Wednesday, June 19, 2013

R.I.P. "Uncle Frank"..Wait Not Yet... Ok Now...

August 8, 1903 , The Lima News, Lima Ohio

Apparently there was a train accident involving Circus Trains in 1903. It made quite a few papers from various states.  

 August 12, 1903, The Daily Herald, Delphos Ohio

There was a man named Frank Tilley among the injured whom eventually died from his injuries. As the story traveled it seemed to loose the part about the injured Frank being from Rising Sun, Indiana....

August 12, 1903, Springfield Republican, Springfield Missouri

...and so I'm guessing the towns people back in Springfield, Missouri assumed it was their beloved "Uncle Frank".... Fortunately they were wrong....
August 27, 1903, Springfield Republican

Frank Tilley Is Not Dead -
Old Negro reported to have met death in train wreck, is in Kansas City. -
Is Doing Well But Intends to Return to This City Before Hog Killing Time
     Herschel Ingram was in Kansas City Sunday and while there he met Frank Tilley, a well known negro character of this city who was reported to have been killed in a circus wreck.  Mr. Ingram says that it is a fact that Tilley was sober and that he was dressed better than ever before. He is working  hard and keeping straight.
     Old Frank had heard of the newspaper stories about his death and he did not like them. He says that he is not dead at all and that he is going to live anyhow until he dies.  He is very superstitious and doesn't like to talk about death, but he likes much less to have people talking about his demise.
     He sent many tender messages to his friends inn Springfield and among them the following:
"Tell Mars Jim Kirby that I'll be there in time to kill his hogs."
     Tilley had a great love for a colored woman named Flora Groves and this adoration often got him into trouble.  Besides that he is very apt to drink too much and between these two faults they kept him in jail the greater part of the time.  He would always plead guilty when taken into court and would go to jail without an escort, taking his commitment with him.
Only "Uncle Frank" would makes headlines for not being dead - in a Circus Wreck- no less...  Good to hear he was sober, well dressed and working. Also good to see he kept his sense of humor.  I also learned he was superstitious. Wonder if it ran in the family?

About a year later, Uncle Frank would go on to the other side.

First I found this:
May 15, 1904, Springfield Republican

Then I found him in the Missouri, Death Records, 1834-1910 on Missouri, Death Records, 1834-1910 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2008.
After all the stabbings, fights, disturbing the peace, drunken frolicking "Uncle Frank" (as he was affectionately called around town)  participated in, all the news worthy episodes and the many I'm sure were not reported- Uncle Frank cleaned up his act, moved to Kansas City, Mo and died of Pneumonia of all things.  Perhaps the Red Eye Whiskey could have helped him had he stayed an alcoholic? Then again whose to say he wouldn't have been murdered during one of his epic drunken encounters.. 

Uncle Frank just like his Brother Ned Tilley may have had some violent episodes in life, but both seem to me to have been very HONEST men. Ned would honestly tell a guard he had a weapon, and what he intended to do with it, as Frank Plead guilty and walked himself to jail...Perhaps they got it from their dad Joseph Tilley who sued a man for what he believed he was Honestly owed.  So far, the Tilley's may not have led perfect lives, but at least they were honest lives...I can dig it! 

Now on to their sisters: Charlotte and Mariah ( my 3 gr. grand aunt and grandmother)... How did the women  fare after slavery, emancipation and beyond?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Uncle Frank: The Character pt.2

After getting his face and neck sliced up by one of the "Burly" men from Kansas at the "resort" for slapping his "Dusky Sweetheart" after drinking too much "Red Eye" in March of 1900, Frank stayed true to form and was in the Springfield, Greene Co., Missouri jail when the 1900 U.S. Census was taken on June 1st & 2nd of that year:

1900 U.S. Census, Greene Co., Mo

Looks like he spent the rest of the year in and out of jail or court for multiple incidents with his dusky sweetheart Flora....

September 20, 1900, Springfield Republican
November 28, 1900, Springfield Republican
Either he stayed in jail  or perhaps he stayed away from Flora? Maybe he just didn't have any news worthy episodes. Until July of 1901...

