Thursday, January 31, 2013

Was It Fraud?

Benjamin F. Grayson believed that Fielding and James Franklin Jollett committed fraud to avoid repaying a loan that had grown from $22.44 to $46.52 over the course of 17 years. 

A timeline might help clarify the problem:
  • 1855 – Fielding Jollett borrowed $22.44 from Benjamin F. Grayson
  • 1859 – Fielding deeded 200 acres to his son James F. Jollett for $180
  • 1859 – Fielding deeded 37 acres to his son John W. Jollett for $50
  • 1861 – Judgment docketed in the case of Grayson vs Jollett finding Jollett must pay $22.44 plus interest from 1855 plus 55 cents costs until paid
  • 1871 – Grayson filed a complaint against Jollett for non-payment
  • 1876 – Grayson filed amended complaint charging fraud and adding James Franklin Jollett to the complaint

Grayson claimed that James Franklin did not actually buy his father’s land because no money changed hands.  Now, how did he know that for sure?   If payment were made, did it have to occur in front of witnesses at the signing in order for the deed to be recorded?  I don’t know the answer to that.  But given what I DO know, I can understand Grayson’s point of view.  The whole affair looks fishy to me, too.

Let’s go back to 1859.  In March Fielding deeded 200 acres along Naked Creek in Page County to James Franklin.  It is assumed that the younger Jollett was going to take possession, live there, and farm the land.  Maybe while he was still living at home, things looked to be on the up and up.  However, when James Franklin married Lucy Ann Shiflett in November of that year, they moved to Greene County. 

1860 Greene County, VA census
1860 Federal census for Greene County, Virginia
James Franklin and Lucy are living between her  uncle Leland Frazier
and her parents Burton and Nancy Frazier Shiflett

In 1860 and every census after that until 1910, James Franklin was in Greene County living near his in-laws.  In 1866 he was listed as a distiller, a manufacturer of spirits, on the IRS tax assessment roll for Nortonsville, technically in Albemarle County but just one hairy toe over the line from Greene County.  He never returned to Page County. 

1866 tax roll

1866 tax roll

No wonder Grayson was suspicious.

And where was Fielding?  Right where he always was:  

1860 Page County, VA census
1860 Federal census for Page County, Virginia
Fielding and Mary Ann are next to their daughter Lydia Breeden
and son John W. Jollett
farming along Naked Creek in Page County.  In 1850 he claimed his real estate was worth $100; in 1860 he said he had no land but personal property worth $3; in 1870 he claimed real estate again worth $200.  So while claiming “no real estate” in 1860 is consistent with the deed of 1859, assigning a value to real estate in 1870 implies he actually owned the farm.  

Of course, it’s possible James Franklin allowed Fielding to farm the land in his absence.  It’s also possible – but not probable – that Fielding bought it back.  But with all those judgments hanging over his head, it doesn’t seem 1870 would have been a good time to take back the farm. 

1876 ruling Grayson vs Jollett
1876 ruling

This court case dragged on several years.  Grayson’s petition to amend the bill to include James Franklin Jollett as a Defendant along with Fielding was granted in 1876, five years after the original complaint.  

1880 ruling Grayson vs Jollett
1880 ruling

In April 1880 (!!), the case was removed from the Court and sent to the Chancery Causes court.  Other than copies of summonses and prior judgments, there is no more in this particular folder.  Did Fielding ever repay all those creditors?  Surely the outcome is recorded SOMEWHERE. 

But back to the BIG question:  Did father and son conspire to commit fraud?  Had they found the loophole that would ensure the farm remained in the family and confound the efforts of creditors?  Or was Fielding simply doing what many aging parents do by "downsizing" while he was still able?  While the timing of the transfer of ownership certainly raised a red flag, a deed was in fact recorded in Page County.  What's more, the deed preceded any of the complaints by one year, and by two years in the complaint of Benjamin Grayson.  

I’ve watched enough episodes of “Law and Order” and “Matlock” to know it’s impossible to prove what was in someone’s heart. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wordless Wednesday (Almost): Jollett Wedding Tintypes

Wordless Wednesday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that asks family historians to create a post in which the main focus is a photograph or image.

While I have seen several pictures of my great-great grandfather James Franklin Jollett, I had never seen a picture of his first wife, my great-great grandmother Lucy Ann Shiflett.  Or so I thought. 

For years I assumed since she died young that there were none.  But after studying how Teresa Wilson Rogers of Forgotten Faces and Long Ago Places dates photos, I’m convinced that I’ve been looking at my ancestor all along. 

