Violet v. Henry W. Ball. Petitioners' Interrogatories to Elizabeth L. Jones


Violet & children
W. H. Ball

Interrogatories to be answered by Miss Jones on the part of the Petitioners.

1st. Do you know the Petitioners & where did they reside before they were brought to the City of Washington? & about what time were they removed?

The petitioner Violet is a native of the State of Virginia & County of Northumberland—where she remained all her life—until the spring of 1807—at which time—by the authority of Henry Waring Ball (whoes property she became by his marriage with Sally Shelton Jones—) She was removed with other property of his to Fairfax County Virginia—And when Violet was originally brought or sent to the city of Washington—Elizath L. Jones knows nothing abt.

2nd. Did the said Petitioners after their removal to Washington & when, return to the State of Virginia?

Some time in the month of March or (April) 1811—Violet—together with her two children—Winifred & Chloe—(all the property of Henry W. Ball—) arrived in Northumberland County State of Virginia—From the City of Washington—

3. Did you understand from Violet on her said return from for what purpose she returned & did you ever afterwards in a conversation with the Deft communicate what Violet had said upon that subject & did he deny having sent her to Virginia to be sold?—

Violet said that her-self and children were to be disposed of by sale and that she had requested her Master Henry W. Ball—to allow her to be sold in the neighbourhood where her husband Emanuel lived—and that Major Ball—was to attend to the business.—




filed 10th June 1814


4. Where did the said Violet stay while in Virginia after her return there? Did she stay at Mr Gordon's — By whose consent & direction & for what purpose did she stay there & how long & when she did leave there.—

From early in April 1811—until about the 9th of July 1811—Violet stayed at Mount Sion Northumberland Virginia—and was employed as a domestic in William Gordon's family—who several times mentioned in the presence and hearing of Elizth L. Jones—some doubts whether he could obtain—a good title to Violet and her children—Winifred—and Chloe—as he was a resident in the State of Virginia—

5. Did you see Major Ball at Mr Gordon's or elsewhere after Violet's return to Virginia—Did or or did he not say he was ordered or authorized by his Brother the Deft to sell her & her children—Did he or did he not offer to sell her & children to Mr Gordon & were they sent there—did they remain there & for how long with Major Ball's consent & knowledge or direction—Did you see him when he came there to order the Petitioners to the Court House to be seen by a Slave Trader & what did you hear him say at that time?—

Elizth L. Jones did see Major William Ball—at Mount Sion (the the residence of William Gordon) after Violets return to Virginia—and while she was in the service of William Gordons Family—and when he went to Mr Gordons to give orders to Violet for her self and children to go to Northumber. Court House Virginia—for the purpose of shewing them to a slave trader at that place—which circumstance occurred on or about the 9th of July 1811—When by the request of Violet—Elizth L. Jones took upon herself—to make application to Major Wm Ball—to postpone the disposal of the woman & her children—until she could get a letter wrote—to her Master, Henry W. Ball, or until he arrived in Northum. as was then expected—Major Ball replied to Elizth L. Jones—that a much longer time had elapsed than he wished in complying with that request of his brother Henry W. Ball—who had wrote to him very pressingly to dispose of Violet and her children—by sale— That for his own part it was a very disagreeable price of business—to him, and that he wished he had nothing to do with it—But that was his brother Henry had requested it—that he (Major Ball) hated to refuse him—adding that—Violet had been very impertinent to Mr. Ball—and that his Brother was very much in a want of the money.—

Major Ball then observed that Violet had no occasion to be contrary about going to the Court House—that he had given his word to shew her & her children to the slave trader there—But that he did not think it probable that the man w. give the price which he sh. require for Violet and her two children—>Winifred & Chloe—and seprated his finl[?] orders—to her—that her-self and children must go to Northumberland Court House;——Violet then collected some articles of clothing &cc[?] and with her two children, Winifredand Chloe, left Mount Sion—then the residence of Mr Gordon—apparently for the purpose of going to Northum. Court House—agreeable to the instructions of Major Ball—But the morning following Violets two children being discovered in Mr. Gordons kitchen—the presumtion then was—that she did not obey the orders of Major Ball respecting her going to the Court House—But had some where concealed her self—And in the course of the same day, which the children of Violet were discovered to be at Mount Sion—Major Ball sent a servant for them to be carried to his plantation (or mill—),——


6th. Did you in a conversation with H.W. Ball afterward communicate to him what Major Ball did & said at the time aforesaid & did he or did he not deny having requested or ordered the said Major Ball to sell the Petitioners.— & Did he or not deny having sent her & her children to Virginia to be sold? and what did he say at the time? Did you mention to him that it was thought or said Violet could not be sold in Virginia & what did he say, & what did he direct you to do & how & when did Violet & her children return to Washington?