July 21, 1901 Springfield Republican

So he gets re-arrested right after being released? He's baaaaackkk!LOL!

Wow...he gets to walk himself to jail? Ha! They must have really trusted him and known him well by then... Don't know how long he stayed or what he did the rest of the year but by May 0f 1902...

May 11, 1902, Springfield Republican

He just couldn't stay away from Flora! Notice her last name is now Graves.. so I'm guessing she got married.   I could just picture two women rolling around on the ground kicking his butt for striking one or causing a drunken scene...

This next article really gives you a glimpse into his cahracter...

Highlights that I found interesting: 
"Traditions shattered" because he was in court as a witness instead of a defendant? "
" He is said to have spent more time in the Greene Co. Jail than any other man" ..impressive...
"When the criminal clerk schedules him out some one always remarks that he will be in jail again before tonight"... perhaps he felt like it was his second home?
"When Tilley was called to the witness stand he unconsciously murmured "I plead guilty, your honor"....LOL! He must have been drunk in court to plead guilty when he was a witness and not a defendant... 

Frank most definitely lived a wild life full of alcoholic fights and lovers quarrels that led to multiple visits to the pokey... He was affectionately called "Uncle Frank" and was well known. He made headlines in life and even  in death...only problem was he wasn't quite dead yet.. 
                        To be continued.....

"Uncle Frank": The Character pt.1

In researching what became of the Tilley's (after my 4th Gr-Grandfather Joseph Tilley sued a white man very soon after slavery ended and won) I discovered that one of my Uncle's, Ned Tilley, was sent to the Penitentiary twice, where he became infamous for dishing out his own brand of justice..

I decided to search for his brother, my 3rd great grand uncle Frank Tilley to see if he too, ended up in prison and here is what I discovered:

In the 1870 Census, Frank was listed as living next door to his parents and younger sister with his wife Edith/Eda. He was a Farm hand. Common occupation- no excitement there.. (Their last name was listed as Smith- haven't uncovered why just yet...)

1870, U.S. Census, Greene Co., Mo.

In the 1880 Census, Frank and Edith live a few blocks away from his parents and he works at a Saloon.

1880, U.S. Census, Greene Co., Mo.

Seeing the word Saloon just brought the time frame to life. Images of old westerns come to mind...  Frank apparently lived up to every Old Western movie Saloon  scene I've ever seen. Below are some newspaper articles I found about my Uncle Frank. Enjoy....:)

Sept. 21, 1886, The Springfield Leader

March 2, 1887, The Springfield Leader

July, 17, 1889, The Springfield Leader

May 13, 1891, The Springfield Leader 
Feb. 28, 1895, The Springfield Leader 
August 9, 1899, The Springfield Leader

 I know domestic violence isn't a laughing matter, but " caressing blow" to his "dusky sweetheart"... LOL? Edith must have left Frank or vice versa by now. This is the first of many domestic disturbances between Frank and his dusky sweetheart  Flora....

 (This one is kind of distorted so I transcribed it below)

