Wednesday, May 22, 2013

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

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