James Franklin Jollett 1859 (possibly)
1838 - 1930
Possibly Lucy Ann Shiflett Jollett 1859
1843 - 1884

While the pink sleeves do not match, I think these tintypes go together.  Both are wearing flowers, so I’m guessing these portraits were done to mark their wedding in November of 1859.  However, in comparing these with similar pictures in pink sleeves on the website, I am not as confident since most of those were produced in the 1870s.  

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Grayson's Complaint

No, that’s not an illness, but no doubt Benjamin F.Grayson was sick over having made a loan to someone who never paid it back.

Fielding Jollett borrowed $22.44 from B. F. Grayson in 1855 and agreed to pay interest until paid plus fifty-five cents in costs.  The judgment against Jollett was filed in 1861.  In 1872 when a Commissioner filed his report on the value of Fielding’s land in the case of Good and Walton et al vs Jollett, he discovered among other things that Grayson was due $46.52, more than twice the amount of the original loan. 

That doesn’t sound like much, but if we can trust the online inflation calculator, that equates to about $861 today.   

What could a person buy with $46 in 1870?
  • 1 cow plus 1 heifer for $44 with $2 leftover for a gold ring or perhaps two undershirts plus six pairs of socks OR
  • 8 acres of land OR
  • One bed and bureau plus a cook stove for $40 with $6 leftover for two blankets OR
  • Two Colt Classic Peacemakers by mail-order plus one used single-shot muzzle loader rifle OR
  • One saddle but not quite enough for a harness OR
  • A half-year’s worth of coal

The buying power of $46 was considerable.

Grayson obtained a lawyer by the name of Richard S. Parks and filed a complaint.  In seeking remedy, they acknowledged that Fielding had no personal property from which to extract payment, so they requested he be given five years to make good on the loan after which time the land should be sold if the debt had not been satisfied. 

But then the other shoe dropped:  Fielding had already sold his land to his son James Franklin Jollett

B. F. Grayson didn’t buy that story for one minute.  He filed an amended bill with the Court claiming that Fielding and James Franklin were in cahoots to commit fraud and requesting that both be named as Defendants in the bill.

B. F. Grayson vs Fielding Jollett

To the Hon. Mark Bird Judge of the Circuit Court of Page County
The amended bill of your Orator B. F. Grayson respectfully showeth to the Court that heretofore your Orator exhibited in this Court his original bill of complaint against Fielding Jollett in which your Orator set forth the fact that on the 15 day of March 1861 he obtained a Judgment against the said Jollett for $22.44 with Interest from the 4th day of May 1855 till paid and fifty-five cents costs; which said Judgment was docketed on the Judgment lien Docket of said County on the 18th day of March 1861, and abstract of said Judgment being filed with original said bill; that no part of said Judgment has been paid and that said Jollett has no personal property subject to levy.  Your Orator therefore asked in said original bill that proper process might issue all necessary accounts be taken and that the remedy afforded by Statute might be granted of enforcing his lien against the real estate of said Jollett.

Your Orator further says that at Sept Rules 1871, said Jollett having failed to appear and plead, answer and demur to said bill, though proper process has been served upon him, the said bill was taken for

B. F. Grayson vs Fielding Jollett
confessed and set for hearing and at the Sept term 1871 a decree was entered referring said cause to a Chancery Commissioner to state and report an account of all liens upon the real estate of said Jollett with their character and priorities, the fee simple and annual value of said land and any other matter deemed relevant by himself or that any party might require.

Your Orator further says that since said original bill was filed and the proceeding aforesaid therein had, he has learned that said Jollett, prior to the Docketing of said Judgment, conveyed his real estate to one James F. Jollett by deed bearing date on the 28th day of March 1859 and admitted to court in said County on the same day, all of which will appear by reference to an office copy of said deed herewith filed marked Exhibit (D), and prayed to be read as part of this bill.

Your Orator is informed and believes and charges, that although said Fielding Jollett in said Deed acknowledges to have received from James F. Jollett the Sum of one hundred and eighty dollars in full for the purchase of said land, that in fact no consideration ever passed from the said James F. Jollett to the said Fielding Jollett; that said conveyance

B. F. Grayson vs Fielding Jollett
was made and said acknowledgement given for the purpose of defrauding the Creditors of said Fielding Jollett by which protecting his property from being subjected to the payment of his debts and the discharge of the liens thereon, acquired by his creditors.