March 16, 1900, Springfield Republican

Frank Tilley.
  The battle-scarred hero of over a score of fighting and cutting affrays, is once more the victim of the deadly steel blade.
  Every city has its characters, and Springfield numbers among its list Frank Tilley, the well known colored man, whose face plainly shows that he has enjoyed better days.  Frank frequently takes on board too much :red eye" and then goes hunting for trouble. Yesterday was one of his off days, and he invited one of his rivals to decorate his shapeless physiognomy with a piece of cold steel, which invitation was promptly accepted and now "Uncle Frank" (as he is affectionately called by his associates and companions), is nursing a badly lacerated face.
  For several years, Frank Tilley has been paying attention to a colored woman named Flora Farrier who resides in a Shanty on Olive Street which is in the rear of the Old Coop Tobacco Factory, and a place which has caused the city officers much annoyance and many a drop of blood has been spilled on the rusty old board floor. On last Tuesday morning a couple of burly Negros who claim to hail from the Sunflower State, where they had been at work in the coal mines, appeared at the Olive Street resort and applied for board and lodging. They were accepted as welcome guest and the now "happy" family of which Frank Tilley was a prominent member, proceeded to have a high ? time as the two Negroes from Kansas were well supplied with "?". Booze flowed freely and everything went well until yesterday when Frank Tilley got a "little too gay" with Flora Farrier, the "landlady" and after a war of words, Franks temper got the better of him and he slapped the colored woman at which one of the Burlys from Kansas, who gave his name as Bob ? became infuriated at the actions of Tilley, and drawing his pocket knife, which contained a long ugly looking blade, commenced to curve up on the face of "Uncle Frank" inflicting several very deep wounds upon his cheek and his neck.
   Before the men who did the cutting took his departure from the resort he laid claim to the fact that the woman who went by the name of Flora Farrier, whom Tilley slapped was his wife. The men made their escape and have not as yet been captured.
  The notorious Flora Duncan, who has quite a criminal record , also resides in the house where the affray took place.  

So, Frank was an alcoholic character around town who worked at a Saloon and was a "Prominent Member" of a "family" of characters that reside at a "resort". I can only wonder if the resort was an actual boarding house or a brothel or both...What I do know is that Frank wasn't done making local newspaper headlines...  

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Edward "Ned" Tilley: The Man of "Desperate Character" Strikes Again

In previous post, I've shared how I discovered how Edward "Ned" Tilley, my 3rd Gr-Grand Uncle, already serving a life sentence for murder (after serving previously for aggravated assault), had knocked a prison guard out and caused a stir when he ran around the penitentiary with a knife attempting to find and kill a man  over money. He apparently was not done handing out his own form of  "justice" to those he had contempt for.

The Jefferson City Tribune, Nov. 29 1879

Stabbing Affray At The "Pen"
St. Louis, Nov. 29th.- Ed. Tilley, a convict in the penitentiary at Jefferson City, attacked David Hogan, another convict, with a shoe knife,  yesterday, and before he could be secured, inflicted eleven stabs on his victim, wounding him mortally.  Both were negroes, the former sent up for life for murder.
     What motive Tilley had for making the attack we had not learned. Sometimes since he was Hogan's cell mate, but as Tilley was disagreeable and quarrelsome, they were separated.  He seems to have harbored some ill will against Hogan, and to have planned the deed of yesterday some time ago.  Whatever led him to it does not matter much, as he bears the reputation of being a desperate character, and it needed very little provocation to arouse the devil in him to a sufficient extent to lead him to again stain his hands in the blood of a fellow being.  If his victim dies, he will in all probability find his life sentence much shorter than he has been accustomed to look upon it.- Jefferson City Tribune

 Once again he is described as a desperate character, this time it mentions he has a reputation of needing "very little provocation" to become violent. Again, I couldn't imagine what slavery must have been like for him if his behavior was like this. Here is an article from a few days later that gives a more vivid description of what went down in the David Hogan stabbing incident.

The Sedalia Weekly Bazoo, Dec. 2, 1879

A Dark Deed
     The Penitentiary yesterday morning was the scene of one of the most brutal and bloodthirsty attempts to take human life that our city has known for a long time.  A convict already serving out a life sentence for murder has in all probability added another to it, as it is doubtful that his victim can recover form the wounds he received at the hands of his infuriated assailant. We have gathered up the following facts in regards to the occurrence: Yesterday morning, just after breakfast, while the gang employed in Grinecks Shoe Shop were entering the building, and as the file were passing between two large piles of leather, Ed. Tilley, a negro under  life sentence for murder, from Greene county, attacked David Hogan, also a negro, from Marion county, with a shoe knife which he had concealed about him, and before Hogan had time to turn and see who was his assailant, he received two stabs in the back, the blade of the knife, penetrating to the cavity and cutting the lung, causing an internal hemorrhage, which it is thought will prove fatal.  After Hogan turned, and while attempting to ward off Tilley's attack, he received nine other stabs and cuts, mostly about the head and shoulders.  A convict who undertook to take the knife away from Tilley had his hand badly cut by having the knife drawn through it.
Why they would permit Ned to use a knife or anything else that could be used as a weapon baffles me since he had an apparent reputation for being quarrelsome and trying to stab people.  Again- he hurt someone for trying to stop him from killing someone else. I tried to find out if David Hogan lived or died. I found a David Hogan in Jefferson in the 1880 census listed with a bunch of men so I assume he survived if only for a little while, but my ancestry account is on the fritz, so I cannot view the record to verify it's the penitentiary just yet...

