Duncan research files of
St. Louis, MO, Deeds (1804-1860 indexes, Duncan grantors on FHL film 531,513, grantees on FHL film 529,904)
Most of following from index only unless otherwise noted; copied only a few grantees to book G2, 1839
Susannah Duncan had land claim in Missouri territory, 8-10 miles north of St. Louis, from deed, acts of ownership 1803-1804 (pg.91, Vol.2, 1968, "MO Pioneers," FHL book 977.8 D2h, from Louis Boone, Evelyn Sigler and Denzil Mauldin)
2-489 #831, Samuel Duncan Sr. to Amos Duncan Jr. "Archive Deeds &c"
2-489, #831: 23 March 1801, in the town of St. Louis in Illinois, before a Notary Public; wit. Joseph Hortis, and Juan Laffillard, appeared Samuel Duncan, father, and Amos Duncan, his son, inhabitants of this jurisdiction, who have agreed: that Samuel Duncan holds a farm containing 10 arpens of land front by about 240 deep on south bounded by land of Huff, north by his son Amos Duncan, this latter containing 8 arpens front with the same depth as that of his father, on the north bounded by William Girthch/Birthch, and the contracting parties, father and son, for their convenience and particular labor, each one requires that of the other, Samuel Duncan, the father, agrees to give Amos Duncan, his son, the former 10 arpens of land adj. Huff, in exchange for the 6 (sic) arpens which belong to his aforesaid son, to the line bounded north by Huff; with no other advantage. (FHL film 466,345)
Amos Duncan was owner of land in St. Louis, 21 Feb. 1806, in Book 1, pg.104, and 16 July 1810, Book 4, pg.438, Minutes of First & Second Board of Land Commissioners ("Index ... 1805-1812" by St.Louis Gen. Society); and #402, land on Mississippi River, St.Louis, conceded to legal reps. of Amos Duncan in July, 1810, by Commissioners' Certificate #402 issued Feb. 1809 by Commission for ascertaining and adjusting titles and claims in the Territory of Louisianna (pg.16, Vol.1, 1967, "MO Pioneers," FHL book 977.8 D2h)
Samuel Duncan was owner of land in St. Louis, 21 Feb. 1806, in Book 1, pg.104, and 13 Jan. 1809, Book 3, pg.425-460, Minutes of First & Second Board of Land Commissioners ("Index ... 1805-1812" by St.Louis Gen. Society); and #402, land on Mississippi River, St.Louis, claimed by Samuel Duncan, conceded to William Massey by Commissioners' Certificate #162 issued Feb. 1809 by Commission for ascertaining and adjusting titles and claims in the Territory of Louisianna (pg.16, Vol.1, 1967, "MO Pioneers," FHL book 977.8 D2h)
E-270: 2 Oct. 1815, Robert Duncan to John H. Reed, $200, land in I/J-94. No wife. Wit. John B. Rus, Edward Charless, both of town of St. Louis, MO. (FHL film 529,940)
I/J-52: 19 Jan. 1820, David Musick and wife Prudence of St. Louis Co. MO to Robert Duncan of same, $300, 1/3 undivided part of 7 arpens in front by 40 in rear in that part of the prairie near the town of St. Louis called cut de sac on the Creek of Augusta Chouteaus, and 1/3 undivided part of 1/2 arpent in front by 40 in rear situate in the big prairie about 3 miles westwardly of town of St. Louis, adj. land formerly Widow Chouteau, land formerly Charles Dagon? (Sagon?) and 1/3 undivided part of 192 arpents formerly Calvin Adams as settlement rights, in the whole about 1,432 arpens, which said Musick purchased from Alexander McNair and wife Margaret 14 Dec. 1808 (earlier chain of title not copied) ... 1/3 undivided part of 1,432 arpens. No wit. (FHL film 529,942)
