Introduction to Underwood, Bald, Spencer & Hufty v. Rigdon et al.

Document Transcript

Underwood, Bald, Spencer & Hufty v. Rigdon, JS, E. Boynton, S. Foster, McWithey, Joseph Smith Sr., Bosley, Parker, Holmes, W. Smith, J. Butterfield, Packard, Clark, Webb, Carrico, and A. Allen
Geauga Co., Ohio, Court of Common Pleas, 16 April 1839
 
Historical Introduction
In June 1837, attorneys for the engraving firm Underwood, Bald, Spencer & Hufty brought a lawsuit against JS, , and several other men who owed a debt to the firm for the engraving and printing of banknotes. In October 1836, JS, , and other church leaders began organizing a bank in , Ohio, which they named the . That same month, an agent acting on behalf of the bank—likely —commissioned Underwood, Bald, Spencer & Hufty to engrave and print a series of banknotes. Cowdery brought the finished printing plates and printed banknotes back to Kirtland Township by the end of December 1836. There is no extant record for the initial payment, though it was probably a promissory note given to the firm by Cowdery. The debt appears to have been renegotiated when JS and fifteen other Kirtland residents signed a new promissory note for $1,450.
The legal firm Andrews & Foot, representing the engravers, began an action in in the Court of Common Pleas against JS and his fellow signers on 9 June 1837. Either the or his left copies of the writ of summons with all but four of the sixteen defendants. A month later, Andrews & Foot filed a declaration with the court claiming $2,000 in damages. The defendants, represented by Perkins & Osborn, filed a plea in the October 1837 term of court for the Geauga County Court of Common Pleas. The matter remained unresolved until 16 April 1839, when the court rendered a judgment requiring JS and his fellow signers to pay $1,641.63 as well as the costs for the case. In order to satisfy the judgment, the sheriff seized land in May or June 1839 and attempted to sell it at public auction, but he was unable to find a buyer. Attempts to sell the seized property continued until October 1840, when a portion of the land was sold for $201 to . The remainder was sold in April 1841 to Latter-day Saint , through his agent Lyman Cowdery. Babbitt may have been acting as an agent for JS and the church. In 1841, Babbitt paid Thomas Underwood and his partners in order to acquire the judgment they held against JS, , and the other signers. By 1848 the case costs had been paid and the judgment was satisfied.
 
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

    For more on the Kirtland Safety Society Bank, see Documents, Volume 5, Introduction to Part 5: 5 Oct. 1836–10 Apr. 1837.  

  2. 2

    Historical Introduction to Kirtland Safety Society Notes, 4 Jan.–9 Mar. 1837; see also Introduction to Eaton v. JS and O. Cowdery ; and Invoice, Winthrop Eaton to Smith & Cowdery, 11 October 1836.  

  3. 3

    Summons, 9 June 1837 [Underwood, Bald, Spencer & Hufty v. Rigdon et. al.]. The only way for Underwood, Bald, Spencer & Hufty to have a promissory note with the signatures of JS, Rigdon, and several other Latter-day Saints was if the original debt was renegotiated in Kirtland because Cowdery had paid the original debt in 1836 on his own without a large company of Saints with him to sign the note. However, it is unclear when this renegotiation took place. The declaration made by the plaintiffs’ attorneys suggests that it occurred on 1 June 1837. (Declaration, ca. 7 July 1837 [Underwood, Bald, Spencer & Hufty v. Rigdon et al.]. For more on JS’s debt renegotiations in 1837, see Historical Introduction to Power of Attorney to Oliver Granger, 27 Sept. 1837; Documents, Volume 5, Introduction to Part 6: 20 Apr.–14 Sept. 1837; and Historical Introduction to Statement of Account from Perkins & Osborn, ca. 29 Oct. 1838.)  

  4. 4

    Summons, 9 June 1837 [Underwood, Bald, Spencer & Hufty v. Rigdon et al.]. It is unclear from the return notation whether the summons was served by Sheriff Abel Kimball or Deputy Sheriff Abner P. Axtell. The sheriff or deputy could not find Samuel Parker, William Smith, Hiram Clark, or Andrew Allen to serve their summons.  

  5. 5

    Declaration, ca. 7 July 1837 [Underwood, Bald, Spencer & Hufty v. Rigdon et. al.]. The renegotiated promissory note signed by JS and others amounted to $1,450. The $2,000 in damages may have included interest or additional expenses incurred in collecting the note. Additionally, when seeking damages, attorneys often requested more than the defaulted debt. (Summons, 9 June 1837 [Underwood, Bald, Spencer & Hufty v. Rigdon et al.].)  

  6. 6

    Plea, ca. 28 Oct. 1837 [Underwood, Bald, Spencer & Hufty v. Rigdon et al.]; Transcript of Proceedings, ca. 16 Apr. 1839 [Underwood, Bald, Spencer & Hufty v. Rigdon et al.]. Although in October 1837 the defendants requested a jury trial, at the April 1839 term of court the attorneys for both sides agreed to submit the case to the decision of the court. The transcript of proceedings indicates that the defendants intended to appeal the decision to the Ohio Supreme Court, but they apparently never did, possibly because they were no longer living in Ohio by that time.  

  7. 7

    Docket Entry, Costs, ca. 16 Apr. 1839 [Underwood, Bald, Spencer & Hufty v. Rigdon et al.].  

  8. 8

    Docket Entry, Costs, ca. 16 Apr. 1839 [Underwood, Bald, Spencer & Hufty v. Rigdon et al.]; Deed, 23 Nov. 1841 [Underwood, Bald, Spencer & Hufty v. Rigdon et al.]. Granger sold the land to Daniel Carter, who petitioned the court for a deed in September 1841. Carter was given a deed of conveyance on 23 November 1841.  

  9. 9

    Deed, 3 June 1841 [Underwood, Bald, Spencer & Hufty v. Rigdon et al.].  

  10. 10

    Assignment of Judgment, 30 Apr. 1841 [Underwood, Bald, Spencer & Hufty v. Rigdon et al.].  

  11. 11

    Docket Entry, Costs, ca. 16 Apr. 1839 [Underwood, Bald, Spencer & Hufty v. Rigdon et al.].