Introduction to JS et al. v. C. B. Street and M. B. Street

Document Transcript

JS, H. Smith, Haws, G. Miller, and the estate of Knight v. C. B. Street and M. B. Street
Hancock Co., Illinois, Circuit Court, circa 22 May 1846
 
Historical Introduction
In early February 1844, JS, , , , and the estate of initiated legal proceedings in the circuit court of , Illinois, to recover an unpaid promissory note from Charles B. Street and his brother Marvin B. Street.
The Streets’ promissory note, which had been signed three years earlier, on 17 February 1841, represented their balance for their purchase of a majority interest in the steamboat Nauvoo. —with JS, , , and as sureties—had purchased the steamboat Des Moines in September 1840 from Captain Robert E. Lee, representing the government, at a public auction in , Illinois. They subsequently renamed the boat Nauvoo. The boat sustained damage after operating for only a few weeks.
In January 1841, JS and his partners—including , who had replaced —sold one-sixth ownership interest in the steamboat to Edwin Guthrie. A month later, they sold the remaining five-sixths interest to Charles B. and Marvin B. Street, merchants in , Illinois. As part of the purchase, the Streets signed a promissory note on 17 February for $3,133.62, payable in goods and merchandise and due 1 June 1841. The Streets made a payment of $1,025 on 22 June 1841, but the remaining balance was apparently left unpaid.
In February 1844, attorneys and , acting on behalf of JS and his partners, initiated a civil action of against the Streets in the Circuit Court, claiming $4,000 in damages. In May, Bachman and Skinner filed the plaintiffs’ , which asserted in multiple counts that the Streets had failed to completely pay the $3,133.62 note.
In response, the defendants, through their attorneys William N. Grover and , filed alleging that they “did not assume and promise in manner and form” as claimed by the plaintiffs. They countered with numerous demands, claiming $2,000 in lost earnings due to the boat’s wreck and its resulting poor reputation, which caused the loss of potential freight and passengers. The defendants further claimed that the plaintiffs owed them $5,000, which they requested be included in the case to offset the demands against them. The Streets also made accusations of fraud concerning two promissory notes from Guthrie, which they had been unable to receive payment for and therefore considered fraudulent. and filed a special responding to the defendants’ pleas in May.
In June 1844, amid these legal proceedings, JS and were killed at . Several months later, in October 1844, formally notified the court of their demise, leaving and as the remaining surviving plaintiffs in the case. Following JS’s death, the defendants filed another plea accusing JS and his partners of selling them the steamboat “with intent to cheat and defraud” because they had represented the boat as “free from all incumbrances” and “in good credit and repute.” The suit continued until May 1846, when, on the plaintiffs’ motion, the case was dismissed. Apparently an agreement had been reached between the parties.
 
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

    Praecipe, 7 Feb. 1844 [JS et al. v. C. B. Street and M. B. Street]. Robert Smith, who signed as surety on the Streets’ note, was also included in the proceedings.  

  2. 2

    Declaration, ca. 7 May 1844 [JS et al. v. C. B. Street and M. B. Street]; Bentley, “Suffering Shipwreck and Bankruptcy,” 311; Oaks and Bentley, “Joseph Smith and Legal Process,” 736–740. The purchase price for the steamboat was $4,866.38. Although Haws had apparently made the purchase alone, later events suggest that JS and the other men acted as co-owners in the venture. On 10 September 1840, JS and his partners provided government agent Robert E. Lee with a promissory note due 10 May 1841. (Promissory Note to Robert E. Lee, 10 Sept. 1840, Unidentified Scribe Copy; Robert E. Lee to Peter Haws, Indenture, Quincy, IL, 10 Sept. 1840, CHL.)  

    Bentley, Joseph I. “Suffering Shipwreck and Bankruptcy in 1842 and Beyond.” In Sustaining the Law: Joseph Smith’s Legal Encounters, edited by Gordon A. Madsen, Jeffrey N. Walker, and John W. Welch, 309–328. Provo, UT: BYU Studies, 2014.

