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Introduction to Moffet Administrator of the Estate of JS and Moffet Administrator of the Estate of JS v. Ross

Moffet Administrator of the Estate of JS
Des Moines Co., Iowa Territory, Probate Court, 14 September 1844
 
Moffet Administrator of the Estate of JS v. Ross
First Judicial District Court of Iowa Territory, Des Moines Co., 12 May 1846
 
Historical Introduction
On 14 September 1844, petitioned the Des Moines County, Iowa Territory, probate court to become the administrator of JS’s estate in . That same day he initiated a suit on behalf of the estate to recover the Maid of Iowa steamboat from Charles Ross. Moffet had built the boat at , Iowa Territory, in 1842 in partnership with . In June 1843, JS purchased Moffet’s interest in the boat for $1,375, giving two promissory notes for the amount. Shortly thereafter, JS transferred his interest to his wife . However, under the common law doctrine of the boat remained his personal property. In April 1844, JS purchased Jones’s interest in the boat, making him the sole owner. The next month, he and Emma Smith transferred the Maid of Iowa to JS as trustee-in-trust of the church, making the boat the church’s property. On 15 June 1844, JS leased the boat to and , and sometime before August 1844, Morrison hired Ross, his steamboat captain son-in-law, to pilot the boat.
After JS’s death on 27 June 1844, the boat entered a period of contested ownership. In mid-August 1844, , acting on the advice of attorney , sought to claim the boat as a personal asset of JS along with other properties belonging to JS as trustee-in-trust. However, , acting on the orders of recently elected church trustee and apostle , refused to hand over the papers connected to the boat. Clayton, Whitney, and Young claimed that the boat was a church asset and that JS’s estate proceedings should not interfere “with the business of the Trustee in Trust.”
 
Moffet Administrator of the Estate of JS
In late August 1844, rumors surfaced that and Ross were planning to take advantage of the confusion over ownership to make their own claim on the boat. Under JS’s ownership, the Maid of Iowa had consistently operated at a loss and generated considerable debt, most of which was tied to creditors in . According to the rumors recorded by , Morrison and Ross planned to take the Maid of Iowa to St. Louis and surrender it to the sheriff to pay the debts. The two men then would purchase the boat at a reduced price at the subsequent sheriff’s auction and take it to the Ohio River. The effect of this plot, according to Clayton, would be to “cheat the Church out of her.”
Likely in response to this rumor, initiated legal proceedings in mid-September to be named as the administrator of JS’s estate in . On 14 September 1844, he appeared before Des Moines County probate judge John W. Webber and testified that he was “a creditor to a large amount” of debt from JS and that there was property belonging to JS in the county. Accordingly, Moffet petitioned the probate court to appoint him the administrator of JS’s estate in Iowa Territory. After Moffet signed a bond and swore an oath promising to faithfully execute his responsibilities as the administrator of JS’s estate in Iowa Territory, Webber granted him “authority to secure and collect the said property and debts wheresoever the same may be found” in the territory. Webber also appointed William H. Mauro, J. P. Wightman, and Francis Bridgman to appraise JS’s personal property in Iowa. It is unclear whether the three appointed men ever completed their appraisement.
 