Your Orator charges fraud in said transaction on the part of said Fielding Jollett and James F. Jollett and he is advised that Courts of Equity will not tolerate or Sanction the fraudulent acts of a debtor made to protect himself, to the injury and disregard of the rights of lien creditors.

Your Orator being therefore without remedy save in a Court of equity where such matters are alone cognizable and relievable prays that the said Fielding Jollett and James F. Jollett may be made parties defts to this his amended bill and answer the same on oath, that proper process may issue all necessary accounts be taken; that said conveyance may be annulled and set aside and the real estate thus fraudulently aliened be subject to the payment of your Orator’s lien and that all other and further relief appropriate in the premises and the nature of the case may require, may be granted your Orator & he will ever pray
                                                                B. F. Grayson
                                                                By Counsel

Next time:  Did money change hands?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Amanuensis Monday: Was It a Dirty Deed?

Amanuensis Monday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers which encourages the family historian to transcribe family letters, journals, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts.

James Good and Reuben Walton et al won in their complaint against Fielding Jollett for non-payment of debt that had accrued between 1857 and 1872.  However, the Commissioner appointed by the Court to take an account of Fielding’s real estate for the purpose of renting or selling it in order to satisfy the debt discovered two more issues that further complicated the case:  (1) there were two more liens filed against Fielding’s land ahead of theirs dated 1855 from Benjamin F. Grayson and the estate of Paschal Graves, deceased; and (2) Fielding had sold his land in 1859, a year before any of the judgments had been docketed. 

The folder of documents contains no indication of how the Court answered the question, “Now what do we do?”  But I do know that Benjamin F. Grayson didn’t shrug his shoulders and walk away.  He cried, “Foul!” and lodged another complaint against Fielding Jollett, known in Chancery Court as “B. F. Grayson vs Fielding Jollett Index #1871-071.”

Let’s begin with Exhibit D, an office copy of the deed of 28 March 1859 between Fielding and Mary Ann Jollett and their son James Franklin Jollett.

Page Co, VA Deed 1859 Fielding Jollett to James Franklin Jollett
THIS DEED made this the 28th day of March 1859 between Fielding L. Jollett and Mary his wife of the County of Page and State of Virginia of the one part and James F. Jollett of the County of Page and State of aforesaid of the other part Witnesseth that the said Fielding L. Jollett and Mary his wife for and in consideration of the sum of one hundred and eighty dollars current money of Virginia in hand to them paid by the said James F. Jollett receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged hath granted, bargained and sold and by these presents doth grant bargain and sell unto the said James F. Jollett his heirs and assigns a certain tract or parcel of land lying on the north side of the long ridge in the County of Page and State aforesaid and bounded as follows, Commencing at John Epards corner on the long ridge at Fountain S. Utzes line then running with Epards line in bout [sic.] the top of the long ridge to Stroles line then with Stroles line even with the head of bushy hole so called, then a North course to bushy hole then down bushy hole to John Jolletts corner in bushy hole then with John Jolletts line a South course to a corner in the hollow then with John Jolletts line a S. W. course to John Meadows line then with John Meadows line to the beginning, corner supposing to be two hundred Acres more or less to have and
Page Co, VA Deed 1859 Fielding Jollett to James Franklin Jollett
to hold the said tract or parcel of land with the appurtenances thereto belonging to him the said James F. Jollett his heirs and assigns to the only proper use and behoof forever, and the said Fielding L. Jollett and Mary his wife for themselves their heirs executors and administrators doth hereby covenant and agree to and with the said James F. Jollett his heirs and assigns that they the said Fielding L. Jollett and Mary his wife and their heirs the said tract or parcel of land with its appurtenances with him the said James F. Jollett his heirs and assigns against them the said Fielding L. Jollett and Mary his wife and their heirs and against all persons whomsoever Shall and Will by these presents forever Warrant and defend. In Witness whereof the said Fielding L. Jollett and Mary his wife hath hereunto set their hands and affixed their seal this the day and date first above written.
Fielding [his mark] Jollett {Seal}
This day Fielden Gollett [sic.] apeard [sic.] before mea [sic.] and in my County and Eatnalledge [sic.] the above to bea [sic.] his hand and act. Given under my hand and Seal this 25 day of March 1859.
Joseph Samuels, J. P.
PAGE COUNTY TO WIT The within Deed was received 

Page Co, VA Deed 1859 Fielding Jollett to James Franklin Jollett
in the Clerks Office of Said County March 28, 1859 Acknd. Before Justice and admitted to record.
Teste: John W. Watson, C.C.

A copy Teste
W. T. Young, D.C.

