On the night of April 1, 1843, Issey Calhoun had just entered William, the son of John C. and Floride Calhoun, upstairs bedroom. It was her task to warm his bed, using hot coals.
She did this- and much more. As she warmed his bed, it caught his feather pillow on fire. If she would have succeeded, she could have possibly burned down the fourteen-room mansion and killed its residents. However, The smell of burning feathers alerted the Calhoun family that something in the home was on fire.
Issey claimed that she didn't mean to start the fire, but with her brother Swaney Jr having been sold away a few years prior for trying to burn the overseer's tent down- her story wasn't believed.
Arson crimes were seen as a direct offense to the institution of slavery and offenders were usually punished by death by hanging.
However- Issey had gained favor in the household and wasn't hanged. Instead she, like her brother Swaney Jr, was sold away to Andrew Pickens plantation down in Alabama called Canebreak.
More information is still being recovered about Issey, but her act of rebellion made an impression on those around her. Her story shows that the institution of slavery wasn't popular with many people, but especially the enslaved.