Towle v. Lake
Transcribed by Gary L. Hines
This document is a transcription of a Knox County, Ohio, Court of Common Pleas case containing genealogical and historical data on the Lake, Towle, and Crouse families.
Other surnames mentioned include Ayres, Babcock, Bannning, Brown, Bryant, Clark, Curtis, Dean, Delano, Elliott, Fenes, Guthrie, Harper, Headington, Hildreth, Jones, Kinney, McGibeny, Merrit, Miller, Neal, Rife, Runyan, Siler, Wolgamot, Woodbridge, and Younkard/Younkerd.
|-||3 Jan 2005||Original version.|
Decoliar Towle and his wife Mary Ann Towle sued Lewis Lake and James Jones during the June 1833 term of the Chancery Court of Knox County, Ohio. The essence of the case was that Mary Ann was the sole heir of Jacob Crouse's estate and Decoliar felt he had more coming to him as Mary Ann's husband. In particular, Lewis Lake had sold some of the property to James Jones.
This suit was finally resolved during the June 1837 term of the court. This document transcribes the case file as recorded in Book C of the court proceedings, pages 288-299. Iíve divided the document into the following sections:
The Ohio Historical Society has microfilmed (Columbus, Ohio, 1980) the Chancery Court Record, 1810-1854, created by the Court of Common Pleas, Knox County, Ohio. You can probably access this filming most easily at the LDS Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, or through your nearest LDS Family History Center. The film call number is US/CAN FILM 1,294,293.
Following is a summary of the contents of the case file, by page number:
|Page number in Book C||Contents|
|288-293||Bill in Chancery from 6 Jun 1833, containing the complaint of Decoliar and Mary Ann Towle against Lewis Lake and James Jones|
|293||Writ of Subpoena, ordering Lewis Lake and James Jones to answer the charges|
|293||Sherriff's Return, stating that the subpoena was served|
|293||Continuance of the case from June Term, 1833.|
|293-294||Supplemental Bill from August Term, 1833, containing additional charges against Lewis Lake.|
|294||Writ of Subpoena, notifying Lewis Lake and James Jones to answer the supplemental charges|
|294||Sherriff's Return, stating that the subpoena was served|
|294||Continuance of the case from October Term, 1833.|
|294||Continuance of the case from March Term, 1834, and defendants ordered to answer charges within 30 days.|
|294||Leave for defendants to file their answers, in May Term, 1834.|
|294-297||Separate answer of defendant Lewis Lake from May Term, 1834.|
|297-299||Separate answer of defendant James Jones from May Term, 1834.|
|299||Continuance of the case from October Term, 1834.|
|299||Continuance of the case from March Term, 1835.|
|299||Continuance of the case from June Term, 1835.|
|299||Continuance of the case from October Term, 1835.|
|299||Continuance of the case from March Term, 1836.|
|299||Continuance of the case from June Term, 1836.|
|299||Continuance of the case from October Term, 1836.|
|299||Continuance of the case from February Term, 1837.|
|299||Decree from June Term, 1837, ruling in favor of the defendants.|
Following is the transcription of the case file. Page numbers, editorial comments, and possible readings are in  brackets. A question mark in brackets [?] indicates that one or more words in the original could not be read. There is a link to a scan of the original for each page. Clicking on the link will open a new window containing a JPG image of the original.
Decrees in Chancery at June Term, A.D. 1837
[Book C, page 288. Click here to view original (230 KB).]
Decoliar Towle & Mary Ann Towle
The State of Ohio, Knox County ss.
Proceedings at the Court house in the town of Mount Vernon in and for said County of Knox on the twenty fourth day of June A.D. one thousand eight hundred and thirty seven before the Honorable Abner Ayres, Elis Miller and Samuel Elliott associate Judges of the Court of Common Pleas. Be it remember that heretofore towit: on the sixth day of June A.D. one thousand eight hundred and thirty three the said complainants by H. Curtis and C. Delano esquires their attornies pled in the office of the Clerk of said Court a Bill in Chancery which said Bill in Chancery made in the words and figures following towit:
Bill in Chancery
"To the Honorable the Judge of the Court of common pleas in and for the county of --- and State of Ohio sitting in Chancery. Humbly complaining [sheweth ?] unto your honors your orator Decoliar Towle and your oratrix Mary Ann Towle wife of said Decoliar and formerly Mary Ann Crouse both of the County and state aforesaid. That some time in the year of our Lord --- one Jacob Crouse then a resident of the County and state aforesaid departed this life seized and possessed of a large estate, both real and personal principally situate and being in the County of Knox & State of Ohio, that said Crouse at his decease left a widow towit, Rosannah Crouse and that your oratrix Mary Ann Towle is the daughter the only child and as such is the heir at law and legal representative of the said Jacob deceased leaving your oratrix then about five years old to inherit his estate. That letters of Administration on the estate of said Jacob were duly granted to James McGibeny and Jacob [Siler ?] dated October 24th A.D. 1822. That at the death of said Jacob Crouse Oratrix was a minor and about the --- of the year --- one Gilman Bryant was duly appointed the Guardian of the person and property of Oratrix. That after the death of said Jacob Crouse one Lewis Lake (who orators make party defendant to this bill with apt words &c.) intermarried with Rosannah Crouse the Mother of Oratrix and relict widow of said Jacob Crouse and having the confidence of the family succeeded in having the aforesaid Guardianship of the said Gilman Bryant revoked, given up and cancelled and on the 1st of November A.D. 1827 procured himself to be appointed the Guardian of Oratrix in the place of said Gilman Bryant. Orators further charge that the said Mary Ann is still a minor and does not arrive at the age of eighteen years until the 17th of June A.D. 1833. Orators further state in the last of February or first of March A.D. 1832 Orator said Decoliar (who is a cousin of the said Lewis Lake) was residing in the Town of Gains in the County of Orleans and State of New York and had never been in any part of Ohio. About the time last aforesaid orator received a letter from said Lewis Lake then residing in Knox County Ohio in which said Lake stated that he had a step daughter of whom he was Guardian alluding to your oratrix said Mary Ann. That she was highly respectable and very wealthy; soliciting orator said Decoliar in the strongest terms to come to Ohio and marry the said Mary Ann unless orator should be married before the arrival of said Lakes letter; stating as a reason why he wished orator to marry her that he would rather some relation of his the said Lake should marry the girl and have her property than have it go into the hands of a stranger. At the same time said Lake wished orator if married before the letter arrived to hand it over to one [Edward Fenes ?] a Nephew of said Lakes who lived in the state of New York not far distant from the residence of orator. When orator said Decoliar received this letter he was unmarried, and after showing it to his father and taking his advice and having faith and in the confidence and integrity of his cousin said Lake, he determined in pursuance of the request of said Lake to come to Ohio and at least form an acquaintance of oratrix said Mary Ann of whom said Lake had spoken in such high terms. Accordingly orator set out for Ohio and arrived at Knox County at the residence of said Lake some time in the Spring of 1832; as near as orator can now recollect it was about the 6th of April. Orators further charge that immediately after
