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Introduction to State of Illinois v. C. L. Higbee

State of Illinois v. C. L. Higbee
Hancock Co., Illinois, Justice of the Peace Court, 24 May 1842
Hancock Co., Illinois, Circuit Court, circa September 1842
 
Historical Introduction
On 24 May 1842, JS filed a complaint before , a justice of the peace in , Illinois, accusing of and defaming his character, as well as that of his wife . Earlier that month, had been excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints due to sexual misconduct, including allegedly seducing women in by telling them that JS and other church leaders condoned and practiced “promiscous intercourse between the sexes.” Along with Bennett’s own misconduct, he had also apparently been the source of “evil reports” and accusations concerning JS. These included rumors that JS was involved in sexual misconduct—allegations likely arising from JS’s practice of plural marriage. In the latter part of May, the Nauvoo began investigating men who had followed Bennett’s practice of seducing women in Nauvoo, ultimately bringing several men to trial for “unchaste and unvirtuous conduct.” Among these men was Higbee, who was tried on 20 May. Sarah Miller, Margaret Nyman, and Matilda Nyman testified that Higbee had persuaded them to have extramarital sexual relations with him by giving assurances that JS and other church leaders sanctioned it.
The next day, Margaret and Matilda Nyman swore out affidavits concerning ’s conduct; Miller gave her affidavit on the same subject three days later. These affidavits, along with the women’s testimonies before the , formed the basis of JS’s complaint, which claimed that Higbee had “slandered and defamed character of the said Joseph Smith, and also the character of , his wife.” The complaint accused Higbee of using “their names, the more readily to accomplish his purpose in seducing certain females.” JS’s inclusion of Emma Smith, who had not been mentioned by name in the high council proceedings, suggests that she may have been involved in his decision to file the complaint. Although had a statute that permitted citizens to bring civil action for slander in response to accusations relating to sexual matters, treated JS’s complaint as a criminal matter and issued a warrant for Higbee’s arrest.
A city constable arrested and brought him before . At JS’s request, , Miller, and the Nyman sisters were subpoenaed to testify against Higbee. Robinson, who was authorized as justice of the peace to hold preliminary hearings for criminal matters, found sufficient evidence in the witness testimonies to bind Higbee over to appear at the next term of the Circuit Court. Robinson certified a copy of his docket entry for the case on 1 September 1842, and it was filed with the circuit court in anticipation of the trial. The circuit court clerk subpoenaed the Nyman sisters, Miller, and McRae to appear before the court on 3 October 1842. The clerk also subpoenaed , , Emeline White, Amanda Gee, and Melissa Schindle to testify in Higbee’s defense. Although at least some of the subpoenas were served on the witnesses, for unknown reasons the circuit court evidently took no further action on the case.
 
Calendar of Documents
This calendar lists all known documents created by or for the court, whether extant or not. It does not include versions of documents created for other purposes, though those versions may be listed in footnotes. In certain cases, especially in cases concerning unpaid debts, the originating document (promissory note, invoice, etc.) is listed here. Note that documents in the calendar are grouped with their originating court. Where a version of a document was subsequently filed with another court, that version is listed under both courts.
State of Illinois v. C. L. Higbee
Hancock Co., Illinois, Justice of the Peace Court, 24 May 1842
Hancock Co., Illinois, Circuit Court, circa September 1842
 
Historical Introduction
On 24 May 1842, JS filed a complaint before , a justice of the peace in , Illinois, accusing of and defaming his character, as well as that of his wife . Earlier that month, had been excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints due to sexual misconduct, including allegedly seducing women in by telling them that JS and other church leaders condoned and practiced “promiscous intercourse between the sexes.” Along with Bennett’s own misconduct, he had also apparently been the source of “evil reports” and accusations concerning JS. These included rumors that JS was involved in sexual misconduct—allegations likely arising from JS’s practice of plural marriage. In the latter part of May, the Nauvoo began investigating men who had followed Bennett’s practice of seducing women in Nauvoo, ultimately bringing several men to trial for “unchaste and unvirtuous conduct.” Among these men was Higbee, who was tried on 20 May. Sarah Miller, Margaret Nyman, and Matilda Nyman testified that Higbee had persuaded them to have extramarital sexual relations with him by giving assurances that JS and other church leaders sanctioned it.
The next day, Margaret and Matilda Nyman swore out affidavits concerning ’s conduct; Miller gave her affidavit on the same subject three days later. These affidavits, along with the women’s testimonies before the , formed the basis of JS’s complaint, which claimed that Higbee had “slandered and defamed character of the said Joseph Smith, and also the character of , his wife.” The complaint accused Higbee of using “their names, the more readily to accomplish his purpose in seducing certain females.” JS’s inclusion of Emma Smith, who had not been mentioned by name in the high council proceedings, suggests that she may have been involved in his decision to file the complaint. Although had a statute that permitted citizens to bring civil action for slander in response to accusations relating to sexual matters, treated JS’s complaint as a criminal matter and issued a warrant for Higbee’s arrest.
A city constable arrested and brought him before . At JS’s request, , Miller, and the Nyman sisters were subpoenaed to testify against Higbee. Robinson, who was authorized as justice of the peace to hold preliminary hearings for criminal matters, found sufficient evidence in the witness testimonies to bind Higbee over to appear at the next term of the Circuit Court. Robinson certified a copy of his docket entry for the case on 1 September 1842, and it was filed with the circuit court in anticipation of the trial. The circuit court clerk subpoenaed the Nyman sisters, Miller, and McRae to appear before the court on 3 October 1842. The clerk also subpoenaed , , Emeline White, Amanda Gee, and Melissa Schindle to testify in Higbee’s defense. Although at least some of the subpoenas were served on the witnesses, for unknown reasons the circuit court evidently took no further action on the case.
 
