Solicitor for Petitioner

He shall be at liberty to expend in hiring of laborers to assist in supporting the family or otherwise as he may consider best for the interest of his cestui que trust.

Jas. D. Barnes John T. Barnes maketh oath that in their opinion the interest of the Cestui que trust the said Mary Harper has been materially and essentially promoted by the sale of the Slave Jason and the purchase of Negro woman Agnes & child

Sworn to & subscribed before me this 5th day of Dec 1860} J.T. Barnes, Jas. D. Barnes, Wm. H. Barnes C.M.E.

——

[Attachment A]

Know all men by these presents that I, John Harper, of the county of Wilson State of North Carolina for & in consideration of the natural love & affection I bear to my wife Mary Harper & my children & for the further consideration of one Dollar in hand paid the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged have given, granted, bargained, sold & conveyed & by these presents do give, grant, bargain sell & convey unto Joshua Barnes three slaves, Jason, Lettice & Martha To have & to hold unto the said Joshua Barnes his executors & administrators nevertheless in Trust for the sole & separate use & benefit of the said Mary Harper during her Natural life or widowhood, & after her death or Marriage to divide & make over the same to such person or persons as would be my Distributees at that time. And the said Joshua Barnes for himself his executors & administrators does hereby covenant & agree to faithfully execute the above Trusts.

In testimony whereof I the said John Harper & Joshua Barnes as Trustee hereunto affix our hands & seals this the 12th day of May AD 1855.   John Harper {seal} Witness Geo. Howard Jr.

State of North Carolina Wilson County This is the 12th day of May 1855 Geo Howard Jr the subscribing witness to the above Deed appears before me & being duly sworn proved the execution of the same by John Harper whereupon it is so ordered to be registered  Washington Barnes C.C. Clerk

This deed was received for Registration the 12th day of May 1855  L. Sauls Register

I hereby certify that this is a true copy of the above Deed from the Register Oct 22 AD 1860  A.J. Brown Reg

——

In other words, John Harper set aside three enslaved people in trust for his wife and children and designated Joshua Barnes — “Father of Wilson County” — as trustee. When Jason became “disorderly and rebellious,” Barnes sold him out of state and purchased Agnes and her child with the proceeds. A trustee’s actions required court approval, and Barnes petitioned for same, asserting that the transactions had benefited the trust. He also tacked on a request to be able to hire laborers, i.e. slaves, to support the Harper family.

Records of Slaves and Free People of Color, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

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