Rock Island County, Illinois Genealogy Trails
Court Case Histories
Portrait and Biographical album of Rock Island County, Illinois; 1885 -Transcribed by Candi H. ©2009
First Term Cases
The first case was that of Wm. Sparks against Wm. H.
Simms, an appeal from a Justice of the Peace.
The suit was dismissed by agreement, at the plaintiff's cost.
In a suit of Sarah Butler against John Wells, on a bond, on motion the bond was quashed.
There were two criminal and ten chancery cases at this term, none of which was of any importance.
The second term of the Court was held on the 15th day of September. The same officers were present,
except the Sheriff, Michael Bartlett having succeeded to that office.
Two indictments were found at this term of Court.
Moses Johnson was indicted for larceny and Wm. Thompson for setting fire to the prairie. Both cases were made returnable to the next term of Court.
By an act of the General Assembly, approved Jan. 7, 1835, the law requiring the Supreme Judges to perform circuit duties was repealed,
and five additional Circuit Judges were provided for, and the Sixth Circuit was created, Rock Island forming a part of the latter.
Thomas Ford was elected and commissioned Judge of the Sixth Circuit Jan. 19, 1835, but did not preside in the Circuit Court of this county during the year.
By agreement Judge Sidney Breese presided at the April term.
The case of the people against Wm. Thompson was called and trial entered upon.
James Grant prosecuted the case and Edward A. Philleo defended. Mr. Thompson was acquitted.
At the April, 1836, term Judge Ford presided for the first time. No business of any importance was transacted at this term.
In March, 1837, Judge Ford resigned and Dan Stone (plain Dan, not an ab. of Daniel) was commissioned, March 4, to fill the vacancy.
Judge Stone presided at the April term, in 1837, and served until 1841.
At the September, 1840, term of the Court the grand jury found a true bill against Joseph Gerard for the killing of Zaccheus A. Mayhew on the 22d day
of May, 1840. It appears that Gerard struck Mayhew with a carpenter's chisel under the left arm, inflicting a wound, from the effects of which Mayhew
died within five days. A trial was had at the same term in which the indictment was found, and Gerard was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to
one year in the penitentiary. An arrest of judgment was granted, for the reason that the jury did not assess the fine, and the defendant was discharged. A
motion for a new trial was overruled.
At the May, 1841, term, an indictment was found against Gerard for manslaughter. He was tried at the October term, in 1841, found guilty and sentenced
to three years in the penitentiary and to pay a fine of $1 and costs. A motion for a new trial was overruled and the Court passed sentence, 20 days of the
three years being spent in solitary confinement.
Hon. Thomas C. Browne was now Judge of the Circuit.
At the October, 1843, term an indictment was found by the grand jury against Wm. McKinney, Geo. Blalock and Isaac McKinney for the murder of
Edward A. Philleo. It appears that on the 29th day of May, 1843, Philleo was shot with a rifle in the left hip. He lingered until June 1, when he died.
Wm. McKinney was tried at the May term, in 1845, found guilty and sentenced to be hung July 14, 1845, between the hours of 10 a. m. and 4 p. m.
A reprieve and subsequently a pardon was granted. McKinney lived and died in the county. Blalock and Isaac McKinney were never tried.
On the 4th day of July, 1845, occurred one of the most brutal murders that has ever been recorded.
See "Murder of Col. George Davenport"
In the fall of 1848 Benj. R. Sheldon was elected Judge of the Circuit Court, receiving a commission bearing date Dec. 4, of the same year.
He served until May 14, 185?, when Ira O. Wilkinson was commissioned. During Judge Wilkinson's term several cases of importance were tried.
David Stoddard was indicted for the murder of Eliza Stoddard at the November, 1854, term.
He was tried at the June, 1855, term, convicted and sentenced to be hung on Friday, July 13, 1855.
Wilson Drury was elected and commissioned June 5, 1855. He served until March, 1860, when he resigned.
John H. Howe was appointed to fill the vacancy, and filled out Judge Drury 's unexpired term.
Among the cases tried by Judge Drury were those of the People against Hugh McCartney, Isaac Ball, John Hughes and Samuel Ingram.
Hugh McCartney was indicted in November, 1855, for murder.
He was brought before the Court, pleaded guilty of manslaughter, and was sentenced to five years in the penitentiary.
Isaac Ball was charged with the murder of James Congdon[sic], Sept. 1, 1856. At the November term of the Circuit Court an indictment was found against
him, and in September he was tried for the commission of the crime, the jury returning a verdict of not guilty.
Samuel Ingram was indicted at the March term of the Circuit Court, in 1857, for the murder of his wife, Hannah Ingram, Dec. 17, 1S56.
After due trial, he was sentenced to be hung, the execution taking place.
At the March term of the Circuit Court, 1857, John Hughes was indicted for the murder of Charles H. Lewis, by striking him on the head with a-poker,
on the 17th day of February, 1857. After continuing the case from time to time, it was finally stricken from the docket.
On the 9th day of July, 1859, Charles L. Bean was shot with a rifle and died the next day. Jasper Hampton, Turner Hampton and Joseph Langley
were arrested for the commission of the crime, indicted by the grand jury at the September term following, tried and acquitted.
The grand jury at the September term, 1859, also indicted John Farrell for the killing of Jesse W. Bollard, by striking him with a club.
