My theme for the A to Z April Challenge is “In-Laws and Out-Laws – Friends of the Family.” I will be researching friends, colleagues, neighbors - those people who came and went touching my family’s lives in both small and large ways.
Montello Utz was the only son of Fountain Utz (pronounced Fon-TAIN) and Frances Brown, born about 1830. For many years various members of the Utz family were neighbors to my Jollett, Eppard, and Rucker ancestors in the Naked Creek community that straddled both Rockingham and Page counties. In fact, their farms often formed one border of land purchased by my 3G grandfather Fielding Jollett and land purchased by his sons James Franklin and John Wesley.
|Page Co, VA Chancery Cause Utz vs Jollett 1869-024 |
available online Library of Virginia
(click on image to enlarge)
But poor ol’ Montello was evidently not very popular with the Jolletts, nor them with him. In 1867, Montello agreed to pay John W. Jollett $150 for a gray horse that John Wesley promoted as a superior workhorse able to pull anything hitched to it. Montello was skeptical but felt compelled to purchase because he trusted Jollett’s good word. After all, John Wesley Jollett was a respected community leader and preacher. However, the horse did not measure up, and, in fact, was deemed worthless. Montello tried to return the horse, but John Jollett refused to take it back, much less forgive the loan. This led to a lawsuit between the two in 1869.
In 1873, a large number of Montello’s neighbors brought suit against him. Most were seeking payment for loans they had made to his father, Fountain Utz. John Jollett was suing for the rest of the payment and interest on that deadbeat horse. The complainants requested the Court sell Montello’s land that he had inherited from his father in 1861 since he had no personal property that would satisfy the debt.
And so for the next several years (at least through 1882), the Courts were busy selling off Montello’s property and settling all those judgments.
So when I found a listing (no photo) on Findagrave.com for Montello Utz, I wasn’t surprised to learn that he is buried at the Western State Hospital Cemetery in Staunton, Virginia. Why not? The former name was “Western State Lunatic Asylum.” I’m sure Montello’s legal problems would have made anyone crazy.
With unabashed admiration for my utterly unequal colleagues, I issue this ultimatum for you to unite with umpteen users at the A to Z April Challenge to uncover some uncanny and unconventional blogs that will be unveiled to you.