Calendar of Documents
This calendar lists all known documents created by or for the court, whether extant or not. It does not include versions of documents created for other purposes, though those versions may be listed in footnotes. In certain cases, especially in cases concerning unpaid debts, the originating document (promissory note, invoice, etc.) is listed here. Note that documents in the calendar are grouped with their originating court. Where a version of a document was subsequently filed with another court, that version is listed under both courts.
 
Nauvoo, Hancock Co., Illinois, Justice of the Peace Court
  • 1842 (5)
    • May (5)
      24 May 1842

      JS, Complaint, before Ebenezer Robinson, Nauvoo, Hancock Co., IL

      24 May 1842

      Ebenezer Robinson, Warrant, Nauvoo, Hancock Co., IL, to IL Sheriffs, Coroners, and Constables, for Chauncey L. Higbee

      • 24 May 1842; Hancock Co., IL, Circuit Court Legal Documents, 1839–1860, BYU; handwriting of Ebenezer Robinson; docket in handwriting of Ebenezer Robinson; notations in handwriting of Lewis Robison; notation in handwriting of Jacob Davis.
      24 May 1842

      Ebenezer Robinson, Subpoena, for Margaret Nyman and Others, Nauvoo, Hancock Co., IL

      • 24 May 1842; location unknown; photocopy in possession of Richard and Pamela Price; printed form with manuscript additions in handwriting of Ebenezer Robinson; docket and notation in handwriting of Ebenezer Robinson; notation possibly in handwriting of Ebenezer Robinson; notation in handwriting of Lewis Robison.
      24 May 1842

      Chauncey L. Higbee and Francis M. Higbee, Recognizance, Nauvoo, Hancock Co., IL, to the People of IL

      • 24 May 1842; Hancock Co., IL, Circuit Court Legal Documents, 1839–1860, BYU; handwriting of Ebenezer Robinson; signatures of Chauncey L. Higbee and Francis M. Higbee; certification in handwriting of Ebenezer Robinson; docket in handwriting of Ebenezer Robinson; notation in handwriting of Jacob Davis.
      Ca. 24 May 1842

      Docket Entry, Nauvoo, Hancock Co., IL

      • Ca. 24 May 1842; Robinson and Johnson, Docket Book, 117, Collection of Manuscripts about Mormons, 1832–1954, Chicago History Museum; handwriting of Ebenezer Robinson; notation in handwriting of Ebenezer Robinson.
      • 1 Sept. 1842; Hancock Co., IL, Circuit Court Legal Documents, 1839–1860, BYU; handwriting of Ebenezer Robinson; certification in handwriting of Ebenezer Robinson; docket and notation in handwriting of Jacob Davis.
 
Hancock Co., Illinois, Circuit Court
  • 1842 (3)
    • May (1)
      Ca. 24 May 1842

      Docket Entry, Copy, Nauvoo, Hancock Co., IL

      • 1 Sept. 1842; Hancock Co., IL, Circuit Court Legal Documents, 1839–1860, BYU; handwriting of Ebenezer Robinson; certification in handwriting of Ebenezer Robinson; docket and notation in handwriting of Jacob Davis.
    • September (2)
      14 September 1842

      M. Avise on behalf of Jacob Davis, Subpoena, to Hancock Co. Sheriff, for Margaret Nyman and Others, Carthage, Hancock Co., IL

      • 14 Sept. 1842; location unknown; photocopy in possession of Richard and Pamela Price; printed form with manuscript additions in handwriting of M. Avise; docket printed with manuscript additions in handwriting of M. Avise; notations printed with manuscript additions presumably in handwriting of Henry Marks.
      19 September 1842

      M. Avise on behalf of Jacob Davis, Subpoena, to Hancock Co. Sheriff, for Nancy Rigdon and Others, Carthage Hancock Co., IL

      • 19 Sept. 1842; location unknown; photocopy in possession of Richard and Pamela Price; printed form with manuscript additions in handwriting of M. Avise; docket printed with manuscript additions in handwriting of M. Avise.