Moffet Administrator of the Estate of JS v. Ross
The same day that was appointed as the administrator of JS’s estate in , he initiated a replevin suit to recover the Maid of Iowa from Ross. Moffet and his attorneys David Rorer and Frederick D. Mills filed an affidavit and declaration with the clerk of the Des Moines County District Court testifying that the Maid of Iowa was “wrongfully detained by Charles Ross” and that Moffet, as JS’s administrator, had “good right to the present possession thereof.” In response to Moffet’s affidavit and declaration, Charles Mason, the judge of the district court, issued a writ of replevin instructing the sheriff of the county to seize the steamboat and summon Ross to answer the allegations of Moffet’s affidavit. On 11 November 1844, Sheriff John McHenry returned the writ, noting that he had not found the steamboat or Ross in the county.
Although Ross had advertised that the Maid of Iowa would spend the fall running freight on the Iowa and between Iowa City, Iowa Territory, and , by October 1844 he took the boat south and began running it on the Ohio River between St. Louis and Louisville, Kentucky. Ross’s actions lend some credence to the earlier rumors that he and were planning to abscond with the boat to St. Louis and then the Ohio River. However, there is no evidence that Ross or Morrison ever sold the boat for debt, and in the spring, the Maid of Iowa returned north to the upper Mississippi River, though it is unclear if Ross was still captain. Church leaders still considered the boat to be the property of the church as late as 9 April 1845, when church trustees and received instructions from the to “sell ‘the Maid of Iowa’ for what they could get.” Details of any subsequent transactions are unclear, but by June 1845, the boat was under the ownership of Peter Hotelling and running freight on the Wisconsin River.
Meanwhile, and his attorneys continued their efforts to recover the Maid of Iowa from Ross, even after the boat had been sold. At the request of Moffet’s attorneys, the district court issued writs of replevin in January and November 1845; these were evidently returned unserved. Finally, on 12 May 1846, Moffet’s attorneys petitioned the court to dismiss the case, which was done. Aside from his attempts to recover the Maid of Iowa from Ross, it does not appear that Moffet took an active role in settling JS’s estate in .
 
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.
Moffet Administrator of the Estate of JS
Des Moines Co., Iowa Territory, Probate Court, 14 September 1844
 
Moffet Administrator of the Estate of JS v. Ross
First Judicial District Court of Iowa Territory, Des Moines Co., 12 May 1846
 
Historical Introduction
On 14 September 1844, petitioned the Des Moines County, Iowa Territory, probate court to become the administrator of JS’s estate in . That same day he initiated a suit on behalf of the estate to recover the Maid of Iowa steamboat from Charles Ross. Moffet had built the boat at , Iowa Territory, in 1842 in partnership with . In June 1843, JS purchased Moffet’s interest in the boat for $1,375, giving two promissory notes for the amount. Shortly thereafter, JS transferred his interest to his wife . However, under the common law doctrine of the boat remained his personal property. In April 1844, JS purchased Jones’s interest in the boat, making him the sole owner. The next month, he and Emma Smith transferred the Maid of Iowa to JS as trustee-in-trust of the church, making the boat the church’s property. On 15 June 1844, JS leased the boat to and , and sometime before August 1844, Morrison hired Ross, his steamboat captain son-in-law, to pilot the boat.
After JS’s death on 27 June 1844, the boat entered a period of contested ownership. In mid-August 1844, , acting on the advice of attorney , sought to claim the boat as a personal asset of JS along with other properties belonging to JS as trustee-in-trust. However, , acting on the orders of recently elected church trustee and apostle , refused to hand over the papers connected to the boat. Clayton, Whitney, and Young claimed that the boat was a church asset and that JS’s estate proceedings should not interfere “with the business of the Trustee in Trust.”
 
Moffet Administrator of the Estate of JS
In late August 1844, rumors surfaced that and Ross were planning to take advantage of the confusion over ownership to make their own claim on the boat. Under JS’s ownership, the Maid of Iowa had consistently operated at a loss and generated considerable debt, most of which was tied to creditors in . According to the rumors recorded by , Morrison and Ross planned to take the Maid of Iowa to St. Louis and surrender it to the sheriff to pay the debts. The two men then would purchase the boat at a reduced price at the subsequent sheriff’s auction and take it to the Ohio River. The effect of this plot, according to Clayton, would be to “cheat the Church out of her.”
Likely in response to this rumor, initiated legal proceedings in mid-September to be named as the administrator of JS’s estate in . On 14 September 1844, he appeared before Des Moines County probate judge John W. Webber and testified that he was “a creditor to a large amount” of debt from JS and that there was property belonging to JS in the county. Accordingly, Moffet petitioned the probate court to appoint him the administrator of JS’s estate in Iowa Territory. After Moffet signed a bond and swore an oath promising to faithfully execute his responsibilities as the administrator of JS’s estate in Iowa Territory, Webber granted him “authority to secure and collect the said property and debts wheresoever the same may be found” in the territory. Webber also appointed William H. Mauro, J. P. Wightman, and Francis Bridgman to appraise JS’s personal property in Iowa. It is unclear whether the three appointed men ever completed their appraisement.
 