Next time: Benjamin Grayson files a complaint

Friday, January 25, 2013

Sepia Saturday: The Help

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt features some well-dressed gentlemen outside a store displaying its wares: bananas, potatoes, oysters, and more.   But it’s the gentleman to the far right who prompts me to explore a topic I had not considered before:  my family’s association with African-Americans.

In the 1960s when the Civil Rights movement was gaining momentum, I often heard people ask, “Aren’t you ashamed of your ancestors?”  Not me.  My ancestors were mostly poor dirt farmers and dirt poor farmers, not plantation owners by any stretch.  Census record after record indicates no one in my family owned a slave.  Once in awhile, there was a black woman in the household helping with the children or garden, but there were no families of slaves.  

Over the years my family often employed a black woman to help out, even if only for short periods of time.  As I watched The Help recently, I felt so sorry for the black housekeepers and nannies who PARENTED all those white children while their high-society parents indulged themselves in a shallow life and openly denied the Help any sort of dignity, even the use of a bathroom.  I’ve since wondered about the many housekeepers and babysitters who have passed through my life, and I pray my parents were kind.

Here they are, ever so briefly:

NAME UNKNOWN:  I was a baby when Daddy was a student at the University of Virginia and Momma worked in the Bursar’s office on campus.  She hired a young black girl to keep me during the day.  One day Momma arrived home from work to find me sitting outside in a wet diaper, all sunburned, playing in the rocks.  Inside “the Help” had passed out on the bed having tried on all of Momma’s clothes and having drunk all of Daddy’s whiskey.  Momma grabbed her by the hair and threw her out of the house.  

OK, so that’s our “not-so-good” story but one my parents did laugh about in later years.

Wendy with Fred Slade and Orvin Davis, Copely Hill, Charlottesville, VA
The blurry-faced cutie is Moi in the company of two doting
grandfathers, Orvin Davis and Fred Slade.
Daddy and Momma are by our little trailer on Copely Hill
in Charlottesville where many young students at
the University of Virginia lived.

MILDRED:  My parents always spoke with such fondness about Mildred who cared for me when the previous girl didn’t work out.  Just two little stories:  (1) Momma had to bake her a pie each week because Mildred loved Momma’s pies.  She would eat one slice every day while I napped.  (2) One time when Momma was writing Mildred’s paycheck, she suddenly couldn’t recall her last name.  Too embarrassed to admit it, Momma resorted to subterfuge by asking, “How is it you spell your last name?”  Mildred replied:  “G-R-E-E-N.”  

MATTIE:  Mattie took care of my baby sister when Momma returned to teaching and I was in school.  In her mind's ear Mary Jollette can almost hear Mattie singing gospel songs to soothe her while holding her in her lap.  Mary Jollette can still see Mattie’s hands with her chipped red fingernail polish, patting her leg to the rhythm. 

Mary Jollette 1959
1959 - Mary Jollette could do some bouncing
in that chair in the kitchen of our apartment
above our grandparents' house on Gillis Road.

CARRIE:  I was probably in junior high or even high school when Carrie came by bus in the afternoons to iron.  I remember her eyes were the opposite of crossed, and her feet were in terrible shape with disfigured bulging heels.  But she was a fine woman, tall and neat.  I always enjoyed talking to her, and I learned a lot about ironing just watching her.  Often she rode the bus home, but sometimes Daddy would drive her. 

But did we bother taking pictures of these women who made our lives easier?  Sadly no.

However, my great-grandmother Mary Theresa Walsh (or maybe it was a great-aunt) managed to capture a picture of RACHEL, her cook, housekeeper and babysitter.  Daddy and Leo loved Rachel.  She was a good cook and genuinely nice person.  Look at that smile!

Rachel, with Leo, Fred, and Betty Slade 1936
Rachel surrounded by the Slade kids in 1936
Leo, Betty, and Fred 

Judging by the impressions left behind by rusted thumbtacks, the photo of Rachel and the Slade kids remained on display for quite some time.

Now I’m wondering:  Did any of these women go home and tell stories about us?

There’s more in store at Sepia Saturday.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Fielding Jollett - A Decree in the Court of Equity

This is the final installment of a series exploring the Chancery Cause of Good & Walton vs Jollett 1860.
Part 1 - Fielding Jollett in Chancery Court
Part 2 - The Road to Chancery Court
Part 3 - I O U

By 1860 James W. Good and Reuben M. Walton were no doubt tired of waiting for payment on loans made to Fielding Jollett three years prior.  With the aid of their attorney Peter Borst, Jr., the two merchants filed a complaint against my 3G grandfather. 

