What We Know About Catharine Taylor

Catharine Taylor was born in the 1820s, likely at Montpelier, where she was enslaved by James Madison. Often called Caty, she was married to Ralph Philip Taylor, with whom she had five children: William Henry (born ca. 1841), Sarah Elizabeth (born ca. 1843), Benjamin (born ca. 1845), John (born ca. 1848), and Ellen Ann (born ca. 1849).

 

“Tell Ralph Catey is Well”

Both Catharine and Ralph were domestic servants. When the widowed Dolley Madison began dividing her time between Montpelier and her house on Lafayette Square in Washington D.C., she took some – but not all – of the enslaved domestic workers from Montpelier with her on each trip to the capital city. In 1843 Dolley debated which of the domestic workers to send ahead of her arrival, writing to her niece, “I will send somebody on before me, tho’ I cant tell whom or when, as Judy, Beck & Caty have little babies.” (Catharine’s second child Sarah Elizabeth was presumably one of the “little babies.”) After discussing several other members of the enslaved community, Dolley concluded that her maid Sukey was the only person who seemed suitable to her at that moment, concluding, “so I dont know how I am to be waited upon in the Capital.”[1]

It is not always clear which enslaved servants were serving Dolley in Washington at any given time. Dolley’s correspondence with her son John Payne Todd suggests that members of the enslaved community were periodically sent back and forth between Montpelier and Washington, at the convenience of Dolley or her son. In April 1844 Catharine’s husband Ralph went to Washington while Catharine remained at Montpelier.[2]

While the Taylors were separated, other members of the enslaved community passed along news and greetings. On May 11, 1844 Peter Walker sent his wife Rebecca (who was in Washington with Dolley) a message from Catharine in Orange: “tell Ralph Katy says she would have written to him but she has been so situated as to put it out of her powers.”[3] (Catharine would have needed to find someone to write a letter for her, as the 1860 census shows that Catharine and Ralph could not read and write.[4]) Paul Jennings, who had come to Orange to visit his seriously ill wife, wrote Dolley’s maid Sukey with a similar message for Ralph two days later: “tel Ralph Catey is well an intend to write to him soon.”[5] When Paul wrote Dolley on August 6 with news of his wife’s death, he also noted that everyone at Montpelier was well “with the exception of Caty – Ralph’s wife, who I was told yesterday is quite sick.”[6]

Paul Jennings wrote to enslaved maid Sukey on May 13, 1844, asking her to tell Ralph that Catey was well and intended to write soon. Courtesy of Dolley Madison Papers, Library of Congress.

“What is to be Done with Her and Her Children?”

The Taylors had more to worry about that summer than just each other’s health. Dolley lost a lawsuit brought by her brother-in-law William Madison over a $2,000 bond that he had pressed Dolley to sign, for money he believed he was still owed from James Madison Sr.’s estate. The bond stated that the debt was payable in cash or “in negroes at a fair price.”[7] In May 1844 the court ordered the sheriff to seize Dolley’s “goods and chattels”  – meaning enslaved people – to pay the bond.[8]

On July 5, Sarah Stewart wrote to Dolley that the sheriff planned to sell all of the enslaved who still remained at Montpelier. Sarah begged Dolley to arrange sales to neighbors or make other arrangements to prevent husbands and wives from being sold apart from each other. Sarah particularly noted the plight of the Taylors, with Catharine and her children being at Montpelier while Ralph was in Washington: “The husband of Caty is with you what is to be done with her and her children.”[9]

In a move that was likely intended to prevent the enslaved from being seized, Dolley transferred about 50 enslaved people to John Payne Todd in June or July 1844. Included on the list were “Caty and young Children about 22” (meaning Caty was about age 22) as well as Ralph.[10]

Caty’s name appears on several lists that John Payne Todd made in his journal beginning in the summer of 1844. In June 1844 he included “Caty – 24” on a list which noted the ages of both men and women, but gave the monetary worth of the men only. Ralph was listed at $500 but was then crossed out. No children were included on the list.[11] In August 1844 Todd jotted another list. He valued “Caty & 2 children Elizabeth and Henry” collectively at $400. He did not list Ralph.[12] Neither of the lists have titles, so their exact purpose is unclear. Presumably Todd was weighing options for selling or retaining members of the enslaved community in different groupings, possibly in relation to the sale of Montpelier.

