Thursday, July 25, 2013

Margaret Moore and the Troubles She Saw

Of the hundreds of Kentucky advertisements for jailed runaway slaves that I have read a few stand out. One of these was found in the March 16, 1863, edition of the Frankfort Tri-Weekly Commonwealth. It listed a mother and her four daughters. It read as follows:

THE FOLLOWING NEGROES HAVE BEEN committed to the Bullitt county jail, one negro woman calling herself Margaret Moore, is about 33 or 34 years old, black color, weighs about 125 pounds, and says she belongs to Sam Moore, of Huntsville, Alabama.
Also, one female runaway slave (the daughter of said Margaret,) mulatto color, twelve years old, and calls herself ANNA.
Also, a runaway slave child who calls her name NORAH, brown color, about 8 years old (child of said Margaret.)
Also, a runaway slave girl who calls her name RIDLEY, brown color, about six years old (child of said Margaret.)
Also, a runaway slave girl who calls her name CAROLINE, black color, about two years old (child of said Margaret,) all belonging to the same person.
B. F. TROUTMAN, J. B. C. [Jailer Bullitt County]

Usually, the only additional information one can find out about these jailed runaways is the later advertisement of their sale. Well, I was a little more than surprised when I came across some supplemental information on Margaret and the girls when reading Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861-1867; Series I, Vol. I - The Destruction of Slavery. I had remembered their names due to being surprised how a woman and her four little girls could travel from Huntsville, Alabama, across Tennessee and most of Kentucky, to land in jail in Bullitt County in north central Kentucky. Likely they followed Union Gen. Don Carlos Buell's army as it made its way north in the attempt to stop Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg's invasion of Kentucky in the fall of 1862.

Of course, it would have been difficult for Sam Moore of Alabama, (now in a different country - the Confederate States of America) to come of Kentucky and claim his human property. According to the then recently changed Kentucky law the county only had to hold slaves for a month before they were offered for sale. In the book mention above is a transcribed document from the sheriff of Bullitt County, W. Phleps, describing the sale of Margaret and the girls.

"After advertising as directed in the within orders I sold the within named slaves at the Courthouse door in Shepherdsville, County Court day, as follows, James Funk being the highest and best bidder bought Margaret and child [I assume Caroline, 2 years old] for $535 - paid cash; - James Shepherd bought Norah for $380 - gave bond with Orleans Lee security, R. W. Deats bought Ridley for $326 - gave bond with John Mooney security, S. A. McKay bought Anna for $405 - & gave bond with James Y. Pope security."

It is difficult to image the troubles that Margaret Moore experienced negotiating her family's route to freedom. The stress and strain of fleeing slavery must have had telling effects on her physical and mental health. Then, only to be captured and incarcerated, she still had her children, but the institution of slavery coldly separated this family of five individuals to four different owners. One wonders if they were able to see each other once in a while as they remained in slavery with new owners and if they were able to reunite as a unit when slavery was finally abolished in Kentucky almost three years later.

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