Woman, stolen, asks for support in old age.
by Lisa Y. Henderson
Headquarters Bureau Refugee Freedmen and Abandoned Lands SC
Charleston SC Aug. 11th 1866
Major General O. O. Howard
I have the honor to present the case of Mary Richardson an aged half breed now living in Manningsville this state.
She states that when she was about thirteen years of age and living with her parents in a village in North Carolina the name of which she has forgotten she was sent to a slave for articles and while there a stranger named Jacob Whitehead immediately caught her and placing her on a saddle with him carried her away against her will, riding all day and night crossing into SC, sleeping in the woods days and riding nights, in this manner until they arrived at his home in Manningsville SC. That Jacob Whitehead kept her as a servant in his house until she arrived at the age of puberty when he kept her as his mistress with the knowledge of his wife. After living with him for about seven years, she had a son born of him and the wife took charge of the child.
About ten years after the child was born the father Whitehead tried to sell her at auction in Charleston City SC but was unable to do so, she being free born of Indian parents and Whitehead being unable to show title.
Eight or ten years after this went the wife of Whitehead died and she (Mary) and Mr. W. were quarreling continually, and by some arrangement she was transferred to a Mr. John Reams of Manningsville, with whom she lived as a slave until Gen. Sherman went through.
She orates that her son is still living a man grown on the Santee River this state, but she has not seen him for many years nor has she heard anything of her parents since she was kidnapped. All of her repeated effort to learn of them and to tell them of her fate being intercepted before she began to grow old, by the post masters and others who were relatives and friends of Mr. Whitehead. After Mr. Whitehead sold or transferred her to Reams he married a second wife: Mr. W. died during the war and his widow now lives on the estate at Manningsville as does Nath’ Whitehead the son of the first wife of Jacob Whitehead.
She now asks that some measures may be taken to secure to her from Jacob Whitehead’s estate means of support in her old age as also to the son she had by Whitehead his just position and standing among his people.
I am General, very respectfully, your Obd. Servant
Brevet Major General, Asst. Com. SC
Records of Assistant Commissioner of the State of South Carolina; Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands; National Archives Microfilm Publication M869.