Dolley Madison and Henry Moncure agreed to the sale of the plantation in August 1844. For several months afterward, Catharine remained in Orange, either at Montpelier or Toddsberth (the plantation belonging to John Payne Todd). Ralph apparently returned to Orange at some point in the late summer or early autumn, for on October 10 Todd wrote to his mother, “I propose to send Sarah Raif Caty and two children & take Paul & Sukey back. Say how it would please?”[13] Todd’s letters with his mother reflect ongoing discussions as to which of the enslaved would remain in her household. In November he wrote, “Raif Caty & children you certainly should have…”[14]

 

Legalities of Enslavement

Bringing Catharine to Washington posed a potential legal problem, since it was illegal to import slaves into the capital city. New residents were allowed up to twelve months to bring in the people they enslaved; any enslaved person they brought to Washington after that deadline had a right to sue for freedom papers. Although Dolley had been dividing her time between her two homes during her widowhood, she in fact had not been back to Montpelier since November 1843. A year later, in November or December 1844, Dolley turned to her nephew Richard D. Cutts for legal advice.

Richard advised his aunt that she did not become a full-time resident of Washington until after she sold Montpelier, and so was within her rights to bring Catharine into the city within twelve months of the sale. He offered this chilling counsel on keeping Catharine enslaved:

“Should evil-designed person’s now or hereafter instigate the girl to sue for her papers under that law, you can say — that up to the time of bringing her here, your home was equally in Va where your Country residence was situated — and that heretofore you had intended only to have spent your winters in Wash. as has been your custom — and that as soon as you had determined to settle definitively in the District — which was evidenced only by the sale of your house & estate in Va, this woman was brought on.”

Richard warned Dolley to have Catharine properly registered, “otherwise as in many similar instances, if she choose’s, Katy can attain her freedom.”[15]

Dolley’s nephew Richard D. Cutts advised her that “all will be straight & proper” if Dolley registered Catharine within twelve months of Dolley’s permanent move to Washington. Courtesy of Dolley Madison Papers, Library of Congress.

John Payne Todd made additional lists of the enslaved in his journal in April or May 1845. On one list, the names of “Caty & 2 children” are bracketed with Ralph, Ellen, and Sukey, apparently indicating the group of enslaved domestic workers who would remain with Dolley in Washington.[16]

Although she had already transferred to her son all of the people she enslaved, Dolley sometimes continued to act as if she still had legal title to them. In September 1846 Dolley listed Catharine and her family as security for her own debts, giving her nephew Richard D. Cutts the ability to sell them if particular creditors demanded payment.[17] Dolley executed a similar document in December 1847, noting that she had “Given as security Ralph Philip Taylor aged 32 Catharine Taylor aged 26 & their infant children Wm Henry aged six, Sarah aged four & Benjamin aged two years.”[18]

Benjamin, Catharine’s third child, had been born after she and Ralph moved to Washington. Sarah Stewart had probably not yet seen Benjamin when she wrote from Toddsberth in April 1847, “give my love to Caty & Ralph … give my love to catys three children & tell them I want to see them verry bad.”[19]

 

Life After Dolley Madison

When Dolley Madison died on July 12, 1849, a period of transition began for Catharine and her family. At first the focus was on funeral preparations. The household expense accounts, kept by Dolley’s niece and companion Annie Payne, show that on July 17, Annie “Gave Katy [$1.00] to have her dress made and [.50] to pay for having Henry’s clothes made.”[20] These may have been payments for clothing that Catharine and her son William Henry wore to Dolley’s funeral on July 16. A newspaper noted that of the 48 carriages in the funeral procession, one “was appropriated to the colored domestics of the household of the deceased.”[21]

With Dolley’s death, the enslaved domestic workers – at this point Catharine and Ralph Taylor, their children, and Sarah Stewart – were running a house that was often empty except for themselves. Catharine ran necessary errands; Annie’s household accounts noted on July 20 that Catharine had delivered a payment of one dollar to laundress Eliza Lewis.[22] Annie never returned to live at Lafayette Square, staying with a series of friends until she eventually married in April 1850. John Payne Todd moved into the house after his mother’s death, but stayed away for weeks or months at a time.

