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....:)