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History of Mount Morris
Ogle County, IL



Circuit Court History
of Ogle County, IL


Source: History of Ogle County, 1878 -- H.F. Kett
Transcribed for Genealogy Trails by Collette Jenson

History of Ogle County -- Pg.344.

I, Alexander Irvine, do further devise and give to Andrew Meatester, when he becomes of age, eighty acres of land, to be situated with wood sufficient to make him a small farm; provided he, Andrew Meatester, has not been put to learn some useful trade, and to his heirs and assigns forever.
A true record of the original, as entered by me this the 9th day of January, A. D. 1841.
WM. J. MIX, Probate Justice

Farmer's Hydraulic Company. - This company was organized early in 1851. The object of the company is recited in the following instrument, which is duly recorded:
BYRON, February 21, 1850

We the undersigned , for the purpose of erecting a dam across the Rock River, between the mouth of Stillman's Creek and the south line of section ten, in town twenty-five, range eleven east of the forth principal meridian, under the act of the legislature of 1849, entitled "An act for the improvement of navigation on Rock River, and the production of hydraulic power." have formed ourselves into a company under the name and style of the Farmer's Hydraulic Company, with our capital stock of $10,000. and do agree to take the number of shares set opposite our names in the capital stock of said company, and to pay therefor to the treasurer of said company , the sum of $25.00 for each share of said stock set opposite our names, respectively, in such manners and proportions, and at such times as the Board of Directors of said company may from time to time direct: D. & A. T. Brown. 40 shares; Seth Noble 40; Wm. R. Morley, 11; A. E. Hurd. 30; J. M. Bradley, 20; Wm. H. Ferguson, 30; Joshua White,40; William Speckman, 40; P. T. Kimball, 40; F. A. Smith, 40; A. Spaulding, 20; H. Wilder, 1; J. B. Moffett, 5; M. M. York, 5; Woodhull Helen, 5; Liberty Ruggles, 8; Dudley Wood, 20; Peter Strang, 6; M. D. Johnson, 4; William H. Fuller, 5; William C. Dunning, 10; Silas St. John Mix, 30; J. M. Irvine, 12; A. M. Campbell, 10; C. C. Bradley, 5; P. Burke, 20; Jos. Johnson, 20, L. L. Case, 10; J. Gerber, 20; J. D. Sperry, 6; J. M. Russell, 16; Hamilton Norton, 2; Nathaniel Belknap, 10; John Arny, 10; David Lewis, 40; A. M. Trumball, 10; A. G. Spaulding, 10; Mathias Dunning, 10; R. C. Brayton, 6; Charles Fisher, 8; Total shares, 755.

This entry is followed by the certificate of incorporation, duly acknowledged. Officers were elected, and on the 4th of September, 1850, an order was entered granting leave to the company to build the necessary dam, race, etc. Subsequently, the improvement commenced and partially completed, passed into the hands of a Chicago Company by whom it is owned and controlled. This company meets once a year to elect officers, etc., and that is all. But little interest is taken in the development of the power here afforded. The time may come, however, when a little more life will be infused into the controlling corporation, and such improvements made as will render the water power at Byron the best and most productive in the state.

CIRCUIT COURT
The twelfth section of the act of January 1, 183, establishing Ogle County, constituted it a part of the sixth judicial circuit, and provide for terms of the circuit court to be held at such palces as a county commissioners should designate, and that the circuit judge of the sixth judicial circuit should have power to fix the time for holding such court as, in his discretion, would best promote the public good. Under this provision the commissioners, on the 4th day of September 1837, ordered that the county clerk inform all the county officers and circuit judges, that Dixon had been selected as the place of holding the circuit court until August 1, 1838.
The first term of the circuit court commenced on Monday, October 2, 1837. Hon. Dan Stone presiding. William W. Mudd was sheriff, and William J. Mix was deputy sheriff.
Benjamin T. Phelps presented his commission as clerk, signed by Judge Thomas C. Ford, judge of the sixth judicial district, before whom he had taken the oath of office. Judge Ford also became bondsman for Mr. Phelps in the sum of $2,000. (pg. 345)
The grand jury at this term of the court was composed of the follow named "good and true" citizens:

A. E. Hurd, L. O. Bryan, Asa G. Spaulding, Hugh Moore, Wm. A. Houser, John Dixon, Samuell Johnson, Stephen Fellows, James Clark, James V. Gale, William Wamsley, G. H. Wilcoxin, Corydin Dewey, Joseph Sawyer, E. Worthington, John Gilbrath, Brener Jarvis, Miller Dewey, I day and Ebenezer Seeley; John Dixon was appointed foreman.
The Record shows that a grand jury consisted of the following named "settlers", was chosen at the January term of the commissioners court (1837), but there are no records to show that they ever qualified as jurors.