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said Decoliar's arrival in Ohio said Lake set about using the utmost of his influence with oratrix said Mary Ann as her step father and Guardian and with orator said Decoliar as his friend and relation to procure a marriage with and between orator and oratrix. And by means of the influence thus [?] and used on the part of said Lake and in consequence of the unbounded confidence which orator and oratrix at that time reposed in said Lake and which was so [?] and abused by said Lake as will appear from facts herein after stated the said Lake procured a marriage contract to be entered into between orator and oratrix within a few weeks after orators arrival in Ohio which marriage was solemnized on the 24th day of May 1832. Previous however to solemnizing said marriage but after the said marriage agreement had been entered into said Lake came to orator said Decoliar and stated to him that in consequence of the very profitable match which he said Lake had procured for orator, and in consequence of the large amount of property which would come to the hands of orator on his marriage with said Mary Ann he said Decoliar ought and must make him said Lake some reward; [?] and [?]; saying it would be more than Just and right and saying that he would break off the marriage agreement if orator refused so to do. This communication however the said Lake was cautious never to make until he had induced your orator to come to Ohio, and until he had elicited the [?] friendship and affection of your orator and oratrix for each other. Thus situated and thus urged by said Lake orator supposed that unless he complied with the request of said Lake the marriage agreement would through the influence of said Lake be broken off and orator compelled to return to New York with disappointed affections and deep regrets. Accordingly orator was persuaded and prevailed upon by said Lake a few days preceding the day appointed for and on which the marriage was solemnized towit: the 21st of May A.D. 1832 to go with him said Lake to his attorney Henry B. Curtis Esq. where an agreement was drawn up by said Atty. and orator induced to sign the same; of which the following is a copy towit: "Covenant and agreement between Decoliar Towle of one part and Lewis Lake of the other part. Whereas the said decoliar Towle has it in contemplation to enter into a marriage contract with Mary Ann Crouse Step daughter to said Lewis Lake and will receive with her by such marriage the possession and legal title of sundry farms, lands and tenements and a large amount of personal property, money &c. And whereas the said Lewis Lake by right of his wife hath claims to a considerable proportion of said estate under and by virtue of a certain Will made by the father of said Mary Ann Crouse in form of the now wife of said Lewis Lake, now for the purpose of amicably [?] settling and determining the whole matter in interest above stated. And to do as an act of Justice to said Lewis Lake what in part it is claimed by him a Court of equity would do if called upon to act on the premises. And in consideration of the mutual amounts hereafter specified it is solemnly agreed as follows; That the said Lewis Lake shall forever have hold and enjoy to himself his heirs and assigns all and singular the following part of said real estate towit: that certain farm on which he now lives and which was set off as part of the widow's dower of the Estate of said Jacob Crouse deceased being the same farm purchased by said Crouse from Matthew [Merrit ?] containing seventy seven acres more or less. Also lots in the Town of Mount Vernon No. 142 and 143 and all the right by [?] purchase or otherwise held by said Mary Ann as heir at large to Jacob &c. to Lot No. 44. Also the said Lewis Lake is to receive all and singular the balance that shall be due and coming from the administrators upon final settlement. Also the said Lewis Lake is to receive a receipt in full for all balances or amounts due from him as Guardian to said Mary Ann Crouse. And also the one equal half of a certain debt or claim due the estate of said Jacob Crouse deceased, now assigned to said Lake as guardian as aforesaid from Henry Rife and John Miller and Phebe Younkard of Augusta County, Va.; and to forever acquit and discharge the said Lewis Lake from all further care and responsibility or liability growing out of or arising from said Guardianship to said Mary Ann Crouse. And it is understood that this transfer of the balance due from the administrators is to include nothing more and further than the debt due and owing said estate from James E. Woodbridge. And --- is further
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covenanted and agreed by the said Decoliar Towle that immediately after the said marriage shall have taken place he will execute in due form of law to said Lake his heirs and assigns forever a deed for all and singular the real estate above mentioned so far as he the said Towle shall have by law interest therein. And also the receipt and transfer above contemplated shall in like manner be executed to and in favor of said Lewis Lake. And it is further agreed that so soon as the said Mary Ann shall have arrived at the age of 18 years a full and complete deed in fee simple is to be executed by the said Decoliar Towle and the said Mary Ann jointly conveying transferring and confirming to the said Lewis Lake his heirs and assigns forever all and singular the real estate aforesaid. And the said Lewis Lake on his part agrees to pay to said Towle upon the final confirmation of the title aforesaid the sum of three hundred dollars -- the said three hundred dollars to be paid in three equal annual payments. From this date, said Lake also agrees to be [at his ?] proportion of the expense and to attend in person to the collection of the said claim against Rife and Miller &c. In witness whereof the said parties have hereunto subscribed their names and set their seals this 21st day of May 1832.
I hereby express my assent to the above agreement. May 21st 1832. Mary Ann Crouse."