I can only wonder how many violent episodes Ned had in the penitentiary that didn't make the local papers (or that I have yet to find). I do know that he died in the hospital in April 15, 1881. The cause of death I haven't uncovered, but I can only wonder if he died from injuries caused in one of his rampages...

Finding my first "criminal" ancestor was quite exciting.  I must admit, strangely I kind of feel empathy for him even though he was clearly a murderer. Can't really explain why, but I'm okay with that.... Perhaps it's knowing he was a slave, not knowing exactly what his life may have been like, what he experienced. While it may not be a valid excuse for becoming a man of  "desperate character", it opened my mind to what may have became of some after slavery. I suppose not all of my slave ancestors could go on and live decent or successful lives despite the hardships they faced during reconstruction ans thereafter...Something I never really thought about before finding Ned's post slavery story.

 In my quest to find out What Became of the Tilley's , I broadened my own thinking of the possibilities of what became of African Americans post slavery. I also I learned that Ned was NOT the only Tilley to visit the pokey....

To be Continued..... :)


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Edward "Ned" Tilley : A "Bad Man" of "Desperate Character"?

In a facebook genealogy group, someone posted a link to the Chronicling America Newspaper Archive online from the National Archives. (I totally forgot about the site, as searching newspapers online had previously yielded little for me on other searches... )... I decided to see if I could find out more about Edward Tilley's murder case & I hit the jackpot!

This is concerning the murder of Joe Mcgee, the case that Ned was sentenced to life for.
Rolla Express, Feb. 8th, 1873

So from this I learned that the murder occurred during a drunken quarrel at a dance, both Ned and Ed had already been in the penitentiary, and according to this Ed Bryant did the stabbing while Ned was his assistant. I wonder why Ed Bryant was released and given a lighter sentence if this was the case? Hmmmm... I also learned that they were some "desperate characters" which I can only assume meant thugs, bad men, dangerous. After all it says "armed to the teeth -carbines and revolvers, " and they had the guts to run.

But wait there's more....
The State Journal, Aug. 4, 1876
State Historical Society of Missouri, Columbia, Mo

(Its not as clear so I'll transcribe it:)

A Convict On A Rampage - Makes a desperate Assault on a Guard
    Tilley is the name of a negro convict, sent up from Green County, for life, for killing a man.
He is regarded as a bad man-one that will bear constant watching. Yesterday it became rumored that he has a knife in his possession, and John Wiley, his guard questioned him about it. He was at work at the time- in the stone-shed. He denied having the knife about his person, but had it concealed somewhere in the prison. He said he had use for it.That he had given on of the prisoners, whom he named, some money for some outside use, but instead of using the money as directed and promised, the prisoner claimed to have lost it. But if the prisoner did not return it he intended to kill him with the knife.
   After further controversy Tilley said to the guard Wiley that he would go and get the knife. Wiley replied that he would go along. Tilley objected to this and as Wiley was turning away, with the purpose of reporting the matter to headquarters, perhaps the negro STRUCK HIM ON THE HEAD and felled him to the earth with a stone pick.
   The negro then ran across the yard and got his knife and started on the hunt for the prisoner he charged with keeping his money, threatening vengeance on him. While he was rampaging around, Pat Crump, Yard Boss, came in on him and at the persuasive presentation of a revolver SURRENDERED.
    During the disturbance Zwinger, one of the wall guards fired his gun.This caused considerable excitement. Otherwise it would have been a very quiet affair.  Wiley is not much hurt. Tilley the prisoner will likely get fifty lashes and a season in the blind cell.
     Ned Tilley was most definitely a character! Needed his OWN guard?... He wanted justice for his money, and he intended to get it. Reminds me of his father, suing a white man, in a slave state just 2 months after slavery ended. How he did it definitely differs, but the intent is the same. The fact that he told the guard what he had planned, and he didn't kill the guard with the stone pick-though seems he could have - shows he was not just crazy or violent without cause, but strong willed and a man of his word, even though his words were about a murder.....
    Fifty lashes? A season in the blind cell? I can't help but wonder if all those scars mentioned previously were from beatings during slavery? He doesn't seem like he'd make a good slave... Probably got punished quite often. No telling what he endured as a young slave and the short time he was free after slavery ended....
Perhaps whatever happened to him contributed to making him a "murderous bad-man of desperate character"...He definitely caused quite a ruckus....

