Mary Jane Wayne v. William C. Greenleaf. Statement of Facts


On this trial of this cause the Petitioner to maintain the issue on her part joined gave evidence to shew that some time in the year 1826 or 1827 that Harriet the mother of the Petitioner then having with her the petitioner a small child about two years old rented applied to the owner there[?] to rent a tenement in the city of Washington, and the said owner objecting to do to without the authority of her master Mr Jno L. Brightwell of said City, the said mother of the said Petitioner brought the said Jno L. Brightwell to the owner of the said tenement and he said Brigthwell told said she might rent it to Harriet, and Harriet would pay the rent & nobody should interefere that shortly after the said tenement was so rented the said Harriet gave birth to another child who is since dead, and thenceforth the said Harriet from the said year 1826, or 1827 to this time continued to go at large as free, and from the year 1835 had continued with the knowledge of said Brightwell to claim that she was free: that from the said year 1826 or 1827 had Harriet had kept house, having with her while she was a small child the said Petitioner, that she rented in her own name, & for her own use different houses at different times from different persons in the immediate neigborhood of said Brightwell in said City, and paid the rent and such persons dealt with her as a freewoman that she furnished the houses so rented by her, and dealt with various persons, that she supported herself by   making and vending pies and cakes and taking in washing and sewing, that one of her children was sick and died some time in the year 1831 or '32 and she bore the whole expence thereof, and no one interfered or offered her any aid, and the way recognized by all those with whom she so dealt as free, & acquired propriety as a free woman: that said petitioner never as in the employment or under the control of said Brightwell or paid him any wages that as soon as the said petitioner was large enough and old enough to be put out while the said Harriet hired her out, and received her wages and as the said Petitioner grew up she herself from the fall of the year 1836 for four years hired herself out in the city of Washington and received her own wages during which time the gentleman to whom she was so hired living in the City of Washington, recognized and treated her as a free woman, and no one during that period of time or since ever set up or pretended whence that she was a slave. that about the year 1840 she was married to Lewis Wayne, a free man residing in the City of Washington, and well known by said Brightwell, by whom she had children the other petitioners. that said Brightwell died in the year 1846 and after his death the defendant claimed and seized her and her children as slaves bequeathed to them by said John L. Brightwell and [illegible]:

And thereupon the Defendants gave evidence to shew that said Harriet was the slave of Mrs Patty Pickrel[?] the sister afsd[?] John L. Brightwell, or of the said John L. Brightwell, or both, and in the year 1826   or 1827 said Harriet who was hired out came home to said John L. Brightwell, where also Mrs. Pickrell[?] resided to be confined, and Brightwell having no convenient place for her told her to get a room somewhere else, and she did so taking with her the said Petitioner then about one or two years old, and afterwards told said Harriet she could get a house wherever she pleased & she might have her earnings and those of Petitioner for their support; that at one time Harriet had a room at said Brightwells, and when Petitioner was not hired out she came to said Brightwells and staid with her said mother. That Brightwell from time to time when desired by her gave aid to said Harriet, & when her said child died as stated in Petitioners evidence Brightwell paid the expenses of the funeral: that after the marriage of said Petitioner to her husband hired her from said Brightwell in the years 1840 to 1843 and paid wages for her, and in 1843 said marry The present council of said Mary wrote to said Brightwell The letter following (here insert it:) and that Harriets and Marys home when not hired out was at said Brightwells and he exercised over them the same control that he did oversla his other slaves:

And said Petitioner by her said counsel as his cross examination gave evidence to shew that said letter was written under the following circumstances that she called upon him claiming her freedom stating that she had been free from her birth, and had never [illegible] or paid wages to, any master or until lately been claimed by any   one that she was now married, and had her children and [illegible] John L. Brightwell claimed to own her & them as slaves and was about to take them into his custody and she desired her said counsel to file a petition for her freedom, that she admitted she had no free papers, and on conversing with her, he did not believe on the evidence then presented to him that she could establish her claim to freedom and he advised her to endeaver to purchase from Mr Brightwell a release of his claim if it could be done for a reasonable amount, and by her authority he wrote the said letter to said Brightwell and had an interview with said Brightwell in which he informed him that Mary claimed her freedom & had called upon him to file a petition for her but as he doubted of the evidence she had stated to him was sufficient, he had refused to file the petition & had adised her to purchase his right whatever it might be, and in fact an agreement in writing was entered into between said Brightwell and the husband of said Petitioner which was prepared by said counsel, & executed by said Brightwell in his presence: that after this the husband of Petitioner paid to said Brightwell various sums of money, & received written receipts which on their face perported to be receipts for hire: and being [illegible] to said counsel he advised said husband not to pay any more money as said receipts were not in accordance with what the witness understood the said agreement to be, that witness prepared a new agreement more specific than the other & sent it to Mr. Brightwell, but it was not executed, & no more money was paid to him by said husband of said Petitioner.