Introduction to M. F. Thompson v. F. Dixon and E. Dixon

Document Transcript

M. F. Thompson v. F. Dixon and E. Dixon
Nauvoo, Hancock Co., Illinois, Mayor’s Court, 6 April 1843
Hancock Co. Circuit Court, Illinois, 17 May 1843
Historical Introduction
In early April 1843, commenced an action in to recover payment of a debt owed her by Francis and Elizabeth Dixon. The particulars of the debt are unknown. JS, presiding over this case as a justice of the peace in the mayor’s court in , Illinois, issued a summons for the Dixons on 1 April and scheduled the trial for 8 April. Sometime between 1 and 5 April, Thompson swore an oath in which she expressed her concern that there was a risk of her claim being lost unless the Dixons were apprehended. JS dismissed the summons and instead issued a for their arrest. The couple were taken into custody on 5 April and the trial was held the next day. Six witnesses testified for Thompson, while two testified on the Dixons’ behalf. JS ruled in Thompson’s favor, awarding her $17.87½.
The Dixons appealed to the Circuit Court in , Illinois, with the appeal scheduled for the May 1843 term. On 26 April, the circuit court ordered JS to suspend proceedings until the appeal was resolved. However, on 10 May, before the trial commenced, the parties settled their differences, with the Dixons paying the judgment in the lower court and agreeing to pay the costs accrued during the appeal, while agreed to pay the costs of the initial suit before JS. On 17 May, the circuit court dismissed the suit.
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.


  1. 1

    As a widow, Thompson was not bound by legal practice at the time that did not allow married women to bring actions in their own name. It is possible the Dixons owed her for lodging. Before the death of her husband, Robert, in 1841, Thompson rented to boarders to help pay family expenses. (See Swan, Practice in Civil Actions, 1:53; Stephen, Treatise on the Principles of Pleading in Civil Actions, 152; and Thompson, Autobiographical Sketch, 6.)  

    Swan, Joseph R. The Practice in Civil Actions and Proceedings at Law, in Ohio, and Precedents in Pleading, with Practical Notes; together with the Forms of Process and Clerks’ Entries. 2 vols. Columbus: Isaac N. Whiting, 1845.

    Stephen, Henry John, and Francis J. Troubat. A Treatise on the Principles of Pleading in Civil Actions; Comprising a Summary View of the Whole Proceedings in a Suit at Law. 2nd American ed. Philadelphia: Robert H. Small, 1831.

    Thompson, Mercy Rachel Fielding. Autobiographical Sketch, 1880. CHL. MS 4580.

  2. 2

    The Nauvoo charter provided that the mayor “shall have all the powers of Justices of the Peace therein, both in civil and criminal cases.” (Act to Incorporate the City of Nauvoo, 16 Dec. 1840.)  

  3. 3

    Illinois law authorized plaintiffs to state, under oath, the danger of losing a debt and the cause of that danger. If the justice found reason to accept the claim, then a writ of capias ad respondendum would be issued for the defendant’s arrest. (An Act concerning Justices of the Peace and Constables [3 Feb. 1827], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois [1834–1837], p. 403, sec. 4.)  

    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.

  4. 4

    Docket Entry, 1–ca. 6 Apr. 1843 [M. F. Thompson v. F. Dixon and E. Dixon]; Summons, 26 Apr. 1843 [M. F. Thompson v. F. Dixon and E. Dixon].  

  5. 5

    Agreement, 10 May 1843 [M. F. Thompson v. F. Dixon and E. Dixon].  

  6. 6

    Docket Entry, Dismissal, 17 May 1843 [M. F. Thompson v. F. Dixon and E. Dixon]. The costs of the initial suit were $8.75. The costs for the appeal were approximately $25.57. Hancock County sheriff William Backenstos reported in December 1843 that the Dixons had paid the costs of the appeal, while Thompson had not yet paid the costs of the initial suit. (Docket Entry, ca. 17 May 1843 [M. F. Thompson v. F. Dixon and E. Dixon]; Docket Entry, Fieri Facias, between 18 Sept. and ca. 17 Dec. 1843 [M. F. Thompson v. F. Dixon and E. Dixon].)