And he wasn't done.....

Edward "Ned" Tilley: Locked Up....But Why?

So, after finding my 3rd Gr. Grand Uncle, Ned Tilley, in the 1870 U.S. Census in the State Penitentiary, I knew I had to find out what he did to land himself in prison of all places! I wasn't sure where to go, and google took me to the state archives site that mentioned a Penitentiary inmate register book. I then turned to one of the Missouri Genealogy Facebook groups hoping someone had access to this book, and someone gave me the email on how to request a look - up from the archives.  Someone else gave me a link to the newspaper database on the Missouri Digital Archives website where I found this:

Apparently, this was a clipping from a scrapbook full of clippings about the History of Springfield. No date was listed. I thought I solved part of the mystery. I now knew what he went to jail for, yet many questions remained...Was it self defense? An Accident? Did he really do it? Why I wanted him to be innocent, I do not know... That thinking went out the window when I got an email response from the archives telling me they found him in the register, not once but twice! I requested copies of the records, and here's what I found out:

First Offense:
Edward "Ned" Tilley, just 16 yr old- was sentenced to 5 years in prison on December 25, 1869, for felonious assault. He is described as: Height: 5ft 5/2 in,
                                                        Length of foot: 9 inches ( Strange they noted it?)
                                                        Complexion : Dark Copper (Never seen this before!LOL!)
                                                        Trade: Laborer

Marks and Scars: Two small scars on left side of forehead, scar on forehead, small scar on right arm, scar on right knee, scar over left (?), scar on front of left thigh.

He was pardoned by Gov. Brown on September 25, 1871 and released December 25, 1871 after serving 2yrs of the 5yr sentence.

I'm thinking perhaps he wasn't so bad after all if they let him out early...

2nd Offense:
 Here Ned and Ed (HA!) were both charged with 2nd Degree Murder June 10,1873. Ed Bryant was sentenced to 15 yrs, and Edward "Ned" Tilley was sentenced to Life. This was for the murder mentioned in the previous clipping, but notice Ed Bryant was "Out on Writ of Habeas Corpus-( by) Feb. 20, 1874"

 Ned Tilley was not so lucky... It says he " Died in Hospital April 15, 1881" at only about 27 years of age...

This seems like it should have been enough. I found out what he went to jail for, when and where he died. What he may have looked like...but I still didn't feel like I knew enough about the case. Perhaps because the last name of the victim - Mcgee- may have been related to me on the same line, perhaps even an  in-law of Ned Tilley as in the 1876 Census, a Peter Mcgee is living with Ned's niece's future husband's Family, and Bryants are always listed close by.

That deep curiosity that a new genealogical find causes wouldn't leave me alone!! So I followed it...

To be Continued......:)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What Became Of The Tilleys?

I wondered if my 4th Gr- Grandfather ever received the money from the judgement he won against John M. B. Dent. I think he did!

The Tilley's mentioned in the court case were: 
Joseph &  Elizabeth Tilley

Their children:
Mariah Tilley
Edward Tilley (Ned)
Frank Tilley
Charlotte Tilley
I found the family in the 1870 Census:.

