A good source for information on slaves can be found in the deed volumes in the county clerk's office of all Kentucky counties. Sadly, slaves were deemed personal property and, as such, were sometimes mortgaged to guarantee payment of a debt. Rarely is the word "mortgage" used, but by reading through the entire transaction, the meaning is clear. The following are abstracts of a few mortgages which can be found in Livingston County Deed Book GG (1841-1844).
12 September 1843: Samuel S. Barnett is indebted to James Pringle in the sum of $57.50 as evidenced by his note of this date and due 12 months after date. To secure payment, Barnett conveys to Pringle one certain negro girl named Eliza a slave for life about 13 years old, of a yellow complexion, the same now in possession of Barnett. If Barnett pays the debt when due, this obligation is null and void. [Page 576]
22 September 1843: B.O. Thrift of Smithland conveys to William Fellowes, Cornelius Fellowes and B.I. Adams of Louisville, trading under the firm & style of W. & C. Fellowes & Co., for the sum of $1, three negro girls, Celia about 38 years of age, Vina about 17 years of age and Louisa about 16 years of age. Thrift has executed his promissory note to W. & C. Fellowes & Co. for $547.48 dated Louisville 22 March 1843 with a credit of $100 paid 8 July 1843. If Thrift pays the debt plus interst, this obligation of Mortgage is void. [Page 578]
3 January 1844: Nehemiah Woodyard is indebted to James Pringle in the amount of $112.50 as evidenced by his note of this date. To secure payment, he bargains and sells a certain negro boy named John a Slave for life and about 21 years old, of a black complexion and the same now in possession of Woodyard. If Woodyard pays his debt, this obligation is void, otherwise to remain in full effect. [Page 610]