Annie wrote to Sarah Stewart in August 1849: “How are you and has Katy gotten well? and her Baby.” The baby could have been either John or Ellen Ann (both of whom were born sometime after December 1847 and before November 1852). Annie continued: “Ask her to bake me a Loaf of nice Bread or some French Rolls, and I will pay for the articles –  If she sends them to the Doctor’s  Mrs Thomas will forward the Rolls to me.”[23]

Catharine was a skilled baker, as evidenced by Annie Payne’s request to purchase some of Catharine’s “nice Bread” or “French Rolls.” Courtesy of Dolley Madison Papers, Library of Congress.

Catharine baked as Annie requested; in Annie’s next letter to Sarah, she wrote, “Tell Katy I am much obliged for the Bread…” [24] These letters are the only references to Catharine’s culinary skills, which in this case gave her a chance to earn a little money of her own.

Although John Payne Todd was at the Lafayette Square house when Annie wrote in August 1849, he was out of town for an extended period of time in the fall, leading his agent William Kennaugh to complain to him about “your continued absence from town, and silence as to your future movements” in November 1849. [25]

Todd was in Baltimore by March 1850, when the Lafayette Square house and its contents were appraised as part of his mother’s estate. Kennaugh was present, and wrote Todd that “I informed the appraiser that the negroes did not belong to the estate; but it was thought best by them, to appraise all in the house; which they did—estimating Ralph, Wife, children, and old woman at $2200.”[26] The appraisers may have been unwilling to take Kennaugh’s word that the Taylors and Sarah Stewart had been transferred from Dolley Madison to Todd. On their own in the house, with strangers appraising them right along with the furniture, Catharine and her family were left in a vulnerable position.

In April 1850, Todd’s absence affected Catharine in another way. She wanted to be baptized, as Ralph explained in a letter to Todd: “Sir I take the liberty to address you to ask your permission to Let my wife be Baptised humbly hoping you will grant the same.”[27] Ralph requested an answer by the following Saturday (presumably the day planned for Catharine’s baptism). There is no surviving reply, so we don’t know if Catharine was able to be baptized at that time.

Ralph Taylor, who could not read or write, must have found someone to take his dictation when he sought John Payne Todd’s permission for Catharine to be baptized in April 1850. Courtesy of Dolley Madison Papers, Library of Congress.

Todd seems to have been in Washington more regularly beginning in May 1850, with at least one trip, this time to Boston, in 1851. He sold the Lafayette Square house in the spring of 1851 and began lodging on F Street. His cousin Mary Cutts recalled that “his mother’s servants were with him, and faithful to the last.”[28] Todd died in Washington on January 17, 1852.

 

A Will, without a Way

John Payne Todd had written his will less than three weeks before his death, noting that he was “weak and sick of body and having in view the certainty of death and the uncertainty of the time thereof…” His first bequest was to the people he enslaved in Washington and at Toddsberth: “their immediate freedom.” Additionally, he named 15 enslaved people – including Catharine and Ralph Taylor – who would each receive a $200 bequest from his estate. [29]

By freeing the enslaved in his will, Todd had taken a step that neither his step-father nor his mother had attempted. The will, however, offered only an empty promise, as Annie Payne’s husband, Dr. James Causten, realized. Annie’s mother Clara Payne noted his assessment of the situation: “Dr. Causten thinks it is highly probable that the slaves will not be freed – that his estate will be insufficient to meet the debts outstanding…”[30]

With Todd’s estate heavily in debt, it seemed almost certain that the enslaved would be sold to pay Todd’s creditors. The Taylors, however, became aware of another possible path to freedom. Dolley Madison and John Payne Todd had made use of legal technicalities to keep them enslaved – what if the Taylors could use legal technicalities to gain their freedom?

 

Finding a Path

Remember that Richard D. Cutts had advised his aunt Dolley to register Catharine’s importation into Washington within twelve months of Dolley’s permanent change of residence. Richard failed to realize, or chose to overlook, that Dolley had deeded all the people she enslaved, including Catharine, to her son. Dolley’s change of residence, consequently, was immaterial to their status. John Payne Todd was the enslaver of the people he sent to Dolley’s home in Washington, and he was not a resident of Washington when he did so. His importation of slaves into the capital city was therefore illegal, and they were eligible to be freed under the Washington D.C. slavery code.