"United States Census, 1870," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 23 May 2013), Joseph Smith, .
Here, Joseph, Elizabeth and their daughter Charlotte are living next door to their son Frank and his wife Edith(Eda).  Joseph's real estate was valued at $500. He managed to own land just a few yrs after being destitute.  He either used that $150 judgement wisely or he worked very hard or both! Awesome to see them doing well.  His youngest daughter Charlotte also was in school, and while she couldn't yet write, she was reading!  

They initially were difficult to find because I was searching for Tilley's while they were going by the last name Smith. Why? I have no clue. Perhaps they received backlash for suing a white man immediately after slavery? Or maybe it was just an error? All just wild guesses, could really be anything. I do know that they go back to using Tilley by the 1876 Missouri Census. 

My 3rd Gr- Grandmother Mariah was on the very next census page go figure! 

She had already married My 3rd Gr-Grandpa William Jackson and started a family. 

This left me with one Tilley left to find in 1870 (or so I thought! But that's another blog!), my 3rd Gr. Grand Uncle Edward "Ned" Tilley.   I found him in Jefferson City, Missouri in the Penitentiary of all places. 

I immediately wondered what he did to get sent to prison. Until this, I haven't found much scandal in my family history. I must say it was kinda exciting!LOL! What I found out was kinda fascinating... 

                                            To Be Continued ........

Joseph Tilley Papers: Judgement Day

This is the 5th and final posts concerning the court case of Joseph Tilley vs. John Dent that I blogged about previously. Here are the links to the previous post: 

Recap: In March of 1865 my 4th Gr-Grandfather Joseph Tilley, a former slave, sued a white man named John Dent just two months after slavery ended in Missouri.  He was too poor to pay for the fees to sue, so he petitioned the court to execute his claim as a poor person. John Dent responded to the suit by claiming that my grandfather, Joseph, actually owed him money for moving and boarding him and his wife & kids. The spring court session ended at the end of May.....

Later on that year when the court resumed, on December 5th a judgement was made. I had already made a pretty strong assumption that my 4th gr-grandfather would lose the case. Just didn't seem likely to me that a black man- suing a white man-in Missouri- 2 months after slavery ended would get a victory or justice...

8th day- Dec 5th

Joseph Tilley Plaintiff
John Dent Defendant
                                                                               Now at this day comes the plaintiff by atty(attorney) and it appearing to the court that the defendant has been duly served with process at least fifteen days before the first day of the present term of this court, and having failed to plead answer or ? to plaintiffs petition the same is taken as confessed, and this action being founded on an open account whereby the defendants indebtedness is ascertained on examinations of the same the court doth find that the said defendant is indebted to plaintiff in the sum of one hundred and fifty dollars, for his debt, it is therefore considered, adjudged and decreed by the court that the plaintiff have and recover of and from the defendant his said debt together with his costs laid out and expended in this behalf and that he have therefor execution.

I was wrong...He won!  Even though it was because John Dent didn't return to court for the second term, the fact that he won, was still a pleasant surprise. He didn't get the full $208.00 he sued for, but $150 in 1865 was probably a small fortune for a recently freed slave who in his petition stated that he was destitute.I am proud to come from such strong willed people. What became of Joseph & his family? Stay tuned.....

(Sidenote: I stated in an earlier blog I hadn't been able to find the family in 1870...Since then I have found them in the same place, but under the last name Smith. Why? I have no idea. My imagination wonders if he had to change his name because of backlash from this case(?), but that's just my imagination for

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Joseph Tilley Papers Pt 4: The Accused Responds (& Confuses Me!)