Orator and oratrix further charge; that said Lake in order more effectually to complete his wicked, fraudulent, and unjust schemes and undertakings against your orators did on the 4th of June 1832 only four or five days subsequent to the marriage of orator and oratrix as aforesaid combine with one James Jones (whom orators also make party defendant to this Bill with apt words &c.) and did [?] to the said Jones his agreement in writing under his seal thereby promising to make said Jones a good and sufficient deed for lots in the Town of Mt. Vernon numbered 142, 143 and part of lot 144; the said lots being property which your oratrix the said Mary Ann inherited as the heir at law of the sd. Jacob Crouse deceased. By this agreement between the said Lake and Jones he the said Jones is bound to give to the said Lake $925.00 for the said property $200 payable at the date of the contract, $100 payable on the 1st of April 1833, and $300 in three promissory notes given by one Thomas Clark to said Jones payable annually on the 1st of April in the years 1834, 1835 & 1836 which said notes were to be secured by said Lake to said Jones the remaining part of the $925 being only $63 is payable on the 1st of Oct. 1833 all of which will more fully appear reference being had to the said agreement which is deposited in the hands of [Hile ?] Runyan in the Town of Mount Vernon. And through the fraudulent practices of the said Lake as aforesaid in consequence of the combination of the said Jones with said Lake your orator said Decoliar was prevailed upon to become the security of the said Lake that he said Lake should when the said Jones had complied with the agreement on his part make the said Jones a deed for the said lots and property in said agreement mentioned according to the covenants of the said Lake therein contained -- up to this time orator had been but a short time in Ohio, he was perfectly unacquainted with the laws and customs of this State, he was young being only twenty two years of age, he had never mingled with the world until this date but had always previous to his leaving New York resided with his father and been subject to his advice and counsel. He had not been in Ohio long enough to make himself familiar and acquainted with the situation of said Mary Ann's property. Orator charges that at this time that he did not know that oratrix said Mary Ann inherited the property which said Lake had sold to Jones as aforesaid. Orator at this time reposed the most compliant confidence in his cousin said Lake and had never suspected him of dishonesty. Orators charge that neither of them knew any thing about the situation of said Lakes accounts as Guardian or how much there was in his hands if any thing; or what was the situation of the accounts of the administrator and they were both ignorant of the situation and contents of the property and estate which oratrix inherited as heir at law of the said Jacob deceased. Orator intrusted every thing to the said Lake knowing that the said Lake was well acquainted with the situation of said
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Mary Ann's estate and supposing that said Lake being the Step Father and guardian of said Mary Ann and the cousin of orator would do nothing more than an honest man ought to do. Under such circumstances and by such means your orator said Decoliar was drawn in and induced most fraudulently and unjustly to sign the aforesaid agreements in relation to the property of said Mary Ann, over whom the said Lake had been entrusted to act, as Guardian. Orator and Oratrix charge that from the time said Lake wrote to orator to come to Ohio and marry oratrix said Lake had formed a wicked, base and sordid scheme to get orator here and then having him in his [power ?] & having all the influence of a Step father and Guardian over said Mary Ann, he intended to obtain the aforesaid agreements in relation to the estate of the said Mary Ann or some others of a similar character before he would permit the marriage to take place; thereby taking about $3000 of the property left the said Mary Ann by her father as a consideration for obtaining her a husband. And orators charge the said Lake to have done this in pursuance of a declaration frequently made by said Lake as they have since learned towit: that no more should marry the said Mary Ann unless he previously gave said Lake one half her property. In this instance however said Lake has more than verified his promise for he has left orator and oratrix nothing but one small farm situate a few miles from Mt. Vernon provided the aforesaid agreements are sustained. And the said Lake having obtained the aforesaid agreements and before orators had taken counsel and learned that the same were fraudulent and void and before said Lake had developed all his wickedness as hereinafter stated procured the said Decoliar to sign a receipt according to the stipulation in said agreement for the balance in said Lakes hands as guardian of said Mary Ann. This balance on settlement with the Court according to the account which the said Lake [?] as will appear by the records was $738.75 and with this receipt said Lake made his settlement with court; but orators charge that [?] greater [seems ?] have come to the hands of the said Lake than he has accounted for consisting of large amounts of personal property and also of the anual rents and profits of the said Mary Anns real estate for six or seven years during which said Lake has been her guardian which would amount yearly to $300 or $400. And orators charge that not one cent of sd. sum of $738.75 or of any of the aforesaid sums due from the said Lake as guardian have ever come to the hands of either orator or oratrix but the same constitute part and parcel of said Lake speculation. At the October Term of the Court of common pleas 1832 the said administrators of said Jacob Crouse deceased settled with the Court and a balance of $224.55 was found due and coming to the estate which orator and oratrix were Justly entitled to as heirs and legal representatives of said Jacob Crouse deceased nevertheless this balance also came to the hands of the said Lake in pursuance of the agreement procured from orator in the manner aforesaid, and for which the said Lake has also in the manner aforesaid procured orators receipt. Orators charge that the farm on which said Lake now lives and which was set off said Lakes wife as part of her dower and which is mentioned in said agreement is also inherited by the said Mary Ann as heir of said Jacob Deceased and that the reversionary interest is worth about $1000. The claim coming from Henry Rife, John Miller and Phebe Younkerd one half of which said Lake was to receive by virtue of said agreement so fraudulently obtained as aforesaid is in all [?] of $600.00. This would have given sd. Lake the further sum of $300 out of the property of the said Mary Ann. And to the aforesaid sums the still further sum of $925.00 which said Lake was to receive for the property sold to Jones and which is not the full value of the property and the said Lake was receiving in all, or will receive if said agreements be not set aside, the sum of $3188.30 (admitting only $738.75 to have been received by him as guardian which by no means is the full amount) out of the estate of the said Mary Ann as the price for procuring the marriage of his step daughter and [?]. Orators would naturally have supposed that a man of ordinary avarice and wickedness would have been willing to stop here, and permit the persons who he had thus wronged and injured and stripped of their property to spend the rest of their days in peace and quietude if possible - But now so it is may it please your honors the said Lake (combining and [?] to & with said Jones
