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Crawford County, Missouri
The Courts

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The County Court.—The first records of this court cannot be found, but it is believed that William Montgomery, Barney Lowe and John Duncan were the first justices of the court, commissioned on the same day the act organizing the county was approved, January 29, 1829. The first entry upon the records that is to be found is as follows:


At a county court began and held at Liberty Hill, it being the place appointed by the court for holding courts in said Crawford County, on the last Monday (23d) of February, 1835—present Asa Pinnell. Esq., president of the court, William Crow, Esq., and Levi L. Snelson, Esq., and James Harrison, clerk. Andrew Craig presented a petition from sundry citizens of Johnson Township, praying a division of said township, but the court did not consider it expedient. Andrew Craig, upon the petition of George F. Kitchens, Arthur McFarland and William Coppedge was appointed assessor for 1835. James Harrison was granted grocer's license, at the rate of $5, to bear date December 5, 1834; Brinker & Brickey were also granted grocer's license, at the rate of $5, to bear date December 18, 1834, and Wherry & Mills, at the same rate, to bear date December 13, 1834.


On the next day, the 24th, the court ordered, in conformity with the act of the General Assembly to encourage the killing of wolves, which act was to take effect from the first day of April, 1835, a bounty of $1 for every wolf killed. Samuel Bunyard, West Moulding and James Benton were appointed commissioners to view a road, lay it out and mark it, from Peter Brickey's house to the Lick settlement, in Skaggs Township. The place of holding elections in Liberty Township was fixed at the house of William Atchison. William Harrison, Richard Rice and Marion W. Trask Were appointed judges of election. On this day William Clinton was fined $2 for contempt of court.


At the August election of 1845 Henry E. Davis was elected clerk of the circuit court. Carter T. Wood clerk of the county court, Levi L.-Snelson justice of the peace in Meramec Township, Watson Cole and William Paul in Liberty Township, James Sanders and John Stuart in Cotoway Township, Reuben Bailey and James G. Sweaney in Johnson Township. No report appears to have been made of the election of justices of the peace in Skaggs Township. At this term of the court William H. Phillips was permitted to make settlement with the court, and turned in $258.02 in wolf scalps. November 30, 1835, the court, consisting of the same justices, met at Liberty Hill. December 1, on motion of sundry citizens, a road was ordered to be viewed and marked out from the Meramec Iron Works to the Gasconade River, near where the township line between Townships 38 and 39 crosses the said river, and from the crossing of that river to the line of Crawford County, in a direction to meet or intersect the road leading from Boonville to the mouth of Big Tavern Creek. Samuel Blain, Matthew Gorman, George W. Brown, John Coyle and George Snelson were appointed reviewers. At the May term, 1836, a petition was granted for a public wagon road from the Meramec Iron Works to William E. Hawkins', on the Spanish Needle Prairie; then to the county line between Gasconade and Crawford Counties, in the direction of D. B. Wherry's mill, on the Gasconade River, in Gasconade County. Matthew Gorman, Martin Miller and James Montgomery were appointed reviewers of this road. At this term it was ordered that Meramec Township be divided into two townships. June 1, 1836, James Steel resigned as commissioner of the town of Steelville, and Simeon Frost was appointed in his place, and it was ordered by the court that the said commissioner proceed to lay off the town as follows: Commencing at a stake at the southwest end of the town survey ; thence lay off Main Street, with a line of stakes set up in a northeastwardly direction with said stakes through the whole length of the tract of land belonging to the county of Crawford, for the town of Steelville, laying off Main Street on the north side of the above named stakes; the public square to be one whole block, to be laid off on the south side of Main Street; the town to be laid off in blocks, fronting 165 feet on Main Street, and running back 264 feet, the public square to be the first block, commencing thirty feet from the southwest end of the town survey; Main Street to be sixty feet in width, the cross streets to be thirty feet in width, the alleys to be fifteen feet in width, and each alternate cross street to be an alley, except those on each side of the public square, which were to be cross streets of thirty feet in width ; the blocks to be subdivided into lots containing one-fourth part of an acre. The commissioner was to lay off these blocks on each side of Main Street as far as whole blocks could be laid without fractions. On July 4, 1836, Simeon Frost presented his plat of the town, which was received by the county court.


On this same day Simeon Frost presented a petition for a public highway from Steelville to Massey's (the Meramec) Iron Works, by the way of John B. Brinker's. Joseph Collins, Henry Benton and Robert L. Bamsey were appointed commissioners to view the road. July 5 the commissioner was ordered to advertise the sale of lots in Steelville, by means of three advertisements in each township in the county, and in some newspaper, and at the September term the commissioner was ordered to lay off the balance of the lots, south of those already laid off.


