Introduction to Miller et al. v. B. Holladay and W. Holladay

Document Transcript

Miller, Haws, JS, and H. Smith v. B. Holladay and W. Holladay
Hancock Co., Illinois, Circuit Court, 7 May 1841
 
Historical Introduction
In November 1840, , , JS, and initiated a civil suit against Benjamin and William Holladay, seeking $2,000 in compensation for damage to the steamboat Nauvoo. In the late 1830s, the government had purchased the steamboat Des Moines as part of operations led by Lieutenant Robert E. Lee to improve navigation and travel conditions by blasting and removing rock on narrow portions of the , beginning at the Des Moines rapids. After the federal government ordered the project to be discontinued in 1840, Lee sold the Des Moines at auction on 10 September 1840. JS, Hyrum Smith, Haws, George Miller, and purchased the steamboat by promissory note for $4,866.38, payable in eight months, and renamed it the Nauvoo. The Holladays were hired to pilot the boat, but due to alleged “unskilfullness and willfull mismanagement” as well as reckless piloting, they damaged it by running into a sandbar, causing several timbers in the hull to split and crack. At the time, the boat, which was en route from , Illinois, to , was laden with 180 tons of lead belonging to Campbell & Co. The incident delayed the shipment five months and resulted in significant loss to the company.
On 30 November 1840, JS, , and other signers of the note filed a “” civil action against the Holladays in the Circuit Court, claiming damages of $2,000. Samuel Hicks filed an affidavit charging the Holladays with intentionally and willfully destroying the boat. Hicks also stated that unless the court intervened to require the defendants to appear at trial, they might flee the area and the plaintiffs would lose their judgment. Based on the affidavit, the circuit court clerk issued a writ of . The Holladays were then arrested, after which they entered into a binding them to appear at the April 1841 term of the circuit court for the trial and were released on . When the term began, the circuit court clerk summoned Thomas Oram and a steamboat captain named Newton Waggoner to testify in the Holladays’ behalf, but neither Oram nor Waggoner could be found. In addition, on 23 April 1841 the law firm Walker, Little & Morrison—presumably , , and —filed the plaintiffs’ outlining their cause of action against the Holladays. In May 1841, the case was dismissed by motion of the plaintiffs for unknown reasons.
 
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

    Oaks and Bentley, “Joseph Smith and Legal Process,” 735–738.  

    Oaks, Dallin H., and Joseph I. Bentley. “Joseph Smith and Legal Process: In the Wake of the Steamboat Nauvoo.” Brigham Young University Law Review, no. 3 (1976): 735–782.

  2. 2

    Oaks and Bentley, “Joseph Smith and Legal Process,” 738–739. The U.S. attorney’s register of cases listed Haws as the principal and others as sureties to the promissory note; however, entries in the steamboat ledger indicate JS and others were partners, not simply sureties, and received periodic cash payments from the business. (Register of Miscellaneous Suits, 1834–1848, microfilm, Records of the Solicitor of the Treasury, copy at CHL; Steamboat Nauvoo Ledger, 1840, CHL.)  

    Oaks, Dallin H., and Joseph I. Bentley. “Joseph Smith and Legal Process: In the Wake of the Steamboat Nauvoo.” Brigham Young University Law Review, no. 3 (1976): 735–782.

    Records of the Solicitor of the Treasury / National Archives Reference Service Report, 23 Sept. 1964. “Record Group 206, Records of the Solicitor of the Treasury, and Record Group 46, Records of the United States Senate: Records Relating to the Mormons in Illinois, 1839–1848 (Records Dated 1840–1852), Including Memorials of Mormons to Congress, 1840–1844, Some of Which Relate to Outrages Committed against the Mormons in Missouri, 1831–1839.” Microfilm. Washington DC: National Archives and Records Service, General Services Administration, 1964. Copy at CHL.

    Steamboat Nauvoo Ledger. CHL. MS 791.

  3. 3

    The plaintiffs’ declaration erroneously stated that the Holladays were hired on 10 August, prior to the steamboat auction. They were more likely hired on 10 September, when JS and others purchased the boat. (Declaration, ca. 23 Apr. 1841 [Miller et al. v. B. Holladay and W. Holladay].)  

