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Her name was Hanna and she was sold to settle a debt.
Bill of Sale for Hanna - one page July 5, 1841 (used with permission of Hickman County Museum)

One hundred seventy nine years ago on the day after Independence Day, an auction was held on the Hickman County Courthouse steps in the county seat of Clinton. It wasn't that unusual an event, debtor properties were sold regularly to pay off creditors.

This auction was different - the property being sold was not a farm or a horse or a crop. The property was a human being.

And her name was Hanna.

Hanna's owner, a man named John Read, lost a lawsuit to his creditor, John Park, in December 1840. To get his money, Park asked the Court to sell enough of Read's property to satisfy his judgment of $95.

An order to the Sheriff from the Hickman County Court Clerk directed the Sheriff to obtain as much property to pay the judgment plus court costs and interest.

On the back of the Order Read wrote "On the back of the Circuit Court form was written "Levied by me negress girl named Hanna of the supposed said value of $250 which to be given up by John Read to be sold to satisfy this and another execution in lieu of John Park June 15th 1841 .... By virtue of the foregoing levy I have caused the negro girl Hanna to be sold at the Court House door in Clinton on Monday the 5th day of July 1841 it being County Court day ...."

On June 15, 1841, Read agreed in writing to bring Hanna into town for the auction.

That didn't happen. In a note to the Sheriff written on the 4th of July, Read wrote that he didn't have a horse capable of bringing him to town. "My horses have left and I have but two to work and neither of them is fit to ride and this colt that William is riding is not able to take me to Clinton.."

(See note at right - used with permission of Hickman County Museum)

He asks if he can bring Hanna to the Sheriff's house.

On July 5, 1941, the African American woman named Hanna was sold for $210 W. M. Nevier (spelling is questionable).

Read's debt was satisfied. He even got $101.66 out of the sale

Nothing else is known of Hanna.


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