Genealogy Trails - Jersey County, Illinois

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Legal Newspaper Gleanings

Jersey County Deposition of J. O. Smith

The Deposition of J.O. Smith, August 19, 1864

"J.O. Smith, being duly sworn, says: " I went to William Cummings on Monday Night; Tuesday started for home about three o'clock; was stopped by a lot of armed men at Caleb's corner, taken to the stone schoolhouse, threatened to be mobbed. Oscar Hamilton said that they had got me and they would finish me. They stripped me of my pocketbook and contents. I wanted to send to Jerseyville for Esquire Hurd, Shephard, and one or two others. They said it was useless, for they were no better characters than I was.

"Henry Doughtery brought down Parker, a lieutenant or captain and five or six soldiers. They took me up in the chamber of the stone schoolhouse; then went to work, put up a curtain to the windows, examined the scuttle hole, put a round stick across it, and ordered me to sit down on the table. Asked me who I went with to the guerilla camp. I answered, I have never been to their camp. parker, the provost marshal, said I was a "__ __ liar", asked me what I said to the men I had followed to the burying ground the other night. I said I had not followed or been with them at all.

"Inspector-General Stratton said," I had as soon kill him now as at any other time, and would rather do so than take him to Alton. I will kill you before tomorrow night." He then took me under the trapdoor, and put a rope around my neck;he hung me up, but I caught the rope with my hands. He then let me down and tied my hands behind me; then said: " Do you belong to the Washington Club?" I answered I did. That was after I came to.He then said," I have a list of all of them".

"He then asked me if I could convict William Cummings; he said that if I could convict Bill, I need not to convict myself. I said that I did not know Bill had done anything wrong. He then hung me up again and I lost all consciousness. I came almost to, and tried to rise and someone kicked me and said, " Get up you ___ bushwacker." He then showed me some letters concerning pistols, and I admitted and did not deny that I bought them; they were charged in William Cummings name, and I sold them to Citizens. They took one away from me that morning.

"They then started with me on a big bay horse to Kane, a horse that had fallen so that it had skinned its knees, throwing the soldier about ten feet that rode him; he rose my horse. Went to Col. Frey's and stayed all night near there. I was satisfied they wanted me to try to get away. I overheard them say they wanted to get rid of me before tomorrow night; they started with my horse's halter tied to ring of the saddle of a soldier; when he came to a brushy place he would untie the halter. We ran around in the brush and came out near Col. Frey's in the road. We came across about 100 men in the vicinity of Carrollton; they used a great deal of language about killing me; said they did not like bushwackers.

" We started towards Green's, five or six of the boys from Gullen (Otterville) in the rear. The inspector-general rode back and ordered these boys to ride on ahead of us, leaving no citizen, but only the soldier's behind me; my halter strap was then tied to the soldier's saddle; the soldier then untied my halter and held it in his hand, and then started my horse in a gallop. We then passed on until we got 300 yards by Green's horse on a lope; while trying to hold in the horse, to keep him from stumbling, I was shot in the arm. I turned my face and said, " For God's Sake, don't shoot me!" The next shot struck me in the side and I fell to the ground. The captain said, " Why do you shoot a man when he is down"? A soldier then said, "I wanted to kill the _____!"

"When I fell, my horse was straight in the road; they then took me up to Green's and put me on the porch. Pogue was there when I was shot and saw the whole of it; he was ahead with the officers.

One circumstance I forgot. At Gullen's (Otterville), Parker called me into the anteroom and ordered me to go to the other end, and ordered a soldier to go to the opposite end; I beg him not to shoot me.

The inspector-general asked me if I had a family. I said I had a wife and nine children, one over twenty; then the inspector-general said he could take care of my family. When Parker told me to go to the other end of the room, I didn't want to, he then said, " Get down on your knees and beg my pardon".

"I had never done an unconstitutional act, and I love the government of our fathers. I expect to die soon; I can't stay long.

"Being questioned by Lawyer Pogue, he said," My horse was not out of the line.I fell square in the road. I did not say that I got out of line, because I was afraid that the soldier's horse would stumble on me. I forgive my murderer's.

(Signed) J.O.Smith

Coroner's Inquest

The substance of the evidence at the inquest of the body of J.O. Smith, held August 20, 1864, was as follows:
"Dr. James Bringhurst, sworn, says Smith's death was the result of a shot through the body, entering near the backbone, and coming out in front, near the side. " I first saw him on Wednesday, at Kane; I found a shot through the arm, and the one above described through the body; gave strict directions to have him kept as quiet as possible, and very much to my surprise i found him the next day at Jerseyville; had been brought in a spring wagon, do not know but he may have died of the wound if kept quiet; but think his chance very much lessended by his being moved when he was"
" Dr. J.L. White, sworn, corroborated the statement of Dr. Bringhurst in regard to the cause of his death.
"L. Kirby, sworn: says he was not with the company that shot Smith and Mr. Parker of Jerseyville was not with them". Saw the man Smith at Judge Greens' on the porch, after he was shot; heard a man dressed in soldiers' clothes say, 'I shot him'; I was placed there for that purpose; he tried to get away'.
"William H. Pogue, sworn says; ' I was ahead in the squad of men that shot Smith; saw him lying on the ground very near the middle of the road soon after he was shot; did not see him shot; the squad belonged to Captain Stratton; heard a soldier say he shot Smith for trying to get away; dont know the soldiers name. Smith said he did not try to get away. Lieutenant parker was not with us when Smith was shot'.
"Tell Noble, sworn says; We were riding in a Gallop, citizens all in front of Smith, riding two and two; I was on the right, and the man that led Smith's horse was one or two behind me, and Smith's horse on the left; heard two reports of pistol or carbine, looked around, found my horse was shot in the rump; saw Smith lying, I should think, about three feet from the middle of the road; his horse standing by him with his head turned to the left a little out of line; do not know which shot hit my horse.'
"Virgil Stillwell, sworn says; he saw about the same as Tell Noble'
State of Illinois} ss. " August 20, 1864"
Jersey County}
" We the undersigned, summoned and sworn as a jury of inquest to inquire how and in what manner, and by whom, or what, J.O. Smith, came to his death, find, after examining the body and matresses, that the said J.O. Smith came to his death by being shot, either by pistol or carbine, in the hands of soldier under the charge of Captain Stratton and Lieutenant White, while said Smith was in their custody in the southern part of Greene County, Ill.
P.C. Walker
Robert White
James Ross Senior
O.P. Powell
M.L. Hill
C.H. Knapp
J.N. Maupin
J.F. Smith
L.M. Cutting
Edward Trabue
Cyrus Tolman, Foreman

[Source: History of Jersey County - 1919]


"Will Declared Invalid"
Jerseyville - The Surpreme Court of the State of Illinois recently rendered a decision regarding the "Will" of the late John R. Beatty of Jerseyville, which is said to be the only decision of its kind ever rendered in Illinois. A similar decision was rendered in the Estate of Samuel J. Tilden of New York, who in 1876 ran for President of the United States. In Mr. Beatty's will, he requested that no lawyer have anything to do with his estate, which was valued at $60,000, and he set forth to whom the money should go. At present there are nine lawyers engaged
Source: [Chicago Eagle., July 16, 1921, Page 3, "Excerpt from Article: "News of Brevities of Illinois" - Transcribed by KP]