On November 12, 1852, Ralph and Catharine Taylor petitioned the Circuit Court of the District of Columbia for their freedom and the freedom of their children (William) Henry Taylor, Sarah Elizabeth Taylor, John Taylor, and Ellen Taylor. (There was no mention of the Taylor’s third child Benjamin; possibly he had died before reaching his seventh birthday.) The Taylors’ petitions asserted “That your petitioners are free, and are held in bondage and claimed as slaves by James C. McGuire as administrator” for the estates of both Dolley Madison and John Payne Todd, “and they pray that their right to freedom may be enquired of by your Honors according to law.”[31]

The petitioners’ bills were presented December 1, 1852. Court records show two proposed sets of instructions to the jury. The first, which was refused by the court, gave the more detailed explanation: “the Petitioners were the property of said John P Todd in the state of Virginia that they were brought to this District in or about the month of January 1845 & have remained here ever since[,] that said Todd did not come to the District thereafter until the spring or summer of 1846, and then did come & remain until his death in the year 1852, & left a will manumiting said slaves, then such importation, residence & disposition entitles said slaves to their freedom.”[32]

The final instructions reduced the instructions to the bare facts of John Payne Todd’s residence: “If the Jury shall find from the whole evidence, that Mr. Todd from the year ‘46 made this District his place of residence till the time of his death & made his will, here, they may infer, that he abandoned his domicile in Va & acquired it here, and if they so find the Petrs. are entitled to their freedom.”

The hearing was to be held March 22, 1852, according to the summonses issued to James McGuire.[33] A freedom certificate was issued to Catharine and her children on April 9, 1853. Presumably Catharine’s husband Ralph was also freed, but his certificate has not been located.

The certificate provided the only description we have of Catharine’s appearance:

“… a dark mulatto woman short and well made, about thirty two years of age, five feet four and three quarter inches high, round oval face forehead high with good features, having two small scars on the back of the right hand, occasioned by her hand being, or having been broke.”[34]

 

This description, in addition to the reference to the court case that freed her, would be Catharine’s only protection if someone challenged her legal status as a free woman. We have no further information as to how Catharine’s hand was injured.

Catharine Taylor’s freedom certificate includes her children (William) Henry (age 12), Sarah Elizabeth (age 10), John (age 7), and Ellen Ann (age 5). The certificate passed through Catharine’s descendants before it was eventually given to Dumbarton House. Image courtesy of Dumbarton House/The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America, Washington, D.C.

Catharine’s Later Years

Public records provide our last glimpses of Catharine Taylor’s life. The 1860 census listed her in a household consisting of Philip Taylor (her husband Ralph Philip Taylor), and children Sarah, John, and Ellen (listed as age 17, 14, and 12). Her oldest son William Henry, by then age 19, was no longer living at home. Also living in the Taylors’ household were Ellen White and her 5-year-old daughter Gertrude.[35] Ellen White, formerly Ellen Stewart, was the daughter of Sukey, Dolley Madison’s enslaved maid. Ellen had lived in Boston after her freedom was purchased by a northern abolitionist, but later returned to Washington. The fact that she found a home with the Taylors speaks to the enduring bonds of community forged at Montpelier.

By the 1870 census, the Taylor household included Catharine (listed as “Kate”), her husband, and daughters Sarah Elizabeth (age 24) and Ellen (age given as 19, although she was more likely 22). Ellen White and daughter Gertrude now lived two households away from the Taylors.[36]

In 1872, Catharine once again pursued legal action against James McGuire, apparently attempting to claim the $200 that she was left in John Payne Todd’s will. She stated in an an affidavit that she was one of the legatees in the will and petitioned the court to have McGuire show cause for failing to file an estate inventory.[37] McGuire responded that he had not been required to do so, because Todd’s debts exceeded his assets, leaving nothing for the legatees. Although Catharine’s efforts to collect from Todd’s estate were unsuccessful, her determination to pursue legal action against the administrator of her former enslaver’s estate is impressive.[38]