At the November term, 1836, the justices were Asa Pinnell, George H. Coppedge, and Levi L. Snelson. At the February term, 1838, they were Levi L. Snelson, Richard Rice and John M. A. England. At the November term, 1838, they were Levi L. Snelson, Obadiah Key and William Marcie; at the February term, 1842, William Marcie, Obadiah Key and James Sanders. At the August term, 1842, they were William F. Cole, Obadiah Key and John F. Mudd; May term, 1843, Obadiah Key, John E. Davis and John F. Mudd. Obadiah Key died in May this year, and at the November term the members were John F. Mudd, John E. Davis and Jacob Devolt. November, 1846, the justices were William Marcie, G. C. Brackenridge and S. B. Brickey. February term, 1848, the court was composed of the same justices.


September 21, 1850, the court consisted of George C. Brackenridge, A. N. Johnson and John Hyde. March 6, 1851, Mr. Brackenridge resigned, and a special election was held April 12, to fill the vacancy, and also to fill the vacancy caused in the office of public administrator by the death of William E. Hawkins. At the May term of the court it consisted of A. W. Johnson, John Hyde and Martin Earney. At the November term, 1852, the court was A. W. Johnson, Martin Barney and J. E. Davis; at the November term, 1854, Martin Earney, Jonathan Clinton and Hiram Lane. At the May term, 1855, a report of the county revenue showed that tlie total income for the year was $2,1:42.01, and the expenditures $2,050.75, leaving a balance on hand of $385.80. In 1850 there were nine townships. Dry Fork being one. December 21, 1857, the court was Martin Earney and Jonathan Clinton. Hiram Lane's seat being vacant, he having been cut off in the new county, J. E. Coleman took the vacant chair February 1, 1858. In September, 1858, the court was James Sanders, John E. Coleman and William E. Halbert; November 5, 1800, James Sanders, John E. Coleman and W. A. Spencer; August 29, 1805, W. H. Pidcock, William Fort and John H. Chapman; February 4, 1807, D. E. Dunlap, A. H. Trask and John W. Harmon; February 1, 1800, A. H. Trask, John W. Harmon and James B. Smith; May 1, 1871, John W. Harmon, James B. Smith and D. E. Dunlap; February 25, 1873, D. E. Dunlap, James B. Smith and John P. Farrow; February, 1875, D. E. Dunlap, John P. Farrow and John B. Vance; May 5, 1877, John P. Farrow, John B. Vance and William Key; February 3, 1879, Martin Barney, William Key and B. F. Smith; November 1, 1880, A. H. Trask, William Key and B. F. Smith; February 1, 1881, A. H. Trask, A. J. Lamar and Alexander Berry; March, 1883, B. F. Smith, Thomas E. Carr and P. H. Newman; February, 1885, B. F. Smith, George D. Day and J. M. Eaton, and January, 1887, William E. Hibler, Samuel Snoddy and J. M. Eaton, present court.


The Probate Court of Crawford County was established by an act of the General Assembly approved March 9, 1849. The court first transacted business on the first Monday in March, 1851, Lyle Singleton, judge; W. J. Devol was elected probate judge in 1854; A. W. Johnson in 1858; J. E. Davis, 1800; W. J. Devol, 1803; A. B. Harrison, 1805; P. J. Johnson, 1807; William M. Robinson, 1870; E. A. Pinnell, 1882, and William Halliburton, present judge, in 1880.


Courthouse—In 1857 a brick courthouse was ordered to be built, two stories high, with a stone foundation, 30x48 feet in dimensions. At the May term of this year, $0,000 was appropriated w4th which to carry out the order. The courthouse was built and used until 1873, when it was burned down February 15. A called term of the county court commenced March 10, following, at which time $10,000 was appropriated for the purpose of rebuilding the courthouse. Joe Davis was appointed to superintend this work. Propositions were received from various parties to do the work, ranging from $7,875 to $11,300. The former bid was made by Thomas Niven, and the contract was awarded to him, provided he should file a satisfactory bond, but on the 22d of April Mr. Niven notified the court that he would not file a bond as required by law, and as Israel P. Brickey, the next lowest bidder at $8,880, also refused to file a bond, the contract was awarded to A. E. Dye & Sons, the lowest bidders at $9,775, who were willing to comply with the law in the matter of filing a bond. The county bonds were issued June 3, 1873, as follows, all to bear date and draw interest from February 1, 1874: Nos. 1 and 2, due in two years from that date, each for $1,000; Nos. 3 and 4, each for $1,000, due in four years; Nos. 5 and 0, each for $1,000, due in six years; No. 7, for $1,000, due in eight years ; Nos. 8 and each for $500, due in eight years; and Nos. 10, 11, 12 and 13, each for $500, due in ten years; the interest on the bonds to be 10 per cent.


