Introduction to Clayton v. E. W. Rhodes et al.

Document Transcript

Clayton v. E. W. Rhodes, O. Rhodes, Alonzo Rhodes, Alvin Rhodes, W. Rhodes, R. Rhodes, Helen Rhodes, JS, and Hugh Rhodes, Administrator of the Estate of E. Rhodes
Hancock Co., Illinois, Circuit Court, in , 21 October 1843
 
Historical Introduction
In fall 1843, , apparently acting on JS’s instructions, sued JS as well as the family and estate of Erie Rhodes in the circuit court of , Illinois, to secure the title to . Two years earlier, in September 1841, Rhodes had sold JS 153½ acres of land about three miles east of , Illinois, for $1,535 and signed a bond promising to provide JS with a property deed when he completed his payments. This property ultimately became JS’s personal farm. Rhodes died on 17 October 1841, one month after JS’s purchase. JS continued to make regular property payments to Rhodes’s estate and satisfied the debt in April 1842. However, neither Rhodes nor his estate had completed payments on the land, meaning the estate did not yet own the land and was unable to transfer the title to JS. Sometime in early April 1842, shortly after he finished paying for the land, JS signed an assignment that transferred the property to himself as trustee-in-trust for the church. Although signed in 1842, the transfer was dated October 1841.
In October 1842, Rhodes’s widow, Eunice Wright Rhodes, petitioned the Circuit Court, in , for her dower rights to her husband’s property, including the land he had sold to JS. The following spring, a court-appointed commission set apart a third of Erie Rhodes’s property as Eunice Rhodes’s dower right, and the court approved the arrangement on 27 May 1843. Although the property assigned to Eunice Rhodes did not include , the mention of JS’s property in her petition apparently led JS to make additional efforts to secure the title to his land. On 1 June 1843, JS signed a second assignment, which transferred the property from him as the church’s trustee-in-trust to . Like the earlier assignment, the to Clayton was dated October 1841. Although JS’s conveyance stated that Clayton paid $1,500 for the property, it is unknown whether any money changed hands. However, Clayton apparently held the property as an agent on JS’s behalf rather than acquiring it as his personal property. Clayton regularly conducted financial business as an agent for JS, typically doing so in JS’s name but not usually holding property on his behalf. As the fall 1843 court proceedings were ongoing, however, JS instructed Clayton to purchase additional property from the Rhodes estate on his behalf.
In late July 1843, and his attorneys, and , prepared a bill of complaint for the circuit court to settle the transaction in chancery. Clayton’s bill requested that the court deny Eunice Rhodes’s dower rights for the property that was sold to JS and require the Rhodes estate to provide Clayton with a deed to the land he had purchased from JS. To ensure that all claims were resolved, Clayton named Eunice Rhodes, her children, the Erie Rhodes estate, and JS as defendants in the bill, even though Clayton was apparently acting on JS’s behalf to resolve the matter. On 1 August 1843, the court summoned the defendants, including JS, to appear during its October term and answer Clayton’s bill.
Sometime between 29 September and 4 October, JS prepared his answer to ’s bill for the court. In the answer, JS acknowledged all of the facts in the case, namely that Erie Rhodes executed the bond in his lifetime, that JS paid off the debt, and that the “several endorsements and assignments” inscribed on the bond were correct. , acting as a city alderman pro tempore, certified and signed the answer. The circuit court received JS’s answer on 12 October 1843. Hugh Rhodes—the administrator of Erie Rhodes’s estate—and John W. Marsh—the guardian of Erie Rhodes’s minor children—also provided answers to the court in October 1843 that validated the claims of Clayton’s petition. Eunice Rhodes and her adult son, Orrin Rhodes, never responded to the summons.
On 21 October 1843, the circuit court granted ’s petition, barring Eunice Rhodes’s dower rights to the property and ordering Erie Rhodes’s estate to give Clayton a deed to the land within sixty days. On 20 November 1843, Hugh Rhodes signed a provisional deed that legally promised to transfer the property to Clayton once the estate fully paid off its debt on the land. Sometime between 28 August and 25 November 1843, Clayton transferred the property to the children of JS and .
 
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.

Footnotes

  1. 1

    Bond from Erie Rhodes, 16 Sept. 1841.  

