Runaway slaves who were caught in the southern states often faced a future more uncertain that the one from which they had escaped. By virtue of an act of the Legislature of Kentucky, approved 2 March 1863, an attempt was made to locate the owner by advertising in the newspaper. If no one laid claim to the runaway, the slave was sold to the highest bidder at the courthouse door. The following comes from a packet marked “Order of Sale - Slave Ben, June 8, 1863” and was found in loose county court papers, Crittenden County Clerk’s Office, Marion, Kentucky.
“It appearing to the Satisfaction of the court that a runaway Slave calling himself Ben now in the possession or custody of J.W. Adams Jailer of Crittenden County has been legally advertised and has not been claimed by the owner thereof, It is therefore ordered that the Sheriff of Crittenden County after having duly advertised the time terms and place of sale at least twenty days at three public places in said county the Court House being one expose to sale in accordance with the law .... after having caused said Slave to be valued as lands sold under execution are required to be valued to the highest bidder on a credit of twelve months the purchaser to give Bond with good surety to the Commonwealth ... “
“By virtue of the within order I did on the 13th day of July 1863 at the front door of the Court House in Marion, it being County Court day for Crittenden County, offer for Sale on a credit of twelve months after advertising as the Law directs, Ben the within named Slave to the highest bidder ... and J.W. Adams bid the sum of two hundred and eighty one dollars and no person bidding more the said Slave was struck off and sold to Adams. This 13th day of July 1863.”