I/J-54: 16 April 1814, William C. Carr and wife Ann Maria to Robert Duncan, $10, their right to land below the town of St. Louis near where the bridge formerly was, 3 arpens, formerly claimed by Calvin Adams and sold by Sheriff to said Carr. Wit. Elias E. Elliott, A. McNair. (FHL film 529,942)
I/J-94: 14 Jan. 1820, John H. Reed and wife Margaret to Robert Duncan of St. Louis Co. MO, $200, (no acres) land adj. and below town of St. Louis, adj. Mrs. Chouteau's mill creek, adj. bridge below or on east side of said bridge ... to the Mississippi, same land John H. Reed purchased of Robert Duncan 2 Oct. 1815. No wit. (FHL film 529,942)
L-107: 8 Sept. 1820, Amos Duncan to Josiah H. Bell and Aaron Hanscom, both of parish of Natchitoches, LA, $550, 240 arpens in St. Louis Co. MO about 8 miles above town of St. Louis on Mississippi River on east; Lawrence Hoof on south on land granted by Spanish government to Samuel Duncan in 1796 and surveyed and recorded in 1797 and conveyed in 1801 by Samuel Duncan to said Amos Duncan in exchange for adj. tract of land granted by Spanish government to Amos Duncan in 1796 and surveyed and recorded in 1797. No wife. Wit. Sam Shibler, Edward Love. Rec. by Notary Public in Natchitoches Parish LA 10 May 1822. (FHL film 529,943)
L-108: 8 Sept. 1820, Amos Duncan, heir and representative of Samuel Duncan decd, to Josiah H. Bell and Aaron Hanscom, $550, (the other land). Same wit. (FHL film 529,943)
L-350 1 Nov. 1822, Robert Duncan for love I bear to Jonathan, a black man, who descended to me as part of my portion of estate of my deceased father Jesse Duncan who purchased him and his mother Rachel and his two brothers Wiston and Kildere from Samuel Craigs by bill of sale 18 Feb. 1795, and for faithful service, emancipation. Wit. J.V. Garner, Josiah Spalding, John K. Walker, A. Gray, Joshua Barton. (FHL film 529,943) (MAD: see Hopkins Co. KY)
M-64: 24 June 1824, Samuel (X) Berry and wife Julian to Robert Duncan, $500, land on N. side of River Merrimack, 157 acres. Wit. Thomas Hered?, P. Walsh. (FHL film 529,944)
M-432: 24 June 1824, Robert Duncan (no wife) to Samuel Berry, $500, lot in St. Louis. Wit. M.P. Leclire?, Thomas Hered?. (FHL film 529,944)
Q-31: Indexed Susan Duncan by auditor to Wm. Russell (1830-31) No Duncan name spotted in Sheriff's deed for taxes. (FHL film 529,946)
Q-311: 28 Sept. 1830, Robert Duncan (no wife) to Jas. & David Adams (not copied) (FHL film 529,946)
R-534: 13 Dec. 1831, James S. Lyle and wife Elizabeth to Letitia Duncan, all City and Co. of St. Louis, MO, $600, lot in St. Louis; mortgage; he owes Letitia (her) $600. (FHL film 529,946) (MAD: See Northumberland Co. PA; she widow of Matthew Duncan)
S-295: 18 Dec. 1832, Letitia Duncan of City & Co. of St. Louis, MO, widow, to Louis Charteville (not copied) (FHL film 529,947)
T-518: 25 July 1834, Robert Duncan and wife Sally of City & Co. of St. Louis to Archibald Gamble, George Collier & John Kerr and Augustus Kerr, all of Co. of St. Louis, $400, 157 acres on north bank Merrimack River purchased by Samuel Berry from John Coonce by deed 15 Feb. 1822, rec. L-51, then by Robert Duncan from Berry & wife 24 June 1824, rec. M-64. No wit. (FHL film 529,948)
U-58: 6 Oct. 1834, Jonathan Duncan and wife Fanny Klinger, free colored, to Orland Fish ... (FHL film 529,948)
U-327: Jonathan Duncan to Orland Fish (1834-35)
U-513: 8 Aug. 1835, Laetitia Duncan to Jacque Desire, $1000, mortgage, not copied further.