The attorney presented evidence that Fielding Jollett owned 300 acres of land, and that he was in debt to Good and Walton, plus two more farmers George W. Shuler and George Summers.  The complainants acknowledged that Fielding had no personal property that could be sold in order to satisfy the debt, so they asked the Court to sell or rent as much of the real estate as would meet his obligations.

Fielding was summoned to court to answer and plea to the charges, but evidently he did not show up.  Failure to attend court was deemed a confession of guilt.

That was 1860.  An Intermediary Decree was not handed down until 1872.  Really?

Decree Good and Walton vs Jollett 1860

Good & Walton
vs                                           Int’y Decree
Fielding Jollett

This cause came to be heard this 29th day of May 1872 on the bill taken for confessed as to the Defendants

on whom process has been duly served, they he still failing to appear and plead, answer and demur to said bill; on the exhibits filed by the plaintiffs

and was argued by counsel.  On consideration whereof the Court doth adjudge, order and decree that one of the Commissioners of this Court do take and state an account of all the liens upon the real estate mentioned in said bill, and the character and priority thereof; also an account showing the fee simple and annual value of said land, together with any matter deemed relevant by himself, or that either party may require, and report his action under this decree to this Court at a future term.

And so the Commissioner took an account as ordered.  In so doing, he uncovered two more judgments against Fielding’s property, one from Benjamin F. Grayson and one from the estate of Paschal Graves.  When the Commissioner reported back on November 1, 1872, he calculated that Fielding Jollett owed $367.63, which is roughly $7,000 today.

Commissioners Report 1872 in case of Good and Walton vs Jollett

To the County Court of Page County   Commissioners Office Luray 1 of 1872
Your Commissioner begs leave to report that in pursuance of a decree of said Court entered at May term 1872 in a cause pending therein between James W. Good and Reuben M. Walton Plffs and Fielding Jollett Deft he has proceeded to make up the foregoing list of Judgments against the Deft Showing an aggregate including interest and costs on the first day of November 1872 of $367.63.  Upon examination of the records, your Commissioner finds at the date of the Docketing of the said Judgments , the Deft owned no real estate, nor has owned any since, but prior to that time owned and conveyed a tract of land to James F. Jollett, which will be seen by reference to the records in the Clerk’s office of Page County Court.   All of which is respectfully submitted.  Given under my hand as Commissioner of said county at my said Office the day and year aforesaid.
                                                W. T. Young, Commr  

While this Chancery Cause “folder” available online at the Library of Virginia website is pretty full with copies of deeds, judgments, complaints, and other evidence, there is no Final decree.  Since Fielding had apparently already sold the land to his son, there was no land to sell to satisfy the debt.  So what the Plaintiffs did then, I don’t know.

But I do know justice was certainly not swift in this case.  

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Fielding Jollett - I O U

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
 (from William Wordsworth “The World Is Too Much With Us”)

“Getting and spending” – that sums up about 25 years worth of Fielding Jollett’s activities as a farmer and citizen of Page County, Virginia.  He didn’t grow from a 2-acre farmette to a 300-acre farm overnight, but evidently he was living beyond his means. 

Fielding borrowed money from lots of people, and maybe he was buying on credit.  In the Chancery complaint against him filed by merchants James W. Good and Reuben M. Walton, exhibit after exhibit of judgments proves he owed quite a bit to quite a few.

Exhibit B Good & Walton vs Jollett 1860
$43.79 plus interest from November 1857 plus 30 cents costs due to Good and Walton

Exhibit C Good & Walton vs Jollett 1860
$30.77 plus interest from November 1857 plus 30 cents costs due to Good and Walton

Exhibit D Good & Walton vs Jollett 1860
$40.16 plus interest from October 1859 plus 30 cents costs due to George Summers

Exhibit E Good & Walton vs Jollett 1860
$50 plus interest from January 1859 plus 60 cents costs due to George W. Shuler

These debts don’t look like much, but if online inflation calculators can be trusted, Fielding’s debts totaled roughly $7,000. 

To get an idea of who these men were and how they were able to come to Fielding’s aid, I located them in the 1850 Federal Census for Page County, Virginia, and in the agricultural (non-population) census for the same year.  It was immediately obvious that Fielding was just a small-time farmer. 

Good and Walton are not included in the chart since they were not listed as farmers in 1850.  Good was a cabinet maker and Walton was a tanner.  But by 1860, both had accumulated some measure of wealth.  Good, a miller and farmer, valued his real estate at $4500 and personal property at $950.  Walton was a merchant with real estate worth $5000 and personal property valued at $6700.