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and to and with divers other persons at present unknown but who when discovered orators pray may be made Defts. hereto &c.) has practiced all manner of base and infamous conduct in order to drive orator said Decolias out of the Country and then having the influence and control over said Mary Ann which is given him by his situation he thought to enjoy and control the title of her property which remains. To this end he has set himself about to create difficulties between orator and oratrix coming to orator in pretended friendship and telling him falsehoods in relation to oratrix said Mary Ann of the Grossest Kind impeaching her chastity, and too infamous to be named, saying to orator that it would be impossible for him to live with oratrix said Mary Ann, advising orator - go away and leave her and offering him any assistance necessary to get away. At the same said Lake was using his utmost influence with said Mary Ann and doing all that was within his power to render her dissatisfied with orator. This conduct in part too [?] to be named the said Lake has carried on to such an extent as greatly to mar the happiness and disturb the peace and quietude of orators family. But the said Lakes inferious conduct did not stop here. In order to drive said Decoliar away the said Lake has put up threatening advertisements about and upon orators house, warning him to go away and making severe threats against him in case of refusal. Said Lake pretends to deny that he is the author of these mischievous and unmanly doings but orator is well convinced from the circumstances that there is no truth in this denial. The said Lake has carried this conduct to such an extent that orator was obliged to send for his father in New York in order to aid him in counteracting the conduct of the said Lake. The insidious treacherous and deceptive course which said Lake has and still continues to practice toward orator & oratrix renders it quite impossible for orators to live in their present situation which is contiguous to said Lakes residence and enjoy the least peace and comfort. The said Lake is the more able to carry on these machinations and said Decoliar less able to counteract them in consequence of the influence which said Lake has long been accustomed use and have with oratrix Mary Ann. Orators have therefore been obliged to [?] the design and make arrangements to remove beyond the reach and acquaintance of the said Lake. The danger which said Decoliar feels he is in of suffering some personal injury constitutes and additional reason for his determination to move his family away from the presence of said Lake. In [tender ?] condition whereof and in as much as orator is [?] by the strict rules of the Common Law but can only be relieved in this Honorable Court where matters of this kind are properly cognisable. To the end therefore that the said Lake & Jones and their confederates when discovered may upon their respective oaths full true and perfect answers make to all and singular the matters herein stated perfectly as if the same were again reported and they thereto more fully interrogated. And that by a decree of this Honorable Court the agreement between said Decoliar and said Lake set forth in this Bill may be decreed to be fraudulent, set aside and forever held for naught. That the receipts given by said Decoliar for the balance due from said Lake as Guardian and for the balance due from the administrators may be also set aside and held for naught. That said Lake may be decreed to come to a general account with orators for all monies, goods, property and effects that have come to his hands as guardian of said Mary Ann or which he may have received from the administrators of said Jacob or in any other manner and that said Lake may state and account for the large amount of property which he has received over and above the $738.75 mentioned in said settlement with the Court. That said Lake and said Jones may state particularly how each in what manner the said Jones has paid the said Lake for the said Lots so purchased as aforesaid by said Jones. And if the said Notes on said Estate have been paid over to said Lake that he be enjoined from negotiating them and be decreed to return the same to the said Jones. that said agreement to make said Jones a deed be set aside and held for naught
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at least so far as any liability rests upon said Decoliar in consequence of becoming Lakes Security therein. That said Lake be decreed to satisfy indemnify and secure the said Jones for all damages in consequence of his inability to make said Lake a deed. And your orator be entirely discharged and requited from said agreement, or else that said Lake be compelled to secure and indemnify orator for any and all liability that he may be under to the said Jones by means of his being said Lakes security as aforesaid. And that this Honorable Court grant all other and further relief that the nature of the case in Justice and equity may seem to require. May it please your honor to grant your orator & oratrix your writ of subpoena and such other powers as may appear necessary, and your orators in duty &c.
And afterwards towit: on the same day and year last aforesaid the said Complainants by their aforesaid attornies [?] out of our aforesaid Clerks office a Subpoena in Chancery which said subpoena together with the Sheriffs return thereon made in the words and figures following towit:
|Writ of Subpoena||
"The State of Ohio Knox County ss. To the Sheriff of said County Greeting. We command you to summon Lewis Lake and James Jones to appear before the Judges of the Court of common pleas of said county at the court house in Mount Vernon on the tenth day of June Inst. then and there to answer to a Bill in Chancery exhibited against them by Decoliar Towle and Mary Ann Towle; and this they shall in no wise omit under the penalty of one thousand dollars. And leave them there this writ. Witness the Honl. Alexander Harper Esq. president Judge of said Court at the court house in Mount Vernon this 6th day of June A.D. 1833.
|Shffs return||"Served by copy June 7, 1833. Hugh Neal, Sheriff of K.C."|
And afterwards towit: at a Court of common pleas holden before the Judges and at the place aforesaid at the Term of June in the year (1833 ) last aforesaid; this cause was Continued.
