Throwback Thursday by Matson Insurance: Leah’s Indenture in Young Township

Matson Insurance has partnered with Jefferson County History Center to offer readers a look into Jefferson County’s past. Today, Leah Drummond is highlighted.

[The indenture of Leah Drummond may be found on the panel outside the log house at the Jefferson County History Center. Leah arrived in Punxsutawney sometime before Brookville was named the county seat.(Courtesy JCHS)]

(Submitted by Carole Briggs, Jefferson County Historical Society.)


A document that has always intrigued me is the indenture of Leah Drummond. She lived in Philadelphia and in 1827 was indentured to James Carmalt. In exchange for room and board and the learning of a skill, an indentured young person worked for someone for a predetermined number of years. In Leah’s case, she was indentured for ten years and would learn housekeeping skills.

However, James turned around and transferred Leah’s indenture to his brother Isaac who lived in Young Township. Leah signed the transfer with an X and found her way west, probably traveling with the Carmalts.

When the historical society received Leah’s indenture we searched census records to learn what happened to her. Those early searches turned up nothing. Isaac Carmalt himself could not be found, so we sent the indenture to the archives and moved on to other things.

Well, as serendipity would have it, we were off on another tack looking for information about our African-American population when whom did we find in the 1840 Young Township census but Isaac Carmalt. Along with his wife and children, a young colored woman between the ages of 10 and 24 is listed. Wives and children are not listed by name in the 1840 census, neither are people of color. But simple addition makes it possible to draw the conclusion that this young woman is indeed Leah Drummond.

In the Carmalt household, Leah learned the “mystery of House-keeping,” and was provided with “sufficient meat, drink, clothing, lodging, and washing.” Her master taught her to read and write, and when finally free he was required to give her “a complete suit of clothing.” Evidently, Leah stayed on in the Carmalt household after her indenture was completed for there she is in the 1840 census record, but at some point, during the next decade, she left. By 1850 there is no trace of Leah Drummond―no female in her mid-thirties named Leah is to be found. Leah Drummond was free at last. But then again, Leah was lost several years ago, too, and she was found in 1840 in Young Township! Who knows where or when she will pop up next?

[email protected] County Historical Society, Inc.

Throwback Thursday is brought to you by Matson Insurance in Brookville.

Submitted by the Jefferson County History Center.

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