The Circuit Court.—Crawford County was attached to the First Judicial Circuit by an act of the General Assembly, approved January 29, 1831. The county was organized by the act of January 29, 1829, and the place for holding court was fixed at the house of James Harrison. By an act of January 19, 1831, the time of holding the first circuit court in this county was set for May 19, 1831. On this day David Todd, Esq., judge of the First Judicial Circuit, opened court in Crawford County. Judge Todd's commission was signed by Gov. Alexander McNair, and the evidence of his qualification to the office was recorded in the record books of the court.


The first order made by the court was to appoint James Harrison clerk and recorder, James Campbell produced, in court, his commission from the governor, appointing him sheriff of the county. Robert B. Harrison was appointed deputy clerk. Robert W. Wells, attorney-general of the State, was prosecutor on this circuit ex officio. On motion, it was ordered that John S. Brickey, Robert W. Wells, Robert A. Ewing, Philip Cole, David Sterigere, John Jamison, William Scott and John Wilson be admitted to practice as attorneys and counselors at law. A grand inquest for the body of the county was empanelled as follows: David Lenox, foreman; Absalom Cornelius, James O. Gillespy, George Henson, Isaac Brown, Wilson Lenox, John Hillhouse, John Duncan, Sr., Thomas Johnson, James Lester, James Benton, William Britton, John Lamb, Asa Pinnell, Cury Duncan, William Coppedge, John Housiuger, Humphrey Yowels and John Carter. The following persons were returned by the sheriff as being duly summoned on the grand jury, but who, being solemnly called, came not, but made default: Samuel King, Achrey B. Hart, Thomas Stark, Leonard Eastwood, Jolm Skaggs, James Wilson, William Beatly and Stephen Dickson.


Then came on for trial the first case in this court: The State of Missouri vs. James Wilson, on a recognizance for grand larceny, and the following entry was made in connection therewith: " This day came the counsel of the defendant into court, and moved the court to quash the recognizance, himself being surety for his appearance at the next term to answer an indictment to be preferred to the grand jury, and the State, by her attorney, defended the said motion, and, the same being argued and considered by the court, it is ordered that the said motion be overruled at the costs of him, the said defendant."


Then followed a number of cases of appeals from justices of the peace, and after they were disposed of James Wilson's case, for stealing a horse, came on for trial, in connection with which the following entry was made: " This day came the attorney general, prosecuting for the State, and the defendant having been recognized for his appearance before the court on this day to answer the indictment, with Henry Pinnell and Solomon B. Wilson his sureties, the said defendant was then solemnly called and failed to appear to answer. The sureties were then in due form, by proclamation, required to produce the body of the defendant, and they failed to do so."


The next case was The State vs. Alfred Spruce, for assault and battery, who gave bail for his appearance in the sum of $200, and the court adjourned until next day, when, after a few trivial cases of appeal, came the case of James Newberry, for assault and battery, who, pleading not guilty, was tried before the following jury, the first jury to try a case in Crawford County: Anthony Kitchen, John B. Harrison, Larkin Bates, John Vest, Joseph C. Hawkins, James Dodd, William Leek, Josiah Dodd, George P. Kitchen, Edward Clayton, Noah Strong and William Knox. The verdict of this jury was as follows: "We, the jury, say that the defendant is guilty in manner and form as charged in the indictment, and assess his fine at $1 and costs."


Then followed an indictment against George Carrico, for stealing a pair of shoes; one against John Baldridge, for assault and battery on Thomas Baldridge ; one against Micajah Morris, for trespass, breaking a lock and forcible entry. The next day George Carrico gave bond for his appearance at the next term of court, in the sum of $300; John Baldridge, in the sum of $100, and Micajah Jones was discharged.


The next term of court commenced on the first Thursday after the third Monday in September, 1831, the same judge as before, and Robert A. Ewing was appointed prosecuting attorney, in the absence of the attorney-general. John Wilson was admitted to practice law. John Baldridge was found not guilty of assault and battery, Alfred Spruce was found guilty of assault and battery, and fined $8.50 and costs, and George Carrico was found not guilty of stealing a pair of shoes.


On the 24th of September quite an important case came before this court, that of Thomas McCasebolt vs. Crawford County, in arrest of proceedings of the county court in enforcing the payment of taxes levied and assessed on his property in the year 1880. The decision of this court was: "First, that the county of Crawford had no power through her county tribunals or officers to assess, levy or collect from any persons who did not reside in said county any revenue taxes whatever for any property which did not lie nor was found within the county of Crawford ; second, that if any such tax was imposed the proceedings of all officers concerned were void, and the person taxed was not bound to appeal for correction of the tax list; third, that the act of the last General Assembly, purporting to legalize the proceedings of civil officers who may have acted without the bounds of their justification, if it has even that effect, only legalizes acts which are done, and does not justify in doing illegal acts when the original right did not exist and the original act was void; and it is the opinion of this court that said act only releases penalties to which the officers were subject; fourth, that the officers of Crawford County can not now enforce any taxes of 1830 upon persons who were not subject at that time to be taxed by a residence within the bounds of the county, or having property within the same subject to taxes; fifth, that the matter of fact whether the present petitioner at the time of being subject to taxes, resided out of the bounds of Crawford County, or the territory attached thereto, and having all his property without is left to be found by the county court, and if they find him in another county, they will release him and suspend all proceedings of collecting such taxes other than on property found within the county, and the clerk is directed to certify the foregoing to the county court of Crawford County."