John Whittaker, Andrew Sheppard, L. O. Bryan, Hugh Moore, Cyrus R. Milner, N. Morehouse, L. C. McClure, G. D. .H. Wilcoxen, Samuel Johnston, James Clark, Leicester Everts, Wm. J. Mix, F. Cushman, Wm. Wamsley, Thomas Dexter, Corydin Dewey, John L. Fosdick. On the attached part (Whiteside): Wm. Dudley, E. Worthington, John Stokes, Ebenezer Seeley and Wyatt Cantrell.

The Following named settlers appeared as petit jurors:
P. Kimble, P. Norton, L. Spaulding, R. Prichard, Jeremiah Whipple, Leonard Andrews. J. D. Pratt, Wm. Martin, A. Fender, Larkin Baker, Ezra Bond, S. S. Crowell, Elisha Doty, Stephen Hull, James McFarlin, Adolphus Bliss, Charles West, Jhn Brown, R. B. Akin, and John P. Whidden.
Attached: A. R. Hamilton, J. G. Walker, Dr. .Smith, H. Brint and Van J. Adams.

The first case tried in the circuit court was that of Robert Innes v. Jacob Reed, on a writ of replevin.
A jury consisting of P. Kimble, P. Norton, James Spaulding, L. Andrews, William Martin, Ezra Bond, S. S. Crowell, Stephen Hull, James McFarland, Adolphus Bliss, John Brown and Richard B. Atkins, were "elected, tried and sworn."
The jury, after listening to the evidence and arguments of the counsel, retired to consider their verdict, and after remaining out a reasonable length of time returned a verdict finding for the plaintiff.

The first case of record was that of the People v. William K. Bridges and others, on a recognizance.
A motion to squash the indictment was entered by the defendant's attorney, and the court, after listening to the arguments of the counsel, entertained the motion and ordered that the defendants be acquitted and go thence without the day.
On the fourth day of the term, the grand jury returned into court and presented the following indictments:
Asa Crook was indicted for corruption in office.
Wm. Cushman was indicted for arson.
William W. Mudd, Sheriff, was indicted for palpable omission of duty.
Thomas and Louis Kerr were indicted for riot.
William H. Peyton was indicted for assault with intent to commit murder.
Preston Blevins was indicted for assault with intent to commit murder.
Wm. Southal was indicted for palpable omission of duty. In this case the jury declared him not guilty.
Pg 346
The grand jury, having no further business before them, were discharged.

The first divorce case was entered by Elizabeth McGoon, against Richard H. McGoon.

The first criminal trial of any note, was that of The People v. John Porter, charged with having in his possession, and attempting to pass counterfeit money. The case came up at the June term, 1839.
The following: named gentlemen being sworn as jurors: Larkin Baker, Wm. P. Burroughs, Erastus G. Nichols, John Waggoner, John Wilson, Samuel Johnston, Moses T. Crowel, G. D. H. Wilcoxen, John M. Smith, David Maxwell, Robert E. Page and Joseph M. Wilson.
The jury returned a verdict of guilty, and Porter was sentenced to two years and six months in the penitentiary at Alton, the first month to be passed in solitary confinement.
A motion for a new trial was entered, but was overruled.

Since October 1837, the judges in regular succession have been:
October 1837, Dan Stone, January 17, 1839, Thomas Ford, Sixth Judicial Circuit, [Mr. Ford was afterwards (in August 1842), elected Governor of state, and served four years. He died in Peoria in 1850]; September 19, 1842, John D. Caton; May 7, 1849, Hugh Anderson; September 24, 1849, T. L. Dickey; April 1, 1850, Benjamin R. Sheldon; August 25, 1851, Ira O. Wilkerson; August 1, 1855 J. Wilson Drury; June 1, 1857, John V. Eustace, November 1, 1861, William W. Heaton; October 1877, William Brown; January 1878, Joseph M. Bailey.
Judge Eustace was elected in February, 1878, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Judge William W. Hoaton.

After the outlaws were banished from the country by sending some of them to the penitentiary, and the summary execution of at least two others by an outraged and long-suffering people, the country settled down into remarkable quiet and obedience to law, since when there have been but very few cases, comparatively speaking, of a criminal nature. Murders have been a very rare occurrence, the first and most fiendish being that of Mr. John Campbell by the Driscoll gang on Sunday afternoon, June 27, 1841, The Driscoll gang were summarily disposed of within a very short time thereafter by the citizens, who rose en masse, and proceeded to the work of extermination. The commenced with the execution of John and William Driscoll. One hundred and twelve citiaens, many of whom are now among the best and wealthiest, were indicted and tried for participation in this offense, but were acquitted by a jury of their countrymen. This was the most exciting trial ever held in the circuit court, and, perhaps, embraced the largest number of persons ever arraigned under one indictment in the United States. But of this more in anon.

Since the organization of the county, in 1836, a period of time covering forty-two years, the records of the circuit court only show eight indictments for murder, seven of which were tried. The following is the record:

The first indictment was for the murder of the Driscoll's, of which is mentioned above.

