Jane Elkins, a Black Enslaved woman and mother, was the first recorded Bill of sale in Dallas county on August 9, 1846.
“The first bill of sale recorded in the (Dallas) county, August 9th, 1846, was from Edward Welborn to Young, and is as follows:
I have this day sold to John Young, a negro woman named Jane, and child, aged about twenty years, which said negro I warrant to be sound both in body and mind, AND A SLAVE FOR LIFE. The said John Young, in consideration of said property, has this day paid to me the sum $400. I bind myself to warrant and defend the title of said negro unto said Young, his heirs and assigns FOREVER.
Given under my hand this 17th of March 1844.” – History of Dallas County, John Cochran
According to John Cochran, Jane lived near modern-day Northwest Highway and Lemmon Ave. She also was the first woman legally executed in Texas when she was hung in front of Dallas county courthouse on May 27, 1853.
Jane “killed the man she had been hired out to, Andrew Wisdom, with an ax blow to his head, after he raped her.” (The Oxford Handbook of American Women’s and Gender History)
In John Cochran’s history of Dallas County, he recounts the identities of prosecutor and judge, but Jane was not given a defense attorney. She appeared before a jury of all white men. (“Women and the Creation of Urban Life: Dallas, Texas, 1843-1920” by Elizabeth York Enstam)
“Several hundred people came to watch her hang from the gallows for her crime.” (The Oxford Handbook of American Women’s and Gender History)
According to scholar Daina Ramey Berry, Jane’s remains were dug out of her shallow grave by Dallas medical doctors to be used for medical research.
Berry told Dallas Morning News that Jane is a “a major figure in Texas history, not just Dallas history.” She was someone who was “demanding justice for an injustice committed against her, which is something women are still saying today.”