Introduction to Newbould v. Rigdon, Smith & Cowdery

Document Transcript

Newbould v. Rigdon, Smith & Cowdery
Geauga Co., Ohio, Court of Common Pleas, 24 October 1837
Historical Introduction
On 20 April 1837, merchant initiated legal proceedings in the , Ohio, Court of Common Pleas against the firm of to collect payment on an overdue promissory note. —acting on behalf of the firm—had purchased hardware, tools, and various household items totaling $264.54 from Newbould on 17 June 1836, giving the hardware merchant a promissory note that was payable in six months. After the note became due and payment was not made, Newbould engaged the services of lawyers and , whose firm, Perkins & Osborn, commenced the suit against Rigdon, Smith & Cowdery. On 20 April 1837, the Geauga County Court of Common Pleas issued a writ of , leading to the arrest of , JS, and Oliver Cowdery on 25 April 1837; they were released on bail the same day. On 5 June, and Hiram Corey entered special bail at the court on JS’s behalf, meaning they would be held liable for court costs and the debt claimed by Newbould if judgment was rendered in favor of the plaintiff. In July, Perkins & Osborn filed a declaration on Newbould’s behalf claiming $400 in damages.
The following September, Perkins & Osborn reached an agreement to consolidate and renegotiate the unpaid debts of with four firms, including ’s. This likely explains why the parties came to a “mutual agreement” to discontinue the suit at the October 1837 term of the court. The Court of Common Pleas assessed court costs to the defendants and in November issued a that was returned unsatisfied “for want of property.” A second fieri facias was issued in April 1838, wherein properties of the defendants were levied to pay costs for the Newbould case and the judgment for Kelley v. Rigdon, Smith & Cowdery, but the properties “were not sold for want of time.”
Church agent continued efforts to pay the debts in 1839. The consolidated debt was listed in JS’s 1842 bankruptcy application, but a decision was not rendered on his petition for bankruptcy before his death in 1844. Though several New York firms submitted and were allowed claims against the estate of JS, Newbould’s was not among them.
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

    Capias ad Respondendum, 20 Apr. 1837 [Newbould v. Rigdon, Smith & Cowdery]; Invoice, John Newbould to Rigdon, Smith & Cowdery, 17 June 1836. Two reminiscent accounts identify Oliver Cowdery and Hyrum Smith as the men who traveled to New York to purchase merchandise in 1836, but the date of their trip is not specified. Newbould’s business was located at 189 Main Street in Buffalo, New York. (Ames, Autobiography and Journal, [12]; Clark, Gleanings by the Way, 333; Directory for the City of Buffalo, 114.)  

    Ames, Ira. Autobiography and Journal, 1858. CHL. MS 6055.

    Clark, John A. Gleanings by the Way. New York: Robert Carter, 1842.

    A Directory for the City of Buffalo; Containing the Names and Residence of the Heads of Families and Householders, in Said City, on the First of May, 1836. Buffalo, NY: L. P. Crary, 1836.

  2. 2

    See Declaration, 8 July 1837 [Newbould v. Rigdon, Smith & Cowdery]; Capias ad Respondendum, 20 Apr. 1837 [Newbould v. Rigdon, Smith & Cowdery]; and An Act concerning Mesne Process in Civil and Criminal Cases [10 Feb. 1831], Statutes of Ohio, vol. 3, p. 1718, secs. 1, 4.  

    The Statutes of Ohio and of the Northwestern Territory, Adopted or Enacted from 1788 to 1833 Inclusive: Together with the Ordinance of 1787; the Constitutions of Ohio and of the United States, and Various Public Instruments and Acts of Congress: Illustrated by a Preliminary Sketch of the History of Ohio; Numerous References and Notes, and Copious Indexes. 3 vols. Edited by Salmon P. Chase. Cincinnati: Corey and Fairbank, 1833–1835.

  3. 3

    Special Bail, 5 June 1837 [Newbould v. Rigdon, Smith & Cowdery]; Declaration, 8 July 1837 [Newbould v. Rigdon, Smith & Cowdery]. Though the declaration claimed that the initial note was for $287.32, that figure represented the value of the goods sold ($264.54) plus interest at seven percent over fifteen months (June 1836–September 1837). Seven percent was the highest amount allowed by New York law. Though the plaintiff’s declaration appears to ask for multiple damages, each for $400 and for a different reason, the damages amounted to a single sum of $400, expressed in various ways. This followed legal procedures of the times. (See Invoice, John Newbould to Rigdon, Smith & Cowdery, 17 June 1836; Of Title to Personal Property, in Certain Cases, Revised Statutes of the State of New-York, title 3, p. 771, sec. 1; and Swan, Practice in Civil Actions and Proceedings at Law, 1:212–217.)  

    The Revised Statutes of the State of New-York, Passed During the Years One Thousand Eight Hundred and Twenty-Seven, and One Thousand Eight Hundred and Twenty-Eight: To Which Are Added, Certain Former Acts Which Have Not Been Revised. 3 Vols. Albany: Packard and Van Benthuysen, 1829.

    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.

  4. 4

    On 1 September 1837, Perkins & Osborn helped the Kirtland Township, Ohio, mercantile firms of Rigdon, Smith & Cowdery and Cahoon, Carter & Co. renegotiate their debts with four wholesale New York mercantile firms: John A. Newbould; Halsted, Haines & Co.; Mead & Betts; and Holbrook & Ferme. As part of this renegotiation, JS and his partners signed new promissory notes for their debt to Newbould due in increments of twelve, eighteen, and twenty-four months. (See Statement of Account from Perkins & Osborn, ca. 29 Oct. 1838.)  

  5. 5

    Transcript of Proceedings, ca. 24 Oct. 1837 [Newbould v. Rigdon, Smith & Cowdery]; Docket Entry, Costs, ca. 24 Oct. 1837 [Newbould v. Rigdon, Smith & Cowdery].  

  6. 6

    See Agreement with Mead & Betts, 2 Aug. 1839; John Newbould to Oliver Granger, Agreement, ca. 2 Aug. 1839, Hiram Kimball Collection, CHL.  

    Kimball, Hiram. Collection, 1830–1910. CHL.

  7. 7

    Application for Bankruptcy, ca. 14–16 Apr. 1842, in JSP, D9:366; Hancock County, IL, Claim Records, 1840–1866, vol. C, p. 242, microfilm 947,480, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL. This suggests either that Newbould submitted a claim that was rejected by the Hancock County Probate Court, that he gave up pursuing payment of the debt, or that the debt was paid prior to JS’s death.  

    JSP, D9 / Smith, Alex D., Christian K. Heimburger, and Christopher James Blythe, eds. Documents, Volume 9: December 1841–April 1842. Vol. 9 of the Documents series of The Joseph Smith Papers, edited by Matthew C. Godfrey, R. Eric Smith, Matthew J. Grow, and Ronald K. Esplin. Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2019.

    U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.