Jefferson County Online
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1839 Marriages,
Deeds & Wills
Black Laws

The following is a chapter from "The History of Jefferson County, Iowa", Pages 419-422, published by the Western Historical Company of Chicago in 1879.



The following is a list of marriage licenses issued in Jefferson County, during the year 1839:

March 14, Harmon J. Aikes and Miss Martha Frost.
March 16, Isaac Blakely and Miss Ellen Lanman.*
March 25, J. S. Chaudler (sic - Chandler) and Miss E. Bonafield.
April 28, N. Ogden and Miss Mahala Cassida.
May 3, L. Morgan and Miss Mary Francis.
May 22, O. H. Mitchell and Martha C. Green.
June 11, Jasper Coons and Miss Susan Byrnes.
June 14, O. O. Kinsman and Miss H. Dinsmore.
June 21, J. J. Bradshaw and Miss Mary M. Hutson.
July 20, T. R. Brown and Teressa Shelton.
July 24, Thomas D. Cox and Eveline Tandy.
August 27, John Harris and Elizabeth Coop.
September 27, William J. Stout and Letitia Sears.
September 27, James L. Scott and Mary L. Gilmer.
October 5, D. H. Lowery and Aurelia Bowman.
October 7, William Hoskins and Eleanor Pickering.
October 16, N. D. Prouty and Sarah A. Miller.
October 21, S. T. Harris and Adaline Hickenbottom.
October 22, Milton Moor and Elizabeth Smith.
November 9, G. T. Brownell and Catherine Wall.
November 18, David T. Morgan and Sarah A. Coleman.
December 9, Aaron Woodard and Arcanda Whittington.
December 18, John Morgan and Nancy Coleman.
In 1840, 36 licenses were issued, and 47 in 1841.

* These parties were first married in 1837. The license under which they were married at that time was issued from Des Moines County. The marriage service was rendered by Rev. Mr. Bradley, at the residence of the bride's parents, in what is now Round Prairie Township, and then subject to the jurisdiction of Henry Couoty (sic). The questlon uf (sic) the legality of the marriage uoder (sic) such circumstances was raised, and hence the second marriage. But eveo (sic) with a second marriage, the Blakelys and Laomans (sic - Lanmans) did not feel safe uotil (sic) a special law was passed legalizing all marriages previously solemoized (sic). Rev. B. F. Chastain pronounced the couple "man and wife" the second time.


The first order of Henry B. Notson, the first Probate Judge, was the appointment of Sampson Smith guardian of Eliza Koons and Martha Koons. Bond, $1,000. March 9, 1841. David Eller, surety.

Edward T. Williams was the first administrator; appointed to administer the estate of John L. Williams, deceased. Bond, $600. May 28, 1841. Daniel D. Jones and Medley T. Shelton, sureties.

First ministerial credential, 1839.

The first recorded deed, April, 1839, James L. Scott to W. G. Coop; consideration, $50; executed November 22, 1838, before William Griffey, Justice of the Peace for Henry County, conveying the northeast quarter of the southeast quarter of Section 1, Township 71, Range 9 west (ed. note: Cedar Twp.). Witnesses, A. L. Griffey and Henry Woolard. Recorded as of Henry County.

The first deed recorded as of Jefferson County, was for the consideration of love, affection, the better preferment in marriage and $1, of Andrew J. Cassida, executed by his father Martin Cassida, before Henry B. Notson, Justice of the Peace, June 17, 1839. John A. Pitzer, witness; conveyed "quarter-section of land in the rich woods; 5 horses; 1 mare, called 'Fan;' 1 bright sorrel, eight years old; 1 horse, called Oliver; 1 chestnut sorrel, two years old; 2 yoke of oxen; 3 milk cows, 1 called 'pink; 1 white and 1 ghent, said cows to have calves; 2 steer yearlings; 8 head of sheep, 3 of which are wethers; 1 ram; 4 yews; 39 head of hogs, 2 of which have a black list round them, the residue of the body black and black and white spotted. The above named stock is marked with a smooth crop and underbit in the right ear; 2 wagons; 3 plows; 5 bee hives; the crop of corn and vegetables; household furniture; 5 beds and bedding; 1 clock; 1 table; with $500 in cash; 1 cross-cut saw and other carpenter's tools.


