Introduction to Miller et al. v. B. Holladay and W. Holladay
Miller, Haws, JS, and H. Smith v. B. Holladay and W. Holladay
Hancock Co., Illinois, Circuit Court, 7 May 1841
In November 1840, , , JS, and initiated a civil suit against Benjamin and William Holladay, seeking $2,000 in compensation for damage to the steamboat Nauvoo. In the late 1830s, the government had purchased the steamboat Des Moines as part of operations led by Lieutenant Robert E. Lee to improve navigation and travel conditions by blasting and removing rock on narrow portions of the , beginning at the Des Moines rapids. After the federal government ordered the project to be discontinued in 1840, Lee sold the Des Moines at auction on 10 September 1840. JS, Hyrum Smith, Haws, George Miller, and purchased the steamboat by promissory note for $4,866.38, payable in eight months, and renamed it the Nauvoo. The Holladays were hired to pilot the boat, but due to alleged “unskilfullness and willfull mismanagement” as well as reckless piloting, they damaged it by running into a sandbar, causing several timbers in the hull to split and crack. At the time, the boat, which was en route from , Illinois, to , was laden with 180 tons of lead belonging to Campbell & Co. The incident delayed the shipment five months and resulted in significant loss to the company.
On 30 November 1840, JS, , and other signers of the note filed a “” civil action against the Holladays in the Circuit Court, claiming damages of $2,000. Samuel Hicks filed an affidavit charging the Holladays with intentionally and willfully destroying the boat. Hicks also stated that unless the court intervened to require the defendants to appear at trial, they might flee the area and the plaintiffs would lose their judgment. Based on the affidavit, the circuit court clerk issued a writ of . The Holladays were then arrested, after which they entered into a binding them to appear at the April 1841 term of the circuit court for the trial and were released on . When the term began, the circuit court clerk summoned Thomas Oram and a steamboat captain named Newton Waggoner to testify in the Holladays’ behalf, but neither Oram nor Waggoner could be found. In addition, on 23 April 1841 the law firm Walker, Little & Morrison—presumably , , and —filed the plaintiffs’ outlining their cause of action against the Holladays. In May 1841, the case was dismissed by motion of the plaintiffs for unknown reasons.
Calendar of Documents
This calendar lists all known documents created by or for the court, whether extant or not. It does not include versions of documents created for other purposes, though those versions may be listed in footnotes. In certain cases, especially in cases concerning unpaid debts, the originating document (promissory note, invoice, etc.) is listed here. Note that documents in the calendar are grouped with their originating court. Where a version of a document was subsequently filed with another court, that version is listed under both courts.
30 November 1840
Samuel Hicks, Affidavit, before S. Otho Williams, Carthage, Hancock Co., IL
30 Nov. 1840; microfilm in Circuit Court case files, 1830–1900, CHL; handwriting of S. Otho Williams; signature of Samuel Hicks by his mark; docket and notation in handwriting of S. Otho Williams.
30 November 1840
S. Otho Williams, Capias ad Respondendum, to Hancock Co. Sheriff, for Benjamin Holladay and William Holladay, Carthage, Hancock Co., IL
30 Nov. 1840; microfilm in Circuit Court case files, 1830–1900, CHL; printed form with manuscript additions in handwriting of S. Otho Williams; docket printed with manuscript additions in handwriting of S. Otho Williams; notations printed with manuscript additions in handwriting of William D. Abernethy.
30 November 1840
Benjamin Holladay and Others, Recognizance, to Samuel Abernathy, Hancock Co., IL
30 Nov. 1840. Not extant.
3 April 1841
S. Otho Williams, Subpoena, to Hancock Co. Sheriff, for Thomas Oram and Newton Waggoner, Carthage, Hancock Co., IL
3 Apr. 1841; Hancock County Courthouse, Carthage, IL; microfilm 4,661,986 at FHL; handwriting of S. Otho Williams; docket in handwriting of S. Otho Williams; notation in handwriting of William D. Abernethy.