The Taylors’ household had changed again by the 1880 census. The adult children now living at home were (William) Henry, a barber, and (Sarah) Elizabeth, a dressmaker. Ralph’s occupation was listed as a waiter, while “Cathrine” was listed as “Keeping house,” meaning that she was at home running her own household.[39]

Catharine wrote her will on February 21, 1889. She left her entire estate to “my beloved daughters, Sarah Elizabeth Taylor and Ellen Ann Taylor.” Catharine also requested in her will “that my daughters shall care for and provide for my husband Ralph P. Taylor, as I know it will be their pleasure so to do, so far as they are able out of the estate hereto bequeathed to them, if for any cause he should hereafter become dependent and require aid and comfort.”[40] (This may explain why Catharine did not include her sons in her will; she intended for her daughters to take care of Ralph, and was providing them the means to do so.)

Ralph, however, preceded Catharine in death, dying on January 21, 1892. Catharine died only months later, probably in late September or early October, given that her will was presented in court on October 18.

 

A Legacy of Family and Freedom

The touching words of Catharine’s will paint a picture of a tightly-knit and loving family. Except for the possible death of Benjamin, the Taylors had made it through slavery with their family intact, despite separation, injury, and threat of sale. Catharine’s strength and determination – as evidenced by her petition for freedom, as well as her later legal action against James McGuire – undoubtedly helped her family to survive, and ultimately to thrive.

References

[1] Dolley Payne Todd Madison to Mary Estelle Elizabeth Cutts, 1843, Cutts Family Collection of Papers of James and Dolley Madison, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, accessed November 3, 2020, MRD-S 28588, Montpelier Research Database.

[2] Lydia Neuroth, draft compilation on the break-up of the enslaved community, January 26, 2017, Working Notes Files, Montpelier Foundation, Orange, Virginia, MRD-S 46619; John Payne Todd to Dolley Payne Todd Madison, April 6, 1844, Papers of Dolley Madison, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, accessed November 4, 2020, MRD-S 29718, Montpelier Research Database.

[3] Peter Walker to Rebecca Walker, May 11, 1844, Papers of Dolley Madison, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, accessed November 3, 2020, MRD-S 30570, Montpelier Research Database.

[4] Eighth Census of the United States, 1st Ward Washington City, Washington D.C., 1860, United States Census, United States National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC, accessed November 23, 2020, MRD-S 45752, Montpelier Research Database.

[5] Paul Jennings to Sukey, May 13, 1844, Papers of Dolley Madison, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, accessed November 4, 2020, MRD-S 30571, Montpelier Research Database.

[6] Paul Jennings to Dolley Payne Todd Madison, August 6, 1844, Papers of Dolley Madison, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, accessed November 10, 2020, MRD-S 30628, Montpelier Research Database.

[7] Dolley Payne Todd Madison, Bond with William Madison, September 25, 1839, box 36, folder 1, Orange County: Judgments, Circuit Superior Court of Law and Chancery, 1844 May-Oct, State Records Center, Richmond, Virginia, accessed November 10, 2020, MRD-S 25345, Montpelier Research Database.

[8] Order to Take the Goods and Chattels of Dolley Payne Todd Madison, May 9, 1844, box 6, folder 1836 H-Z, Orange County: Record Series: Execution (fifas), 1829-1845, State Records Center, Richmond, Virginia, accessed November 11, 2020, MRD-S 34670, Montpelier Research Database.

[9] Sarah Stewart to Dolley Payne Todd Madison, July 5, 1844, Papers of Dolley Madison, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, accessed November 10, 2020, MRD-S 29312, Montpelier Research Database.

[10] Dolley Payne Todd Madison, Bond with John Payne Todd (Document A), June 16, 1844, box 631, folder Wall File J, Orange County Ended Chancery, 1848-1850, Orange County Courthouse, Orange, Virginia, accessed November 11, 2020, MRD-S 25441, Montpelier Research Database; Dolley Payne Todd Madison, Declaration of Certain Slaves to John Payne Todd, July 16, 1844, box 3, folder Deeds Conveying Slaves and other property from Dolley Madison to John Payne Todd, 1844 Jun 16-Jul 17 , Papers of Notable Virginia Families, MS 2988, Special Collections, University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Virginia, accessed November 11, 2020, MRD-S 27300, Montpelier Research Department.