Of course, anyone looking to borrow money would go to someone who had the money to lend, so it only makes sense that these men should be financially better off than Fielding.  But he was a small-time farmer struggling to keep up even by comparison to his nearest neighbors.

Next time:  the outcome

Wordless Wednesday: Baby Killeen

Wordless Wednesday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that asks family historians to create a post in which the main focus is a photograph or image.

Unknown Baby Killeen possible son of John Joseph and Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen

While I don’t have a definite identification for this sweet baby boy, I suspect this was my great-grandmother Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh’s child by her first husband, John Joseph Killeen.  In the 1900 Federal Census for the Bronx, New York, she declares 3 of 4 children living.  There is a four year gap between Matthew and Mae, so probably this child was born and died between 1896 and 1898. 

The photogher was W. H. Saul, whose studio was located at 2034 Third Avenue at 112th Street in New York City. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Fielding Jollett - The Road to Chancery Court

This is a continuation of the story of Good and Walton vs Jollett Chancery Cause of 1860.

Like so many young men in the early 1800s, Fielding Jollett was destined to become a farmer.  For whatever reason, when he came “of age,” he moved away from the family home in Greene County, crossing the mountain by way of Swift Run Gap along what is now the famed Skyline Drive into Rockingham County. 

Map showing travel route from Greene County to Naked Creek in Page County, VA
Today the road from Greene County
 crossing the mountain is a series of winding curves.
I wonder how long the trip took by horse and wagon.

In 1822, Fielding married Ann Stoutemire/Stoutamoyer, daughter of Jacob and Barbara Orebaugh Stoutemire/Stoutamoyer.  Most likely they lived with her parents or close by.  In 1824, with their first child on the way, Fielding purchased 2 acres and 24 poles of land that partially bordered his in-laws’ property. 

Two acres did not a farm make, but apparently that was the extent of Fielding’s land holdings for some time.  He likely earned his living as a laborer on other farms, perhaps even in his father-in-law’s employ.

Jollett Cemetery
This is not Fielding Jollett's land,
but it is the right neighborhood.
photo courtesy of Lois Emswiler
In 1828, Ann died, but Fielding quickly found a new wife and mother for his children, Mary Ann Armentrout with whom he had five more children.

In 1837, Fielding and Mary Ann sold some land they had inherited upon the death of her father, John Armentrout.  How much land and how much money passed hands is uncertain since the original deed was among the Rockingham County documents burned during the Civil War.  Fragments of the deed were recovered and re-recorded in 1884.

Perhaps Fielding had an entrepreneurial spirit that made him dream of becoming an important farmer and land owner.  He did not sit on that money very long.  That same year, he purchased 66 acres along Naked Creek from Joseph Mauzy, county surveyor, merchant and post master. 

View from Jollett Cemetery, Naked Creek, Virginia
Again, this is not Fielding's property,
but this is the area where he lived and raised his family.
And it's the kind of view he was privileged to enjoy every day.
No wonder he bought land there.

However, two short years later, Fielding and Mary Ann sold the same 66 acres back to Mauzy for $400. I have to wonder whether Fielding just couldn’t make a go of it there or if he had improved the farm to the extent that he could sell it at a profit.  And why would Joseph Mauzy want it back?

There are no answers, but another possibility is that Fielding had his eye on a bigger prize.  In 1849 Fielding and Mary Ann purchased 300 acres in Page County from George and Susan Conrad.  (NOTE: the area along Naked Creek straddles Rockingham and Page counties, so it appears likely that the Jolletts were living in the same area they had always lived.) 

If trouble hadn’t begun earlier, maybe this is when Fielding’s financial troubles began because in just a few short years, he was woefully in debt. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Amanuensis Monday: Fielding Jollett in Chancery Court

Amanuensis Monday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers which encourages the family historian to transcribe family letters, journals, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts.

Amanuensis:  A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

I often wonder why my great aunts Violetta and Velma quit tracing the Jollett family.  After all, they thought there was nothing on earth quite so interesting as their Jollett relatives and ancestors.  They had even hired a professional genealogist to do some of the research.  Perhaps it became expensive.  Or perhaps the frustration of turning up so few documents made them give up.  My family’s theory is that they uncovered something they didn’t want anyone to know. 

(I wonder if they ever heard stories about William Jollett.)   

The truth is we have our fair share of unsavory characters and events that might have appalled refined ladies like my aunts.  Being sued for payment of debt is nothing. 