In the course of the month of July 1811—and after the 9th (of said month) Henry W. Ball arrived in Northumberland—and at Mount Sion—(then the residence of William Gordon) where Elizth L. Jones then was—who recollects—that the subject of Violets—being for sale was several times conversed on by Henry W. Ball and her-self—Which introduced the subject she does not remember, nor suppose of any importance—But Elizth L. Jones—certainly related the distress of Violet (to (H.W. Ball) when Major Ball ordered her to go to North. Court House—and also the part she took in behalf of the sale of Violets being postponed until a letter could be forwarded or until Henry W. Ball himself sh. arrive in Northum. and he did not deny having authorized, or requested, his Brother Major Ball, to dispose of Violet and her children by sale—and Henry W. Ball stated as his Brother had before done—that Violet had conducted her-self very unbecomingly to her mistress (Mrs Ball) to which Elizth L. Jones replied that Violet could be hired out—if she did not conduct her-self to the satisfaction of Mrs Ball—and W. Henry Ball reply to that was that Violet wd. not agree to be hired out in the City—Where he had proposed— and it then appeared as if she was immediately sent down to Northumd and power vested in the hands of Major Ball to dispose of her by sale—But to whom, or where he was instructed to sell Violet and her children is impossible for Elizth L. Jones to say—It is more than probable that she mentioned to Henry W. Ball—the doubts which Mr. Gordon had expressed relative to his obtaining a sufficient title for Violet and her children—supposing he had purchased them—and Elizth L Jones is also under the impression that she inquired of W. H Ball—whether it never occured to him—that Violet could not loyally be disposed of in Virginia—and to the best of her recollection on that point—He said he wished to give her a chance of being disposed of in the neighbourhood of her Husband Emanuel if it could be done—But did not occupy[?] him self fully on the subject—Elizth L. Jones—being interested in the fate of Violet (then making[?] reference to what W. Ball had said respecting her not agreeing to be hired out in the City—) observed that she was concerned now that Violet had found—some difficulty in getting a resident of Virginia to purchase her, Her that she wd. be willing to return to Washington and said all she would to prevail on Mr. Ball to give her another trial.— And after some days had passed and during Mr. Balls stay at Mount Sion—He told Elizth L. Jones—that he had some where seen Emanuel the Husband of Violet (it is necessary to observe—that Violet still continued to conceal her-self from the 9th of July) & who said she wd. make her appearance to her Master—and then w. be willing to return to the City of Washington—or receive his instructions what she sh do—

Mr. Ball—did not see Violet as he expected from what Emanuel had told him—and upon his leaving North. for the City of Washington—Mr. Ball requested Elizth L. Jones—to inform Violet—(shd. she go to Mount Sion that it was his instructions that she sh. return to Washington—when Captn Masles[?] vessel saild from Cane[?] River, which was about the latter part of August—and accordingly Violet—went to Mount Sion—to receive her Masters orders—which were left with with Elizth L Jones for her—And Violet said if she could collect some articles of hers which she wished to carry with her—she shd. go—But the before being expected to sail that day—Violet did not get ready to go that opportunity—Nor did Elizth L Jones—see her again, until October—when she endeavourd to learn where Violet was—And was informed, that she had been amongst her Husbands relations and had been sick—(Still in Northd Va)—And why it was any concert of Elzth Jones's—where Violet was—as when she wd. leave Northumd. was in consequence of her receiving a letter from H.W. Ball—wherein he requested her—to make use of her enarticles[?] to get Violet off as speedily as possible, for Washington City—And accordingly she left Northd Virga in the early part of October 1811—agreeable to her Masters instructions which were made known to her thro. the medium of Elizth L. Jones,——


7. Did Major Ball while Violet was with his knowledge at Mount Sion, & before she concealed herself tell & how long shortly after her return to Virginia say in your presence and hearing that he had orders from the Deft to sell her & her children?

Elizth L. Jones does not recollect ever to have heard Major Ball say—until the 9th of July, that he was authorized by the Deft to sell Violet and her children—, at which time he very decidedly (and at Mount Sion) informed her that his brother Henry W. Ball had requested him by letter to dispose of Violet and her children by sale—adding that a much longer time had elapsed than he wished in complying with the request of his Brother—as herin & before stated by Elizth L. Jones—

8. Did Major Ball then or ever acknowledge in your presence & hearing that proposals had been made between him & Mr Gordon about the sale of Violet—and did you understand from him that it was in consequence of such proposal that she was remaining at Mr Gordon's?

Major Ball was at Mr. Gordons after Violet was there initiated, as a domestic (and before the 9th of July—) and when she was waiting and passing about the House without reserve[?]—And Elizth L. Jones—did not hear Major Ball say any thing about at that time to the best of her recollection—