After continuing the case on the docket for six years, it was stricken off on motion of the Prosecuting Attorney, with leave to re-instate.
Farrell was never arrested.
In June, 1861, Judge Wilkinson was again elected and served the full term of six years, his term covering the full period of the war.
There were several cases of interest tried during this time.
On the 24th day of June, 160, Patrick McGurtry was killed by being struck with a stone. Alexander Abbott was charged with the commission of the
crime, and indicted by the grand jury at the September term following of the Circuit Court. After being continued from time to time the case was finally
tried at the January term, 1865, the jury rendering a verdict of not guilty.
George Sinnett was shot with a pistol on the 17th day of August, 1863, and instantly killed. Daniel Thra??keld was indicted by the grand jury at the September term of the Circuit Court following, was tried, found guilty of manslaughter, the jury fixing the verdict at three years in the penitentiary. A new trial was granted, and on the 1?th day of January, 1864,
the jury rendered a verdict of not guilty and he was set at liberty.
On Saturday, May 23, 1863, the remains of a child were found in the upper story of a wagon shop in the city of Rock Island,
lately occupied by A. G. Johnson. The remains proved to be that of Lorena Roe.
A coroner's jury was empanelled, evidence heard and a verdict rendered that the child came to her death by violence, and implicated A. G. Johnson as
the murderer. The grand jury found a true bill against Johnson, and at the January term, 1864, he was tried and a verdict of guilty rendered by the
jury. A new trial was granted and a change of venue taken to Henry County. At the March term, 1864, in Henry County, he was tried and a verdict rendered of not guilty.
In June, 1867, Geo. W. Pleasants was elected to the Bench. He was commissioned June 27, 1867. He has three times been re-elected and is now serving his fourth term.
On the 21st day of August, 1867, Hiram Reynolds was shot and instantly killed.
David Edgington was indicted by the grand jury for the commission of the crime, tried, found guilty and sentenced to the State prison for life.
On the 18th day of July, 1867, Myron D. Hill was killed by being stabbed with a large knife. Homer
Marion was arrested and indicted for the commission of the crime.
Geo. W. Jones was indicted at the May term, 1867, of the Circuit Court for the killing of Robert McCluskey by shooting him with a gun, the shooting taking
place Feb. 27, 1867. He was tried at the September term, found guilty and sentenced to three years in the penitentiary.
Indictments found against Wm. Dolan, Nicholas Schlitz, Wm. Blair, John Toomey [sic], Lynch, Timothy Butler, Halsey Hammond, John Galagher,
John Campbell, Oliver Clandan?is and James Cronan, at the January term, 1870, for causing the death of Moses Davis and Wm. Armstead or Armstrong,
on the 9th day of July, 1869.
Change of venue taken by all except Lynch. After trying to have the indictment quashed, he was tried at the September term, 1870, and sentenced to
ten years in the penitentiary.
At the June term in the following year, the defendants, except Butler, were tried, and each found guilty Hammond and Galagher; were sentenced to the penitentiary,
their terms ranging from one to three years. The case against Butler was dismissed. This case created much excitement at the time.
The men indicted, in a row caused Davis and Armstrong to jump from a steamer into the Mississippi River, hoping to swim ashore.
They were drowned in the attempt.
The General Assembly, by an act approved March 28, 1873, divided the State into 26 Judicial Districts, in each of which one Judge was to be elected on the
2d of June. Rock Island County became a part of the Fifth Circuit, and Judge Pleasants was elected Judge of the Circuit.
George Brace, on the 9nth day of April, 1875, was shot, dying the next day.
The grand jury found a bill of indictment against John Masters for the commission of the crime, at the May, 1875, term of the Circuit Court.
He was tried at the September term, 1875, found guilty and sentenced to ten years in the penitentiary.
In 1877 the General Assembly passed an act by which the State was divided into 13 circuits, with three Judges in each.
Rock Island, Knox, Warren, Henderson, Mercer and Henry comprised the Tenth Circuit.
The following named have served the circuit: Geo. W. Pleasants, Arthur A. Smith and John J. Glenn.
All were re-elected in June, 1885, for a term of six years.
Joseph Rosenfield was killed on the 12th day of March, 1879. John Kavanaugh, Bernard Heeney and Patrick Heeney were indicted for the murder.
Kavanaugh and Patrick Heeney were tried at the May term, 1879, the former being found guilty and sentenced to the penitentiary for life, while the
latter was also found guilty and sentenced to 14 years in the penitentiary. Bernard Heeney took a change of venue to Henry County, was there tried in
June, 1879, and sentenced to the penitentiary for life.
On the 5th day of September, 1881, Dorothea Heilwagon was murdered near her residence in Hampton, her body not being found until the 9th.
Win. Heilwagon, the father-in-law of the murdered woman, and J. Otto Heilwagon, her husband, were arrested for the crime.
On the preliminary examination the latter was discharged, but the former was held to the Circuit Court to answer to the charge.
At the January term of the Circuit Court, he was tried, found guilty and sentenced to be hung March 24, 1882.
It is supposed that Heilwagon made improper proposals to his daughter-in-law, which being resented, for fear of exposure, he murdered her.
He was duly executed.
Rock Island County, Illinois
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