MastroNet Winter 2004
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History books are all well and good, but to truly understand the racial climate of pre-Civil War America, you must go to the source: first-hand documentation from the period. What we are offering here is the last will and testament of pioneer and soldier Daniel Rowlett (1783-1847), for whom the town of Rowlett, Texas is named. In the two-page document, neatly written from Fannin County, Texas on November 30, 1847, Rowlett bequeaths his slaves—and other listed possessions—to family members or creditors. In fact, his enslaved work force commences the will: "It is [my] wish that my negro wench Decy and her youngest child Martitia shall be given to my daughter Matilda Clark...my negro boy Jeff and my negro girl Emiline be given to my daughter Cecilia Miller...my negro woman Hannah and my negro girl Francis be given to my daughter Nancy O. Locke...my two negro girls Julian and Martha be given to my daughter Polly Ann...my negro boys Anderson and Peter be given to my son Daniel Owen...my negro boy and girl Squire and Harriet be given to my son John Owen." To his wife, Rowlett leaves, "All my household and kitchen furniture together with all my farming utensils and ten cows. Also my gray horse and Kit mare together with my homestead...the orchard field...twenty head of hogs including the Bush Stock..." The boldly scripted 7" x 14" pages are very visual, bright and pristine, with three filing holes at the top. This is an extremely poignant, historically significant document that recalls a shameful time in our nation's past, when fellow human beings were bought and sold, traded and inherited like objects.
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