[11] John Payne Todd, List of Slaves, [June 1844], excerpted from John Payne Todd’s Journal, The Peter Force Collection; Series 8, MS 17134, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, accessed November 11, 2020, MRD-S 29157, Montpelier Research Database.

[12] John Payne Todd, Journal and Letterbook, 1844-1847, Peter Force Papers and Collection; Series 8, MS 17137, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, accessed November 11, 2020, MRD-S 27454, Montpelier Research Database.

[13] John Payne Todd to Dolley Payne Todd Madison, October 22, 1844, with additional notes by John Payne Todd, box 2, folder May–Dec. 1844, Papers of Dolley Madison, MS 18940, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, accessed November 11, 2020, MRD-S 170, Montpelier Research Database.

[14] John Payne Todd to Dolley Payne Todd Madison, [ca. November 21, 1844], box 2, folder May–Dec 1844, Papers of Dolley Madison, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, accessed November 11, 2020, MRD-S 26424, Montpelier Research Database.

[15] Richard Dominicus Cutts to Dolley Payne Todd Madison, [November-December] 1844, box 4, folder Undated, Papers of Dolley Madison, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, accessed November 11, 2020, MRD-S 30028, Montpelier Research Database.

[16] John Payne Todd, List of Slaves, [April or May 1845], excerpted from John Payne Todd’s Journal, The Peter Force Collection; Series 8, MS 17137, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, accessed November 11, 2020, Montpelier Research Database.

[17] “Schedule,” Indenture, Dolley Payne Todd Madison to Richard D. Cutts, September 28, 1846, box 3, folder Legal Papers, 1837-1849, Papers of Notable Virginia Families, MS 2988, Special Collections, University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Virginia, accessed November 11, 2020, MRD-S 189, Montpelier Research Database.

[18] Indenture between Dolley Payne Todd Madison and Richard Dominicus Cutts, December 11, 1847, Papers of Dolley Madison, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, accessed November 11, 2020, MRD-S 29473, Montpelier Research Database.

[19] Sarah Stewart to Dolley Payne Todd Madison, April 24, 1847, Papers of Dolley Madison, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, accessed November 11, 2020, MRD-S 26445, Montpelier Research Database.

[20] [Anna Coles Payne Causten], List of Household Expenses Paid, July 17, 1849–August 8, 1849, box Madison/Payne Family, folder Payne, Annie—Accounts, Dolley Madison Collection, MS 47, Greensboro History Museum, Greensboro, North Carolina, accessed November 12, 2020, MRD-S 26076, Montpelier Research Database.

[21] “Funeral of Mrs. D. P. Madison, Relict of the Late Ex-President Madison,” The Weekly Herald (New York), July 21, 1849, 226, accessed November 17, 2020, MRD-S 248, Montpelier Research Database.

[22] [22] [Anna Coles Payne Causten], List of Household Expenses Paid, July 17, 1849–August 8, 1849, box Madison/Payne Family, folder Payne, Annie—Accounts, Dolley Madison Collection, MS 47, Greensboro History Museum, Greensboro, North Carolina, accessed November 17, 2020, MRD-S 26076, Montpelier Research Database.

[23] Anna Coles Payne Causten to Sarah Stewart, [ca. August] 1849, box 4, folder Undated, Papers of Dolley Madison, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, November 17, 2020, MRD-S 28706, Montpelier Research Database.

[24] Anna Coles Payne Causten to Sarah Stewart, August 31, 1849, Papers of Dolley Madison, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, accessed November 17, 2020, MRD-S 30815, Montpelier Research Database.

[25] William E. Kennaugh to John Payne Todd, November 3, 1849, Papers of Dolley Madison, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, accessed November 18, 2020, MRD-S 30830, Montpelier Research Database.

[26]William E. Kennaugh to John Payne Todd, March 16, 1850, box 4, folder 1850, Papers of Dolley Madison, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, November 17, 2020, MRD-S 23396, Montpelier Research Database.

[27] Ralph Taylor to John Payne Todd, April 4, 1850, box 4, folder 1850, Papers of Dolley Madison, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, November 17, 2020, MRD-S 28697, Montpelier Research Database.