  4. 4

    Affidavit, 30 Nov. 1840 [Miller et al. v. B. Holladay and W. Holladay]. The incident may have occurred in early October 1840, as the Diving Bell company of St. Louis was hired to raise the stacks of the damaged steamboat from the Mississippi River on 10 October. (Amended Pleas, ca. 30 Oct. 1844, JS et al. v. Street et al. [Hancock Co. Cir. Ct. 1846], Hancock Co. Courthouse, Carthage, IL.)  

    Hancock County Circuit Clerk’s Office, Hancock County Courthouse. Carthage, IL.

  5. 5

    Amended Pleas, ca. 30 Oct. 1844, JS et al. v. Street et al. [Hancock Co. Cir. Ct. 1846], Hancock Co. Courthouse, Carthage, IL.  

    Hancock County Circuit Clerk’s Office, Hancock County Courthouse. Carthage, IL.

  6. 6

    Capias ad Respondendum, 30 Nov. 1840 [Miller et al. v. B. Holladay and W. Holladay]; Amended Pleas, ca. 30 Oct. 1844, JS et al. v. Street et al. [Hancock Co. Cir. Ct. 1846], Hancock Co. Courthouse, Carthage, IL; Keemle, Saint Louis Directory, for the Years 1836–7, 14. The damages included $150 for retrieval of the boat’s smokestacks from the river and $225 for repairs made by Kingsland & Lightner of St. Louis.  

    Hancock County Circuit Clerk’s Office, Hancock County Courthouse. Carthage, IL.

    Keemle, Charles. The Saint Louis Directory, for the Years 1836–7: Containing the Names of the Inhabitants, Their Occupations, Numbers of Their Places of Business and Dwellings; with a Sketch of the City of St. Louis. . . . St. Louis: C. Keemle, 1836.

  7. 7

    Affidavit, 30 Nov. 1840 [Miller et al. v. B. Holladay and W. Holladay]. Little is known about Hicks or why he filed this affidavit, but he was qualified to identify the steamboat damage, having “worked for several years on steamboats.” (“Samuel Barton Hicks,” Biographical Entry, Hahn Library, http://www.hahnlibrary.net/cgi-bin/genealogy/igmget.pl/n=Hicks-Stuewer?I0482 [accessed 22 Oct. 2020].)  

  8. 8

    Affidavit, 30 Nov. 1840 [Miller et al. v. B. Holladay and W. Holladay]. Illinois law required any request for a writ of capias ad respondendum to be accompanied by an affidavit detailing the wrong committed and showing how the “damages sustained” were “in danger of being lost,” thereby requiring the apprehension of the defendant. Following the arrest, the defendant could be released on bail after entering into a recognizance binding him or her to appear at the next session of the circuit court for trial. (An Act concerning Special Bail [26 Jan. 1827], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois, p. 88, sec. 1.)  

    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.

  9. 9

    Capias ad Respondendum, 30 Nov. 1840 [Miller et al. v. B. Holladay and W. Holladay].  

  10. 10

    Capias ad Respondendum, 30 Nov. 1840 [Miller et al. v. B. Holladay and W. Holladay].  

  11. 11

    Waggoner was likely summoned to testify concerning the difficulty of navigating the river and its hazards, such as sandbars. Hussey, “History of Steamboating on the Des Moines River,” 331–332; Subpoena, 3 Apr. 1841 [Miller et al. v. B. Holladay and W. Holladay].  

    Hussey, Tacitus. “History of Steamboating on the Des Moines River, from 1837 to 1862.” Annals of Iowa, 4, no. 5 (Apr. 1900): 323–382.

  12. 12

    Declaration, ca. 23 Apr. 1841 [Miller et al. v. B. Holladay and W. Holladay].  

  13. 13

    Docket Entry, Dismissal, 7 May 1841 [Miller et al. v. B. Holladay and W. Holladay]. A letter Edwin Guthrie wrote to JS and his partners in early 1841 suggested that the Holladays may have proposed a settlement; however, there is no evidence that a settlement was reached between the parties. (Letter from Edwin Guthrie, between 1 Feb. and early Mar. 1841.)