This is Part four of the Greene County, Missouri Circuit Court Records concerning the case of Joseph Tilley vs. John Dent that I blogged about previously. The following are links to the previous post
 Part 1
 Part 2
 Part 3

John W. B. Dent's Response
6th Day May 22nd

Joseph Tilley  } In the Probate & Common Pleas Court
   against            Court of Greene Co., Mo
John  Dent         May Term, 1865

                                                      The Defendant comes and defends the wrong & injury, when & where to, and denies being indebted to to the Plaintiff in the manner and form as stated in his Petition and says that the said Plaintiff is justly indebted to the Defendant in the sum of one hundred and thirty two dollars as per account here with filed, wherefore he prays judgement.
                                                                                                              John M B Dent
John Dent Plaintiff in the above entitled cause makes his oath and says the matters and things as stated he believes to be true.                                                                           John M B Dent

So, John Dent claims he doesn't owe my 4th Great Grandfather, Joseph Tilley, but that Joseph actually owes him $132.00. The first thing I thought of are the stories I've read or seen in Post Slave era films where the sharecroppers get stiffed by the land owners after working hard from sunrise to sunset, only to be told they actually owe money for food, medicine, shoes, or the wife's bloomers. Then I realized that Joseph mentioned he was only recently freed and that I have no evidence to guess what type of relationship the two men had. Below is the account filed by John M B Dent to show why he thought Joseph actually owed him money:

John M B Dent's Account

1864 March
                       Joseph Tilley to John M.B. Dent
To hawling & moving Self &                  A Ch. ( I think this means A Charge of:)
Family & Personal Effects                       50.00
from Washington Co., Ark
                               (Months)  (Cost)
" Boarding Wife       8 mo     c 10$          80.00
   Per Month
" Boarding Child
   Charlotte              8 mo      c 10$           80.00
    Per Month
" Boarding Mariah 4 mo       c 10$           40.00
       "  boy  Frank   4 mo       c 10$           40.00
       "  boy  Ned      4 mo       c 10$           40.00
   Clothing & Money for                           10.00
   your  family                                                     
James Thompson aquit for Jno MB Dent makes oath and says that the above account is just and tru to the best of his knowledge and belief.      
                                                               J. Thompson
Sworn to and subscribed
May 13th 1865
John W. Lisenby  CLK
Wait... So this is where I scratched my head and decided something was fishy. This account is suppose to be from 1864, but submitted to the court on May 13, 1865. John Dent claims Joseph owes him $340.00. By May 22nd, his statement states that he is owed $132.00.  So either Joseph, while still a slave or immediately after being free,  somehow paid John about $208.00 between March 1864- May 1865, leaving a balance of $132.00, if John's account is true....
Remember from part 1, that Joseph is suing John Dent for $208.00.   Is Joseph suing for money he previously paid to John Dent? If so, where would he get that kind of money as a slave?  He states he is poor with a large family and recently freed in his claim against Dent.  Perhaps John forged this account and lied about being owed all together?
Another question mark this left me fumbling with was that John Dent remained in Washington. Co, Arkansas. He was apparently still there at the time of this case, and the subpoenas for the witnesses were all his neighbors who remained in Arkansas too. John Dent states in his account he moved Joseph and his family from Washington Co. Arkansas. To where? Why would he pay for Joseph to move his family to Springfield, Greene Co. Missouri a year before slavery was over or immediately after? Funny how one discovery leads to 100 more new questions...I may never know exactly what was going on between John & Joseph, but I'll be sure to keep looking....

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Joseph Tilley Papers Pt 3 : Destitute & Resolute

This is Part Three of the Greene County, Missouri Circuit Court Records concerning the case of Joseph Tilley vs. John Dent that I blogged about here & here .

Plantiffs Motion to Prosecute Suit
May 25, 1865
Joseph Tilley     Plantiff


John Dent          Defendant

                                              Joseph Tilley comes and moves the court for leave to person prosecute the above suit as a poor person without securing the payment of the costs of such suit, and he states that he has but recently become a free person , and has a large family to support and is unable to prosecute his suit and pay the costs thereof, that he believes he has a good and just cause of action against the defendant which will be lost if not permitted to prosecute the suit without securing the payment of the costs and that he is a stranger here and unable to obtain personal security for the payment of the costs.
                                                  Joseph X Tilley

Sworn to and subscribed before me this 25th  May 1865
                                                  John W. Lisenby , Clerk