  2. 2

    Hancock Co., IL, Probate Records, 1831–1912, Wills and Testaments, 1833–1843, pp. 302–303, microfilm 959,566, item 1, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL.  

    U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.

  3. 3

    Bond from Erie Rhodes, 16 Sept. 1841.  

  4. 4

    Rhodes bought the property in 1840 from James M. Duncan. However, as of 1842, Rhodes and his estate had yet to make a single payment on the property. (“A Full and Perfect Inventory of the Lands Claimed by the Estate of Erie Rhodes,” 1 Jan. 1842, Hancock Co., IL, Probate Records, ca. 1831–1942, box 10, microfilm 1,491,980, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL.)  

    U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.

  5. 5

    Assignment to JS as Trustee-in-Trust, between 2 and 18 Apr. 1842. Although the conveyance, which was written on the back of the original bond, was dated 10 October 1841, the text was inserted in the space between the contemporaneous docket and a 2 April 1842 notation stating that the bond was paid in full. The end of the inserted conveyance text wraps around the notation text. The conveyance was included with the bond when it was copied into the official Hancock County Bonds and Mortgages record book on 18 April 1842. This indicates that the conveyance was created sometime between 2 and 18 April 1842. This timing suggests that the conveyance was likely intended to protect the property from creditors in connection with JS’s petition for bankruptcy, which was created during the same two-week window. Conveying property to dependents or trusts was a common means of shielding property in bankruptcy proceedings that followed the Bankruptcy Act of 1841. (Bond from Erie Rhodes, 16 Sept. 1841; Bond from Erie Rhodes, 16 Sept. 1841, as Recorded in Bonds and Mortgages; Application for Bankruptcy, ca. 14–16 Apr. 1842, in JSP, D9:360–372; Balleisen, Navigating Failure, 94–96.)  

    JSP, D9 / Smith, Alex D., Christian K. Heimburger, and Christopher James Blythe, eds. Documents, Volume 9: December 1841–April 1842. Vol. 9 of the Documents series of The Joseph Smith Papers, edited by Matthew C. Godfrey, R. Eric Smith, Matthew J. Grow, and Ronald K. Esplin. Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2019.

    Balleisen, Edward J. Navigating Failure: Bankruptcy and Commercial Society in Antebellum America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001.

  6. 6

    Hancock Co., IL, Chancery Court Records, 1838–1924, vol. B, pp. 144–148, 15 Oct. 1842; pp. 334–336, 27 May 1843, microfilm 955,133, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; see also An Act for the Speedy Assignment of the Dower, and Partition of Real Estate [6 Feb. 1827], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois [1839], 252–256.  

    U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.

    The Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois: Containing All the Laws . . . Passed by the Ninth General Assembly, at Their First Session, Commencing December 1, 1834, and Ending February 13, 1835; and at Their Second Session, Commencing December 7, 1835, and Ending January 18, 1836; and Those Passed by the Tenth General Assembly, at Their Session Commencing December 5, 1836, and Ending March 6, 1837; and at Their Special Session, Commencing July 10, and Ending July 22, 1837. . . . Compiled by Jonathan Young Scammon. Chicago: Stephen F. Gale, 1839.

  7. 7

    Assignment to William Clayton, 1 June 1843; Bond from Erie Rhodes, 16 Sept. 1841.  

  8. 8

    Bond from Erie Rhodes, 16 Sept. 1841.  

  9. 9

    See, for example, Historical Introduction to Land Transaction with Chauncey Robison, 22 Oct. 1842, in JSP, D11:182–183.  

    JSP, D11 / McBride, Spencer W., Jeffrey D. Mahas, Brett D. Dowdle, and Tyson Reeder, eds. Documents, Volume 11: September 1842–February 1843. Vol. 11 of the Documents series of The Joseph Smith Papers, edited by Matthew C. Godfrey, R. Eric Smith, Matthew J. Grow, and Ronald K. Esplin. Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2020.

  10. 10

    Clayton, Journal, 10 and 12 Oct. 1843; Hugh Rhodes to William Clayton, Deed, Hancock Co., IL, 12 Oct. 1843, Hancock Co., IL, Deed Records, 1817–1917, vol. M, pp. 83–85, microfilm 954,600, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; Promissory Note to Hugh Rhodes, 12 Oct. 1843.  

