Slave owner John Little wrote in June 1862 that his young slave Lucy “is perfectly sound and healthy, good tempered, honest, willing and industrious, a good house servant and her children are very promising.”
He described her as “a bright mulatto tall and good looking.” Her fellow slave John, Little wrote, “is sound, strong, & healthy a first rate farm hand” with “no moral mental or bodily defect or infirmity.”
The two, he estimated, were worth a total of $3,200.
Little’s frank descriptions are included in a petition he submitted to the U.S. Treasury for payment after his four slaves were set free.
His petition and almost a thousand others like it provide rare biographical information — in sometimes haunting detail — about slaves who, outside the petitions, were anonymous by most government accounts.