Both of the two largest farms of Maplewood’s pioneer families, the Rannells and the Suttons, held slaves. Both were carrying on business in the same manner as many other hundreds or thousands of people doing exactly the same thing. That this shameful institution existed on most of the property that would one day become Maplewood indicates how widespread it once was.
This is probably the most important post I have ever made. This is a bill of sale, the text of which follows.
In consideration of the sum of Eleven hundred and fifty Dollars to me in hand paid by Ann L. Sutton of the County of St. Louis and the State of Missouri. I have hereby sold and conveyed to Ann L. Sutton the following Negroe’s to wit, A Negro woman named Caroline (?) about thirty years of age with her female infant child. Also a Negro girl named Malinda about six years old, & Also a Negro Boy named William about two and a half years old. All slaves for life. She the said Ann L. Sutton to have and to hold said slaves to her. her heirs and assigns forever.
In witness whereof I have hereto set my hand & seal this 28th day of April One Thousand Eight Hundred and Sixty.
Ann L. Sutton was the wife of James C. Sutton. That this bill of sale survives is unusual. Most of the bills of sale similar to this one have been destroyed. That it is evidence of a great evil that once permeated our country is beyond doubt.
The large amount of money paid, $1,150.00 and the date, 1860 would seem to suggest that the Suttons were not anticipating the changes that the civil war would bring. One dollar in 1860 would be worth 29 today. The Suttons paid the equivalent of $33,350.00 for four human beings, “a Negro woman named Caroline (sp?) about 30 years of age and her infant daughter, a Negro girl named Malinda about 6 years old and a Negro boy named William about two and a half years old. …All slaves for life.”
Absolutely appalling but absolutely real. Malinda and William separated from their parents. Just the thought of it is heartbreaking. Young Caroline with her infant daughter, what became of them? No one will ever know.
Our country’s prosperity was built on the backs of black people such as Caroline, Malinda and William. After the American civil war the so-called Jim Crow laws kept many of their ancestors enslaved and impoverished. They still are not receiving fair and equal treatment. There are those in high offices today who would try to drag us back to those earlier bad times. We will not let them.