02 October 2014

Milley Stewart Talks About Her Parents' Debt

Court records can often be a gold mine of information--even if the case appears to be inconsequential.

This image comes from an early 19th century court case in Bedford County, Virginia, that came to a final head in the late 1820s but stemmed from a debt that originated in 1807.

This image is from the affidavit of Milley Stewart. In this deposition Milley names her father, John Sledd, and one of her brothers, Barksdale Sledd. 

James Clegg vs. John Sledd, Senr., etal, Bedford County Chancery Court Records, Case 1827-013; digital image from Library of Virginia.

She also mentions her mother, but does not specifically name her in this affidavit. Clagg apparently lived with or worked for the Sledd family in some capacity and the Sledds gave room and board to Clagg and Mrs. Sledd made him some clothes as well. 

There are several other depositions in the file, which point to an apparent squabble between two of the Sledd brothers, the migration of the family between Amherst and Bedford Counties, and the death of John Sledd (the father) and Mrs. Sledd.

One typically expects disputes over inheritances to mention heirs and family relationships, but any case has the potential to expand on relationship details. My research on this family and other families I have in the area had concentrated on Amherst County. This discovery suggests that I need to do more research in Bedford County as well. One difficulty with research in this era is that one may not know precisely where in a county a family lived, making it imperative to research adjacent county records as well. 

Milley would be a credible source for the relationship information she provides in her deposition. Of course, her knowledge of the relationships would have stemmed from what she was told and what she lived. And as research continues, I should be open to the possibility that when she refers to someone as her "brother" she may have actually meant "half-brother." That distinction would not have been germane to this case as it did not involve any actual inheritance from John or Mrs. Sledd, but rather was discussing the assignment of a debt.

There's more about the Sledd family in this case that we'll save for another post.