    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.

    Lee, Robert E. Indenture, to Peter Haws, Quincy, IL, 10 Sept. 1840. CHL.

  3. 3

    Bentley, “Suffering Shipwreck and Bankruptcy,” 311; Oaks and Bentley, “Joseph Smith and Legal Process,” 736–740.  

    Bentley, Joseph I. “Suffering Shipwreck and Bankruptcy in 1842 and Beyond.” In Sustaining the Law: Joseph Smith’s Legal Encounters, edited by Gordon A. Madsen, Jeffrey N. Walker, and John W. Welch, 309–328. Provo, UT: BYU Studies, 2014.

    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.

  4. 4

    Introduction to Miller et al. v. B. Holladay and W. Holladay. According to legal records, JS and his co-owners claimed that the damage to the boat was extensive and repairs amounted to $2,000. (Declaration, ca. 23 Apr. 1841 [Miller et al. v. B. Holladay and W. Holladay]; Bentley, “Suffering Shipwreck and Bankruptcy,” 312–313; Letter from Edwin Guthrie, between 1 Feb. and 4 Nov. 1841.)  

    Bentley, Joseph I. “Suffering Shipwreck and Bankruptcy in 1842 and Beyond.” In Sustaining the Law: Joseph Smith’s Legal Encounters, edited by Gordon A. Madsen, Jeffrey N. Walker, and John W. Welch, 309–328. Provo, UT: BYU Studies, 2014.

  5. 5

    Floyd E. Risvold Collection, 2:78–79; Pleas and Account, ca. 23 May 1844 [JS et al. v. C. B. Street and M. B. Street]. The January 1841 indenture between JS and his partners and Guthrie is in private possession, but an auction catalog captured the details of the indenture. For his share of the boat, Guthrie agreed to two payments. The first, for $811.06, was due 1 May 1841, while the second, for $415, was due 1 November 1841. (Floyd E. Risvold Collection, 2:78–79.)  

    The Floyd E. Risvold Collection: American Expansion and the Journey West. 3 vols. 2009. Catalog of the 27–29 January 2010 auction of the Floyd E. Risvold estate at New York City by the Spink Shreves Galleries and Spink Smythe of Dallas, TX.

  6. 6

    Declaration, ca. 7 May 1844 [JS et al. v. C. B. Street and M. B. Street]; Pleas and Account, ca. 23 May 1844 [JS et al. v. C. B. Street and M. B. Street]; Gregg, History of Hancock County, Illinois, 871.  

    Gregg, Thomas. History of Hancock County, Illinois, Together with an Outline History of the State, and a Digest of State Laws. Chicago: Charles C. Chapman, 1880.

  7. 7

    Declaration, ca. 7 May 1844 [JS et al. v. C. B. Street and M. B. Street]. The plaintiffs’ declaration alleged that the debt was payable in store goods, groceries, hardware, and other foodstuffs. An account dated 26 February 1841 indicates that JS and Haws purchased goods from the Streets amounting to $828.30. It is unclear if this amount was part of the partial payment on 22 June 1841 or another earlier payment meant to be subtracted from the Streets’ debt. (Declaration, ca. 7 May 1844 [JS et al. v. C. B. Street and M. B. Street]; Statement of Account from C. B. & M. B. Street, 26 Feb.–July 1841.)  

  8. 8

    Praecipe, 7 Feb. 1844 [JS et al. v. C. B. Street and M. B. Street]. Vinson Knight died in July 1842, leaving his claim against the Streets to be pursued by his estate on behalf of his family. (Obituary for Vinson Knight, Times and Seasons, 15 Aug. 1842, 3:894; Cook, Nauvoo Deaths and Marriages, 46.)  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

    Cook, Lyndon W., comp. Nauvoo Deaths and Marriages, 1839–1845. Orem, UT: Grandin Book, 1994.

  9. 9

    Declaration, ca. 7 May 1844 [JS et al. v. C. B. Street and M. B. Street]; Pleas and Account, ca. 23 May 1844 [JS et al. v. C. B. Street and M. B. Street]; see also Stephen and Troubat, Treatise on the Principles of Pleading in Civil Actions, 189.  