So it seems my 3G grandfather Fielding Jollett of Page County, Virginia ran into some financial trouble, perhaps buying on credit from local merchants and certainly borrowing money from some fairly wealthy farmers.  Failure to make good on the loans resulted in two lawsuits, at least one of which dragged on for almost twenty years.

Here is the Chancery Cause of Good and Walton et al. vs Fielding Jollett 1860 (Index # 1861-09):

Chancery Cause Fielding Jollett 1860

Good, Walton
vs                                            In Chancery
Fielding Jollett

Your complainants James W. Good, and Reuben M. Walton, late partners in trade under the name and style of Good & Walton, George Summers and George W. Shuler respectfully shew that Fielding Jollett owned and possessed a lot of land situate in the county of Page containing about three hundred acres, more or less, which he purchased of Geo. Conrad and Susan his wife on the 9th day of March 1849 for the sum of one dollar in hand paid as will be seen by reference to an office copy of said deed from Geo. Conrad and Susan his wife to said Fielding Jollett, filed herewith marked Exhibit (A) and prayed to be taken as part of this bill.

Your complainants also shew that the said Good & Walton, partners as above stated, suing in the style of Good & Walton recovered a Judgment against the said Fielding Jollett before a Justice of the peace for the sum of $43.79 Inst from 26th Nov 1857 till paid, and 30 cents costs, as will be seen by reference to an office copy of said Judgment which was docketed in the County Clerk’s office of Page Co. 20th Nov 1860 and a copy of which is filed herewith marked Exhibit (B), and prayed to be taken as part of this bill.

Also say that the said Good & Walton, as aforesaid, recovered a Judgment rendered by a Justice of the peace against F. Jollett for the sum of $30.77 Inst till paid and 30 cents costs, which said Judgment was docketed in the County Clerk’s office of Page Co, 24th April 1860, all of which will be seen by reference to an office copy of said Judgment filed herewith marked Exhibit (C), and prayed to be taken as part of this bill.

Also say that the said Geo. Summers recovered a Judgment rendered by a Justice of the peace against the said F. Jollett for $40.16 inst from 19 Oct 1859 till paid and 30 cents costs which said Judgment was docketed in the County Clerk’s office of Page Co. May 10th 1860 all of which will be seen by reference to an office copy of said Judgment filed herewith marked Exhibit (D), and prayed to be taken as part of this bill.

Fielding Jollett Chancery Cause 1860

Your complainants also say that Geo. W. Shuler recovered a Judgment rendered by a Justice of the peace against said deft for the sum of $50 Inst from 31st Jan 1859 till paid which said Judgment was docketed in the County Clerk’s office of Page Co. May 10th 1860 all of which will be seen by reference to an office copy of said Judgment filed herewith marked Exhibit (E), and prayed to be taken as part of this bill.

Your complainants say that the defendant has no personal property out of which the said sums of recovery recovered in said Judgments can be [???].  Your complainants therefore pray that Fielding Jollett who is the defendant in this bill may answer this bill on oath and that the court will decree or a sale or renting of so much of the real estate of said defendant as will satisfy the debts of said complainants and that a court may be appointed for this purpose and all other & further relief appriate in the premises, and they will ever pray.
                                                                                                P. B. Borst, p. q.

How did Fielding get himself into such a mess?  Did he have dreams of becoming a wealthy farmer but then just got in over his head?  Was he a poor manager of money?  Was he an inept farmer?  Was he merely pathetic or was he a dirty rotten scoundrel intentionally skirting the law?  I hope to come to some conclusions through a series of posts examining the documents in two Chancery Causes.

(NOTE: Chancery Causes for Page County, Virginia are among the Virginia Memory Digital Collections at the Library of Virginia. 


Friday, January 18, 2013

Sepia Saturday: Parade of Floats

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.

The most obvious bit of inspiration in this week’s Sepia Saturday prompt is the truck.  As a teenager, I viewed trucks as a necessity only for people like farmers, carpenters, plumbers, and delivery people. 

But for Homecoming at Cradock High School in the 1960s, a truck was golden.  After all, every club needed one to pull its Homecoming float.  Competition was fierce among the clubs to produce The Most Original, The Most Spirited, or Best Theme.  Anyone who had access to a flatbed truck was sure to be able to produce a worthy welcome for the honored alumni.

The parade route began at the school parking lot on George Washington Highway and then processed onto Gillis Road passing right in front of my house.  Our excitement began to build with the first “rrrrrrr” of the policeman’s siren signaling the parade had started.  Young and old craned their necks to catch the first glimpse of the motorcycle escort followed by cars of dignitaries: the principal, school superintendent, sometimes even the mayor. 

