200-year-old documents found in Knox County

Some of the documents are related to the Polly Strong slavery case.

Posted: Oct 28, 2019 6:00 PM

KNOX COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) - For months the Knox County clerk's office has been hard at work organizing court documents. All told over 120 thousand pounds of documents have been accounted for.

Knox County clerk David Shelton says, "I came across a stash of about thirty court record documents that were a lot older than what I had been finding. They were located in a box underneath obsolete computer software, some city directories."

The beaten-up box held documents from the early 1800s. When Indiana was still a territory.

Shelton says, "The earliest document I found is a court order from Knox County establishing official ferry rates for passage and transportation across the area rivers."

Most of the documents found were simply pieces of Knox County history. Some of that paperwork, however, had a much bigger role to play in Indiana's history.

Shelton says, "Low and behold we came across several documents relating to the Polly Strong case."

Polly Strong was born into slavery in 1796. Indiana was formed in 1816 as a free state. However, the road to freedom was not easy for strong.

Shelton says, "This is the actual contract for indentured servitude that was made out for Polly after she was abducted and taken to Illinois."

Not being able to read or write, Strongs's "x" can be seen as her signature.

Strong took her case to the Indiana supreme court. The case led to freedom for her and all slaves across the Hoosier state.

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