The Commonwealth v Peter
Abstracted from the Minutes of the County Court, May 1834
At a Court begun and held for Grayson County at the courthouse on Monday the 26th day of May 1834 for the trial of a negro man slave named Peter, the property of John Blair charged with having committed a rape on the body of Eve Haga.
Present William Vaughn, John Cock, James Anderson, Jr., Churchwell Jones, & Samuel Cox, G. Justices
the prisoner being set at the bar in custody of the jailor and being arrained plead not guilty whereupon several witnesses were sworn and examined and not having time hear all the evidence were adjourned until tomorrow 8 o’clock.
Tuesday the 27th Court met according to Adjournment.
Present William Vaughan, John Cock, Churchwell Jones, Samuel Cox & James Anderson, Jr., G. Justices.
The court met pursuant to adjournment and proceeded in the trial slave Peter the prisoner at the bar the property of John Blair who was set at the bar in custory of the jailor, whereupon sundry other witnesses were examined and the case argued by counsel assigned by the court to defend the said slave Peter and by the Commonwealth by her attorney and after hearing all the evidence the court are of opinion that the said Peter is guilty of the offence whereof he stands charged therefor it is considered by the court that he be hanged by the neck until he be dead and that execution of this judgment be made and done upon the said slave Peter by the sheriff of this county on Friday the 11th day of July next between the hours of ten in the forenoon and two in the afternoon of the same day at the usual place, of execution and thereupon the said Slave Peter is remanded to jail and the court recommends the Said Peter to the mercy of the executioner and the court doth value the said Slave Peter at the sum of four hundred and fifty dollars.
Eve Haga a witness on the behalf of the Commonwealth testified that she was walking along a road and Peter came up behinder he seized and draged her into the woods and after he had ravished her she promised not to tell on him if he would spare her life. Peter the prisoner took twenty-five cents in money out of her ridicule and sayed he was a runaway. Witness knows Peter to be the same Negro. She is shure he is the same witness by Kenny’s road at the time witness can’t say how far it was from Blair’s, it was close to Kenny’s road and near an old field where the negro attacked her, witness does not know the time of day but it was between Breakfast & dinner it was a mile or more from Presley Jennings. Negro seized her by the throat jerked her down and dragged her into the woods negro sit down witness went off did not look which way he went there was a little field on the right hand of the road. Negro took her to the left side of the road in the woods, which was immediately on the road. Witness said she would give all she had it he would not kill her. Negro then took her money. Witness is forty-five years old next Christmas [illegible] she is not very healthy but able to walk to the court house. Witness told Willis [illegible] who was first person she saw afterwards what had happened. She told her family that a Negro had attempted to kill her. Witness told no one of the rape but her old man until she was sworn. She was much alarmed but knows what happened and would not tell any thing on white or black unless true.
Joel Stone another witness in behalf of the Commonwealth, says he was at Presly Jennings when Jennings’ two negroes and the prisoner Peter were brought together and directed them to set down side by side the prisoner Peter went off and sat down by himself. Eve Haga was then told to come and see if either of the negroes was the one who had attacked her on the road and as soon as she had cast her eyes on Peter she said God Almighty knows he is the said negro.
Presley Jennings were next examined on behalf of the Commonwealth. He says he was present when Eve Haga was brought before his two negroes together with the Prisoner Peter in his lot. The negroes were brought there, for the purpose of finding out which if either of them it was, who committed the rape upon her, she said it was that one pointing at Peter the Prisoner and that she would know him among five hundred of same by Quantity. Mistress Haga called at witness’ house that day about two and a half hours before the middle of the day she left his house he thinks about 10 o’clock and talked about being at home by 12 o’clock. Witness negroes are nearly of the same culler of Peter the prisoner perhaps a little lighter, then he and about the same sise. James Wright’s waggon came along after Mistress Haga had gone. Witness family thought she had time to get to Crooked Creek which was four miles off.
Nancy DeFriece a witness on behalf of the prisoner says that Mrs. Haga stayed all night at her house on the same night that Peter was taken up she told the witness that the negro came up behind her and choked her she thought he was a runaway and said she thought negro aimed to ravish her. Witness don’t remember that Mrs. Haga said the negro did not get all he wanted.
David Defriece a witness examined on the same side says that he was at home the night Mrs. Haga stayed at his house whcih was the night Peter was put in jail. She told witness that they were taking the negro to jail for ravishment. Witness asked her what the negro aimed to carry her into the woods for, she said that he [illegible] not get. Thomas Wilkerson a witness a witness on the same side says he saw Mrs. Haga, they talked together about a negro, William his son, had lived, witness said that it could not have been him for he was not in the country. Mrs. Haga then said it must have been a runaway. She told witness that the negro came up behind her, caught her by the right arm and said he had a great mind to kill her he wanted her money. She said she had but one quarter of a dollar and some cakes, did not abuse her in any other way as she said. Witnes says he would not of told that the negro had ravished her if he had been Mrs. Haga.
Thomas Blair a witness examined on the same side says that Elisha Jones came to his house 10 or 12 minutes before twelve o’clock it was a half or three quarters of a mile to his house. Witness did not go straight home from the forge. Witness not sertain that Peter was at home when he was there.
