Introduction to Saunders v. Dixon

Document Transcript

Saunders. v. Dixon
Nauvoo, Hancock Co., Illinois, Justice of the Peace Court, circa 4 February 1844
Historical Introduction
In February 1844, Abraham Saunders sued Thomas Dixon for an unidentified complaint that was to be heard before JS as justice of the peace in , Illinois. On 4 February, JS subpoenaed William Harris, Royal P. Saunders, James A. Saunders, and Silas S. Saunders as witnesses to appear before him on 10 February. Because the subpoena apparently is the only extant case document, nothing else is known of the suit, including whether JS heard the case or if the parties settled out of court.
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

    Subpoena, 4 Feb. 1844 [Saunders v. Dixon]. The Nauvoo city charter authorized JS as mayor to serve as a justice of the peace. Illinois law limited the jurisdiction of justices of the peace to disputed debts under $100. Justices of the peace also had jurisdiction “in all actions of trespass on personal property, and in all actions of trover and conversion,” when damages claimed did not exceed $20. (Act to Incorporate the City of Nauvoo, 16 Dec. 1840; 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. 402, sec. 1; An Act Supplemental to the Act Entitled “An Act concerning Justices of the Peace and Constables” [12 Feb. 1827], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois [1834–1837], p. 414.)  

    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.

  2. 2

    Subpoena, 4 Feb. 1844 [Saunders v. Dixon]. Damage to the manuscript partially obscures the date when the witnesses were ordered to appear before JS. It may be either 10 or 20 February 1844. According to JS’s journal, he “held court” on 10 February for State of Illinois v. Withers for assault, although there is no mention of Saunders v. Dixon in that entry. There is no indication in the journal or elsewhere of any trials on 20 February. (JS, Journal, 10 Feb. 1844.)