Introduction to Sweeney v. Miller et al.

Document Transcript

Sweeney v. Miller, JS, H. Smith, and Haws
Hancock Co., Illinois, Circuit Court, 5 May 1842
 
Historical Introduction
On 7 April 1842, Hugh J. Sweeney, by his attorney Guy C. Sampson, commenced a civil suit against , JS, , and in the circuit court of , Illinois, for nonpayment of a debt. In September 1840, JS and the other men had purchased from the government the steamboat Des Moines, which they renamed Nauvoo. In fall 1840, the steamboat ran aground and was severely damaged. JS and his partners contracted with Sweeney in November 1840 to provide unknown goods or services in relation to the steamboat. On 16 April 1841, Haws, who was noted as “master” of the boat, signed a promissory note in , Missouri, promising to pay Sweeney fifty-six dollars “for value rec[eive]d by Steam Boat Navoo,” payable in sixty days. The note named Miller, JS, and Hyrum Smith, likely in relation to the 1840 debt, though they may also have been listed as sureties on the note.
A year after signed the note, it remained unpaid. Sweeney initiated the suit on 7 April 1842 in the Circuit Court as an action, claiming $150 in damages. Sampson also filed a with the court binding himself, on Sweeney’s behalf, to cover the costs that would accrue in the case. The court issued a summons for the defendants, instructing them to appear at the courthouse in , Illinois, for the trial at the May 1842 term. On 19 April, Sampson filed a summarizing the debt. This included the promissory note Haws signed, its conditions, and the failure of the defendants to pay. When the case came before the court on 5 May 1842, the defendants were not present. Upon their default, the court entered judgment in favor of Sweeney and awarded him $58.97 in damages plus court costs. In August 1845, after three years of unsuccessful attempts to collect the judgment, Sampson, on behalf of Sweeney, assigned it to for $50. In April 1846, Backenstos assigned the judgment to church trustees , , and . The judgment was finally paid in May 1846 when land owned by Haws was auctioned and sold.
 
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

    The identity of Sweeney is uncertain. A promissory note between Sweeney and JS and his partners was created in St. Louis, Missouri, but no Hugh Sweeney was listed in the 1840 city directory for St. Louis. The 1842 St. Louis directory listed a “Hugh Sweeny” as a stonemason. In 1853, “Hugh J. Sweeney” and others formed the Peoria, Illinois, Gas Light and Coke Co. (Saint Louis Directory, for the Year 1842, 130; An Act to Incorporate the Peoria Gas Light and Coke Co. [12 Feb. 1853], in General Laws of the State of Illinois [1853], pp. 516–517, sec. 1.)  

    The Saint Louis Directory, for the Year 1842; Containing the Names of the Inhabitants, and the Numbers of Their Places of Business and Dwellings; with a Sketch of the City of Saint Louis. . . . St. Louis: Chambers & Knapp, 1842.

    General Laws of the State of Illinois, Passed by the Eighteenth General Assembly, Convened January 3, 1853. Springfield: Lanphier and Walker, 1853.

  2. 2

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

  3. 3

    Promissory Note, 16 Apr. 1841 [Sweeney v. Miller et al.]; Declaration, ca. 18 Apr. 1842 [Sweeney v. Miller et al.].  

  4. 4

    Praecipe, 7 Apr. 1842 [Sweeney v. Miller et al.]. Although the delinquent promissory note was for $56, Sweeney’s declaration claimed damages of $150. A contemporary legal commentary suggested that plaintiffs ask for “any sum sufficient to cover the real demand.” (Swan, Practice in Civil Actions and Proceedings at Law in Ohio, 1:216.)  

    Swan, Joseph R. The Practice in Civil Actions and Proceedings at Law, in Ohio, and Precedents in Pleading, with Practical Notes; together with the Forms of Process and Clerks’ Entries. 2 vols. Columbus: Isaac N. Whiting, 1845.

  5. 5

    Recognizance, 7 Apr. 1842 [Sweeney v. Miller et al.].  

  6. 6

    The summons is apparently not extant. (See Declaration, ca. 18 Apr. 1842 [Sweeney v. Miller et al.].)  

  7. 7

    Declaration, ca. 18 Apr. 1842 [Sweeney v. Miller et al.].  

  8. 8

    The sheriff had served the summons on JS, Hyrum Smith, and Haws, but he could not find Miller. It is unknown why the three men failed to appear in court. As Miller had evidently not received notice to appear for the trial, the court issued a writ of scire facias, which required him to appear before the court to show cause why he should not be made a party to the judgment. Miller was served with the writ on 23 September. At the October term of court he filed two pleas, which are not extant. Sweeney responded to these pleas and the court then ruled in Sweeney’s favor. Sweeney’s replication is not extant. (Docket Entry, Judgment, 5 May 1842 [Sweeney v. Miller et al.]; JS, Journal, 5 May 1842; Minutes, 5 May 1842, Nauvoo Masonic Lodge Minutes, 1841–1842, CHL; Scire Facias, 15 Aug. 1842 [Sweeney v. Miller et al.]; Docket Entry, Pleas, 3 Oct. 1842 [Sweeney v. Miller et al.]; Docket Entry, Replication, 4 Oct. 1842 [Sweeney v. Miller et al.]; Docket Entry, Execution, 5 Oct. 1842 [Sweeney v. Miller et al.]; see also An Act concerning Practice in Courts of Law [29 Jan. 1827], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois [1839], pp. 529–530, sec. 4.)  

    Nauvoo Masonic Lodge Minutes, 1841–1842. CHL. MS 9115.

    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

    Docket Entry, Judgment, 5 May 1842 [Sweeney v. Miller et al.]. The difference between the $58.97 in damages awarded and the original debt of $56 likely represented 6 percent interest over 10½ months.  

  10. 10

    Docket Entry, Alias Fieri Facias, ca. 23 Apr. 1843 [Sweeney v. Miller et al.]; Docket Entry, Pluries Fieri Facias, between 3 Apr. and ca. 4 May 1844 [Sweeney v. Miller et al.]; Docket Entry, Fee Bill, between 17 Apr. and 16 July 1845 [Sweeney v. Miller et al.]; Assignment of Judgment, 14 Aug. 1845 [Sweeney v. Miller et al.].  

  11. 11

    Assignment of Judgment, 4 Apr. 1846 [Sweeney v. Miller et al.].  

  12. 12

    The southeast quarter of Section 9, Township 6 North, Range 8 West, which had belonged to Haws in 1843, was sold to Babbitt, Heywood, and Fullmer. The trustees turned the land over to John Green, who received a deed for the land in August 1847. (Certificate, 4 May 1846 [Sweeney v. Miller et al.]; Deed, 5 Aug. 1847 [Sweeney v. Miller et al.]; Hancock Co., IL, Deed Records, 1817–1917, vol. M, pp. 7–8, 6 Nov. 1843, microfilm 954,600, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; see also An Act concerning Judgments and Executions [17 Jan. 1825], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois [1839], p. 389, sec. 1.)  

    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.