Emanuel & Catharine

In the University of Pittsburgh’s Freedom Papers exhibit is an entry for Emanuel Jackson Jr, which has the original bill of sale between the executors of Major Isaac Hite Jr.’s estate and Emanuel Jackson (1786) for the purchase of his enslaved son, Emanuel (1815). To see and engage with this original bill of sale, please go the Freedom Papers exhibit.

The Emanuel profiled in the Freedom Papers is the son that Emanuel (1786) and Hannah had on April 1, 1815 at Belle Grove Plantation. Before Major Isaac Hite Jr. died, he had an agreement to sell Emanuel (1786) his enslaved son, Emanuel (1815) for a total of $800, which equates to $27,400 in today’s currency. However, Major Hite died before he could execute their agreement, but the executors of his estate, including Ann Hite, agreed to honor his commitment to Emanuel (1786). The bill of sale shows that on January 18, 1837, Emanuel (1786) bought his son for the agreed upon price of $800, and on February 3, 1841, Emanuel (1815) was a free man.

Think like a historian!

Curious why there was a delay in Emanuel’s (1815) freedom since the bill of sale was in 1836 but his freedom papers weren’t written until 1841? Historians believe that it’s because of the $800 sale, Emanuel (1786) paid $500 in cash and owed $300 in bonds, so it likely took him about 5 years to pay off his debt.

Transcript of Emanuel Jackson’s (1815) Freedom Paper on February 3, 18411

Life of freedom

Despite going into debt to buy his son from the Hite family, Emanuel (1815) was able to reunite with his father after bill of sale was completed in 1836. By 1840, his father was living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and had recently purchased land in the Birmingham Borough, so it’s very likely that Emanuel (1815) is living with his father; his stepmother, Nancy Jackson; and his three half-siblings, Isaac Jackson, Henry Jackson, and Louisa Jackson.

1840 Census of Emanuel Jackson (1786) and his family2

Think like a historian!

Early census records didn’t have quite the detail that later records had, like names, ages, real estate values, and so forth. Instead, the records contained tallies of household members, so Emanuel’s (1796) 1840 census only tallies the “Free Colored Persons” in his household:

Census DataHistorical Interpretation
Males, aged 10-23: 2Likely Isaac and Henry Jackson
Males, aged 24-35: 1Likely Emanuel Jackson (1815)
Males, aged 55-99: 1Likely Emanuel Jackson (1786)
Females, 10-23: 1Likely Louisa Jackson
Females, aged 36-54: 1Likely Nancy Jackson

From here, historians use other primary sources that help inform an otherwise vague document like this 1840 census record. Instead of just seeing tally marks, historians are instead able to line up people in Emanuel’s (1786) life with what is recorded in this census, which makes us believe that his son, Emanuel (1815), was living with him, his second wife, Nancy, and their three children.

Meeting Catharine

Although we don’t know exactly when and how Emanuel met his wife, Catharine, we know that they met and married some time between his emancipation and 1850 because by 1850, they’re living in Pittsburgh with their two young children, Ann, aged 3, and Robert, aged 1. Based on our research, we think that they had a total of six children:

  • Annie born circa 1847
  • Robert born circa 1849
  • George born circa 1851
  • Frank born circa 1852
  • Catherine born circa 1857
  • Daniel born circa 1859
Atlas of the Cities of Pittsburgh, Allegheny, and the Adjoining Boroughs (Philadelphia: G. M. Hopkins, 1872), plate 36, “Eleventh and Part of [the] Thirteen Ward.”6

Emanuel’s Real Estate

[Described as a] lot having a front on Centre avenue 20 feet and running back 100 feet more or less to an alley on which is erected a good two story brick dwelling house of 5 rooms, Hall, &c. good cellar under the house on rear part of lot is erected a good frame stable for 3 horses.

A description of the two lots on Centre Avenue that Emanuel Jackson (1815) owned and bequeathed to his sons after he died in 18705

Emanuel (1815) sold his first property around 1853 and built a two-story brick home on another lot that he bought on Centre Street in September 1850. He and Catharine lived at 92 Centre Avenue with their family until at least 1870 as they continued to grow their teamster business and establish a homestead in Pittsburgh. Emanuel (1815) ultimately bought the lot next door to their home in November 1866, where he built stables and added the yard he needed for his horses.

His death

We’re unsure of when exactly Emanuel (1815) died, but his will is dated May 16, 1870. In it, he states that Catherine should receive all of his personal property, including a horse, household furnishings, linens, and cooking utensils, all of which totaled $167.20 ($3,803 in today’s currency). His daughters, Ann and Catherine, received $500 ($11,375 today) each from his estate, while his sons, Frank and Robert, received his real estate.

His life is an incredible one. Emanuel (1815) was born into enslavement, yet over the course of his 55-year life, he owned property, ran his own business, and had an estate that he was able to leave to his family after his death. In the year he died, 1870, Catharine reported that their real estate value was $8,000, which is nearly $182,000 today.

Although Catharine and her family lived at the same 92 Centre Avenue home until 1875, she and her sons, Frank and Robert, defaulted on the loan and ultimately sold the property at public auction.

Cover Page to Catharine Jackson’s Widower’s Appraisement9
Emanuel Jackson’s (1815) will7
Cover Page to Catharine Jackson’s Widower’s Appraisement8

  1. Emanual Jackson Jr.. Free at Last? Slavery in Pittsburgh in the 18th and 19th Centuries. (n.d.). Retrieved December 10, 2022, from http://exhibit.library.pitt.edu/freeatlast/papers/fp_emanualjacksonjr.html
  2. Year: 1840; Census Place: Birmingham, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: 440; Page: 227; Family History Library Film: 0020536
  3. Historical Data Systems, Inc.; Duxbury, MA 02331; American Civil War Research Database
  4. The National Archives At Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; NAI Title: U.s., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934; NAI Number: T288; Record Group Title: Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, 1773-2007; Record Group Number: 15; Series Title: U.s., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934; Series Number: T288; Roll: 238
  5. Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, Deed book 75:612, Christian Ihmsen and wife to Emanuel Jackson Junior, 1 August 1846; Department of Real Estate, Pittsburgh; digital image, FamilySearch (https:// www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/531774 : accessed 11 June 2021)
  6. Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, Deed book 373:247, Frank Jackson and others by sheriff to Artisans Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, 7 December 1877; Department of Real Estate, Pittsburgh; digital image, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/531774 : accessed 9 October 2021).
  7. Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, Will packet 14:205 #123, Emanuel Jackson (1870); “Pennsylvania Probate Records 1863–1994,” digital images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search /collection/1999196 : accessed 11 June 2021).
  8. Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, Orphans’ Court docket 26:278, #124 Sep 1870, Emanuel Jackson, widow’s appraisement; Department of Court Records, Wills/Orphans’ Division, Pittsburgh.
  9. Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, Orphans’ Court docket 26:278, #124 Sep 1870, Emanuel Jackson, widow’s appraisement; Department of Court Records, Wills/Orphans’ Division, Pittsburgh.