“Know all men by these presents that I, Pleasant W. Lane of the County of McMinn and the State of Tennessee for and in consideration of the sum of four hundred dollars to me in hand paid the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged have bargained sold and delivered unto David Cleage of the county and state aforesaid a negro Boy named Jerry of bright mulatto colour aged about ten years. Said boy I warrant sound and healthy both in body and mind and free from any defect whatever and slave for life and covenant the title is clear of any encumbernance whatever. And I will warrant and defend by these presents forever. Given under my hand and seal this twelfth day of November One thousand and eight hundred and forty one.”
Another document from the Cleage plantation in Athens, TN, thanks to the woman who gave copies to my cousin Elbert and to Elbert for sharing them with me. It is very hard to get documentation of ancestors who lived before freedom so it’s always wonderful when someone who has papers shares them. Not wonderful to read about a ten year old being “a slave forever” but wonderful to see something that places your people in time and place.
The Rest of the Story
Jerry was about 35 when freedom came. In the 1870 and 1880 census he is described as a laborer. He had married Charlotte Bridgeman, who had been a slave of David Cleage’s wife. They had a large family. One of Jerry’s sons, James, married my grandfather’s sister, Josephine. Her father, Lewis Cleage and grandfather, Frank Cleage came off of the same plantation. Frank was mentioned in the note to the overseer I posted earlier.
In the 1910 census Jerry was described as a mulatto, in his 80’s, widowed and a delivery man for a grocery store. Jerry Cleage died March 28, 1919 at about age 92 of arterio schlerosis and pulmonary endema. Occupation before death, Drayman. Parents Joe and Leah Cleage. His daughter Nellie was the informant, that is she gave the information that is on the death certificate. Jerry lived his whole life in Athens Tennessee and died free. He was not a slave for life.