     So, Joseph Tilley, my 4th gr-grandfather, a recently freed slave not only filed a law suit against a white man in  Missouri in 1865, but he didn't let a little thing like being too poor to pay for it deter him in receiving what was owed to him. It's a remarkable feeling to know that I come from people like Joseph! 
Courage is defined as: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.
      Joseph, who despite the odd's against him, despite the circumstances of his environment,  had the "Courage" to press ahead and go for what was owed to him and his family, my family.  
      I also learned from this part of the court files that he was recently freed and new to the area. I now know when about my Tilley family settled in Springfield, Greene Co., Missouri.  I haven't found them in the 1870 census as of yet, but I have them in  an 1876 Missouri Census, and in the 1880 US Census.  It does show that he became (or perhaps was already) a Gardner. It also list both he and his wife's (my 4th gr-grandmother) birthplaces as Maryland. So - from Maryland, to Arkansas, to Missouri is the route of Joseph and Elizabeth's migration as slaves/free people. I can only wonder and hope to one day discover just how many owners they may have had...  While it doesn't list whether or not he owns or rents, or his worth, it really doesn't matter. He may have been destitute, but he was most definitely resolute! 
More to come....:)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Joseph Tilley Papers Pt. 2: The Petition

They came! (About 3 weeks ago!)... Greene County, Missouri Circuit Court Records concerning the case of Joseph Tilley vs. John Dent that I blogged about here .
Joseph Tilley vs.John M. B. Dent
Greene Co., MO Circuit Court Record
Green County, Missouri Archives
Filed March 3, 1865
Date Filed: March 3, 1865 ( on reverse)
State of Missouri  { In Probate & Common
County of Green     Pleas Court, May Term 1865                                

Joseph Tilley,  Plaintiff


John Dent,   Defendant 

                        Plaintiff states that the defendant is indebted to the plaintiff in the sum of Two Hundred and Eight dollars for the services of plaintiffs children as follows

         To  Services and labor of Boy Frank
                for Eight Months @ 10$                            80.00

          "   Services and labor of Boy Ned for
               Eight Months @ 10$                                   80.00

          "   Services of Girl Mariah
               for 8 Months  @ 6.00                                  48.00
Plaintiff therefore asks judgement against the defendant for the sum of Two Hundred and Eight dollars.
                                                            Attn. for Plff

Joseph Tilley Plff makes oath and says the above petition and the matters therein as stated he believes to be true
                                                            Joseph X Tilley 

Mariah  mentioned above is my third gr-grandma Mariah Tilley born abt. 1847, died in 1930.  Although she was the oldest child, her work was worth less than that of her two younger brothers. Frank was born about 1849, and Ned was born in 1854.  So in 1865 they were about 18, 16, and 11 yrs of age. They also had another sister named Charlotte born about 1855 meaning she would have been about 10 years old. Why she was not working alongside her siblings is a mystery. I also wonder what Jospeh and his wife Elizabeth were doing while the kids were working.  

Initially when I read the petition, I thought this was a case of sharecropping gone wrong where the white land owner refused to pay for work done. But the dates made me go hmm...  a quick google search and according to wikipedia, 

" As one of the border states, Missouri was exempt from President Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Emancipation Proclamation decreeing the freedom of slaves in all territory then held by Confederate forces. Governor Thomas C. Fletcher ended slavery in Missouri on January 11, 1865, by executive proclamation."

This would means that Joseph Tilley sued John M. B. Dent only about two months after slavery ended. How or why then would he be suing for 8 months worth of work. All I could think of was that perhaps his owner allowed for him to hire out his children's labor for profit. When I first found out this case existed, the bulletin mentioned that John Dent may have owned Joseph at one point.

This posed two new questions:
  1.)  Was John M.B. Dent the former owner of Joseph and his family? 
  2.) Could Joseph be suing his former owner for labor performed during the last months of
  3.) Did Joseph just hire out his children to Dent with the permission of his slave owner?

So many questions.... to be continued...