Document Turned In

By: Jason Davis
By: Jason Davis

Kids seem to find a way to get into mischief. It's been that way for centuries, but the youthful prank of a Marianna man some 70 years ago may have preserved a priceless piece of local history.

One summer back in the 1940's, Wesley Mayhall and a childhood buddy were exploring an old house on Market Street in Marianna. They heard adults approaching and ran away, but not before Mayhall picked up a piece of paper.

Wesley Mayhall says, "I put in my pocket and didn't read it for two or three days. Didn't know what it was, but when I did read it, I put it with some papers that I wanted to keep."

Mayhall was just a boy when he took the piece of paper. He would later go on to learn its historical value. The document was dated 1841. It was a hand written bill of sale for a slave name Mary.

The woman was sold for the price of $350. The buyer was a Marianna businessman who owned a total of 29 slaves.

It's nearly 70 years since Mayhall grabbed that piece of paper. He can't return it to the original owner because the man died and can't track the relatives, so he's putting the paper in the hands of the Chipola Historical Trust.

"I'm still a young fellow. I'm only 83 years old and when I'm gone, I don't know who will do it. I think the safest place it will be if it's owned by the Historical Society."

Members of the Chipola Historical Trust say it's a matter of preserving a history that we all can learn from.

Clayude Reese of the Chipola Historical Trust says, "Slavery was still in existence and people were bought and sold like this, so we can know that's a period of the past that's gone and it has not disappeared all over the world yet, but we hope it will."

In the meantime, Mayhall, who once practiced law in Jackson County, is hoping the statute of limitations has run out on his boyhood indiscretion.

Mayhall says it's a miracle that he still has the document. It's been with him through college, the military, and now back to Marianna where he resides.


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