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....

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