Monday, February 16, 2009

More on the Hill v. Thatcher case.

I've read through the case a couple times and this is what I gather happened:

Sometime in 1842, a case between Leroy Hill and Hezekiah Thatcher ended in Thatcher being awarded a $225 judgment by the court (or $450? there are two different amounts given). Hill claimed that at the time of the judgment Thatcher told Hill that he didn't have to pay the amount immediately and gave him until January 1, 1943 to pay. At that time Hill gave Thatcher a promissory note for $250 that he had not yet collected from a third party and told him that if he hadn't paid Thatcher the full amount of the judgment by January 1, 1943, Thatcher could collect on the note (from that third party) for payment of Hill's debt. However, at some point before January 14, 1943 the sheriff seized some of Hill's property for the purpose of paying the judgment (I can't tell if this was at Thatcher's request or what). Hill then became worried that if his land was sold and the judgment paid to Thatcher by those means, Thatcher would still cash in the promissory note rather than returning it to Hill. (Mr. Hill! How dare you question my ancestor's integrity!) This case was to settle this question and ease Hill's mind. Lincoln was the lawyer hired by Hill.

Another interesting thing I dug up: just nine days before this case was filed Joseph Smith had been brought to that same court house (Sangamon District Circuit Court in Springfield) for a trial to determine if he should be shipped back to Missouri to face charges of murder conspiracy for the attempted assassination of Governor Boggs. Hezekiah was not yet a Mormon in January 1843, but was baptized later that year, in December. Everyone in Illinois knew about Mormons, but wouldn't it be interesting to know what, if any, role the Smith trial in Springfield had in exposing Hezekiah and his family to the details of Mormonism? Warming them up to conversion? I wonder if he saw Joseph Smith in Springfield during that time, or even was present for the trial? (We know that Mary Todd Lincoln was present at the trial; it was a big news story in Springfield.) In the complaint drawn up by Lincoln on January 14, 1943 Leroy Hill said that part of the reason for his anxiousness about settling accounts with Hezekiah was that he thought Hezekiah was thinking of leaving the state. Why would he think that? Was Hezekiah already showing LDS sympathies and therefore assumed to be westward-bound? Hmmmmm.......

Anyway, I did my best to transcribe that first document in the case file, the only one that is in Lincoln's handwriting (just the first two and a half pages are in his writing). I may transcribe the other documents in the file if family members express an interest.

To the Honorable the Judge of the Sangamon Circuit court in chancery sitting--

Humbly complaining showeth unto your Honor your orator Leroy L. Hill that some time previous to the month of November last one Hezekiah Thatcher obtained three judgements against your orator before Thomas Moffett one of the Justices of the Peace for said county amounting together including cost to about two hundred and twentyfive dollars; that executions issued on said judgements, when in the month of November aforesaid, it was agreed by and between said Thatcher and your orator that said executions should be staid until the first day of January then next, being the now present month, in consideration of which your orator placed in said Thatcher’s hands a certain promissory note for something more than two hundred and fifty dollars principal and interest thereon accrued, which note was executed by James R. Gray payable to your orator, and assigned by your orator to Robert McCondy, and by McCondy to said Thatcher -- The note at the time it was so passed to said Thatcher was the property of your orator and was delivered to him on the express condition that he was to collect the amount of it if he could do so before the said first of January, and apply sufficient of it to the discharge of said judgements and cost and pay the overplus to your orator; but if he could not so collect it before said first of January, he was to return the note to your orator, and to have his execution in force against your orator’s property. Whether said Thatcher as collected said note your orator does not know, but he supposes he has not -- Your orator further states that said Thatcher has procured his said executions to be levied on your orator’s property by one one James ?Newby a constable of said county who has the said ??? to be sold on Monday the sixteenth instant, and that your orator has, since said levy and advertisement, demanded said note of said Thatcher, but that said Thatcher refuses to deliver the same up to him -- Your orator further states that said Thatcher as no real estate, as your orator believes, in this state, and that your orator is informed and believes said Thatcher contemplates removing from the state -- Your orator therefore fears that said judgements by execution as foresaid, and at the same time, either collect said note, or sell and transfer it, so that your orator will be defrauded out of said note entirely -- Your orator therefore prays that said Thatcher and Gray be made defendants to this Bill; that the People’s ?court of ?Subpoena issue for them that they answer etc, and that the said Thatcher, Moffett, and Neale be enjoined and restrained from further proceeding towards the collection of said executions; that said Thatcher be enjoined and restrained from selling, assigning, or otherwise transferring said note and that said Gray be enjoined, and restrained from paying said note to any person other than said Thatcher or your orator until the further order of this court -- and that your Honor will grant such other and further relief as equity may require, and as is in duty bound etc.

Leroy L. Hill

Sworn and subscribed before me this 14th day of January 1843

Samuel H. Treat Judge ??

The clerk of the Sangamon Circuit Court will ?upon the complainant Hill entering into hand, with Robert McCondy as ?recently in the penalty of $450 payable to the said Hezekiah Thatcher and conditioned as the law directs, will issue an issue an injunction as prayed for in the forgoing bill of complaint.

January 14th 1843
Samuel H. Treat
Judge ???

The preceding posting is supplemental to a related posting at my other blog.

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