Washington County, Virginia Minute Book 22, Jan. 1875 - Oct. 1879
Washington County, Virginia Minute Book 22, Jan. 1875 - Oct. 1879. Jack Hockett. 2018.
From the Introduction
Washington County Virginia (WCV) Minute Book (MB) 22 begins at court 26 Jun 1877 with indictments of Russell Stroup for keeping a house of ill fame, John Hurt for assault, and G. W. Snodgrass for failing to keep the road in repair, and ends 512 pages later with an entry of 28 Oct 1878: Louvenia Findlay, Pltf vs E. M. Wills and I. F. Jones: Removal from justice. This MB is particularly valuable in that minute books or order books in general frequently provide accounts of persons not otherwise captured in DBs, WBs and other major court books. And most particularly, and again, in view of the very deficient 1870 census for Washington County, VA. MB 22, as usual, sometimes leaves one with a great yearning for more details on a particular case entry; these would likely be found, if preserved, in loose court papers. Some annotations have been made to this work, principally to identify selected individuals. Refer to the key for abbreviations and credits. The contents of this MB are comprised chiefly of:
(a) General: Owing to difficulties during and immediately after the Civil War, as with MB 19 and 20, there continued to be a (an albeit less than previous MBs) backlog of cases, sometimes stretching back to the late 1850s, many especially involving debts, and forthcoming bonds. By the time of MB 22, the backlog had been mostly cleared although some debts and deeds date back well beyond the period covered by this MB. Cases were frequently continued with the Pltf posting recognizance bond, causing multiple entries for the same case. The information given includes: Plaintiffs vs Defendant, often the commonwealth serving as the plaintiff, the plea entered and the disposition of the case (e.g., continued, judged in favor of the pltff or deft and, in case of fines, specifying the amount of the fine, etc. The details in these cases except the name of the defendant and plaintiff and reason for the suit, are most often quite limited; some reasons for the cases include: Appeal; on motion on forthcoming bond; on attachment; detinue; case, in debt, covenant, in Chancery, perceived endangerment for serving as security (request for counter-security), settlement of guardian accounts, selection of guardian(s), notice, office judgments, partitioning of land among heirs, assignment of dower; administration of estates (including bond postings); posting of bonds by elected officials, unlawful detainer, judgment appeal, removal from (a) Justice, on injunction, attachments, appointment of appraisers of estate. Some matters were ordered removed to the circuit court for deliberation and judgment and a high number of cases were dismissed at the request of the plaintiff with assent of the Commonwealth’s Attorney and the court.
(b) Criminal: Grand jury indictments during the period covered a range of crimes, such as horse stealing, house breaking, passing counterfeit money, forgery, larceny (petit or grand), assault, assault & battery, assaulting an officer, nuisance, lewdness, lewd & lascivious cohabitation, trespass, failure to keep road in order, perjury, carrying concealed weapon(s), disturbing religious worship, selling liquor without a license, unlawful detainer and murder. Many cases were dropped as the attorney for the commonwealth declined to prosecute or the case, with assent of the court, was dismissed. As well as more serious crimes, to include: murder, malicious shooting, and rape (one instance: John G. Highley). I would venture to say the crime rate remained considerably higher than pre-Civil War during the period this and the previous immediate MBs, cover. With reference to the more serious crimes or murder (Jasper, alias Jeff Sullens & George L. McClintock) or Shooting, assault, or cutting with intent to kill (R. E. Moore, Alfred Luttreal, Robert Stuart, David A. Wheeler, Wm. Ryan, Samuel Luttrell, Joseph Nowlin, Wm. P. Davis. Richard H. Henritze, Thomas Miller, George w. Ward Jr., and Alexr. Findley Horne) there seems to be an increase in these crimes of bodily endangerment from the previous MB.
(c) Grievances: There are quite a few cases from individual taxpayers or organizations citing errors in the tax books of the assessors for state (commonwealth), county, school, or township taxes; these were usually resolved in favor of the complainant.
(a) Some binding out of young persons or orphans are included in this work;
(b) Deaths: one may make a rough estimate of many deaths by judging from the multiple entries of estates from individuals dead for at least 3 months, turned over to the sheriff for administration as well as cases implemented by persons then deemed to have died since the event (often the suit is implemented in the name of another person);
(c) Civil War: A number of WCV persons wounded during the Civil War applied for artificial limbs (or, if not able to use such, compensation) for limbs lost (or other involved infirmities) during the war (e.g.: James Wilson, James Wright, A. F. Barrow; Wm. R. Buchanan, Henry F. Love; James H. Wright; John W. Edmondson; N. M. Dettor...);
(d) presentment at court and confirmation of admission to record of Deeds, Deeds of Trust, Agreements, Mechanics Liens, et al. during past court terms. The Homestead Act had been implemented and a number of Homestead claims, protecting certain property from serving as an attachment in the event Bankruptcy, are also recorded in this MB;
(e) extensive entries involving “road orders” – many viewers selected to view routes for new roads, alternative routes, etc.; occasional enumerations of titheables to work on roads given etc.; ad quod damnums...
(f) removal of lunatics to the Western Lunatic Asylum at Staunton or return of wards or lunatics to their native areas;
(g) charges involving the new courthouse and jail, including cleaning and fuel for such;
(h) payments of the county or commonwealth to jurors, venire men (potential jurors selected), for recording births, deaths and marriages, conveying prisoners to the penitentiary, to county officials (sheriff, deputy sheriffs, coroner and other charges;
(i) granting of exemption from taxation or working on roads granted because of old age or bodily infirmity;
(j) granting of licenses to persons operating houses of entertainment, ordinaries, eating houses, or to liquor merchants;
(k) granting of permission to licensed ministers to perform the rite of matrimony;
(l) granting of permission for attorney(s) to practice in WCV court as well as Courts of the Commonwealth;
(m) administration of required oaths to county/court officials, and filling of vacancies of such, as required; and, admittedly, more!
(n) Lists of conveyances, Powers of Attorney, Homesteads, etc. admitted to record since last court term – should be checked against the appropriate deed book as there may be some deeds listed which were not finally recorded.