Celia, A Slave, Trial (1855): Trial Testimony of William Powell

Callaway County Courthouse in Fulton, Missouri

Direct examination

I was at Newsom’s house the day the bones were found. I found the bones not far from the cabin. I did not see any bones found anywhere else. The bones were found in the ashes. I think these are the bones found. I saw three or four persons picking up the bones. I did not see any bones got from inside the cabin. I was there the fourth Sunday in June. Celia was at the house. Robert Newsom lived in this county. I found the buttons where Celia said she had hid them.

Cross-examination by the defense

I was at Newsom’s about 10 o’clock in the morning after he was missing.  I did not examine the room he slept in. Don’t recollect of having noticed the bed. I had been there sometime. I went to the cook house where Celia was. I told her that she knew where her master was, that George had said enough to make me believe she knew where he was. She denied it. She said she knew nothing about him. I told her that it would be better for her to tell - that her children would not be taken away from her if she would tell, and that I had rope fashioned for her if she would not tell. She still refused to make any confession. At last she said that he had come to the back window of her house and that she had struck him, and he fell back on the outside, and that she saw nothing more of him. Refused for some time to tell anything more, but said at length that if I would send the two men out of the room, she would tell me. They went out. She said he came into the house - think she said he came to the door. I was talking to her when she said she struck him twice. She became alarmed. Said she became afraid she would be hung for it. She thought she would try to burn him. She got a stick of wood and laid it in the fire. She got some stones for hogs heads near the cabin. She said it was bedtime, or about 10 o’clock when he came down to her house. She said she had made threats. Said she’d threatened him that she would hurt him on the condition that he would not leave her alone. Threatened to hurt him, not kill him. She said she wanted to hurt him, not to kill him. I asked her if she had told anyone she would hurt him, said she had told the white family. She said that she had threatened that she would hurt him if he did not quit forcing her while she was sick. I do not know what her condition was as to her health - had heard she was sick. Do not know that she was pregnant, judge from her appearance that she was. Said that she did not want to kill him, struck him but did not want to kill.