The first petition for divorce was filed in this court February 12, 1832, by Margaret Franklin against Thomas Franklin, who not residing within this State, it was ordered that the defendant be notified by publication according to law. The ground upon which the petition was based was that the defendant had abandoned the plaintiff for more than two years, and had failed to contribute anything toward her support. At the May term notice was published, and at the September term, Thomas Franklin not appearing, it was adjudged by the court that the petition of the plaintiff was taken for confessed and final hearing of the case for the next term of court. At the August term, 1833, the bonds of matrimony were dissolved at the defendant's cost. The second petition for divorce was by Aaron Spann vs. Anna Spann, presented May 25, 1832, and at the September term following, the divorce was granted on the ground of adultery; thus, this was the first divorce granted.


By an act of the General Assembly approved February % 1833, Crawford County was attached to the Sixth Judicial District, and on the 5th of August, 1833, this court was held at the house of James Harrison, Charles H. Allen, judge. His commission and the evidence of his qualifications to the office were ordered to be recorded, but they were not recorded. The first case in this court after the transfer to the Sixth Judicial Circuit was an action in assumpsit, entitled Massey & James vs. Levi L. Snelson. The defendant moved the court to rule the plaintiff to furnish a bill of particulars. The motion was sustained, the bill was furnished, the plea made was "not guilty," and the case was continued. At this same term in an action of assumpsit, David Blankenship vs. Sandy Carter, the jury, not being able to agree before the hour of adjournment, was permitted to disperse and to meet again next day at the convening of the court. On reassembling they found that David Blankenship was indebted to Sandy Carter in the sum of $32.75, and in addition thereto his costs and charges in the suit. This was rather a stormy term of the court. Levi and Mortimore Brashear were indicted for larceny; James Newberry, Sr., for disturbing a religious congregation; Henry Burton and Nancy Clinton, for fornication and adultery; Reuben B. Vest, for horse stealing; Aristides Harrison, for mismarking hogs; George W. Brown, for breaking the Sabbath. Levi Brashear gave bail for his appearance at the next term in the sum of $500; James Newberry, in the sum of $100; George W. Brown pleaded guilty and was fined $1 and costs. Aristides Harrison, at the December, term gave bail in the sum of $250 ; a nolle prosequi was entered in the case of Levi Brashear; James Newberry pleaded not guilty, was tried by a jury, who found him guilty, and assessed against him a fine of $50, and charges; a nolle prosequi was entered in the case of Nancy Clinton. On December, 3, 1833, James Harrison presented a seal purporting to be a seal of the circuit court, which, upon being examined, was approved. This seal had upon it the following inscription: "Crawford County Circuit Court, Missouri," and an eagle volant engraved thereon; and it was ordered to be used by the court from and after the 1st of January, 1834. On this day, December 3, 1833, the case of Massy & James vs. Levi L. Snelson, assumpsit, trover and conversion, was decided by the jury, adversely to Massey & James, and Mr. Snelson was allowed his costs and charges. On April 7, 1834, came on the case of Aristides Harrison, for mismarking hogs, which was continued, he giving bail in the sum of $300. At the August term, 1834, the case was tried, and the defendant found not guilty; thus the name Aristides was found unsullied. On this same day was brought in the first indictment for murder: " The State vs. Ben, a Slave," but at the December term following a nolle prosequi was entered, and Ben was acquitted and discharged.