[28] Mary Estelle Elizabeth Cutts Memoir II, [1849-1856], Cutts Family Collection of Papers of James and Dolley Madison, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, accessed November 23, 2020, MRD-S 23538, Montpelier Research Database; Joseph H. Bradley to John Payne Todd, April 3, 1851, Papers of Dolley Madison, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, accessed November 19, 2020, MRD-S 30889, Montpelier Research Database; Clara Wilcox Payne to John Coles Payne, February 15, 1852, private collection, accessed November 19, 2020, MRD-S 24919, Montpelier Research Database.

[29] John Payne Todd, Will dated December 31, 1851, with Certificate of Register of Will of the Orphan’s Court of Washington, DC, box 22, RG 2; Superior Court, District of Columbia Archives, Washington, DC., accessed November 18, 2020, MRD-S 24594, Montpelier Research Database.

[30] Clara Wilcox Payne to John Coles Payne, February 15, 1852, private collection, accessed November 19, 2020, MRD-S 24919, Montpelier Research Database.

[31] Petition for Freedom, November 12, 1852, box 764, folder 380-381, RG 21; Entry NC-2 6, Case Papers, 1802-1863, Civil Trials, October Term 1852, United States National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC, accessed November 19, 2020, MRD-S 24473 and 24474, Montpelier Research Database. The Taylors filed two petitions against James McGuire, one in his role as Dolley Madison’s administrator, and one in his role as John Payne Todd’s administrator.

[32] Insert A (Instructions to the Jury), December 1, 1852, box 764, folder 380-381, RG 21; Entry NC-2 6, Case Papers, 1802-1863, Civil Trials, October Term 1852, United States National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC, accessed November 23, 2020, MRD-S 24471, Montpelier Research Database.

[33] Summons for James C. McGuire, November 12, 1852, box 764, folder 380-381, RG 21; Entry NC-2 6, Case Papers, 1802-1863, Civil Trials, October Term 1852, United States National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC, accessed November 23, 2020, MRD-S 24475 and 24476, Montpelier Research Database. Separate summonses were issued to McGuire in his roles as administrator for Dolley Madison and for John Payne Todd.

[34] Certificate of Freedom for Catharine Taylor and her children Henry, Sarah Elizabeth, John and Ellen in response to their petition for Freedom, Washington, DC, April 9, 1853, Dumbarton House, MS 69.239, National Society of the Colonial Dames of America, Washington, DC, accessed November 23, 2020, MRD-S 25892, Montpelier Research Database.

[35] Eighth Census of the United States, 1st Ward Washington City, Washington D.C., 1860, United States Census, United States National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC, accessed November 23, 2020, MRD-S 45752, Montpelier Research Database.

[36] Ninth Census of the United States, Washington City, Washington D.C., 1870, United States Census, United States National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC, accessed November 23, 2020, ancestry.com.

[37] Affidavit of Catherine Taylor, December 11, 1872, box 45, RG 21; Entry 115, Probate Court: Old Series Administration Files 1801-1878, United States National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC, accessed November 23, 2020, MRD-S 23777, Montpelier Research Database.

[38] Answer of James McGuire,  January 15, 1873, box 45, RG 21; Entry 115, Probate Court: Old Series Administration Files 1801-1878, United States National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC, accessed November 23, 2020, MRD-S 24464, Montpelier Research Database.

[39] Tenth Census of the United States, Washington City, Washington D.C., 1870, United States Census, United States National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC, accessed November 23, 2020, ancestry.com.

[40] Will of Catharine Taylor, February 21, 1889, location unknown, accessed November 23, 2020, MRD-S 40467, Montpelier Research Database.

Written By

Hilarie M. Hicks, MA
Senior Research Historian

Hilarie came to Montpelier in 2010 and joined the Research Department in 2011, where she provides documentary research in support of the Montpelier Foundation’s many activities. A graduate of the College of William and Mary (B.A) and the Cooperstown Graduate Program in Museum Studies (M.A.), Hilarie has a broad background of experience in research, interpretation, and administration of historic sites. She enjoys following a good paper trail, and she thanks past members of the Montpelier research staff who blazed the trail for The Naming Project.

Join the Conversation!