Tousey Family

The first owner of Henrietta Wood was probably Moses Tousey (1778-1834) of Boone County, Kentucky.1

Moses Tousey and his brothers, Zerah and Thomas, relocated from Greene County, New York, around 1803 or 1804, and an 1800 census record shows Moses and Thomas had no slaves in their households at that point. That census also may help corroborate Wood’s memory that the family was Jewish; the neighbors include Levi Hitchcock, Esra Jones, Ely, Phinehas Tiler, Jacob Van Soon, Abraham Snider, Benjamin Hubbard, Jacob Horn, Elijah Andres, Ezekiel Andres, though these could just be biblical names used by Connecticut Protestants. The Tousey gravestones in Kentucky do not seem to bear any Christian insignia.

For more on Tousey, see:

Zerah Tousey

In 1825, a large fire at Touseytown began “in the Horse Mill belonging to Mr. Zera Tousy, which, together with a large quantity of grain and a distillery, was totally destroyed.”2

In 1829, Zerah Tousey was named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by “Sampson, alias Thomas Record” against William Record, in which Sampson claimed that he had been kidnapped and sold into slavery from Indiana into Kentucky. For more on this case, see Sampson v. Tousey.

Zerah’s will also mentions his ownership of an enslaved man named “Thomas” who had been born in New York and was therefore supposed to be freed by the laws of the state of New York in 1833. A subsequent record in Boone County’s deed books shows that Zerah’s son and heir, Erastus, did free Thomas in 1833.

Moses Tousey

In 1820, Moses Tousey owned only three slaves: 1 male 14 through 25, 1 female 26 through 44, and 1 male 45 and over.3

By 1830, the federal census showed him with eleven slaves (2 males under 10, 2 males 24 to 35, 4 females under 10, 2 females 10 to 23, and 1 female 36 to 54).

An 1834 inventory from a will book for Moses mentions “Negro man Bill” and “negro woman Daphne” (which Wood gave as the names of her parents in the Ripley Bee), as well as “negro boy Joshua.”4 There is also a Daphne Tousey in the 1850 census in Scott County, Kentucky, which lists her as a 70-year-old black woman born in Virginia.5

Ad placed by Moses Tousey in Indiana Palladium (Lawrenceburg), November 12, 1831.

Ad placed by Moses Tousey in Indiana Palladium (Lawrenceburg), November 12, 1831.

In 1831, Moses Tousey advertised a sale of all of his property, including slaves, to take place on December 1.6 Only a few months later, Moses Tousey posts an ad that his wife Ann has abandoned him.7 A fire nearly destroyed Moses Tousey’s home in August 1833.8

The advertisement for the estate sale of Moses Tousey does not mention slaves.9

Other Touseys

Thomas Tousey was appointed a patroller of the county for one year, circa September 1808.10

In the spring of 1834, Omer Tousey had “disposed of his stock of merchandise, and come to the determination of closing his accounts, and collecting his debts.”11 This was around the time he was appointed as a bank director. George Tousey also very active in Lawrenceburg as a merchant in late 1820s and early 1830s, sometimes in partnership with Dunn.

By the 1840 census, Moses’s son Omer Tousey is living in Dearborn, Indiana, with two free people of color (including one woman 55 through 99) in his household.

The house of one of the family cousins, Erastus, became the Tousey House Tavern in Burlington, Kentucky. See also the family gravestones and a map showing possible location of Touseytown. Erastus was in Burlington by October 1831, according to “Notice,” Indiana Palladium, October 22, 1831.]

The Tousey clan was related by marriage to the Gaines family that owned Margaret Garner. Elvira Percival Tousey (1809-1884) married James M. Gaines (1793-1851), brother of Abner Gaines and John Pollard Gaines, Garner’s first owner. See weisenburger1998, 31-32.

Because Moses’s grandson, Albert Gallatin Porter, went on to become a major Indiana politician, the family is often mentioned in biographical sketches of Porter. See three examples. Porter’s parents were Moses’s daughter Myra and Captain Thomas Porter, a veteran of the War of 1812.


I looked through all of the Boone County Circuit Court civil cases involving a Tousey as plaintiff (there were none in which Touseys were defendants) between 1812 to 1840; Zerah was a plaintiff more often than Moses. Almost all contained records of lawsuits in which Touseys recovered small sums from defendants, ranging from as little as $55 to as much as $450. One case involving Erastus Tousey showed that the court executed a judgment by ordering the sheriff to expose a slave named Reuben to sale, adding that George Ross, whose estate Tousey had won a judgment against, owned “one fifth” of the title to Reuben.12

  1. His obituary is noted in Indiana Palladium, September 20, 1834: Died “At his residence in Boon county, Kentucky, on Friday, 12th inst., Mr. MOSES TOUSEY, in the 57th year of his age. Mr. T. was one of the pioneers of the west; and for about 30 years a resident of Boon county.

  2. “Fire,” Indiana Palladium, November 25, 1825, available on Hoosier State Chronicles.

  3. See census return for Burlington, Boone County.

  4. This could be the same “Bill” and “Daphne” who appear in the ledgers of the Bullittsburg Baptist Church, though I’m not certain. See also Merrill Caldwell essay on slavery in Boone County. While being hired out in Louisville, Wood also remembered being briefly reunited with her brother Joshua, who had assumed she was dead. Henrietta identified him by a scar on his chin suffered from a fall while he was a baby. She also later remembered her mother coming to visit her in the slave pen of William Pullum, “but never heard of any of the rest of the family.”

  5. The 1860 census may contain a reference to the same woman, under the name Daphney Thompson, living in Louisville with another black woman named Malinda Coleman.

  6. “Notice,” Indiana Palladium, November 12, 1831, available at Hoosier State Chronicles.

  7. “Caution,” Indiana Palladium, January 7, 1832, ad placed on December 3, 1831: “Whereas my wife, Ann, has abandoned her home and family, without just cause or provocation; this, therefore, is to forewarn all persons from crediting her on my account, as I am determined to pay no debts of her contracting after this date.”

  8. “Fire,” Indiana Palladium, August 31, 1833: “On Wednesday evening last, the dwelling house and kitchen, belonging to Mr. Moses Tousey, on the opposite side of the river, were nearly destroyed by fire. The buildings were of stone, and it is thought the walls may be repaired. The fire is supposed to have originated from a stove in the kitchen, and had progressed to the roof of the dwelling house before it was discovered. By the exertions of Mr. Tousey’s family, aided by a number of citizens from this place, the principal part of the clothing and furniture in the building was saved.”

  9. “Sale of Property,” Indiana Palladium, October 25, 1834, available on Hoosier State Chronicles.

  10. Stephen W. Worrel and Anne W. Fitzgerald, Boone County, Kentucky, County Court Orders, 1799-1815 (Falls Church, Va.: Stephen W. Worrell, 1994), 129. Annotations suggest the original record is in Book A, p. 155.

  11. “Notice,” Indiana Palladium, May 3, 1834, available on Hoosier State Chronicles.

  12. See Boone County Circuit Court Case Files, Accession No. A2000-047, Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives; examples of small sums can be found in Case 2, folder 93, and Case 3, folder 111; for the largest sums won, see Case 2, Folder 88; Case 3, Folder 100. The case involving Reuben is in Case 3, Folder 99: Tousey vs. Porter.