Moffet Administrator of the Estate of JS v. Ross
The same day that was appointed as the administrator of JS’s estate in , he initiated a replevin suit to recover the Maid of Iowa from Ross. Moffet and his attorneys David Rorer and Frederick D. Mills filed an affidavit and declaration with the clerk of the Des Moines County District Court testifying that the Maid of Iowa was “wrongfully detained by Charles Ross” and that Moffet, as JS’s administrator, had “good right to the present possession thereof.” In response to Moffet’s affidavit and declaration, Charles Mason, the judge of the district court, issued a writ of replevin instructing the sheriff of the county to seize the steamboat and summon Ross to answer the allegations of Moffet’s affidavit. On 11 November 1844, Sheriff John McHenry returned the writ, noting that he had not found the steamboat or Ross in the county.
Although Ross had advertised that the Maid of Iowa would spend the fall running freight on the Iowa and between Iowa City, Iowa Territory, and , by October 1844 he took the boat south and began running it on the Ohio River between St. Louis and Louisville, Kentucky. Ross’s actions lend some credence to the earlier rumors that he and were planning to abscond with the boat to St. Louis and then the Ohio River. However, there is no evidence that Ross or Morrison ever sold the boat for debt, and in the spring, the Maid of Iowa returned north to the upper Mississippi River, though it is unclear if Ross was still captain. Church leaders still considered the boat to be the property of the church as late as 9 April 1845, when church trustees and received instructions from the to “sell ‘the Maid of Iowa’ for what they could get.” Details of any subsequent transactions are unclear, but by June 1845, the boat was under the ownership of Peter Hotelling and running freight on the Wisconsin River.
Meanwhile, and his attorneys continued their efforts to recover the Maid of Iowa from Ross, even after the boat had been sold. At the request of Moffet’s attorneys, the district court issued writs of replevin in January and November 1845; these were evidently returned unserved. Finally, on 12 May 1846, Moffet’s attorneys petitioned the court to dismiss the case, which was done. Aside from his attempts to recover the Maid of Iowa from Ross, it does not appear that Moffet took an active role in settling JS’s estate in .
 
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.
 
Moffet Administrator of the Estate of JS, Des Moines Co., Iowa Territory, Probate Court
  • 1844 (5)
    • September (5)
      14 September 1844

      Levi Moffet, Petition, to Des Moines Co. Probate Court, Burlington, Des Moines Co., Iowa Territory

      • 14 Sept. 1844; microfilm 1,643,279 at FHL; unidentified handwriting; signature of Levi Moffet; certification in handwriting of John W. Webber; docket and notation in unidentified handwriting.
      14 September 1844

      Levi Moffet, Oath, before John W. Webber, Burlington, Des Moines Co., Iowa Territory

      • 14 Sept. 1844; microfilm 1,643,279 at FHL; unidentified handwriting; signature of Levi Moffet; certification in handwriting of John W. Webber; docket and notation in unidentified handwriting.
      • Ca. 14 Sept. 1844; Des Moines County Probate Court, Probate Record, vol. A–1, p. 326, microfilm at FHL; unidentified handwriting.
      14 September 1844

      Levi Moffet and Others, Bond, Des Moines Co., Iowa Territory, to John W. Webber, Burlington, Des Moines Co., Iowa Territory

      • 14 Sept. 1844; microfilm 1,643,279 at FHL; printed form with manuscript additions in unidentified handwriting; signatures of Levi Moffet, Joshua Holland, and Alvin C. Graves; certification in handwriting of John W. Webber; docket and notation in unidentified handwriting with signature of John W. Webber.
      • Ca. 14 Sept. 1844; Des Moines County Probate Court, Probate Record, vol. A–1, p. 325, microfilm at FHL; unidentified handwriting.
      14 September 1844

