If you’ve been following my blog, you already know that I’ve been working on untangling clues about the family of John Hash, who died in Montgomery County, Virginia in 1784.
He had two sons named John, both named in his will, and I have been digging around to see what further information I could find out about them.
I had seen remarks that one of them went to Tennessee and the other to Sangamon County, Illinois, but that wasn’t much to go on.
While looking at Sangamon County deed books, I came across this very curious property deed from John Hash Sr. to “Bobb,” both of whom were residents of Warren County, Tennessee. The document was signed by John Hash on 5 October 1825. Further, John Hash appeared in front of the clerk to affirm the “bill of sale” on 10 July 1826.:
John Hash to Bobb
Sangamon County, Illinois DB B:199
Know all men by these presents that I John Hash Sr. of the Count of Warren and State of Tennessee, for and in consideration of the promises and the sum of Six Hundred Dollars to me in hand paid by Bobb of the County and State aforesaid, hath bargained and Sold and by these presents do bargain Sell (aliev?) Convey & confirm unto the said Bobb my proper right title claim and interest in said Bobb to himself the said Bobb, being twenty-two or three years of age which said property (viz) Bobb, I do by these presents to Warrant and forever defend from myself my heirs of and from the lawful right title or claim of all manner of persons or persons whomsoever or by whatsoever means claiming either in law or equity unto the sd Bobb, his heirs and assigns forever In Testimony where I have herunto set my hand and Seal, the 5th day of October One Thousand Eight hundred and Twenty-five.
John Hash, Seal
William Logan Mortin John Stone Benjamin Draper
Ralph Lucas Fielding Hash
I definitely have some questions about this transaction. Illinois was a free state as of the Northwest Territory Ordinance of 1787, although slavery was apparently tolerated. Illinois also banned slavery upon statehood in 1818.
So, my first question would be why was John Hash, a resident of Warren County, Tennessee in Sangamon County, Illinois recording a bill of sale with his enslaved person, Bobb?
John Hash appears in the 1820 census of Warren County, Tennessee:
John Hash, Warren County, Tennessee in 1820
In the household are one male 45+, one female 45+, 2 males 16-25, one female 16-25, one male 10-15, one female 10-15 and five slaves. There are two male slaves, ages 14-25, one female, age 14-25 and two females under 14.
By 1830, John Hash is enumerated in Sangamon County, Illinois, so he apparently decided to make Illinois his home.
Was John Hash forced to give up his enslaved people because of social customs or legalities? I don’t know.
My bigger question is how was Bobb able to pay $600 to John Hash for his freedom? In today’s money, $600 is the equivalent of about $15,000.
Bobb was about 22 years old when he received his freedom – where did he get that kind of money? Did anti-slavery neighbors raise the money? Was Bobb able to work for others and keep his earnings? Even so, it would have taken a very long time for him to amass $600.
All in all, I have to admit that this is one of the most curious deeds I’ve ever come across.
Readers, any ideas? Please leave a comment.