And afterwards towit: on the fifth day of August in the year (1833) last aforesaid the said Complainants by their aforesaid attornies filed in our aforesaid Clerks office a Supplemental Bill which said Bill reads in the words and figures following towit:
"To the Honorable the Judges of the Court of common pleas in & for the County of Knox, Ohio sitting in Chancery. Humbly complaining [sheweth ?] unto your honors your orator Decolier Towle and your oratrix Mary Ann Towle his wife. That on or about the sixth of June 1833 they exhibited their original Bill of complaint in this Honorable Court against Lewis Lake and James Jones calling for the recision of a certain contract between said Lake and orator said Decolier and also for the recision of a certain other contract between said Lake & said Jones in which orator is the security of said Lake, and claiming also to have cancelled & destroyed certain receipts which said Lake had fraudulently procured from orator said Decoliar in relation to money and property which he said Lake held as the Guardian of said Mary Ann, and calling also upon said Lake to account with orator and oratrix for all property which had before that time come into his hands as guardian of said Mary Ann your oratrix. And orators now charge by way of supplement, that sometime about ----- the administrators of Jacob Crouse deceased (to whom oratrix was sole heir at law being his only child) did assign to said Lake as the guardian of oratrix said Mary Ann a certain claim due the estate of said Crouse against one Henry Rife, John Miller and Phebe Younkerd of Augusta County Va. This claim [?] assigned to said Lake as aforesaid amounted with interest to about the sum of $1200. Orators charge that soon after said assignment said Lake went to Augusta County Va. and entered into a compromise with Rife, Miller and Younkard, gave up their original obligation which had been assigned to him said Lake as aforesaid and received as a consideration therefor six separate notes or obligations payable in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 years from that time. These obligations as near as orators can learn called for the sum of $116.70 or thereabouts, and were made payable to said Lake in his own name. The first of these obligations said Lake transferred to one ----- Kinney Esq. of Va. for a claim which said Kinney held against one ----- Guthrie in Ohio of whom said Lake has received the money. Immediately after the original suit in this case had been commenced said Lake left this place secretly went to Augusta Co. Va., where he found the money on the second
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note or obligation aforesaid collected. This money he received and [?] for his atty. said ---- Kinney Esqr. After this said Lake sold and transferred the remaining four obligations to a gentleman in Va. and received the money on them also making his actual cash receipts on the claim against Rife, Miller, and Younkerd about the sum of $725 including interest. Soon after filing the original Bill orators having learned that said Lake had left this place and suspecting that he had gone to Va. wrote on to Augusta Co. with a view of preventing said Lake from getting the aforesaid money into his own hands but before the arrival of their letter and in consequence of the manner in which said Lake had taken the [second ?} obligations he said Lake succeeded in obtaining the money as aforesaid. Orators further state that this claim on Rife, & Miller &c. is the one mentioned in the contract between said Decoliar and said Lake which orators seek to have cancelled and by which contract said Lake was only entitled to one half the money received as aforesaid. Orators charge that the knowledge of the fact of said Lake's having received the money herein before mentioned was acquired since the commencement of the original suit and said money was in fact obtained since filing the original Bill. To the end therefore that said Lake and Jones may full, true, and perfect answers make to all and singular the matters and things herein before charged by way of supplement as fully and perfectly upon their respective oaths as if the same were here again repeated and they thereto more fully interrogated, and that said Lake may be compelled in the final decree of this Honorable Court to account for the money received of Rife and Miller &c. as herein before stated and that orators may have such further and other relief in the premises as the nature and circumstances of their case may require. May it please your honors to grant your orators your writ of Subpoena &c.
And afterwards towit: on the same day and year last aforesaid the said Complainants by their aforesaid attornies [sued ?] out of our aforesaid Clerks office a Subpoena in Chancery which said Subpoena in Chancery together with the Sheriffs return thereon made in the words & figures following towit:
|Subpoena in Chancery||
"The State of Ohio Knox County ss. To the Sheriff of said County Greeting. We command you to summon Lewis Lake and James Jones to appear before the Judges of the Court of common pleas of said County of Knox, at the Court house in Mount Vernon on the thirtieth day of September next, to answer to a Supplemental Bill in Chancery exhibited against them by Decolier Towle and Mary Ann Towle, and this they shall in no wise omit under the penalty of one thousand dollars: and leave them there this writ. Witness the Honl. Alexr. Harper Esquire president Judge of said court at Mount Vernon this 5th day of August A.D. 1832.
Served August 5, 1833 on Jones and on B. S. Brown Lakes attorney in his absence both by copies.
And afterwards towit: at a Court of common pleas holden before the Honl. Alexander Harper, President, and James McGibeny, Anthony Bannning and Abner Ayres associate Judges of said Court and at the place aforesaid on the second day of October in the year (1833) last aforesaid; "this cause was continued."
And afterwards towit: at a Court of common pleas holden before the Honl. Abner Ayres, Elis Miller and James Elliott associate Judges of said Court and at the place aforesaid, on the twenty first day of March A.D. one thousand eight hundred and thirty four; "The Defts. are ruled to answer in 30 days & cause Continued."
And afterwards towit: at a Court of common pleas holden before the Honl.[Ezra ?] Dean president and Abner Ayres, Elis Miller and James Elliott associate Judges of said Court at the place aforesaid; on the thirty first day of May in the year (1834) last aforesaid;
|Leave given to file ans. & contd.||
"Leave is given defts. to file their answers upon payment of the costs of this Term." Continued.
And afterwards towit: on the same day and year last aforesaid the said Defendant Lake by Benjamin S. Brown Esqr. his attorney filed in our aforesaid Clerks office his answer which said Answer reads in the words and figures following towit:
|Ans. of Lake||
"The separate answer of Lewis Lake one of the Defendants to a Bill in Chancery exhibited in the Court of common pleas in Knox County
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Ohio by Decolier Towle and Mary Ann Towle. This defendant saving be for answer unto said Bill so far as he is advised is material for him to answer, he answereth and saith that he did intermarry with Rosannah Crouse widow of said Jacob Crouse, respondent further saith that at the time of his said marriage the said Mary Ann was about eight years of age from which time untill her marriage with said Towle she resided in the family of respondent, that it is not true as she charged that defendant by any improper means or for any improper purposes sought the Guardianship of said Mary Ann. Gilman Bryant had been appointed her guardian when she was yet too young to choose for herself and after she arrived to the age at which she was by law authorized to choose, she did it is true enlist your orator in the place and stead of said Bryant, which choice Defendant did not in any way seek to have made, but admits that it was made by her because of the confidence she [?] in him that he would be faithful to the trust. Respondent states that he had some wish to select a suitable person for the husband of said Mary Ann and being influenced by no other than a sincere desire for her happiness in the Spring of 1832 she then being of a suitable age for matrimonial engagement and as defendant thought somewhat inclined to receive favorably the attentions of the young Gentleman, did cast about in his own mind for a proper person for her future companion, and having when said Decoliar was quite young thought him a boy of some promise, and believing him then every way worthy of her and as defendant must acknowledge having some wish to see his own connexions well provided for he did not write to said Towle. Your Defendant was not however then aware of the great changes that time had wrought in the character and principles of said Decoliar or he should never have recommended him to said Mary Ann as one every way worthy of her. This Defendant knowing the impropriety of forced engagements was particularly cautious after the arrival of said Decoliar in the Country not to attempt in any way to influence either of them to contract any matrimonial engagements farther than to recommend said Decoliar to said Mary Ann as one