      John W. Webber, Letters of Administration, to Levi Moffet, for JS, Burlington, Des Moines Co., Iowa Territory

      • 14 Sept. 1844; microfilm 1,643,279 at FHL; printed form with manuscript additions in unidentified handwriting; certification printed with manuscript additions in handwriting of John W. Webber; docket in unidentified handwriting.
      • Ca. 14 Sept. 1844; Des Moines County Probate Court, Probate Record, vol. A–1, p. 326, microfilm at FHL; unidentified handwriting.
      14 September 1844

      Docket Entry, Burlington, Des Moines Co., Iowa Territory

      • 14 Sept. 1844; Des Moines County Probate Court, Probate Record, vol. B, p. 189, microfilm at FHL; unidentified handwriting.
 
Moffet Administrator of the Estate of JS v. Ross, First Judicial District Court of Iowa Territory, Des Moines Co.
  • 1844 (5)
    • September (4)
      14 September 1844

      Levi Moffet on behalf of the Estate of JS, Affidavit, before John S. Dunlap, Burlington, Des Moines Co., Iowa Territory

      • 14 Sept. 1844; microfilm 1,684,000 at FHL; unidentified handwriting; signature of Levi Moffet; certified by John S. Dunlap; docket in handwriting of John S. Dunlap; notation in unidentified handwriting.
      14 September 1844

      David Rorer and Frederick D. Mills on behalf of Levi Moffet, Declaration, Burlington, Des Moines Co., Iowa Territory

      • 14 Sept. 1844; microfilm 1,684,000 at FHL; handwriting of John S. Dunlap; signatures of David Rorer and Frederick D. Mills; docket in handwriting of John S. Dunlap; notation in unidentified handwriting.
      14 September 1844

      David Rorer and Frederick D. Mills on behalf of Levi Moffet, Praecipe, to the Clerk of the First Judicial District Court of Iowa Territory in Des Moines Co., Burlington, Des Moines Co., Iowa Territory

      • 14 Sept. 1844; microfilm 1,684,000 at FHL; handwriting of John S. Dunlap; signatures of David Rorer and Frederick D. Mills; docket in handwriting of John S. Dunlap; notation in unidentified handwriting.
      14 September 1844

      John S. Dunlap, Replevin and Summons, to Des Moines Co. Sheriff, Burlington, Des Moines Co., Iowa Territory

      • 14 Sept. 1844; microfilm 1,684,000 at FHL; handwriting of John S. Dunlap; docket and notation in handwriting of John S. Dunlap; notation in unidentified handwriting.
    • December (1)
      17 December 1844

      Docket Entry, Alias Replevin, Burlington, Des Moines Co., Iowa Territory

      • 17 Dec. 1844; First Judicial District Court of Iowa Territory in Des Moines County, Common Law Record, vol. C, p. 353, microfilm at FHL; unidentified handwriting.
  • 1845 (3)
    • January (1)
      30 January 1845

      John S. Dunlap, Alias Replevin and Summons, to Des Moines Co. Sheriff, Burlington, Des Moines Co., Iowa Territory

      • 30 Jan. 1845; microfilm 1,684,000 at FHL; handwriting of John S. Dunlap; docket and notation in handwriting of John S. Dunlap; notation in unidentified handwriting.
    • November (2)
      12 November 1845

      Docket Entry, Continuance and Alias Replevin, Burlington, Des Moines Co., Iowa Territory

      • 12 Nov. 1845; First Judicial District Court of Iowa Territory in Des Moines County, Common Law Record, vol. C, p. 457, microfilm at FHL; unidentified handwriting.
      Ca. 12 November 1845

      Alias Replevin, Burlington, Des Moines Co., Iowa Territory

  • 1846 (1)
    • May (1)
      12 May 1846

      Docket Entry, Dismissal, Burlington, Des Moines Co., Iowa Territory

      • 12 May 1846; First Judicial District Court of Iowa Territory in Des Moines County, Common Law Record, vol. C, p. 540[a], microfilm at FHL; unidentified handwriting.