The August term, 1835, of this court was held on the first Thursday after the second Monday of that month, at the house of John Brinker—William Scott, judge. The April term, 1836, was held at Steelville, the permanent seat of justice of the county, commencing April 14—same judge. A special term was held August 16, 1837, agreeable to the order of James Evans, judge of the Ninth Judicial Circuit, for the purpose of trying Mary, a negro girl, for murder. Mary was a slave owned by John Brinker, at whose house the circuit court in August, 1835, had held its session. Upon the expectation of being sold by her master, she had drowned one of his children, hence the trial. She pleaded not guilty, and the sheriff was directed to summon thirty two good and lawful men before the court, as a special venire, to try the issue between Missouri and Mary. As Mary was a slave, and unable to employ counsel, the court appointed Philip Cole, John S. Brickey and Mason Frizzell to defend her. Mary selected the following persons before whom she was willing to be tried: Wiley J. England, William Pinkett, Hiram Clay, Michael Woolf, Kiley Britton, James Agers, James Agers, Jr. At this point the venire was exhausted and twenty-four talesmen were ordered to be summoned. On August 17, the following were added to the jury: Nathan Gilbert, James Arthur, Baker Pidcock, Peter Brickey, and Jonathan Ague. On the next day the jury returned into court with the following verdict: " We the jury find the prisoner guilty in the manner and form in which she stands charged in the indictment, murder in the first degree." A motion was made for a new trial, and for arrest of judgment. On the 19th the motion for a new trial was overruled, and Mary's counsel filed a bill of exceptions to the ruling of the court. The motion for arrest of judgment was overruled, and a bill of exceptions was filed to the opinion of the court; judgment was then rendered as follows: "It is considered by the court now here, that the said Mary, a slave, the prisoner, be confined in custody until the 30tli of September, 1837, and that day she be taken by the sheriff of Crawford, between the hours of 11 o'clock in the forenoon and 2 o'clock in the afternoon of said day, to the place of execution, in the town of Steelville, and there be hanged by the neck until she is dead." An appeal was then taken to the supreme court, and on November 6, 1837, a change of venue was granted to Gasconade County, the trial to take place there on the third Monday in December, 1837. On March 8, 1838, James Evans, judge, ordered that the order granting a change of venue to Gasconade County be set aside, and that the case be tried in Crawford County as if the change of venue had not been granted. Mary's counsel then moved that the case be stricken from the docket on the ground that the venue in the said cause had been, by order of the court, changed to Gasconade County, and that in consequence of said change of venue the circuit court of Crawford County was ousted of its jurisdiction. This motion was not sustained, and on the next day Philip Cole and Mason Frizzell were appointed her attorneys, and the case continued to the next term. The jury on the second trial were Samuel Patterson, Philip Gatch, Luke Stricklin, Dana Robertson, Thomas Coleman, William A. Bryan, George W. Butt, S. M. Dillinger, Thomas Whitehead, Charles B. Wilkinson, Jesse Baily and Edmund Kennedy. This jury brought in a verdict of guilty in manner and form as charged in the second count of the indictment, and therefore that the State have judgment against the said Mary, the prisoner. The sentence this time was: " It is considered by the court that the prisoner be confined in custody in the county of Crawford until August 11, 1838, and that on that day she be taken by the sheriff of the county of Crawford, between the hours of 11 o'clock in the forenoon and 2 o'clock in the afternoon, to the place of execution, in the town of Steelville, and there be hanged by the neck until she is dead." From this sentence there was no appeal, and the said Mary was hanged in accordance therewith.


November 8, 1838, James Evans was judge. Thomas M. Cox and Charles were indicted for peddling clocks without license. They gave bail jointly in the sum of $150, and individually in the sum of $400, for their appearance at the next term of the court. William Hughes and Thomas Kinsey were indicted for selling corrupt beef.


March 6, 1839, David Sterigere was judge; March 7, a demurrer was filed to both indictments for peddling clocks without license, and Thomas Kinsey gave bail in the sum of $300, for his appearance at the next term of the court. On March 8 Cox and Page gave bail jointly in the sum of $250, and individually in the sum of $800, to appear at the next term. July 1, 1839, the demurrer in each case was overruled, and on trial Charles Page was found guilty and fined $225, and the fine ordered to be paid into the treasury of Crawford County, to the use and benefit of the cause of education. Thomas Cox was found not guilty. Hughes and Kinsey were each found not guilty of selling corrupt beef.


July 6, 1840, William Evans, who landed in Baltimore in 1829, and had resided most of the time since in Crawford County, declared his intention to become a citizen of the United States.


November 11, 1841, John Taylor was indicted for murder, and his case continued to the next term of court, in March, 1842. At this term Charles H. Allen was judge, and Taylor's trial postponed to the next term. John Inman and Mary Farris were indicted for adultery, the case continued, and an alias awarded against Inman to Pulaski County, and against Mary to Crawford County. At the July term William Evans was admitted to full citizenship, and on the 13th of the month John Taylor was found guilty of murder in the first degree, and on the 14th sentenced to be hanged August 19, 1842. On the 16th of November, 1842, William Tansey was indicted for killing a mule, and an alias capias issued directed to the sheriff of Shannon County, against the said William Tansey, returnable to the next term of court. At the April term, 1843, numerous indictments were found against parties for dealing as dramshop keepers without license, and at the October term, 1843, a nolle prosequi was entered in the case of John Inman and Mary Farris. At the April term, 1844, William Tansey gave bail for his appearance at the next term of the court, and Conrad Myers was tried for the murder of Samuel B. Wingo, sheriff of Shannon County, and found guilty of murder in the first degree. Myers was sentenced to be hanged on May 24, 1844, between 11 and 3. April 18, 1844, John Taylor, who had escaped from custody between the day of his sentence and the day set for his execution, was brought into court, and his sentence renewed, the day for his .execution being set this time, May 3, 1844. By shrewdness, however, and by playing upon the sympathies of his guards, he managed to escape a second time, and was not recaptured. April 18, 1844, William Tansey pleaded guilty to the charge against him of killing a mule, and was fined $5 and costs. At the April term, 1845, James B. Bunyard was found guilty of shooting a bull and was fined 810 and costs.


