Kenneth Bembry’s Very Interesting Apprentice

Latest project: browsing Leon County, Florida deeds. I am doing this both to fill out some information on William and Kenneth Bembry, and because I know that my ancestor, Thomas spent some time there.

Kenneth Bembry’s property records are complicated to say the least. This is the first time I have run into deeds that involve transactions between three people! In one case, the original owners are “not to be found” and Kenneth snapped up their land. Quite the smooth operator.

But, this deed seems pretty simple to me.

This indenture made and entered into this sixth day of December 1832 between Fanny Williams a free woman of color of the County of Leon in the Territory of Florida of the one part and Kenneth Bembry of the same county and territory of the other part witnesseth

that the said Fanny Williams mother and natural guardian of William Williams a minor aged about eight years  doth hereby bind and indebt to the said Kenneth Bembry the aforesaid William Williams to learn the art and mystery of farming and planting hereby releasing and renouncing to the said William which she the said Fanny lawfully has a right to exercise for and during the period of his minority

And the said Bembry on his part hereby agree and bind himself to teach the said William the art and mystery of planting and farming; and also to give the said William art the expiration of his apprenticeship a new set of clothes, a poney and saddle + bridle and generally to perform all the duties legally required from a master toward an apprentice

Fanny X Williams (her mark)
Kenneth Bembry

Signed sealed and delivered in the presence of
D M Raeny (clerk of the court)
James Cameron– as to farming

Kenneth Bembry, owner of a large farm with many enslaved workers, did not need more eight year old farmers on his plantation. And I am pretty sure none of his other workers got a “poney and saddle + bridle” for working in the fields!

James Cameron was likely Kenneth’s overseer, charged with teaching William how to have some kind of supervisory role on one of Kenneth’s farms in the future, probably¬† the best option available to a free man of color in the south at that time.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that William was Kenneth’s son by a Fanny Williams, a free woman of color in Tallahassee who knew how to look out for her kid. Good for her!

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