“. . . poor little Caty was dead . . .”

Continuing the story, from the previous post, of Sally Brant, a black indentured servant of Elizabeth Sandwith Drinker and her husband Henry, who had a child out of wedlock:

March 4 [1795] . . . About a mile on this side Clearfield my husband and Sister mett Joe [Gibbs], he had the impudence, as M Courtney told M[ary] S[andwith] to come up into her room, she ask’d him what he wanted, he reply’d, to see something you have got here, and then look’d into the Cradle—she ask’d him if he own’d it, he say’d No, and further this deponent sayeth not. If he had not seen the Child, he had all reason to belive it was his, but the colour was convincing, he had frequently boasted of it, but was fearful of the expences that might accrue. . . .

[April] 19 . . . Sally Johnson here this Afternoon, ask’d if SB could spend a day with her this week, to which I consented, told her of her daughters late conduct wish’d she would take her and Child off our hands, that she had a year to serve from this month, which would have been of more worth to us, had she been a virtuous girl, than any other two years of her time, a girl in her place would cost us 8 or 9/P week, that she is as capable, or perhaps more so, than any one we could hire; I was afraid of her bad example to our other little girl [Sally Dawson] &c—she appeard more angry than griv’d, said she should not care if the childs brains were beat out &c—she would never have anything to do with it—I told her we would make no account of the expences we had already been at of Sallys laying in and board, the childs nursing since &c. She said she would take her daughter provided they, nither of ’em, should ever have any thing to do with the Child—she went away rather out of humor—
When HD. come home we related the above to him, concluded were we to turn her off, upon her mothers terms, she would be in the high road to further ruin—he call’d her into the parlor this evening and talk’d closely to her, told her he had a right to send her to the work house and sell her for a servent, that it was in pity to her, and in hopes of her reformation that he did not send Joe to prision, she had always had a good example in our house, if she did not mend her conduct she should not stay much longer in it &c. she cry’d but said nothing—How it will end, or what we shall do with her, I know not, set aside this vile propensity, she is one of the most handy and best servants we have ever had—and a girl of very pritty manners.

[By the middle of the following month, the “poor little yallow one” was boarded with a “Negro woman in the Neighborhood ’till we can otherwise dispose of it.” On July 2, 1795, Elizabeth Drinker was informed “that poor little Caty was dead—Jacob Morris, a black boy, whose Mother had her to nurse brought the note, and came for a Shroud to bury her in.” Sally Brant, when told, “shed a few tears, but all, appeard to be got over in a little time after.”]

[April 12, 1796] . . . Sally Johnson came to day, she very willingly agree’d to Sallys staying with us two months longer as we shall be cleaning house &c—she is, I expect, sensible, that we might, if inclined so to do, oblidge her to serve us near a year longer for the expences we have been at on her and Childs account, instead of giving her freedom Cloaths &c—I wish the poor girl may do well when she leaves us. She has behaved herself better for a month or two past than for a long time before. Whether it is to get the more from us, or whether she is actualy better I know not, but must hope for the best.

Sally Brant did leave the Drinker family but stayed in touch with one of the other young servants—“S. Brant took tea with our Sally Dawson” noted Elizabeth Drinker tersely on May 17, 1803.

The passages in this post can be found on pages 212-213 of In the Words of Women.

posted August 28th, 2014 by Janet, CATEGORIES: Brant, Sally, Children, Daily life, Death, Drinker, Elizabeth Sandwith, Employment, Indentured Servants

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