At the September term, 1840, Daniel M. Leet was judge, and at the May term, 1840, a large number of indictments for gaming were brought in, and as a general thing, those, who did not plead guilty were found guilty and fined $10 and costs. A special term commenced March 14, 1850, Judge Leet of the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit presiding, for the purpose of trying Andrew J. Mears, who was in custody on the charge of a felonious assault, and Robert Hughes, on the charge of resisting an officer. Mears' case was continued until the next term and the indictment against Hughes quashed. Four indictments for gaming were brought in, and the court adjourned. The jury before whom A. J. Mears was tried failed to agree, but a second jury found him guilty as charged, and assessed his punishment at imprisonment in the penitentiary for two years. A new trial was granted, and Mears gave bail for his appearance at the next term in the sum of $1,000, and at the September term he was found not guilty. A special term was called for December 9, 1850, to try Andrew Silvers, indicted in Washington County for the murder of Albert Stacy, and brought to Crawford County on a change of venue. Silvers was admitted to bail in the sum of $2,000.


In 1852 and 1853 a large number of cases came into this court for keeping a dramshop without a license, selling as a merchant without a license, disturbing religious worship, grand larceny, gaming, slander, etc., and at the November term, 1854, an indictment was found against Thornton, a slave, for grand larceny. Upon his pleading guilty it was ordered by the court that he should be returned to the jail, and there remain until such time as the sheriff should take him out to some retired place and give him twenty nine lashes on the bare back well laid on, when he should be discharged from custody.


November 22, 1854, came the first writ of ad quod damnum— John McDade the petitioner. The report of the jury summoned by the sheriff was in substance as follows: "We the jury do hereby say that we proceeded to the point mentioned on the 22d, of November, 1851, and do find that by a deed accompanying the petition, dated March 22, 1854, Ireneus Whittenburg did convey all of his interest in and to the said water privilege in the east half of the northeast quarter of Section 34, Township 38, Range 4 west, and also in the southeast quarter of Section 27, Township 34, Range 4 west, and we do further find that the mansion house and the house curtilages, orchards and any lands overflowed or injured by the erection of said dam or mill, and the ordinary passage of fish is not obstructed nor the health of the neighborhood materially annoyed by the erection of said dam, and that no injury is sustained in consequence thereof." This verdict was approved by the court.


At the March term, 1857, John Garrett was tried for murder in the first degree, and after a long trial the jury found him not guilty of murder in the first degree, nor in the second degree, but of manslaughter in the first degree, and assessed his punishment at six years in the penitentiary. June 11, 1858, Henry Hicks was found guilty of murder in the first degree, and on the next day he was sentenced to be hanged August 12, 1858, but afterward an appeal was granted to the supreme court. At the May term, 1858, P. H. Edwards was the judge, and at the October term, 1859, on account of P. H. Edwards, the judge, having been previously engaged as counsel for Henry Hicks, a change of venue was granted to Washington County, in the Ninth Judicial Circuit, Hicks giving bail in the sum of $10,000. James H. McBride was judge on this circuit October 24, 1859, and John S. Waddle, April 21, 1862; W. G. Pomeroy was judge in September, 1862, Aaron Yan Wormer, May 9, 1864. At the August term, 1865, John R. Woodside, John E. Thomas, E. A. Seay, and B. S. Ferguson came into court and petitioned for relief from the disabilities imposed upon them by the constitution of the State, the third section of the second article. All four of them were relieved according to their petition on Saturday, September 2, 1865.


