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From:
Subject: [COLSON] Burkhead vs. Thomas Colson & Christopher Watkins
Date: Sun, 15 Feb 2004 11:03:17 EST


Here is the information I promised about a law suit of 1826 that went all the
way to the NC Supreme Court. The records are some 100 pages long I believe.
"Burkhead" is Charity Muse Burkhead and her husband James. Thomas Colson,
son of Joseph d. 1788, and Christopher Watkins, husband of Harriet Colson,
daughter of Jacob Colson decd, son of Joseph d. 1788. are named as defendants
because Thomas and Jacob's brother Sanders who inherited the negro Rachel was
deceased. This information comes from Lou Murphy, a Muse researcher. Thank you so
much Lou for sharing this!

Background:

1780 - James MUSE, Jr. married to Charity BRASWELL [last name not proved]
writes his will and bequeaths a slaved named Rachel to his daughter Charity MUSE

James dies by 1782 owing money. His widow Charity and his son Jesse sell
the slave Rachel to Joseph COLSON, Sr. to raise money to pay debts. The
daughter was then 14 years old.

Joseph COLSON, Sr. bequeaths Rachel to his son Sanders COLSON, with the
proviso that she be leant to his wife Mary until her death or remarriage. Right
around the time that Joseph died, according to depositions, Joseph became uneasy
about the legality of the title. Charity Muse, Jr. executed a bill of sale
to him on 8 Dec 1789 [BUT he was supposed to be dead by then-ec] The slave
Rachel was then about 8 or 9 years old. Charity, Jr. was about 19. Charity
married James BURKHEAD in 1790.

1826 - Charity Muse BURKHEAD and her husband James file a Bill of Complaint
in the Court of Equity of Davidson Co, NC against Thomas COLSON and Christopher
WATKINS, the heirs of Joseph COLSON, Sr. After Thomas died, his wife Mildred
Kirby COLSON, became a defendent.

Charity claims that her mother and brother had no right to sell or mortgage
the slave Rachel; that when she signed the Bill of Sale in 1789, she was still
a minor [19] and didn't realize she was signing away her title to Rachel; that
Joseph COLSON, Sr. had obtained her signature on the Bill of Sale by "artful
contrivance"

Charity and James BURKHEAD wanted all 18 of Rachel's issue and descendants! -
named in suit and were the same slaves divided between Thomas & Jacob
COLSON's heirs in 1820. Depositions were taken from 1826 to 1838. Her brother
Thomas MUSE disputed her.

Lawsuit originated in Davidson Co, NC in 1826 and was moved to Montgomery
County, NC a few years later. Ended up in NC Supreme Court in 1837-38. Judge
Thomas Ruffin, Chief Justice of NC Supreme Court decided their was no evidence
of any collusion and dismissed the case.

Items of interest on the COLSONS of Anson found in the files:

1. Following slaves named in 1826 as being in the possession of Thomas COLSON
and Christopher WATKINS and named as descendants of Rachel - Pen, Phillis,
Dorcas, Spicey, Ralph, Ned, Quenny, Jenny, Vicey, Cander, Sophy, Winney, Ben,
Marchel, Sandy, Will, Minny, and another negro named Jenny. "all of which
slaves are the increase of Rachel & have either descended or been bequeathed to
Thomas COLSON & Christopher WATKINS in right of his wife by Joseph COLSOn, dec'd"

2. 1826 - reply of Thomas COLSON & Christopher WATKINS - their ancestor
Joseph COLSON, Sr. "advanced money to James Muse's executors some 50 years ago" and
that "some time after" Charity MUSE, Jr. had executed a Bill of Sale for the
slave Rachel to Joseph COLSON, Sr. and that executors of James Muse's estate
had given Charity 300 acres of land in Moore County and livestock as
compensation for the slave. Bill of Sale dated 06 Dec 1789 and recorded Anson Co 08 Oct
1790 exhibited.

3. Sept. 1827 - a writ from Davidson [later Montgomery - ec] County Court was
issued the Justices of the Peace of Stewart County, TN to depose Joseph COL
SON, Jr about the case. If he made a deposition then it is not on the film.
The only deposition by him was made in 1835 in Franklin Co, AL when he was about
70 years old.