in whom defendant had confidence and who he believed would make a kind husband, his conduct towards her upon this as upon all other occasions was such as a father's should be. This Defendant further answering states and denies most positively, that he used any such coersive measures with said Decoliar as he in his said Bill hath set forth for the purpose of procuring the execution of said agreement as set forth in said Bill. The said Jacob Crouse had in his life time and while he yet resided in Virginia and at the time when he had two daughters alive made his will whereby he devised to Rosannah now wife of the defendant the one third part of all his estate to which said will this defendant refers and prays may be made part of this his answer and which dated May 30th A.D. 1820 is now on file with the Depositions of the submitting witnesses, in the Clerks office of this Honorable Court but which said will in consequence of certain erasures therein has not as yet been admitted to probate. That the subject of said devise had been fully and freely conversed upon frequently in the family of defendant, and the Justice and equity of the claim of said Rosannah to said one third part of the estate of said Jacob Crouse always asserted, & this Deft. did believe and still doth believe that her rights under said will could be established and enforced and always intended asserting said claim. Defendant at the time of said Decoliars marriage with said Mary Ann had five children of his own by his marriage with said Rosannah in whose behalf as well as in behalf of his said wife he felt deeply interested in establishing the claim aforesaid in the Justice and equity of which the said Mary Ann who by the death of her sister in the life time of said Jacob had become entitled to the remaining two thirds of said Estate saving a small devise to George Crouse always acquiesced and the fact of said George having by a proceeding in this Honl. Court established his right under said Will, your orator's confidence in being able in like manner to establish the right of his said wife was much increased, he therefor when said Decoliar came to this country at a very early period and before he had made any proposal of marriage to said
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Mary Ann and indeed before he had made any advances whatever in that way informed him of the true situation of the estate, telling him that his wifes third part of said estate so far as it consisted of real estate had already been assigned to her and which third part she was justly entitled to in fee for the benefit of her children after her death, and that Defendant had always intended that if it could not be amicably arranged when the said Mary Ann should arrive at the proper age he would assert the said claim at Law not wishing to do so while she was under his protection and control. That afterwards when the said Decoliar had procured the consent of said Mary Ann to their said Marriage, the matter was more fully and freely conversed upon between them and the wish expressed by the family as also by said Towle that said matter should be arranged amicably and as at an early a day as possible, much conversation was then had on the details of the settlement when it was finally agreed upon to settle it in the [way ?] set forth specifically in said article in Complainants Bill mentioned. Many considerations suggested this course among which was the fact that said Rosannah was already secure of a life estate in said premises and that therefore individually she could not be prejudiced by the conveyance of this estate to this defendant moreover her children were his children and he of course would feel the same interest in providing for them that she would and having the fee vested in him could more effectually do so. Whereupon said article was executed by said Decoliar freely and voluntarily and as he then professed with great cheerfulness and with the entire approbation and consent of said Mary Ann and Rosannah. Defendant further answering admits that he sold said lots 142, 143, and part of lot 144 to said James Jones and upon the terms mentioned in said Bill mentioned, but defendant denies all fraud or combination therein with said Jones to cheat or defraud said Decoliar, he had already by article agreed to convey said premises to Defendant and such a shift or devise could not in the opinion of Defendant have added anything to the validity of said article said Towle happening to be present when your Deft. and said Jones were contracting because security for your Defts. performance in consequence of said Jones enacting it from this defendant that he should have security as the title was not yet vested in Deft. no scheme or preconsented plan of any kind was devised between your defendant and said Jones for that purpose but said Complainant signed at the instance of this defendant he being the most convenient person to call upon and knowing that he hazarded nothing in becoming security, whether said Decoliar was so wholly inexperienced and ignorant of the affairs of this world as he professes Defendant cannot say but he does know that the subsequent conduct of said Decoliar and his coadjutor in villainy evinced the most consumate skills in knavery and dishonest practices and the most inordinate desire for gain. Defendant denies that said Decoliar at the time he entered into said contract before marriage was ignorant of the true situation of the accounts of your Deft. as Guardian or of the extent and nature of the estate of said Mary Ann but avers that he disclosed to him all that he knew of the law and fairly and fully explained every thing in relation thereto. In respect to the accounts of this defendant as guardian of said Mary Ann he refers to his accounts on file in the Clerks office and prays that they may be taken as constitution, part of this answer, therein will be found a true [?] and statement of Defts. doings as guardian as aforesaid, and he denies all charges in said Bill so unjustly preferred against him in relation to said accounts in [?] farther than they are sustained by the said account so exhibited by him in settlement as aforesaid. This Defendant can scarcely conceive of a more false, base and foul calumny than in the charge preferred against him by said Decoliar than seeking mar the peace and happiness of said Decoliar and the said Mary Ann he denies in the most positive terms that there is one word of truth in all the vile charges of that character in Complainants Bill contained but this Defendant states that said Decoliar soon after his marriage with said Mary Ann
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set himself to work to dispose of and receive the avails of said Mary Anns estate and used every means in his power to prevail on me to sell him real estate that the real estate that the avails might pass into his hands and the more effectually to accomplish this diabolical purpose & not to guard and protect himself against injury from this Defendant he called to his aid his father. And then [four ?] [consumate ?] scoundrels most of whom have since procured their proper places in close custody. These persons were employed in common with said Towle to accomplish his purpose and as this defendant fully believes with the [full ?] purpose of abandoning the said Mary Ann as soon as he should have accomplished it. And defendant has no knowledge of any dissatisfaction on the part of said Towle until failed by the [?] of said Mary Ann in wholly refusing to sell her real estate, she having already learned there was no safety in confiding her whole estate to his keeping, and when all effort to get into his possession the avails of said real estate proved uneffectual, said Towle disposed of any thing that he had received by his said wife (and he had nothing else) and after renting the said real estate and receiving the rent for one year in advance he abandoned said Mary Ann about the date of the filing of the said Bill in Chancery leaving her entirely destitute. And said Decoliar has not to the knowledge of this Defendant been since heard of in said County, but is now as Deft. is informed engaged in a business not the most honorable in Canada. That since she was so abandoned by said Towle the said Mary Ann has resided in the family of this Defendant to whom she returned when said Towle had so abandoned her as aforesaid and she has been provided for and supported by defendant since that time. The amount already received by said Towle exceeds one thousand Dollars of which nothing has gone to the benefit of said Mary Ann. Deft. admits that he did receive the avails of said notes as is in said Supplemental bill mentioned as he lawfully might do and this defendant denies all right of the said Towle to come into a Court of Chancery after abandoning his said wife and by [?] incorporating her name with his to seek to have pass into his hands any part of her said estate, he claims that he has good right to the benefit of his said contract so made as aforesaid but that nonetheless if he were to relinquish the same it would be upon such terms and in such way as to place said estate beyond the possible reach of said Decoliar. And he denies all fraud and combination and having fully answered prays to be dismissed with his reasonable costs.
