Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING Kate, Rueben, Margett, and Sam

While searching for court records for one of my ancestors who lived in Kanawha County in 1811-1812, I found a Bill of Sale for four enslaved persons.

At that time, Kanawha was part of Virginia and had the same court jurisdictions as Virginia counties. The primary responsibility of the county court was to serve as the administrative body of the county.

The county court record book and county court records go hand in hand. The record book is similar to a calendar or diary of causes brought before the county court. Entries are mostly short and with little further information. The county court records include records produced during the court case.

The loose papers filed in envelopes have been digitized and include labels describing the cause, a list of the records included in the batch, and, in some cases, further information.

Court Records (Court records, v. 10-11 1809-1811) (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSR9-X7XN-9?i=514&cat=94212 : accessed 3 January 2020)

The names of the enslaved persons on the Bill of Sale were included on the typewritten index cards: Kate, Rueben, Margett, and Sam.1

1809 Bill of Sale

Bill of Sale. Court Records (Court records, v. 10-11 1809-1811) (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSR9-X7XN-9?i=514&cat=94212 : accessed 3 January 2020)

This Indenture made this 4th day of April 1809 Between Thomas Joplan of the One part and Ralph Joplan of the other part. Witnesseth that the said Thomas Joplan for and in Consideration of Six Hundred Dollars to him in hand paid the receipt whereof is hereby Acknowledged hath Bargained & sold and by these presents Doth Bargain sell and deliver unto the said Ralph Joplan the following personal property to wit) One negro woman named Kate, One negro Boy named Rueben, One negro girl named Margett, & One negro child named Sam, One Grey Mare & year old Stone colt, One three year old sorrel Mare, five Milch cows and Two calves; three feather Beds and furniture thereto ____, One Sow and Seven shoats, One large Kittle, one

Bill of Sale. Court Records (Court records, v. 10-11 1809-1811) (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSR9-X7XV-K?i=515&cat=94212 : accessed 3 January 2020)

pot & one Dutch oven, One pewter Bason, One pewter dish and Nine pewter plates, One Man’s saddle, one plough and Geers & four Broad Hoes & One Sprouting hoes all which property as before recited respectively the said Thomas Joplan hereby covenants to Warrant & defend unto the said Ralph Joplan or his assigns against the claims of all and every person or persons whatsoever. In Witness whereof he hath hereunto set his hand and affixed his seal the day and date aforesaid.
Thos. Joplan Seal
Signed sealed and acknowledged In presence of
G. Christian
R. Christian

Bill of Sale. Court Records (Court records, v. 10-11 1809-1811) (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSR9-X7XN-9?i=514&cat=94212 : accessed 3 January 2020)

At a Court held and continued for Kanawha County the 14th day of June 1809.
This deed of trust (or bill of sale) from Thomas Jopling to Ralph Jopling was presented in Court and duly acknowledged by the said Thomas & the same is ordered to record.
A Copy Teste
A. Donnally C.K.C.

A bit of background information

Various spellings of the surname were found in the records, including Joplan, Joplin, and Jopling. Thomas Joplin and Ralph Joplin were either father and son or brothers. I suspect the first and that Ralph was preparing to set up his own household when he bought the enslaved persons, stock, and household goods in 1809.

In 1810 Ralph Joplin married Susanna Casdorph. The exact marriage date is not known as John Lee, the minister of the gospel, kept only a list of the marriages by year without dates of marriage.2

The marriage took place before 27 October 1810 when Ralph was hit over the head with a rifle and killed by William C. Wilson, a Kanawha schoolmaster.3 Wilson was acquitted on 30 April 1811.4

The widow Susanna appears to have married while the case was in court as her name was first seen as Susanna Joplin and later as Susanna Wilson. No marriage record has been found.

This post was written to help the descendants of Kate, Rueben, Margett, and Sam connect and fill in their family tree.