Cradock High School Homecoming 1968

In the near distance we caught flashes of silver sparkle as batons twirled up into the air and down.  The familiar notes of the Cradock Fight song or “Stars and Stripes Forever” wafted through the air as drums, brass, and woodwinds grew louder and stronger with every approaching step of the Marching Admirals.

Cradock High School Future Teachers of America 1967
Future Teachers of America
Riding on top: MOI secretary, Pat Dumire treasurer,
Barbara Wright reporter
Back seat: Becky Ditter chaplain (and I bet Mary Martin
was sitting there also)
Front seat: Linda Wright president

Convertibles of smiling class or club officers waving offered a momentary sensory break as the crowd anticipated the jewels of the parade:  the floats.  

Flatbeds and pickups inched along Gillis Road, almost completely obscured by colorful paper honoring the 10-year reunion of a previous class and promising to Crush the Cavaliers or Tame the Tigers or do WHATever to WHOever dared take on the Admirals on Homecoming.   

Cradock High School Queens' Float 1966
Queens' Float 1966

Cradock High School Bible Club Float 1967
In 1967, the Bible Club showed us things that
should NOT change "In These Changing Times"

Cradock High School FBLA Float 1966
FBLA 1966 - "Business A-Go-Go"
was their take on "Where the Action Is in '66"

Too soon the hollow clip clop of horses' hooves meant the parade was over for those of us on my block.  But children often ran alongside the parade for a 60s-version of “instant replay.”  I wonder how many actually followed the entire parade route, turning left onto Afton Parkway, completing the circle back at the football field in preparation for the big game.

Without doubt, the Homecoming Parade was one of the most anticipated events of the year.

Cradock High School Kappa Float 1966
Jean Laxton made a spectacular cave woman
for Kappa's entry in the parade.

Probably the only thing better than a parade passing in front of our house was the honor of having a float constructed in our garage.  I was a member of Kappa, one of three service clubs open to the girls in school.  My house was the designated “float” house for our club.  

Each year, I cleaned out the garage, rearranging the lawnmower and paint cans and old screens to make room for our creation.  I’m not sure if my parents were glad for the annual cleaning or annoyed at hosting a gaggle of giggling girls night after night, but they managed to endure three homecoming floats.  

For weeks, the living room filled with chatter and laughter as we folded, tied, and separated the layers of tissue to form carnations. Yes, we made tissue flowers from either Kleenex or toilet paper.  Apparently other types of materials for floats had not been invented, were not available, or were too costly for our club.   A tissue-covered truck was the only “look” I ever knew when it came to Homecoming float d├ęcor.  

Cradock High School 1967 Kappa Float
1967 Homecoming Theme: These Changing Times
Kappa's entry in the 1967 Homecoming Parade
celebrates the arrival of the Slurpee in Portsmouth
with the observation that "Time slurps on."
How could we not win with that??
Who arranged for the truck I don’t know.  Looking at these photos, I suspect most were "donated" by locally owned businesses that saw it as a way to build goodwill with the community. It was always exciting when the truck showed up in my driveway for the girls of Kappa to decorate. 

As for the club competition for outstanding floats, Kappa was never a winner.  Get your camera ready because here comes the parade of winning floats: 

Homecoming 1967 Admiralettes Float:

"We're buzzing to the tune of '66."  In 1966 the theme for Homecoming was "Where the Action Is."  The Admiralettes won "Most Original" for a bumble bee playing a record player to welcome back the class of 1956. 

(I wonder how many boxes of Kleenex they went through because that's a LOT of tissue paper flowers.)
Homecoming 1966 Art Club Float

"College I-A-Go-Go:  Tomorrow's Future Depends on Where the Action Is In '66."  
It was always hard to outshine the Art Club who won "Best Theme" for creating a paper Cousin Itt to promote going to college.  

Homecoming 1967 Art Club Float

The Art Club did it again in 1967 winning "Most Spirited" with the White Rabbit hurrying to welcome back the class of 1957. The Homecoming theme was "These Changing Times."

(Did you notice the Art Club didn't use tissue paper flowers?  They had access to materials and skills the rest of us lacked.)
Homecoming 1967 YMCA Club Float

"We're Changing Time."  That same year, the YMCA's creativity was rewarded by the float's being named "Most Original."  

Truck on over to Sepia Saturday to see the parade of lovely blogs.