The State of Ohio Knox County ss. Before the subscriber personally comes Lewis Lake and makes oath that the facts stated in the foregoing Bill so far as his own knowledge are true and so far as they are from the information of others he verily believes them to be true. Sworn to and subscribed before me this 30th May 1834.
And afterwards towit: on the same day and year last aforesaid the said Defendant Jones filed in our aforesaid Clerks office his answer which reads in the words & figures following. Towit:
|Ans. of Jones||
"The State of Ohio Knox County Court of common pleas May term 1834. In Chancery. The separate answer of James Jones to the Bill of complaint filed against him and one Lewis Lake by Decoliar Towle and Mary Ann his wife. This respondent now and at all times [securing ?] & [reserving ?] to himself all right of exception to the manifold errors and improprieties in the said Bill contained, for answer thereunto, as far as he is advised is material or necessary for him to answer, he answereth and saith. That as to the contrivances, inducements & stratagems used by the deft. Lake or eventually acted upon and adopted by said Lake and the complainant Decoliar Towle, leading to the marriage of the said Decoliar and the pro forma Co-Compt. Mary Ann, he knows nothing except from vague [report ?] and that ensuing from said Decoliars own statements, nor does he know any thing of the [?] that have induced the said Decoliar to desert his present wife the said Mary Ann, and go to foreign and distant parts, leaving her the said Mary Ann [?] and as respondent is informed and verily believes, destitute and unprovided for, and stripped of the ample
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possessions of real estate in which she had abundant [incomes ?] for [maintainance ?] at the time he said Decoliar married her, and which as respondent is informed (and verily believes) are now rented and controlled by the said Decoliar for his own separate [emolument ?] [ease ?] & support. Nor does Respondent know any thing respecting the fraudulent designs or practices of the said Lewis Lake towards either of complainants, nor (in particular) of the joint fraudulent designs of the said Lewis Lake and Decoliar Towle towards the said pro forma Co-Compl. Mary Ann. But so far as this respondents personal knowledge extends to the transactions alledged or alluded to in this said Bill, and being that fraction and part of said Bill in the matters of which he himself hath an interest, he further answereth and saith. That on the 4th of June 1832, the said Lewis Lake being possessed and professing to have title to inlots in Mt. Vernon No. 142, 143 & 144 and wishing to sell the same and respt. being desirous to purchase, he concluded a contract with said Lake for the said Lots 142, 143 and 20 feet off the north side of lot 144, which contract was made in writing and for the particular terms of which respt. refers to a written copy of the same hereunto attached. Respt. further states that at the time of making said purchase and contract said Complainant Decoliar Towle was well knowing to the same and made no objections. That the said Towle on the same sheet of paper on which said contract was written, entered into & executed his bond to said respondent as security for said Lake that he said Lake should execute to respondent a deed according to the terms of his covenant in said contract a copy of which is also hereto attached and made part of this answer. Respondent further states that he has paid the instalments in his contract aforesaid to said Lake as follows. The first payment being in hand of $262 was paid at or about the time of making the contract. The next payment 1st October 1832, and $100 was paid by Respt. in money. The payment of $200 1st Apl. 1833 was in like manner paid by respt. and the [notes ?] [lifted ?]. And the payment of $300 by three promissory notes on Thos. Clark was paid by delivering the said notes to said Lake secured to his satisfaction. The note of Respondent for payment of $63 1st October 1833 is still out. But respondent has an unsettled account against said Lake on which there is a balance due respondent of between twenty and thirty Dollars and respondent as bail and security for said Lake, has become liable to pay and is in danger of being compelled pay debts for the said Lewis Lake in following instances and amounts towit: In the case of [Jos. ?] Babcock for the use of Andw. Wolgamot Judgment was rendered against respondent as security for said Lake before S. W. Hildreth a Justice of the peace on the 18th Feby. 1834 for $92.05, and before same Justice on the 31st Jan. 1834 in favor of Laban Headington on a note signed by respt. with said Lake and as security for said Lake, Judgment was entered for $59.88. And in neither case has the said Lake paid to Respt. or to any other person so far respt. knows any money for the purpose of paying said Judgments or any part thereof or to save respondent [?]. And the said Lake has like the Complainant Decoliar Towle gone to distant and foreign parts unknown to Respondent until on the 25th of this inst. when the said Lake returned home. Respondent admits the receipt of $10 from said Lake for which the respt. gave a due bill which is still held by said Lake or some person for him. Respondent therefore considers himself as having fully paid the notes given to secure the instalments of said contract. Respondent further states that he had made all said payments prior to the filing of the said bill by Complainants and service of notice upon respondent. And without any knowledge that any [?] or difficulty was likely to arise with regard to the said contract or title to said Lots. Respondent received from said Lake a deed executed in usual form for said lots on or about the 28th May 1833 to which as need in the recorders office in Book K page 328 Reference may be had for greater certainty. Respondent denies all fraud or combination, either with the said Towle or the said Lake, believing most religiously that if there have been any fraud or combination touching the matters in the said bill contained, the said Towle hath fully participated in the same for the purpose of getting possession of the property of the said Mary Ann. And having affected that object by
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making her the victim, it seems to this respondent that he now seeks to [?] the said Lake (his [averred ?] coadjutor) that share of the spoils which when more generous feelings prevailed between the two had been awarded by Complainant to the said Defendant. This respondent therefore as he hopes washes his hands of this whole affair and having answered prays hence to be dismissed &c.
Before me came James Jones who made oath that the facts stated in the foregoing answer as from his own knowledge are true, and as from information of others he believes to be true. May 26th 1834.
