15 April 2020

Simpson & Swan - Part 2

I found another newspaper mention for Zachariah Simpson - a tiny little paragraph.

Who was Squire Drisdom and why was he opposing the petition of the public administrator to probate the estate?

A search of the probate records for Sacramento County was next. The probate file for Zachariah Simpson contains 244 pages.  I read through all 244 pages and there is no mention of slave children in Missouri.  There is however an explanation of who Squire Drisdom is.  It is interesting that it takes over 6 years for this estate to go through probate.

August 1865 - Petition from John E. Miller asking to be granted letters of administration because the public administrator who had been given the case (Jared Irwin) had died.  An inventory and appraisement of the real and personal property of Zachariah Simpson is valued at $1766.75.   Among the items that were inventoried was a note (IOU) from Squire Drisdom (colored) for $70.

The next items in the probate file are affidavits that tell a story.

9 November 1866
William Jones being first duly sworn on oath says I was born in Charleston South Carolina on the 16th day of March 1800.  I was sold when about the age of seventeen years to Judge Simpson of Kentucky. I knew Timothy Drisdom and Gracy Jane Drisdom his wife they belonged to the Simpson family.  I also knew Squire E. Drisdom and Zachariah Drisdom their children they also belonged to the Simpson family as well as myself we were boys together.  The Drisdoms had no other children but the said Squire E. and Zachariah.  I also knew the said Squire E. Drisdom and the said Zachariah Drisdom (alias Simpson) in this state since the year 1852 up to the time of their death.  I was very intimate with both of them in Kentucky as well as in California up to the time of their respective deaths.  The said Zachariah assumed the name of Simpson after coming to this county that being his former master's name.  He was never married to my knowledge and left no wife nor children nor father nor mother nor sister living at the time of his death and the said Squire E. Drisdom was his only brother.

9 November 1866
John Gale being first duly sworn on oath deposes and says that he knew Squire E. Drisdom and Zachariah Simpson in their lifetime to wit from the early part of 1854 up to the time of their death that he frequently heard them say in each others company that they were brothers born of the same father and mother in the state of Kentucky and that he heard the said Zachariah say that his real name was Drisdom and that he assumed the name of Simpson from the fact that that was his master's name and that Squire E. Drisdom was his only brother and had no other kindred living that he knew of. 

9 November 1866
In the matter of the estate of Zachariah Simpson, deceased
Sallie P. Drisdom being first duly sworn on oath deposes and says that she is the widow of Squire E. Drisdom.  That the said Squire E. Drisdom died in Dry Town, County of Amador and State of California on the 23rd day of April A.D. 1863 leaving surviving him this affiant his widow and eight children to wit Eveline, Maria, Joseph, Giles, Elizabeth, Squire E., Samuel William, and Mary Melinda ages respectively 25, 19, 12, 11, 9, 8, 6 and 4 years.  That her said husband was the lawful and only surviving brother of Zachariah Simpson deceased. That the said Zachariah Simpson died intestate in the County of Sacramento on the 29th day of November 1860 that at the time of his death Squire E. Drisdom her husband aforesaid was his sole surviving heir at law.  That the said Squire E. Drisdom and the said Zachariah were the lawful children of Timothy Drisdom and Gracy Jane Drisdom that the said Zachariah, before coming to California was a slave and that his master's name was James Simpson that he assumed his master's name coming to California and was known by that name up to the time of his death while her husband Squire E. Drisdom aforesaid always retained his father's name. Affiant further swears that the children aforesaid are now living with her in Sutter Creek Amador County and State of California.

William Jones - the same man who testified at the coroner's inquest.  I wonder why he didn't mention at the inquest that Zachariah's surname was Drisdom?

All of the parties involved seem to be former slaves.  How did they get to California?  Did they purchase their freedom from their master?  Are they runaways?  For Zachariah and William Jones this might be possible, but I would think very difficult for a family of 10.  

There is no mention in all the 244 pages of the probate file about children of the deceased that are slaves in Missouri.

With all the additional questions I now have, I did learn a bit more.  The name of Zachariah's master is James Simpson from Kentucky.

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