Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Information About Slaves Owned by Joshua Pell, Jr. of the Manor of Pelham

In 1837, the New York Committee of Vigilance published its first annual report regarding its efforts to fight slavery. Included in that report was a summary of some of the Committee's efforts to obtain recompense for former slaves whose property was taken by slaveholders. Among the entries in that report is one relating to Joshua Pell, Jr. who owned land in Pelham and New Rochelle. The entry is transcribed below, followed by a citation to its source.

"The efforts made by your committee to recover property due to colored persons, has been the means of developing some of the the odious effects of slavery in the free states. We select the two following cases as specimens of the existence of slavery in New York. Mr. Joshua Pell, of New Rochelle, hired from Pumpton, New Jersey, a man named James Trebout,* whom he held as a slave four years; he also bought the man's wife for seventy dollars, from his master in New Jersey, and kept her as a slave, till the facts came to the knowledge of your committee; we then endeavored to obtain wages for these poor people, but the slave holders had craftily caused them to put their mark to a paper as a receipt in full, specifying some supply of clothing,† and small sums of money, which prevented the prosecution of a suit against him.


* I do certify that Dianna, a black woman, was purchased of Mr. Andrew C. Zebuskie, of Kohocus, New Jersey, last November, that she is now a free woman, which facts I know of my own knowledge.

New Rochelle, 3st Oct., 1836. WM. W. McCLELAN.

† The following is the bill, et literatum. The reader may judge how correct it is.

John Trebout, to Joshua Pell, Jr., Dr.
Cash paid Andrew C. Zebuskie, for John Trebout's wife, $70,00
Cash and expenses in going for her at different times, 20,00
Two shirts $1,25, straw hat 25 cents, shoes $2,50, 3,37
Pantaloons $1,25, tobacco 12 1.2 cents, cash $10, 1,72 1.2
Cash 12 1-2 cents, do 25 cents, summer coat $3,00, 3,37 1.2
Cash at sundry times, 37 1.2
Coat $5, shoes $1,75, pantaloons $1,50 8,25
Mending 75 cents, stockings $1,50, tobacco 37 cents, cash 25 cents, 2,87 1.2
Pair of boots $4, hat $1, cash $3 8,00
Cap $1,25, shoes $2, shoes for Dina $1, 4,25
[Total] $122,60

A number of articles cannot be enumerated, because the bills have not come in.

John Trebout and his wife have served Mr. Pell after a fashion from last November, about 11 months, consequently making Mr. Pell pay them about $11,14."

Source: The First Annual Report of the New York Committee of Vigilance for the Year 1837, Together With Important Facts Relative to Their Proceedings, p. 78 (NY, NY: Piercy & Reed, Printers, 1837).

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