The Arkansas History Commission in Little Rock announces that the historic Arkansas-Missouri Slave Case, 1850-1856,material is now available on microfilm in our Research Room. The collection contains thirty-two documents relating a legal battle over the ownership of seven slaves. The original owner, Andrew Estes, of Miller County, Missouri, filed a writ of replevin suit against Willis A. J. Clinton, of Van Buren, Crawford County, Arkansas, in 1850. Replevin means “the recovery by a person of goods claimed to be his, on the promise to test the matter in court and give the goods up again if defeated.” The goods in this case were a family of slaves: Milley, aged 40, Bob, aged 23, Sam, aged 19, Ned and Angeline, aged 18, Betty, aged 16, and Melissa, aged 14, who had been sold to Willis Clinton by Andrew Estes’ son, John. The resulting spate of lawsuits was not resolved until 1859 when the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled in favor of Andrew Estes, who had sued in Franklin County, Arkansas, Circuit Court.
The collection mainly consists of depositions from persons with knowledge of the Estes family and of the disputed sale. The documents provide a rare insight into slavery in the upper South shortly before the Civil War.
The Arkansas History Commission purchased this manuscript material with a grant provided by the Arkansas Black History Advisory Committee.