ce Pipkin Succession
City Archives
New Orleans Public Library

Louisiana. Second District Court (Orleans Parish)
Succession of Dr. Isaac Pipkin--Selected Slavery Documents (Suit # 2658)


Dr. Isaac Pipkin (1797-1850) moved, from Virginia to New Orleans some time before April 1846. He brought his slaves down with him, and proceeded to rent them out in the city. We know this from advertisements for runaways in the Daily Picayune, from a brief mention in Robert Reinders, End of an Era: New Orleans, 1850-1860, and from the published report of a Louisiana Supreme Court case that grew out of the succession proceedings following his death. There is considerable detail concerning the hiring-out practices of his executor, nephew Thomas J. Pipkin, in the original succession, filed in Second District Court (#2658). Most of those proceedings deal with two challenges filed by Dr. Pipkin's widow and daughter. The first had to do with Thomas Pipkin's management of the estate and his accounting thereof. They also challenged, in part, Dr. Pipkin's testamentary request that his servants, Julia Ann Crenshaw and her daughter Florence, be freed after his death and that they receive annual payments for the rest of their lives.

Dr. Pipkin's succession, available on microfilm, does not include several hundred vouchers, receipts, accounts, and other documents that were filed as evidence in the proceedings. Those items had gotten separated from the main body of the succession and were only recently discovered in the Archives storage area. Those documents provide a glimpse into the lives of the Pipkin slaves--where they lived, what they wore, their injuries & illnesses and how they were cared for, how they were disciplined, and, in the case of the Crenshaws, how they gained their freedom.

Here we present a small sample of these "lost" pieces of the Pipkin succession as an example of the kinds of documentation to be found among the records of the Civil Courts in New Orleans. We encourage researchers to investigate further and discover their own hidden treasures.

Thumbnail Image # (click to view) Description Date
Item 1 Thomas J. Pipkin's bill for supervising eighteen slaves belonging to the estate 1852
Item 2 Another bill submitted for an earlier period of supervision, providing additional detail on Pipkin's slave management responsibilities. 1851
Item 3 Receipt for payment to Mrs. Maria Moore, fwc, for assisting in the birth of a child to Pipkin's slave Caroline 1850
Item 4 Receipt for payment to Dr. Alexander Chesney Young for attending to the medical needs of several of Pipkin's slaves 1850
Item 5 Thomas Pipkin noted in his 1851 bill that he was responsible for administering medicines to the slaves under his supervision. This receipt for payment to druggist J. P. Barbot documents some of that activity 1850
Item 6 Further documentation of medicines purchased for the Pipkin slaves, the biggest expenditure being for "curing Nicholas of cholera." Similar bills are present in the record for each month during the period in question. 1850
Item 7 Receipt for the burial of a slave child in Lafayette Cemetery 1851
Item 8 Another slave child died the following month and was also buried in Lafayette Cemetery 1851
Item 9 Receipt for a coffin for the second deceased child. Austin was one of the adult Pipkin slaves 1851
Item 10 One of the succession pleadings notes that Thomas Pipkin rented a house for the slaves to live in while they worked on the levee. This is probably a monthly rental receipt for that property. 1851
Item 11 Receipt for some of the clothing Pipkin purchased for the slaves; he would know what they were wearing in case of a runaway! 1851
Item 12 Receipt for shoes 1852
Item 13 Receipt for jail fees and meals for five of the Pipkin slaves in the Third Municipality Police Jail. These men may have been working far enough away from "home" to require temporary accommodations. 1850
Item 14 Receipt for Martha's fifteen day incarceration in the Second Municipality Police Prison. Since a whipping was included, for 25 cents extra, Pipkin may have sent her there specifically to be disciplined. Note that his overall expenses were reduced somewhat because Martha worked on the chain gang while in police custody 1851
Item 15 Despite their legal status as "property," slaves were prosecuted as persons when accused of some crime. The slaveowner had to pay the cost of the prosecution, as evidenced by this receipt from the Deputy Constable of the First Justice's Court. This may be the case, reported in the Daily Picayune, of Pipkin's slave, Mat, "…charged with being in Mrs. Gillespie's house, and also for carrying a colt or slung shot." 1850
Item 16 Sometimes family need took precedence over the business of slavery, or so it would appear from this bill for shipment of two of Pipkin's slaves from New Orleans to the widow Pipkin back in Virginia. 1851
Item 17 Receipt from the office of Notary Public O. H. Perry for preparing the manumission bond required before Julia Ann and Florence could be freed 1851
Item 18 Receipt from another Notary, Philip Prendergast, for securing final passage, and formal recordation, of the emancipation of Julia Ann and Florence 1851
Item 19 Meanwhile, the widow Pipkin (who, for all we know, never once set foot in New Orleans) not only challenged Thomas Pipkin's accounting as executor of the estate, but also challenged her husband's bequest to Julia Ann and Florance. But she continued to receive checks like this one, presumably for the rest of her life. 1850


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