The Library of Virginia >> Exhibitions >> Working Out Her Destiny
Petition of Mary B. Powell, for compensation for provisions furnished many poor persons assisted at her house for protection during the insurrection in Southampton. 11 February 1832. Manuscript. Virginia General Assembly, Legislative petitions. Acc. 36189. The Library of Virginia
Work - Women in Business

The Petition of the undersigned respectfully represent
That during the Last year, she kept a house of public entertainment in the Town of Hicks’ Ford, in the county of Greensville, and that during the time of the Late Lamented insurrection in the adjoining County of Southampton, the said Town was thronged with persons of every condition and rank from the surrounding county. Many from the illfated neighborhood, as well as the contiguous counties, sought safety in flight without one moment for preparation and of course were unable to take with them a single necessary of Life. Under any circumstances it must occur to your honerable body, that very many from so Large a district of county as that which was totally evacuated, must have been so poor and destitute, as to be entirely unable to provide for themselves & families, even the food necessary for the maintainance of Life. To relieve such in their destitute and deplorable situation, your Petitioner opened her doors and made every effort in her power to afford a shelter from the inclemencies of the weather and to provide the necessary food for their sustenance and support. In a very short time every room in her house was litterally filled, which compelled her to turn away many applicants subsequently, who were in affluent circumstances, & would have made her full and Liberal compensation for everything furnished. She does not assume to her self any credit for obeying the obvious dictates of humanity, and the impulses of common feeling and sympathy, but she must say to your honerable Body she has sorely felt the burden, which was thus imposed on her. Justice requires her to state than many in affluence came forward and paid in a handsome and Liberal manner, but she has felt that their proportion was small compared with those whom she verily believes were utterly unable to make any remuneration whatever. Your Petitioner therefore deems it a duty, which she owes to herself and family to bring the subject before your notice, and solicit such redress as you may think it proper and just to grant. She neither asks nor expects of your Body tavern rates for the poor, who were quartered on her, but would thankfully receive, and thinks she is justly entitled to some remuneration, for her provisions and trouble. Your Petitioner does not know many whom she furnished, and from the hurry and confusion unavoidably attendant cannot pretend ot any great accuracy in computation for changes were constantly making & numbers hourly fluctuating but confining herself in the narrowest Limits, she believes she furnished with house and food an average 30 poor persons for five days and nights. Your Petitioners averring her reluctance to do so, has brought this subject before your honorable Body in the hope and expectation that you will grant her such relief as you may think her claim justly demands; and as she has no earthly tribunal to which she can appeal she begs you will take in to serious consideration the premises; and as in duty bound, your Petitioner will every pray &c.
Mary B. Powell

This day personally appeared before me, Dr. A. T. B. Merritt who made oath that during the week of the late Insurrection, he had several sick ones to attend in Mrs. Powell’s tavern, and being in the habit of visiting them (several times) daily, he always found her house very much crowded, especially by Those, who to all appearances were very poor. From what he saw & verily believes, her estimate as above exhibit is quite in order &c
Tim: Thorp J. P.

I fully concur in the opinion stated in the above certificate from personal observation
Tim: Thorp

Personally appeared before me a Justice of the Peace this 9th of Feb. 1832; Edwd. Powell who made oath, that he staid during the week of the insurrection in Mr. M. B. Powell’s tavern & believes the above estimate in her petition to be very moderate & true.
A. F. B. Merritt J. P.

To the Gen. Assembly of Virginia

[Clerk’s notation]

Petition of Mary B. Powell, for compensation for provisions furnished many poor persons assembled at her house for protection during the insurrection in Southampton.
Wm. H. Brodnax.

Feby 11th 1832 assd to select comt
Feby 13: Rejected


Hicks’ Ford Va
Feby 9th 1832

General Wm. H. Brodnax
Member of Assembly