John Jones a witness examined in the same side says that he worked at the forge and went to sewing oats a little after sunride and that he went into the field three times days that Peter came through the field as if after hogs. He run to whare a dog had caught a hog. Witness thinks it was in the fore part of the day. Witness saw Peter while his son Elisha was at breakfast. Witness took a bushel & a half of oats at a time to the field, which was a quarter of a mile or more from the house. Witness thinks he saw Peter about ten o’clock or near that time. Witness sowed the third turn of oats before his son ate breakfast.
Elisha Jones another witness on the same side, says he saw Peter cumming down around the house who went to cutting straw. Witness saw Peter, one quarter of an hour before he started with Thomas Blair, and when he got to Thomas Blair’s it was near 12 o’clock.
John Lyon an other witness examined on the same side, said Elisha Jones was at his house the same day. Mrs. Haga was at Blair’s. He lives between a quarter & half a mile.
John Blair a witness examined on the same side says says that Mrs. Haga came to his house for Iron in the morning of the same day that the offence is charged to have been committed some time after breakfast. Witness told Peter he must get Mr. Jennings hogs out of the plantation. He does not recollect what time of the day he last saw Peter but thinks it was near the middle of the day and about the time James Wright’s waggon left his house. Witness recollection is however imperfect.
Micagah Stone a witness examined on the same side says the can not say what time of the day he saw Peter on the day of the rape was charged to have been committed. Witness had breakfast a little later than common. Witness heard some one after hogs he looked and saw Peter and Thomas Bennet after hogs. He then went back to his plow. Witness saw a waggon coming down the hill afterwards found it to be Wright’s Waggon. By this time Peter had got a hog out. Witness is not surtain but thinks he ate breakfast between eight and nine o’clock. He plowed a short time before he saw Peter but can’t say how long, it might of been half an hour not less from the time he first heard dogs after hogs until a hog was put out, and half an hour after the first hog was put out he saw Peter again near Mr. Blair’s house after other hogs, the first hog was put out of the bottom field opposite his house at the time Wright’s waggon came along. Witness got a quarter of a dollar from Peter shortly after the charge was made against him.
Nancy Stone, a witness examined in the same side says she supposes they at breakfast about 8 o’clock which was a little later than usual. Witness thought it was but a short time after wards that she heard dogs after hogs. She thinks Wright’s waggon came along at the time the hog was put out of the bottom opposite her house and that she thinks she saw Peter and Thomas Bennet. She took it to be them. Witness knew of no other black man about, and thinks she saw Peter at the thrashing yard in the bottom about 12 o’clock or perhaps after that time.
John A. Clements a witness examined on the same side says that James Wright with his waggon left his house on Saturday morning after breakfast on the day of the accident should of hapened.
James Wright a witness examined on the same side, says that he went with his waggon to move up Mr. Black left Clements after breakfast and went directly to Blair’s forge which is called five miles from Clements and stayed one hour or nearly or quite. Witness stoped a littel at Mr. Jennings whcih is call a mile from Blair’s it was near the middle of the day when witness was at Jennings, witness says that horses in an empty waggon would traveled two and a half miles in an hour.
Joel Stone, a witness on the behalf of the Commonwealth, says that Elisha Jones who was examined as a witness on the behalf of the prisoner told him he had not saw Peter the prisoner about home on the day the offence charged to have been committed after 8 or 9 o’clock in the morning.
Lewis Crotts an other witness for the Commonwealth stated that John Jones examined as a witness for the prisoner told him that Peter was abcent on the morning of the day of the offence [illegible] here been committed two or three hours and that he have been acquainted with Eve Haga ever since she was a child and that she always was considered an honest woman and a woman of truth and that he never heard any thing charged against her.
Reuben Branscom an other witness for the Commonwealth says he have been acquainted with Eve Haga for five or six or perhaps seven and that she was considered always an honest woman and a woman of truth. He never knew her to tell a lie in his life that since this affair broke out he had enquired of the neighbors and no one could say any thing against her caracter as a woman of truth.
Churchwell Jones a witness for the commonwealth says that the general caracter of Eve Haga is good so fare as he ever knew.
Nancy Worrell a witness for the commonwealth says that she is acquainted with Eve Haga and believes her to be an honest [illegible] woman and a woman of good general carcater.
Ordered that Samuel McCamant be allowed twenty dollars as Attoryney for the Commonwealth against Peter a slave the property of John Blair for a rape.
Joshua Hanks high sheriff of Grayson County enters his protests against the insufficiency of the jail.
Ordered that the sheriff summon a gard for the purpose of securing the prisoner in the jail until it could be repaired and made secure.
Andrew Fulton is allowed as an attorney appointed by the court to defend Peter a slave the property of John Blair on a charge of a rape twenty dollars.
Ordered that James Toneray be allowed the sum of five hundred dollars for extra services concerning the courthouse.
Ordered that John Dickenson be appoitned to take care of the new courthouse.
Ordered that the overseers of the Poor bind Alexander a poor boy of colour aged 11 years to [blank] as the law directs.
On the application of John A Clements who produced the Sheriff’s receipt for the tax imposed by law and entered into bond with James Anderson, jr. His security in the sum of $150 conditioned as the law directs, a license is granted him to keep an ordinary at his tavern at Grayson Court- house until the next May term of this Court, the Court being satisfied that the said John A. Clements is a man of good character not addicted to drunkenness or gambling.