Following my three-part series on the slaves of my 5th great grandfather James Sims during Black History Month in February 2015 I made a commitment to write a monthly post until I’ve RELEASED all of the names of slaves owned by my ancestors or owned by persons I’ve researched who were relatives or neighbors of my ancestors. These posts are part of the Slave Name Roll Project (About the Project) administered by Schalene Jennings Dagutis who also blogs at Tangled Roots and Trees.

© 2021, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. Kanawha County Court Records, 1773-1875 (browse-only images), FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the Kanawha County courthouse. Film 189907, DGS 8291458, Court records, v. 10-11 1809-1811, images 513-520, Ralph Joplin, dec’d vs Thomas Joplin, Bill of Sale (images 515-516) (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSR9-X7XN-9?i=514&cat=94212 : accessed 3 January 2020) 
  2. West Virginia Vital Research Records Project (database and images), West Virginia Division of Culture and History, (A collaborative venture between the West Virginia State Archives and the Genealogical Society of Utah to place vital records online via the West Virginia Archives and History Web site accessible at http://www.wvculture.org/vrr). 1810, Kanawha County, (West) Virginia, Ralph Jopling and Susannah Casdorph. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=12565937&Type=Marriage : accessed 2 February 2021). 
  3. Kanawha County Court Records, 1773-1875, Film 189907, DGS 8291458, Court records, v. 10-11 1809-1811, images 524-525, Commonwealth vs William C. Wilson, Murderer of Ralph Jopling. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSR9-X7FW-7?cat=94212 : accessed 25 March 2021) 
  4. Kanawha County County Court record book, 1803-1880 (browse-only images), FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the Kanawha County courthouse. Film 521644, DGS 8613718, Record book, v. 3 1803-1819, image 292 of 857, right page.  (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C34Z-SSVQ-G?mode=g&cat=295049 : accessed 25 March 2021) 

Author: Cathy Meder-Dempsey

When I’m not doing genealogy and blogging, I spend time riding my racing bike with my husband through the wonderful Luxembourg countryside.

7 thoughts on “Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING Kate, Rueben, Margett, and Sam”

  1. How did the assailant get off the hook if he hit him with a rifle and killed him? Self-defense? (I realize this isn’t the point of your post, but it just popped out at me. Also, the fact that the wife remarried so quickly. Something seems fishy here!)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Cathy,
    My smiths owned slaves too, from Kanawha, Jackson, Putnam county Virginia now West Virginia,
    There is one slave that I am interested in, this persons name was Ned, he was owned by Robert M. Smith Family of Putnam county, there is a story of Ned saving the life of young George Washington Smith from drowning, and when the civil war broke out George decided to fight with the union, and the smiths were confederates, and it tore the family apart, I thought I saw in a will from one of the smiths that came before Robert Smith and in that will they listed slaves passed down through the smiths line and I saw Ned, but for the life of me, I can’t find that will. I would love to know where Ned came from and if he was married and had children and where is he buried, so I went out looking up on the WV state archive and if you just put in slave alot of names comes up, and I found a Ned that died in April 1862 and was owned by T.E. Hemsford death place was north of paint creek, Kanawha county and died from typhoid fever.I found out that he was owned by F. G. Hansford, per the findagrave website. It is really sad that people owned and how they treated people back then, but George brother John smith is my direct line and George other brother Columbus Monroe smith is my husbands direct line of smiths. I am sure that Ned was passed down in the smiths line, Ned was born around 1800. I sort of recall it was either Daniel smith or David smith will that I saw a Ned smith and there were other slaves mentioned as well. Thank you for all your hard work.
    Terri smith

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Terri, I believe you’ve mentioned this story before about Ned. Do you have a timeline for the Smiths that you can use to search for the will? I know Smith is a hard name to research as it is common. But if you begin with a list of the possible Smith men with their estimated year and place of death, you could work through the wills of the counties you mentioned. Good luck with the search. Thank you.

      Like

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