And afterwards towit: at a Court of common pleas holden before the Honl. Abner Ayres, Elis Miller and James Elliott associate Judges of said Court and at the place aforesaid; on the sixth day of October in the year (1834) last aforesaid; "this cause was continued."
And afterwards towit: at a Court of Common pleas holden before the Judges last aforesaid and at the place aforesaid on the fourteenth day of March A.D. one thousand eight hundred & thirty five; "this cause was continued."
And afterwards towit: at a Court of Common pleas holden before the Judges last aforesaid and at the place aforesaid on the tenth day of June in the year (1835) last aforesaid; "this cause was continued."
And afterwards towit: at a Court of common pleas holden before the Honl. Ezra Dean president and Abner Ayres, Elis Miller and James Elliott associate Judges of said Court and at the place aforesaid on the sixth day of October in the year (1835) last aforesaid; "this cause was continued."
And afterwards towit: at a Court of Common pleas holden before the Judges last aforesaid and at the place aforesaid on the seventh day of March A.D. one thousand eight hundred & thirty six; "this cause was continued."
And afterwards towit: at a Court of Common pleas holden before the Judges last aforesaid and at the place aforesaid on the sixth day of June in the year (1836) last aforesaid; "this cause was continued."
And afterwards towit: at a Court of common pleas holden before the Judges last aforesaid & at the place aforesaid on the eighteenth day of October in the year (1836) last aforesaid; "this cause was continued."
And afterwards towit: at a Court of Common pleas holden before the Judges last aforesaid & at the place aforesaid on the twenty fifth day of February A.D. one thousand eight hundred & thirty seven; "this cause was continued."
And now at this day towit: at a Court of common pleas holden before the Judges and at the place aforesaid on the same day and year first herein before written; "this cause being called in its course upon the Docket, Hosmer Curtis and Columbus Delano the former counsel for complainants being called upon alledge that the complainants having entirely neglected to communicate with them in respect to this suit for some years past, and having supplied them with no evidence in this case they therefore decline further to act as counsel in this case. Whereupon this cause was upon motion of defendants counsel taken upon bill & answers & being heard and considered the court do find that the allegations in the said bill charged & set forth are not sustained.
It is therefore decreed that the complainants take nothing by their said bill, but that the same be dismissed, and that the defendants recover against the said Complainants their costs, and charges in this suit, and that execution issue for the same as at Law."
We are told not to overlook non-probate court records as part of our genealogical research. Many cases are simple disputes arising from land transactions. This particular case file is probably more complex than the average one. But this case file contains several nuggets of information that suggest avenues of research that would not occur to you otherwise.
Following is an abstract of the statements made in this case file, many of them genealogical leads:
|Farm of 77 acres in Clinton Township, Knox County, Ohio, part of the widow's dower of the Estate of Jacob Crouse, originally purchased from Matthew [Merrit ?].||To Lewis and Rosannah Lake as part of Rosannah's widow's 1/3 dower. Decoliar Towle to sign a quitclaim deed immediately after marrying Mary Ann Crouse. Decoliar and Mary Ann to sign a fee simple deed after Mary Ann turns 18 years old. Lewis Lake to pay $300 in three equal annual payments after fee simple deed signed for this real estate and the following three town lots in Mount Vernon.|
|Lot No. 142 in the Town of Mount Vernon, Knox County, Ohio.||To Lewis and Rosannah Lake as part of Rosannah's widow's 1/3 dower. Decoliar Towle to sign a quitclaim deed immediately after marrying Mary Ann Crouse. Decoliar and Mary Ann to sign a fee simple deed after Mary Ann turns 18 years old.|
|Lot No. 143 in the Town of Mount Vernon, Knox County, Ohio.||To Lewis and Rosannah Lake as part of Rosannah's widow's 1/3 dower. Decoliar Towle to sign a quitclaim deed immediately after marrying Mary Ann Crouse. Decoliar and Mary Ann to sign a fee simple deed after Mary Ann turns 18 years old.|
|Part of Lot No. 144 in the Town of Mount Vernon, Knox County, Ohio.||To Lewis and Rosannah Lake as part of Rosannah's widow's 1/3 dower. Decoliar Towle to sign a quitclaim deed immediately after marrying Mary Ann Crouse. Decoliar and Mary Ann to sign a fee simple deed after Mary Ann turns 18 years old.|
|Balance due from the administrators upon final settlement of the estate of Jacob Crouse, consisting solely of the debt due the estate from James E. Woodbridge.||To Lewis and Rosannah Lake as part of Rosannah's widow's 1/3 dower. $224.55 received from the administrators during October 1832 term of the court.|
|All amounts due from Lewis Lake as guardian of Mary Ann Crouse (namely, $738.75).||To Lewis Lake for obligations as guardian of Mary Ann Crouse.|
|One half of a debt due the estate of Jacob Crouse (that is, $300 of the $600 due), from Henry Rife, John Miller, and Phebe Younkard of Augusta County, Virginia.||To Lewis Lake for service as guardian of Mary Ann Crouse. Lewis Lake agrees to travel to Virginia to collect the debt.|
|Lewis Lake to be released from all further liablilities as guardian of Mary Ann Crouse.||To Lewis Lake for service as guardian of Mary Ann Crouse.|
|4 Jun 1832||$200|
|1 Apr 1833||$100|
|1 Oct 1833||$63|
|1 Apr 1834||$100 by a note due from Thomas Clark|
|1 Apr 1835||$100 by a note due from Thomas Clark|
|1 Apr 1836||$100 by a note due from Thomas Clark|
Note that the above payments total $663, not $925 -- the answer of James Jones gives a different accounting of the $925 payment. After full payment and after Mary Ann became 18 years old, Decoliar Towle was to sign a fee simple deed selling the town lots to James Jones.
|4 Jun 1832||$262|
|1 Oct 1832||$100|
|1 Apr 1833||$200|
|1 Apr 1833 (?)||$300 by notes due from Thomas Clark|
|1 Oct 1833||$63 by a note due from James Jones, which is still out. This note has not been paid because Lewis Lake owes money to Jones for some recent notes that have fallen due which Jones secured.|