Introduction to JS v. Shearer

Document Transcript

JS v. Shearer
Nauvoo, Hancock Co., Illinois, Justice of the Peace Court, 26 February 1842
On 26 February 1842, JS won a lawsuit against Thomas Shearer regarding a land dispute in , Illinois. JS had purchased the one hundred acres in question from and Susan Whitelock Eagle on 6 June 1841. It is uncertain on what grounds Shearer believed he also had a claim to the land, but on 18 February 1842, JS filed a complaint before justice of the peace in , Illinois, averring that JS was the owner of one hundred acres and that Shearer had seized the land “by force and strong hand” and possessed it “wrongfully and unjustly, and to the injury” of JS. The justice of the peace ordered Hancock County sheriff to summon twelve jurors as well as Shearer to appear at Robinson’s office to answer the complaint on 26 February. Robinson also subpoenaed four witnesses for the defense.
presided at the trial on 26 February 1842. The twelve-man jury was given the duty to determine “whether the complaint of Joseph Smith the plaintiff then laid before them was true according to evidence.” The parties proceeded to present to the jury their “proofs and allegations,” including “their title-papers.” There is no indication that the defense witnesses testified. After deliberating, the jurors returned a verdict in JS’s favor. Robinson ruled that JS should “recover and have restitution of the premises” and that Shearer should pay the eighteen-dollar costs of the suit. On 8 March 1842, Robinson issued a , ordering to recover the costs from Shearer and to remove him from the property. Abernethy reported on 24 May that although Shearer had departed the land without incident, no property belonging to Shearer was located in the county that could be seized to pay the costs.
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.


  1. 1

    Verdict, 26 Feb. 1842 [JS v. Shearer].  

  2. 2

    Deed from John and Susan Whitelock Eagle, 6 June 1841.  

  3. 3

    Complaint, 18 Feb. 1842 [JS v. Shearer]. Illinois law defined forcible entry and detainer as entering “any lands, tenements, or other possessions,” with or without force, and remaining on the premises after “the person entitled to such possession” shall notify the offender in writing to vacate the land. (An Act concerning Forcible Entry and Detainer [1 June 1827], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois, p. 313, sec. 1; see also “Forcible Entry or Detainer,” in Bouvier, Law Dictionary, 1:416–417.)  

    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.

    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. 2 vols. Philadelphia: T. and J. W. Johnson, 1839.

  4. 4

    Venire Facias, 18 Feb. 1842 [JS v. Shearer]; Summons, 18 Feb. 1842 [JS v. Shearer].  

  5. 5

    The four witnesses were Rufus Abbott, Truman Brace, O. Butler, and Robert D. Foster. Constable Lewis Robison evidently served the subpoena on Abbott, Butler, and Foster, but could not locate Brace. (Docket Entry, between 18 Feb. and ca. 8 Mar. 1842 [JS v. Shearer].)  

  6. 6

    Docket Entry, between 18 Feb. and ca. 8 Mar. 1842 [JS v. Shearer].  

  7. 7

    Verdict, 26 Feb. 1842 [JS v. Shearer].  

  8. 8

    Docket Entry, between 18 Feb. and ca. 8 Mar. 1842 [JS v. Shearer].