STATE of North CAROLINA
Montgomery County - Court of Equity
Know ye that we ___ authorize you to call & come before you JOSEPH
COLSON and him diligently examine as to what he may know in and about a matter of
controversy now pending in the Court of Equity for the county aforesaid - in
which JAMES BURKHEAD & wife are Complainants and THOMAS COLSON & CHRS.
WATKINS are defendants --- and such examiniation & deposition by you taken ___ you
are to send certified and under your hand & seal to the Courthouse at
Lawrencefille on the first Monday in March next and there you shall in no wise omit.
Witness JOHN CHRISTIAN Clerk & Master in Equity at office this 8th day of
December in the 52nd year of Independence/s/ JNO. C. CHRISTIAN C.M.Equity

STATE of ALABAMA
FRANKLIN COUNTY
I am well acquainted with the parties and side case & say that my father
JOSEPH COLSON bought of the Executors or administrators of JAMES MUSE dec'd a
negro slave named RACHEL said to belong to CHARITY MUSE JUNR. & sometime after the
said sale - to wit - about four years (later?) my father went to the said
CHARITY MUSE JUNR. and told her he was
doubtful of the title he had for said negro RACHEl whereupon her mother
CHARITY MUSE SENR, her brother JESSE & herself all stated that she then was of
lawful age to pass property and said CHARITY MUSE JUNR proceeded to execute a
Bill of Sale to my father for said slave and said she was satisfied with the
first sale of said slave made by the said executors or administrators was a fair
one and that she had ____ the proceeds of the sale ____ My father paid for said
slave 80 or 90 pounds estimating twenty shillings to the pound & eight to the
dollar at the time which the said CHARITY MUSE JUNR considered a fair
consideration or price for said slave Rachel. The money was paid in Silver and the
sale and satisfaction of the same to the said CHARITY MUSE JUNR by the
execution of a Bill of Sale as aforesaid as above stated has been about 40 years ago &
that he, affiant, never knew or heard of the same being questioned or its
validity doubted until the cause now said to be in controversy between the
parties aforesaid. The bill of sale first made by the executors or administrators
of said JAMES MUSE was cancelled upon the execution of the last by said
CHARITY JUNR the daughter of said CHARITY MUSE SENR. I am now about 70 years of
age in good health and fully recall the particulars and substantial facts as
above stated and further this deponent saith not. /s/ JOSEPH COLSON 22 May
1835

STATE OF ALABAMA
FRANKLIN COUNTY
[Daniel ?] R. Garland and Edward C. Harris acting Justices of the Peace for
said court hereby certify that the foregoing deposition of JOSEPH COLSON was
this day [illegible] sworn to at the Post office RUSSELVILLE Franklin Cty
Alabama and that neither of us are _____ to either of the [Litigous?] parties the
_____ [illegible words] _______Sworn & subscribed _______ [illegible words]
Given under our hands & seals this 22nd May 1835 /s/ D.R. GARLAND JP, EDWARD
C. HARRIS J.P.

4. The will of Joseph COLSON, Sr. couldn't be found in the clerk's office of
Anson Co, but Mildred COLSON's lawyer searched the Colson house & found a
copy of the will in a desk drawer. This copy was exhibited at the trial in the
Supreme Court. The Clerk of Anson Co did find a record of the division of
slaves between Thomas COLSON and the heirs of Jacob COLSON dated July Term 1820

5. Witness John Beverley deposed that he was a near neighbor of Joseph
COLSON, Sr. and knew him and his sons well that SANDERS COLSON "died at his house by
a fall from a horse a young man many years ago"; that the land & negros
weren't divided between until after Thomas reached his 21st birthday and that the
land & slaves were divided according to Joseph SR's will

6. 2 Jul 1827 - SAMUEL DUNN, who stated that he married a sister of CHARITY
MUSE JR, deposed that he was acquainted with the slave Rachel and that he
believe JOSEPH COLSON SR knew when he purchased Rachel that she had been
bequeathed to Charity MUSE because "Joseph COLSON was a near connection of Charity, he
having married her aunt" [So was Mary a MUSE or a BRASWELL? According to Lou
Murphy, Charity's grandparents, JAMES MUSE SR & Sophia POPE died not have a
daughter named MARY. Of course "MARY" might not hav been Joseph's only wife -
ec]

Eleanor Colson


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