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Depositions of Peyton and Jane Graves in the Case of Elva v. Edwin Jenkins

Identifier: MSS-4234

Content Description

These depositions contain the 1853 testimony of plantation owner Peyton Graves and his wife, Jane Graves, regarding the case of their neighbor Elva Jenkins against her husband, doctor and plantation owner Edwin Jenkins. The documents consist of a series of answers to "Interrogatories" or "Interrogations" posed separately to Peyton and Jane Graves regarding how they knew the Jenkins family and the goings-on they witnessed in the Jenkins household--in particular, a violent incident in which Elva Jenkins was attacked by dogs and left crying, her clothes torn, while Edwin stood over her brandishing a hoe and shouting, “You God damn old bitch, I’ll kill you and go to hell at once.” Other parts of the depositions describe Elva's resentment over Edwin's favorable treatment toward his slaves, particularly his attachment to his slave Becky. There is also mention of a slave named Louisa. The depositions were signed by Commissioner William P. Carter of the Chancery Court of the State of Alabama for Wilcox County.

The materials total fourteen handwritten pages.


  • 1853 August 21

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Biographical / Historical

Peyton L. Graves was a cotton plantation owner in Alabama. In May 1853, Graves, who had Choctaw ancestry, was living with his neighbor Edwin Alonzo Jenkins, a 55-year-old-doctor and plantation owner whom he had known for about thirty years. While living with the Jenkins family, Graves witnessed quarrels between Edwin Jenkins and his wife, Elva; and advised Elva to leave her husband after Edwin threatened to kill her. After Elva had left, Graves suggested to Edwin Jenkins that he “dispose of or remove from the plantation” a slave named Becky, “as she seemed to be the principle [sic] cause of difficulty.” Jenkins refused, saying he “would sooner his wife should not return.” Peyton Graves and his wife, Jane, gave witness depositions in the courthouse in Camden, Alabama—the seat of Wilcox County—on August 21, 1853, in a case Elva Jenkins brought against her husband Edwin. The Jenkins couple divorced two years later. According to seller information, “The elder children supported their mother [Elva], who moved to Arkansas, where she died before the Civil War. [Edwin] Jenkins himself moved to Mexico at the end of the War, and eventually settled in Texas, where he died.”


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These depositions, which total fourteen pages, contain the August 1853 testimony of plantation owner Peyton L. Graves and his wife, Jane, regarding the case brought by their neighbor Elva Jenkins against her husband Edwin Jenkins, in Wilcox County, Alabama. The depositions include accounts of a violent dog attack against Elva, as well as her resentment over Edwin’s favoritism toward their slave Becky.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The University of Alabama Libraries acquired the Depositions of Peyton and Jane Graves in the Case of Elva v. Edwin Jenkins in 2018.

Related Materials

Wilcox County, Alabama, Court Records, The University of Alabama Libraries Special Collections

Processing Information

Processed by Erin Ryan, August 2018.
Guide to the Depositions of Peyton and Jane Graves in the Case of Elva v. Edwin Jenkins
Erin Ryan
August 2018
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Repository Details

Part of the The University of Alabama Libraries Special Collections Repository

Box 870266
Tuscaloosa AL 35487-0266