Introduction to JS v. O. Cowdery

Document Transcript

JS v. O. Cowdery
Hancock Co., Illinois, Circuit Court, 29 October 1844
 
Historical Introduction
In October 1841, an unidentified attorney, operating on behalf of JS, sought an injunction against in the , Illinois, Circuit Court in chancery. Many of the details surrounding this case are unknown. Presumably, it revolved around an outstanding debt or financial arrangement between the two men, since at the time JS commenced this suit, he and other church leaders were particularly concerned about outstanding debts contracted in and . At least some of these debts likely involved Cowdery. Conflict over unspecified debts with Cowdery continued among some church leaders through at least December 1842.
According to the law governing chancery proceedings, JS and his attorney would have initiated the suit by filing a “bill of injunction” that summarized JS’s complaint against . JS’s bill is apparently not extant. Illinois law and examples of similar cases from around this time suggest that upon receiving JS’s bill, the circuit court likely issued an injunction and a summons for Cowdery. However, Cowdery did not live in Illinois at the time and was practicing law in Tiffin, Ohio. In such cases, Illinois law specified that notice of proceedings against nonresidents should be published in a local newspaper. Accordingly, on 26 January 1842, JS’s attorney filed an affidavit in the Circuit Court attesting that Cowdery was not a resident of Illinois. The of the court then prepared a notice instructing Cowdery to appear at the May 1842 term of the court to answer JS’s bill. The notice stated that if Cowdery failed to appear, the court would proceed as if he had confessed and rule against him. The notice was published in the Warsaw Signal nine times over succeeding months. Cowdery did not appear at the May term, but the court did not rule against him. Rather, the case was continued multiple times until the October 1844 term, when, due to JS’s death, it was dismissed “for want of prosecution.”
 
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.

Footnotes

  1. 1

    Minutes and Discourse, 1–5 Oct. 1841.  

  2. 2

    One of the charges levied against Cowdery at his April 1838 excommunication was that he was “dishonestly Retaining notes after they had been paid.” This apparently refers to a dispute over promissory notes he had received from JS and Sidney Rigdon in exchange for his share in the church printing office in Kirtland, Ohio. Although JS and Rigdon argued they had fulfilled their debt, Cowdery had not surrendered their notes. (Minutes, 12 Apr. 1838.)  

  3. 3

    At some point Cowdery apparently gave all the promissory notes from church leaders in his possession to Oliver Granger, the church’s agent in Kirtland. Granger died in 1841 before he could finalize his business, after which his son Gilbert obtained the notes, leading to additional conflicts over the debts. Cowdery blamed Oliver Granger for these developments and promised in December 1842 that if anyone tried to collect on the notes, church leaders could write to him immediately “and let the fraud be made manifest in a lawful way and that would put a stop to the whole affair.” (Phineas Young, Tiffin, OH, to Brigham Young and Willard Richards, Nauvoo, IL, 14 Dec. 1842, Brigham Young Office Files, CHL; Account with Estate of Oliver Granger, between ca. 3 Feb. and ca. 2 Mar. 1842; Memorandum of Deeds, 3 Mar. 1842.)  

    Brigham Young Office Files, 1832–1878. CHL. CR 1234 1.

  4. 4

    Notice, 26 Jan. 1842 [JS v. O. Cowdery]; An Act Prescribing the Mode of Proceeding in Chancery [13 Feb. 1833], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois, p. 139, sec. 2.  

    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.

  5. 5

    An Act Prescribing the Mode of Proceeding in Chancery [13 Feb. 1833], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois, p. 139, sec. 3; Transcript, 4 Aug. 1842, Carpenter v. Wash et al. [Sangamon Co. Cir. Ct. 1842], in Benner and Davis et al., Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln.  

    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.

    Benner, Martha L., Cullom Davis, Daniel W. Stowell, John A. Lupton, Susan Krause, Stacy Pratt McDermott, Christopher A. Schnell, and Dennis E. Suttles, eds. The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln: Complete Documentary Edition. 2nd ed. Springfield, IL: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, 2009. Accessed 3 Nov. 2016. http://www.lawpracticeofabrahamlincoln.org.

  6. 6

    Cowdery was residing and practicing law in Tiffin, Ohio, as early as 1840. (Walker, “Oliver Cowdery: The First Mormon Lawyer,” Clark Memorandum, Spring 2014, 43.)  

    Walker, Jeffrey N. “Oliver Cowdery: The First Mormon Lawyer,” Clark Memorandum, (Spring 2014): 38–45.

  7. 7

    An Act Prescribing the Mode of Proceeding in Chancery [13 Feb. 1833], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois, p. 140, sec. 5.  

    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.

  8. 8

    Notice, 26 Jan. 1842 [JS v. O. Cowdery].  

  9. 9

    Notice, 26 Jan. 1842 [JS v. O. Cowdery]; Warsaw (IL) Signal, 9 Feb. 1842, [3]; Warsaw Signal, 16 Feb. 1842, [3]; Warsaw Signal, 23 Feb. 1842, [3]; Warsaw Signal, 9 Mar. 1842, [4]; Warsaw Signal, 23 Mar. 1842, [3]; Warsaw Signal, 23 Mar. 1842, [4]; Warsaw Signal, 27 Apr. 1842, [3]; Warsaw Signal, 4 May 1842, [2].  

  10. 10

    Docket Entry, Continuance, 14 May 1842 [JS v. O. Cowdery].  

  11. 11

    Docket Entry, Continuance, 15 Oct. 1842 [JS v. O. Cowdery]; Docket Entry, Continuance, 27 May 1843 [JS v. O. Cowdery]; Docket Entry, Continuance, 18 Oct. 1843 [JS v. O. Cowdery]; Docket Entry, Continuance, 20 May 1844; Docket Entry, Dismissal, 29 Oct. 1844 [JS v. O. Cowdery].