Ca. 23 April 1841
Walker, Little & Morrison on behalf of George Miller and Others, Declaration, Hancock Co., IL
Ca. 23 Apr. 1841; Hancock County Courthouse, Carthage, IL; microfilm 4,661,986 at FHL; unidentified handwriting; docket in unidentified handwriting; notation in handwriting of S. Otho Williams.
7 May 1841
Docket Entry, Dismissal, Carthage, Hancock Co., IL
7 May 1841; Hancock County Circuit Court Record, vol. C, p. 84, Hancock County Courthouse, Carthage, IL; microfilm at FHL; unidentified handwriting.
Between ca. 19 June and ca. 22 September 1841
Docket Entry, Carthage, Hancock Co., IL
Between ca. 19 June and ca. 22 Sept. 1841; Hancock County Circuit Court, Execution Docket, vol. A, p. , Hancock County Courthouse, Carthage, IL; image in Hancock County Papers, 1830–1872, CHL; handwriting of S. Otho Williams.
Oaks and Bentley, “Joseph Smith and Legal Process,” 738–739. The U.S. attorney’s register of cases listed Haws as the principal and others as sureties to the promissory note; however, entries in the steamboat ledger indicate JS and others were partners, not simply sureties, and received periodic cash payments from the business. (Register of Miscellaneous Suits, 1834–1848, microfilm, Records of the Solicitor of the Treasury, copy at CHL; Steamboat Nauvoo Ledger, 1840, CHL.)
Oaks, Dallin H., and Joseph I. Bentley. “Joseph Smith and Legal Process: In the Wake of the Steamboat Nauvoo.” Brigham Young University Law Review, no. 3 (1976): 735–782.
Records of the Solicitor of the Treasury / National Archives Reference Service Report, 23 Sept. 1964. “Record Group 206, Records of the Solicitor of the Treasury, and Record Group 46, Records of the United States Senate: Records Relating to the Mormons in Illinois, 1839–1848 (Records Dated 1840–1852), Including Memorials of Mormons to Congress, 1840–1844, Some of Which Relate to Outrages Committed against the Mormons in Missouri, 1831–1839.” Microfilm. Washington DC: National Archives and Records Service, General Services Administration, 1964. Copy at CHL.
Hancock County Circuit Clerk’s Office, Hancock County Courthouse. Carthage, IL.
Keemle, Charles. The Saint Louis Directory, for the Years 1836–7: Containing the Names of the Inhabitants, Their Occupations, Numbers of Their Places of Business and Dwellings; with a Sketch of the City of St. Louis. . . . St. Louis: C. Keemle, 1836.
Affidavit, 30 Nov. 1840 [Miller et al. v. B. Holladay and W. Holladay]. Little is known about Hicks or why he filed this affidavit, but he was qualified to identify the steamboat damage, having “worked for several years on steamboats.” (“Samuel Barton Hicks,” Biographical Entry, Hahn Library, http://www.hahnlibrary.net/cgi-bin/genealogy/igmget.pl/n=Hicks-Stuewer?I0482 [accessed 22 Oct. 2020].)
Affidavit, 30 Nov. 1840 [Miller et al. v. B. Holladay and W. Holladay]. Illinois law required any request for a writ of capias ad respondendum to be accompanied by an affidavit detailing the wrong committed and showing how the “damages sustained” were “in danger of being lost,” thereby requiring the apprehension of the defendant. Following the arrest, the defendant could be released on bail after entering into a recognizance binding him or her to appear at the next session of the circuit court for trial. (An Act concerning Special Bail [26 Jan. 1827], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois, p. 88, sec. 1.)
The Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois: Containing All the Laws . . . Passed by the Ninth General Assembly, at Their First Session, Commencing December 1, 1834, and Ending February 13, 1835; and at Their Second Session, Commencing December 7, 1835, and Ending January 18, 1836; and Those Passed by the Tenth General Assembly, at Their Session Commencing December 5, 1836, and Ending March 6, 1837; and at Their Special Session, Commencing July 10, and Ending July 22, 1837. . . . Compiled by Jonathan Young Scammon. Chicago: Stephen F. Gale, 1839.