The time was, and not many years ago, either, when the "color line" was as clearly defined in Iowa as in any other part of the country. The act under which Jefferson County was organized was approved January 21, 1839. The same day an act was also approved that was intended to prevent black or mulatto persons from coming into the Territory. That act provided that from and after the 1st day of April, 1839, "no black or mulatto person shall be permitted to settle in the Territory, unless he or she shall produce a fair certificate from some court of the United States, of his or her actual freedom."

The act was powerless as to its purpose, for "black" and "mulatto" persons did come and settle in the Territory. When Gen. Street came as Indian Agent, to what is now Agency City, in Wapello County, he brought with him a colored man named Charles Forrester. In 1843, when Fairfield had grown large enough to maintain a barber-shop, Forrester came here to commence business. Some of the people were so "shocked" at the thought of a negro doing business "on his own hook," that they made complaint to the County Commissioners, and asked for an enforcement of the law herein quoted. The Commissioners made application to George Acheson, who was then Prosecuting Attorney, to have Forrester arrested and "hired out," under the provisions of the law. Acheson refused, on the ground that Forrester had come to the Territory before any of them -- that, in fact, he had been brought here by Gen. Street, an agent of the United States Government, and that he was just as much entitled to the freedom of the country as "any other man." There the matter rested. Forrester opened a barber-shop, and managed to make and save money. He finally drifted out of sight; but the attempt to have him arrested and sold remains as one of the memories of "slavery days" in Iowa.

The following "deed of freedom," copied from the records in the Recorder's office, is not without interest. The object of the "deed" was, no doubt, intended to save the deeded woman from the annoyance busybodies might occasion her under the Black Laws of the 21st of January, 1839:

Know all men by these presents, That we, Mary Mosley (sic), of the village of Fairfield, in the county of Jefferson and State of Iowa, widow of Thomas Mosely, late of Davis County, Kentucky, deceased, and George W. Mosely, of the same village, son of the said Thomas Mosely, do hereby certify and declare that the said Thomas died in the said county of Davis, possessed of Caroline, a slave, who is a mulatto girl now aged about thirty-nine years, about four feet three inches high, stout, bony frame, but not corpulent, large face, strongly-marked features, hazel eyes, ordinary mulatto complexion, of about half-blood, with some small moles or specks scattered upon the face, the two principal being one on the right side, low on the forehead, even with and to the right of the eyebrow; the other, on the top of the nose; of neat habits, rather intelligent and cheerful and free of speech, with hair mostly straight and beginning to turn gray on close inspection, but otherwise black; and that the said Thomas, by his last Will and Testament, recorded in said county of Davis, bequeathed the said Caroline to his widow for life, with remainder over to the said George, his son; and that we, the said Mary and George, afterward emigrated to the State of Illinois, and thence to the State of Iowa, bringing with us into those States successively, the said slave, Caroline, as our own free and voluntary act of emancipation, knowing and intending that the said Caroline would and did become free by our said act in carrying her into said free States; and we do certify and declare that the said Caroline did thereby become and is manumitted and free to all intents and purposes whatsoever; and that we do not, nor either of us, claim, and will never claim any authority over her, or right to her services, or ownership of her, as a slave or otherwise, except so far as she may voluntarily and of her own free-will and pleasure, accompany the said Mary, her former mistress, as a personal attendant and companion in the capacity of a free woman of color.

In testimony whereof we have hereunto set our hand and affixed our seals this nineteenth day of October, A. D. 1849, at Fairfield aforesaid.

Mary Mosely. [seal.]
G. W. Mosely. [seal.]

Wm L. Hamilton.
Lucy M. Hamilton.
Acknowledged before Cyrus Olney, District Judge.

The above instrument of "freedom" is recorded under date of October 30, 1849, twelve years before the commencement of the great and final conflict between freedom and slavery, the result of which was to render such instruments of writing and record relics of barbarism.

In this connection it may be mentioned that Fairfield was an approved station on the line of the underground railroad, along which many hundred men, women and children were conveyed in the later days of slavery. The old house -- a two-story one -- is still standing in the southern part of Fairfield. The keeper is still in the enjoyment of life, health and happiness, and many a poor, panting, fleeing slave that he succored, blesses the name of Benjamin Pierce.

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