    Clayton, William. Journals, 1842–1845. CHL.

    U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.

  11. 11

    Bill in Chancery, ca. 31 July 1843 [Clayton v. E. W. Rhodes et al.]. Illinois law permitted a complainant to file a bill laying out the complaint, after which the court would issue summonses naming defendants who were to appear in court to answer the bill. (An Act Prescribing the Mode of Proceeding in Chancery [13 Feb. 1833], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois [1839], p. 139, secs. 2–3.)  

    The Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois: Containing All the Laws . . . Passed by the Ninth General Assembly, at Their First Session, Commencing December 1, 1834, and Ending February 13, 1835; and at Their Second Session, Commencing December 7, 1835, and Ending January 18, 1836; and Those Passed by the Tenth General Assembly, at Their Session Commencing December 5, 1836, and Ending March 6, 1837; and at Their Special Session, Commencing July 10, and Ending July 22, 1837. . . . Compiled by Jonathan Young Scammon. Chicago: Stephen F. Gale, 1839.

  12. 12

    Bill in Chancery, ca. 31 July 1843 [Clayton v. E. W. Rhodes et al.]; Praecipe, 25 July 1843 [Clayton v. E. W. Rhodes et al.].  

  13. 13

    Summons, 1 Aug. 1843–A [Clayton v. E. W. Rhodes et al.]; Summons, 1 Aug. 1843–B [Clayton v. E. W. Rhodes et al.].  

  14. 14

    Answer, between 29 Sept. and 4 Oct. 1843 [Clayton v. E. W. Rhodes et al.]. Although the answer is dated 29 September 1843, JS’s journal states that on the morning of 4 October, he “was sworn before alderman Phelp [William W. Phelps] at the Mansion to an affidavit” regarding Clayton’s suit. It is possible that the answer was originally drafted and dated on 29 September by one of JS’s clerks, but Phelps did not have JS swear to it until 4 October and did not change the date. It is also possible that, for an unknown reason, the document was created and certified on 4 October but backdated to 29 September. (JS, Journal, 4 Oct. 1843.)  

  15. 15

    Answer, between 29 Sept. and 4 Oct. 1843 [Clayton v. E. W. Rhodes et al.].  

  16. 16

    Answer, 11 Oct. 1843 [Clayton v. E. W. Rhodes et al.]; Answer, 17 Oct. 1843 [Clayton v. E. W. Rhodes et al.].  

  17. 17

    Decree, 21 Oct. 1843 [Clayton v. E. W. Rhodes et al.].  

  18. 18

    Decree, 21 Oct. 1843 [Clayton v. E. W. Rhodes et al.].  

  19. 19

    Hugh Rhodes to William Clayton, Deed, Knox Co., IL, 20 Nov. 1843, Hancock Co., IL, Deed Records, 1817–1917, vol. M, pp. 80–82, microfilm 954,600, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL. According to probate records, Erie Rhodes’s estate was still making payments on the properties sold to JS as late as 1845. ([Hugh Rhodes], “This Accountant Claims the Following Credits for Disbursments since Dec 4th 1843,” 3 May 1845; Hugh Rhodes, “This Accountant Claims the Following Credits for Disbursments,” 11 Feb. 1846, Hancock Co., IL, Probate Records, ca. 1831–1942, box 10, microfilm 1,491,980, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL.)  

    U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.

  20. 20

    Although dated 28 August 1843, the deed was not signed and certified until 25 November, suggesting that it was possibly drafted as early as 28 August but not formalized until 25 November—after Clayton received a provisional deed for the land from the Rhodes estate. Clayton had earlier given Emma Smith a deed to the property in JS’s presence on 1 August 1843, but this deed was never recorded and was apparently nullified. (William Clayton to Julia M. Smith et al., Deed, Hancock Co., IL, 28 Aug. 1843, Hancock Co., IL, Deed Records, 1817–1917, vol. M, pp. 82–83, microfilm 954,600, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; Clayton, Journal, 1 Aug. 1843.)  

    U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.

    Clayton, William. Journals, 1842–1845. CHL.