The Slater - Minor Murder. Frederick R. Slater and Allen Minor were neighbors, living in the town of Lynnvillem on Killbuck Creek. A fued had existed between them for some time previous to the murder, and meeting on the 18th of September, 1850, the day the murder was committed,

A quarrel ensued, and it was supposed Slater killed Minor with a sled stake. Monir's body was found dead in a corn field the next day. Slater had been known to pass that way, and he was arrested on a charge of the murder. He was indicted at the August term 1851, of the circuit court. The trial commenced August 25, 1851, and concluded September 5. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty. H. B. Stillman, assisted by E. F. Dutcher and John A. Holland, conducted the prosecution. The defense was represented by H. A. Mix, Jason Marsh and B. C. Cook.

The Paul - Augustine Murder. On the 23rd of November, 1854, Andrew Paul was stabbed to death by August Augustine. Augustine was a tenant of Paul's and a crib of corn on Paul's place, and had gone after it. Paul refused to let him have the corn, when they engaged in a quarrel about the matter and came to blows. Paul struck Augustine on the head with a rail. Augustine then drew his knife and killed Paul, and then drove to Brookville and swore out a warrant for the arrest of Paul for assault. Augustine was indicted at the May term, 1855, and tried at the same term. The defense introduced the plea of insanity, claiming that the blow of the club had produced a temporary insanity. The jury returned the verdict of not guilty. The following named gentlemen were interested in the case: For the prosecution, Wm. T. Miller, J. L. Loop and T. F. Goodhue; for the defense, H. A. Mix, Thomas J. Turner, E. F. Dutcher, David S. Pride, Robert C. Burchell and Miles B. Light.

Richard F. Tallman was indicted at the May term, 1856, for the murder of James W. Johnson, on the evening of the 21st day of February, 1856, by stabbing him in the groin. Johnson died in forty-eight hours. A quarrel ensued between them in the grocery store of Michael Nihe, and upon being told by Nihe that he would have no fighting in there, they went out in the street, where the quarrel was renewed, and during the altercation, Tallman thrust a knife into Johnson. The trial took place at the October term, 1856. William T. Miller, prosecuting attorney, assisted by M. P. Sweet and R. C. Burchell, conducted the case for the people. Messrs. Joseph Sears, J. L. Loop, Joseph Knox and William W. Heaton defended. The jury returned a verdict of manslaughter, and Tallman was sentenced to the penitentiary for five years. He was pardoned out by Governor Bissell, after having served out one year of his sentence.

The next murder trial was on a change of venue from Carroll County, entitled the People v. Charles Slowey for the murder of John Welsh.
Slowley had been for some time engaged in mining for lead ore, with his victim as a partner. They had sunk two shafts near their shanty, about two miles west of Mount Carroll, had taken out some ore, and had a prospect of getting more. At this time they both got on a drunken spree, and a few days thereafter, the victim was found dead in one of the shafts. Investigation showed plainly that death was not the result of accident or suicide, as the death wound was evidentially inflicted by a miner's pick. After a post-mortem examination by Dr. B. P. Miller and Dr. John L. Hostetter, Slowey was arrested and committed for the murder, and indicted, as above stated. The case was continued to the September term, 1860 of the Circuit Court, when a change of venue was taken to this county. He was tried in November of that year, at Oregon, and convicted of murder in the first degree. The court, Judge Eustace, for some reason, having granted a new trial, the people accepted the proposition of William T. Miller, Slowley's counsel - Slowley to plead guilty to manslaughter, and a sentence to the penitentiary for ten years. This was accordingly done. Slowley died a few
weeks after getting to the penitentiary, the information being that his brain was badly diseased. The general impression, however, came to prevail that his disease of the brain was the result of cold head baths, employed as punishment for breach of discipline.

Samantha Dildine was indicted at the March term, 1860, for the murder of a new born male (illegitimate) child. March 19, 1861, the court ordered that the case be continued for services. The woman was spirited away by her friends, and thus the matter ended.

Robert Livingston, was indicted at the March term, 1861, for the supposed murder of his wife, by poison. McCartney and Burchell prosecuted, and Messrs, Dutcher, Campbell and Carpenter defended. The jury disagreed. A change of venue was granted the defendant to lee County. The physician who made the chemical analysis went into the army, and in some manner Livingston was bailed out, and also enlisted in the service, and the case was dismissed.

The last indictment for murder was that of The People v. Thomas Padgett, David R. Stiles, William Coldritz, Thomas Skelton, John A. Huges, Henry Miller, Levi Schoonmaker and Sebra B. Reed, who were indicted at the June term, 1862, for the murder of Thomas Burke, at Rochelle, by hanging. This offense occurred during the war, when party spirit ran high. Some warehouses had been burned, and there was apparently ample proof of Burke's guilt. The case was tried at the June term, 1862, of the Circuit Court. David McCartney and John V. Eustace prosecuted, and E. F. Dutcher, M. D. Hathaway and R. C. Burchell, managed the case for the defense. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty.


[From History of Ogle County, Transcribed for Genealogy Trails by Collette Jenson]

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