Washington County, Virginia Minute Book 26, Sep. 1885 - Mar. 1887
Washington County, Virginia Minute Book 26, Sep. 1885 - Mar. 1887.
The contents of this MB are comprised chiefly of:
(a): General: Court cases or “causes” were frequently continued with the Pltff posting recognizance bond, resulting in multiple entries for the same case, to the point where one can be led to wonder if the postponement of cases led to a protraction that tired the court into dismissal or, at least, more tendency toward leniency. 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, dismissed, etc.); hung juries were not uncommon. 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; contestation of decision of appointed arbitrators, on injunction, attachments, appointment of appraisers of estate or on a summons. 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. Jury trials were sometimes waived; in case of jury trial, the members and verdict of the jury is specified (the most common dispositions of cases tried by jury are: acquittal, continuations, fines, imprisonment (in the Commonwealth’s Penitentiary in Richmond or in the county jail), etc. Some cases were sent to designated arbitrators for deliberation with agreement of the court and those involved.
(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, fornication, conducting house of ill fame, trespass, killing fish with dynamite, failure to keep road in order, perjury, carrying concealed weapon(s), disturbing religious worship, selling liquor without a license, unlawful detainer, killing a horse, assault 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, there are the more serious crimes, to include: murder or accessory to, assault, malicious assault, cutting, etc., all with intent to kill (e.g., Martha Dickenson (infanticide); William alias Bill Daniels (kill Morgan Thomas); David Brewer (Wiley Litz); John I. Slaughter & Harriet Davidson (Nannie Fleenor); Daniel Moorefield (John Galliher); James L. Bott (Thos. Stout); Wm. White, D. T. Campbell, N. G. White (Judge Geo. W. Ward Jr. – long, drawn out case); E. Stanley (Bertie Wells); Frank Dillard (Morriss Sanders); Elkanah Denton (K. H. Stevens); Margaret Warden (not specified); George Wolf & Marcellus Wolf (not specified); Michael Widener (not specified; no prosecution); Richard Montegue (not specified); & John H. Everett (not specified). A considerable amount of crime seems to have been committed by those “passing through” (or from neighboring counties) who are very difficult to identify in other records or who might have been on the margins of society and missed in the 1880c. Those sentenced to the Penitentiary of the commonwealth (usually for property – breaking and entering or horse thievery) or personal (…”with intent to kill”) or forgery include (# years of sentence in parentheses): Joel Widener (2 yrs; 3 yrs); Daniel Moorefield (1 yr); John O’Dell (2 yrs); Chas. Scott (2 yrs; Jas. L. Bott (1 yr), Henry Collins (2 yrs); James Kite (3 yrs), J. H Ratliff (5 yrs); John Hale (3 yrs); Rufus Martin (2 yrs) and J. M. Johnson alias Buck Echols (2 yrs).
(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) Apprenticeships (binding out) of youth seems to have disappeared or nearly disappeared by this time;
(b) Deaths: one may sometimes make a rough estimate of many deaths by judging from the multiple entries of estates from individuals dead for at least 3 months (occasionally one month), 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 who received under acts of Feb 1884 & Feb 1886, disabling wounds during the Civil War applied for artificial limbs (or, if not able to use such, compensation/commutation) for limbs lost (or other involved infirmities) during the war (e.g., John W. Edmondson, Carey Spriggs, A. G. Musick, A. E. Buchanan, L. S. Sherman, N. M. Dettor, John . Terry, Capt. A. J. Cunningham, Marion G. Fleenor and Henry E. Hill)
(d) presentment at court and confirmation of admission to record of Deeds, Deeds of Trust, Agreements, Releases, Mechanics Liens, Lis Pendens, Partitions of estate, 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; the admission of deeds to record also serves as a sort of confirmatory index for the WCV Deed Books, but with realization that there are differences! Note: Lists of conveyances, Powers of Attorney, Homesteads, Liens, Agreements, Mechanics Liens, Lis Pendens, Partitions, 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 seemingly not finally recorded; the listing here serves as a double-check index for WCV deeds.
(e) extensive entries involving “road orders” – many viewers selected to view routes for new roads, alternative routes, etc.; ad quod damnums...; compensation was sometimes awarded to landowners for property taken, etc.
(f) removal of lunatics (references frequently remain unnamed, but Wm. Arnett and Jas. A. Hagy are specifically mentioned) to the Western Lunatic Asylum at Staunton or return of wards or lunatics to their native areas; also appointment of Committees for lunatics and payments for medical services to lunatics;
(g) charges involving the courthouse and jail, including cleaning and fuel for such not observed in this MB;
(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 brought against the commonwealth or WCV by individuals;
(i) granting of exemption from taxation or working on roads granted because of old age or bodily infirmity, e.g., J. W. Berkley & Geo. W. Riffey;
(j) granting of licenses to persons operating houses of entertainment, ordinaries, eating houses, or to liquor and bar room merchants;
(k) granting of permission to licensed ministers to perform the rite of matrimony, e.g., J. T. Morrow (Methodist Episcopal Zion Church); W. H. Henderson (Methodist Episcopal Church South); Samuel S. Wright (Church of Christ); Lewis Carter (Baptist); Isaac N. Todd (Methodist Episcopal Church); J. c. Richardson (Angle Baptist Church) and J. E. Kilgore (Methodist Episcopal Zion Church). Religious censuses of 1870-1880 era confirm the numerical domination of the various Methodist churches in WCV;
(l) granting of permission for attorney(s) to practice in WCV court as well as Courts of the commonwealth (e.g.: Arthur English, H. H. Hamilton, Samuel V. Fulkerson & W. T. Hudgins);
(m) administration of required oaths to county/court officials, and filling of vacancies of such, as required.