July 25, 1866, Malachi P. King was found guilty of burglary in the second degree, and for this crime his punishment was assessed at three years in the penitentiary, and also of grand larceny, for which his punishment was assessed at two years in the penitentiary. John King was also found similarly guilty, and was similarly punished. September 18, 1866, James W. Owens was the judge. On this day John W. Martin and John Campbell were indicted for preaching without having taken the oath of loyalty. Other causes were misdemeanor in office, disturbing religious worship, burglary, grand larceny, etc. On the 28th of this month Charles Drenen and Thomas Evans were indicted for preaching without having taken the oath of loyalty, and Susan Downing for teaching without having taken the oath of loyalty. On the 29th Ann Fort was similarly indicted, and V. S. Carter, for preaching. On March 19, 1867, the cases against J. W. Martin and John Campbell were dismissed at the cost of the State, and also those against Charles Drenen, Thomas Evans and V. S. Carter. On the 21st the case against Ann Fort and one against Jane Hight were continued, but were afterward dismissed. September 21, 1868, D. Q. Gale was judge. He was succeeded by Elijah Perry, judge of the Eighteenth Circuit. A petition came before this judge from the St. Louis, Salem & Little Rock Railroad Company, for appointment of commissioners to assess damages done by the construction of said road through the lands of certain parties, to whom the commissioners appointed, George Treece, Lewis Key and D. J. Puckett, awarded damages as follows : John Fleming, 8600; N. G. Clark, $90; H. T. Mudd, $5; William James, $20 John Jackson, $150; H. H. Webb, $200; W. J. England, $100 Henry T. Mudd, $75 ; Mudd & Carroll, $75 ; William Stilwell, $200 E. Halbert, $87.50; James Y. Halbert, $70; and P. J. Johnson, $200. Their decision was arrived at April 27, 1872. On June 17, 1872, at a special term called for the purpose of trying James Clark and James Harris, for grand larceny, the former pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years in the penitentiary at hard labor, and James was found not guilty. December 21, 1872, William Carroll was found guilty of horse stealing, and was sentenced to the penitentiary for two years.


V. B. Hill became judge March 2, 1875. Thomas Shaver was found guilty of murder in the second degree, March 24, 1880, and was sentenced to the penitentiary for ten years, but, upon consideration of the fact that he was under eighteen years of age at the time of_ committing the crime, his punishment was commuted to imprisonment in the county jail for one year. At this same term John Kelley, Robert Ramsey and John Thurmond were all indicted for murder in the first degree. At the September term, 1880, Robert Ramsey secured a change of venue to Dent County. John Kelley was found guilty of murder in the second degree, and sentenced to the penitentiary for thirty-one years; and on March 21, 1881, J. R. Webb was appointed counsel for John Thurmond. On this day Charles C. Bland presided in this court for the first time, and on May 4 came on the contested election case of Joseph B. Carson vs. James C. Whitmire, who had been elected to the office of sheriff of the county. This case presented some novel features. At the election as returned by the various judges of election James C. Whitmire and Joseph B. Carson, received a nearly equal number of votes. On Thursday, November 18, 1880, a contest of the election being in contemplation, several gentlemen interested therein repaired to the office of the county clerk, Thomas R. Gibson, for the purpose of inspecting the ballot. These gentlemen were C. D. Jamison, Joseph B. Carson, G. D. Clerk and Alexander Gibson. The ballots cast were there inspected and examined, and several other gentlemen attracted by the light in the county clerk's room, entered the room, but were requested to withdraw. As it was unknown then to the public, generally, that there was any legal authority for the opening of the ballot box, this strange proceeding excited unfavorable comment upon the course of County Clerk Gibson, who had the ballots in his keeping. In justification of his course, County Clerk Gibson published in the Sentinel of November 26, 1880, the following:


Editors Sentinel:—In this week's Mirror B. F. Russell, editor, makes a direct charge against my official conduct in the contest case of Carson-Whitmire; asserted that the ballots cast at the late election were tampered with and changed.


In reply to the charge, I will say that the ballots were opened and inspected by C. D. Jamison and G. D. Clark, attorneys for Carson, under my supervision, in obedience to the following order from Judge V. B. Hill: State of Missouri, }

County Of Crawford, }

Joseph B. Carson, plaintiff,

contestant against James C. Whitmire, contestee.


Whereas, it appearing to the satisfaction of the judge of the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit, in said State, that said Joseph B. Carson is contesting the election of said James C. Whitmire to the office of sheriff of said county, at the late general election, and that an inspection of the ballots cast at said election is necessary to the case of this contestant, and that said ballots are desired to be inspected by said contestant, that they may be used in evidence in said cause, this is therefore to direct the clerk of the county of Crawford aforesaid, to permit said Carson and his attorneys to open and inspect said ballots, he, the said clerk, using such precaution as will insure the care and safe keeping of said ballots. V. B. Hill,


Judge of the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit of Missouri.


November 16, 1886.


The following certificate was published in connection with the above order.-


State of Missouri, County of Crawford.


I, Thomas R. Gibson, clerk of the county court, within and for said county and State, hereby certify that the above is a true copy of the order of V. B. Hill, judge, as the same now appears on file in my office.


Witness my hand and official seal, at my office in Steelville, Mo., this 25th day of November, 1880. Thomas R. Gibson, Clerk of County Court.