    Stephen, Henry John, and Francis J. Troubat. A Treatise on the Principles of Pleading in Civil Actions; Comprising a Summary View of the Whole Proceedings in a Suit at Law. 2nd American ed. Philadelphia: Robert H. Small, 1831.

  10. 10

    Pleas and Account, ca. 23 May 1844 [JS et al. v. C. B. Street and M. B. Street]; Amended Pleas, ca. 30 Oct. 1844 [JS et al. v. C. B. Street and M. B. Street]. Apparently, JS had assigned Guthrie’s notes for the payment of his one-sixth interest in the steamboat to the Streets. The Streets claimed they had tried to collect on Guthrie’s notes without success. They said that the two notes—one for $408, the other for $430—were due 1 November 1840 and 25 January 1841 and that Guthrie agreed to pay JS and the others $1,226.06 for a one-sixth interest in the Nauvoo. Two promissory notes—one, for $811.06, due 1 May 1841; the other, for $415, due 1 November 1841—were used for the purchase. It appears that Guthrie’s two notes were assigned to the Streets. The $408 note suggests that Guthrie paid JS half of the $811 amount while the $430 note represented the $415 plus interest. If Guthrie failed to pay the balance on the notes, the Streets would then own his one-sixth interest, making them the sole owners of the boat. Some of their pleas misdated the due date as 1 November 1840; it should have been dated 1 November 1841. (Amended Pleas, ca. 30 Oct. 1844 [JS et al. v. C. B. Street and M. B. Street]; Floyd E. Risvold Collection, 2:78–79.)  

    The Floyd E. Risvold Collection: American Expansion and the Journey West. 3 vols. 2009. Catalog of the 27–29 January 2010 auction of the Floyd E. Risvold estate at New York City by the Spink Shreves Galleries and Spink Smythe of Dallas, TX.

  11. 11

    Demurrer, ca. 29 May 1844 [JS et al. v. C. B. Street and M. B. Street]. The special demurrer claimed each plea was “double in this that it answers several counts in plaintiffs declaration which counts are distinct & seperate.” According to Bouvier’s Law Dictionary, the common law did not allow double pleading “because it produces useless prolixity, and always tends to confusion, and to the multiplication of issues.” (Demurrer, ca. 29 May 1844 [JS et al. v. C. B. Street and M. B. Street]; Stephen and Troubat, Treatise on the Principles of Pleading in Civil Actions, 172–175, 293; “Duplicity,” in Bouvier, Law Dictionary, 1:349.)  

    Stephen, Henry John, and Francis J. Troubat. A Treatise on the Principles of Pleading in Civil Actions; Comprising a Summary View of the Whole Proceedings in a Suit at Law. 2nd American ed. Philadelphia: Robert H. Small, 1831.

    Bouvier, John. A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States of America, and of the Several States of the American Union; With References to the Civil and Other Systems of Foreign Law. 2nd ed. 2 vols. Philadelphia: T. and J. W. Johnson, 1843.

  12. 12

    Docket Entry, Notification of Death, 21 Oct. 1844 [JS et al. v. C. B. Street and M. B. Street].  

  13. 13

    Amended Pleas, ca. 30 Oct. 1844 [JS et al. v. C. B. Street and M. B. Street].  

  14. 14

    Docket Entry, Dismissal, 22 May 1846 [JS et al. v. C. B. Street and M. B. Street].  

  15. 15

    The court allowed only a portion of the Streets’ pleas. However, if the full amount of the claims had been allowed, it would have exceeded the amount owed to the plaintiffs on the promissory note, meaning the Streets would have been entitled to a judgment in their favor. This would mean that rather than collecting on the unpaid note, Haws and Miller would have been required to repay the debt the Streets claimed was owed to them. (An Act concerning Practice in Courts of Law [29 Jan. 1827], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois, pp. 532–533, sec. 17.)  

    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.