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African American Lives 2 -- Hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
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Legal records & a cousin who was one of 1st black Texas legislators (1972) Tennessee, Texas (Cherokee County) 1776 Texas

I am a decendant of Albartis Arnwine (b. 1776 in Tennessee) and his slave, Gracie (b. approx. 1815), who was also his mistress. They left Tennessee and moved to Texas in the 1840's. Gracie convinced him to stop at plantations on the way to Texas to purchase her 2 sisters and their children(per oral tradition and a letter). They settled in the Jacksonville/New Hope area. Albartis never married and was very open about his relationship with Gracie. It is said that the neighbors were "upset" because Gracie lived in the main house with him and because they had so many children together. There is a copy of the bill of sale of Gracie, when he purchased her and her daughter in the 1830s."

Albartis died in 1855, and in his will he freed Gracie, her sisters, and all the children and left them all his assets and possesions including 900 acres. The willl was contested by his family who questioned whether a slavemaster could legally free his slaves under the constitution and state statutes. It was argued in District court in Henderson, Texas and eventually decided by the Texas Supreme Court on 6-10-1859 who affirmed the right of a slavemaster to free his slaves. The court documents still exist.

There is also a slave narrative of Sterling Arnwine, a descendent of Albartis Arnwine and Gracie, recorded in the 1930's.

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