In performing my duty as clerk, I desired to shield from the public, as far as I was able, the ballot or ticket voted by each man in the county, hence the order "No Admittance." Had I permitted the presence of citizens during the inspection of the ballots, my office would have been filled to such an extent that the ballots would have become public property, and the whole list might as well have been published in our county papers. I handled the tickets myself, and kept my eyes on each ticket that Mr. Jamison or Mr. Clark examined, and I assert to the honest people of our county that no tampering or other illegal means to change or to modify the votes, as cast at the election, was done, or attempted during the inspection, etc. Thomas. R. Gibson, County Clerk.


The papers in this contest were filed, in the circuit court, November 22, 1880, by C. D. Jamison, and endorsed by him, as attorney for Joseph B. Carson, and, as a result of the inspection of the ballots, the votes of 263 voters, many of whom had voted in the county unchallenged for over thirty years were rejected. This resulted in the court finding for the defendant, James C. Whitmire, except that ten votes were found to be fraudulent.


November 8, 1881, Thomas J. Phillips was tried for rape before the following jury: G. W. Isgrig, Thomas Adams, Philip Smith, Thomas Clouts, Andrew Marsh, Perty Halbert, John Kelley, Moses Farrar, J. H. Godby, Ellis Angle, Benjamin Ogle and K. M. Dennis, and was by them found guilty, and his punishment assessed at imprisonment in the penitentiary for ten years. March 21, 1883, John Thurmond was found guilty of felonious assault and sentenced to the penitentiary for three years.


Charles C. Bland still continues to be judge on this circuit. At the September term, 1887, there was a large number of indictments. Thomas Christopher was found guilty of seduction under promise of marriage, and was sentenced to imprisonment in the county jail for one month, and to pay a fine of $200; Julia McAltee was found guilty of infanticide, and sentenced to imprisonment in the penitentiary two years. Elbertson Clouts and William Hafee was found guilty of slander, and fined each $100; America Clay was divorced from Charles Clay, and William Coleman from Jennie Coleman. Cornelius Brickey, against whom there were twenty-five indictments for selling liquor illegally, pleaded guilty and was fined $40 and costs, and Edward Bande pleaded guilty of grand larceny and was sentenced to the penitentiary for two years. Seven indictments were brought against John Hill, for selling whisky without license, and he, pleading guilty, was fined $100 on each, but, being unable to pay the fine, the fine was in each case commuted to ten days' imprisonment in the county jail.


The most terrible crime ever committed in Crawford County was the killing of Malcolm Logan and his family, consisting of his wife and four children, the eldest six years of age and the youngest ten weeks; the setting fire to Logan's house, and the burning of the bodies of Mrs. Logan and the children in the flames. When the fire was discovered it was too late to save either house or bodies. Malcolm Logan's body was found afterward about a mile away, where he had been brutally murdered. Pat Wallace was suspected of this crime, and was arrested and put in jail at Steelville. So certain was the populace of his guilt that, on Tuesday morning, October 7, 1886, soon after midnight, a crowd of people took possession of the town of Steelville, and went to Sheriff Taylor's room and demanded the keys to the jail. He refused to deliver them or tell where they were. They therefore left Taylor under guard, stationed guards at the corners of the streets, and went to the jail and broke down the doors with heavy sledge hammers. They then took the prisoner out of the jail, mounted him on a horse and marched silently away. Upon arriving at the bridge over the Meramec, two miles north of Steelville, they pinioned Wallace's feet and told him to prepare for death. Pat denied the crime, but his denial was of no avail. He intimated it was committed by a certain colored man living in the county, but gave no name, and while it is believed, in some places, that the colored man was an accomplice and perhaps equally guilty, yet no steps have been taken to punish any one but Wallace, who after being pinioned was hanged to the railroad bridge. His body was afterward taken down and buried near the grave of Mary, a slave.


The last crime of this kind committed in this county was the assassination of David Miller on January 9, 1888. He had paid a part of his taxes on Saturday previous, and upon leaving home on Monday morning told his wife that he had agreed to meet Lewis Davis at an old house at the foot of Pound's field and there was to receive a small amount due him. Davis had told him to bring with him what money he had, as it would be necessary to change a $50 bill. He therefore took with him about $40, and as he did not return home that night nor next day Mrs. Miller became alarmed, and when it was learned that he had not been to Steelville, a search was immediately began. On Thursday the body was found near the residence of Elliott Davis, just below the upper Matlock Ford, lying face downward in a narrow path running through a thicket toward the river. Upon examination it was found that Miller had been shot in the back of the head, and his pockets rifled of their contents. Lewis Davis was arrested on suspicion and lodged in jail at Steelville to wait his trial at the March term (1888) of the circuit court.

History Excerpts from ‘History of Franklin, Jefferson, Washington, Crawford, & Gasconade Counties, Missouri’, The Goodspeed Publishing Co. 1888



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