V-143: 29 June 1835, Robert Duncan to Elias T. Langham, land bought 16 April 1814 from Carr; no wife; not copied further. (FHL film 529,948)
V-243: Jonathan Duncan to Pierre Gernon
V-353: Robt. Duncan to Elias T. Langham
V-403: Jonathan Duncan to A.S. Ross
W-326: Robt. Duncan to A.H. Evans (1836)
A2-160: Robert Duncan to D.S. Richards (1837)
A2-255: Robert Duncan to M. Jasewski
A2-374: 17 May 1837, Vincent Duncan, a free man of color, mortgage to B. Blackensto (not copied) (FHL film 530,499)
D2-159: Vincent Duncan to G. Spears (1838)
G2-178: 31 Dec. 1838, Robert Duncan, Wm. Carr Lane and Elliott Lee quit claim for $1 to the Mayor, Aldermen & Citizens of St. Louis, sufficient ground in Block 1 to make an alley 20 feet wide for public use from Poplar Street to Plum Street, and as soon as Front Street shall be straightened according to law from Market St. down to Plum St., authorize them to open the alley to give lots which bound upon Front St. and said alley a depth of 100 feet. (FHL film 530,138)
G2-237: Robert Duncan from W. Jones
I2-631: Jonathan Duncan to W. King & J.P. Doan (1839)
(quit on Jonathan (see emancipation)
S2-53: 19 June 1841, Jerry (X) Duncan (his) to Jonathan Duncan, mortgage. (FHL film 530,142)
S2-171: 10 Aug. 1841, Robert Duncan to Henry D. Evans, trustee, free negro William Douglass; Duncan owes Douglass; mortgage. (FHL film 530,142)
T2-322: 26 Feb. 1840, Robert Duncan to W. Carr Lane, both St. Louis City, MO. No wife. (FHL film 530,143)
A3-233: Shadrach Duncan to J. Clemens Jr.'s tr. (1841-42) (MAD: Shadrach Duncan shown as free colored on 1840 census)
C3-80: Whereas Robert Duncan, late of St. Louis Co. MO, died owning land, 90 arpens & 19/100, western part of tract, in part of prairie near town of St. Louis called the Cul de Sac on the waters of Chouteau's Mill Creek, deeded from David Musick to Robert Duncan 19 Jan. 1820; land divided by commissioners between ... and Robert Duncan April 1838; deed from William Duncan of Hopkins Co. KY 24 May 1843 to James Clemins Jr., the undivided 1/5 part allotted to Robert Duncan. Signature of William Duncan proven on oath 24 May 1843 of Benjamin Duncan and Harrison Duncan of Henry Co. MO. (FHL film 531,560)
C3-81: Whereas Robert Duncan, late of St. Louis Co. MO, died owning land; being the same tract held under Joseph Motard and confirmed to Calvin Adams by Motard; survey made for representatives of James Mackay; division of land between Benj. W. Ayres, Enock C. March, Elias T. Langham, Joab Toney, Charles Mullikin and Zachariah Wilson's heirs, and Robert Duncan; 189.81 arpens of/and undivided tract of 90.19 arpens; now 24 May 1843 Benjamin (+) Duncan of Henry Co. MO deed to James Clemens Jr. of City of St. Louis, $156, undivided 1/5 part. Rec. on oath of William Duncan of Hopkins Co. KY "near Maddisonville, KY." (FHL film 531,560)
E3-281: 9 April 1842, Laetitia Duncan to Thomas O. Duncan, both City and County of St. Louis, for $5, for love to her son; land in trust; life estate for use of Laetitia Duncan, then to Thomas O. Duncan for his natural life; then rents etc. to be paid to Jane E. Duncan, wife of Thomas O. Duncan for her life; then in trust to Laetitia Duncan, Phebe Maddock Duncan, Caroline Jane Duncan and Sarah Della Duncan, living daus. of said Thomas O. Duncan and such other daus. of said Thomas O.Duncan who may hereinafter be born in lawful wedlock to their heirs respectively in case a dau. dies, her share to the survivor. Thomas may sell land at his discretion. (FHL film 531,561)
H3-324: 1 April 1844, Thomas O. Duncan of St. Louis, MO, to Besaliel Gillett of Morgan Co. IL, $500, mortgage furniture. No wife, no wit. (FHL film 531,562)
I3-118: Robert Duncan, late of City and Co. of St. Louis MO, owned real estate; lot in city purchased from Therese, widow of Jacques Moise, 14 March 1817, deed F-203; and lot from David Adams and wife Elizabeth and James Adams and wife Deliet, 5 March 1832; and lot in Block 39 from Tousaint Racine and wife Julia; and lot in block 46 from Hezekiah Wright and wife, 14 Oct. 1831; now 24 May 1844 deed from William Duncan of Hopkins Co. KY to James Coleman Jr. of City of St. Louis, MO, $522, undivided 1/5 part. William Duncan appeared in St. Louis to rec. deed. (FHL film 531,563)
Q3-170: (blank day) April 1845, James Duncan and John Duncan of Madison Co. IL appoint Samuel Willi of City and Co. of St. Louis MO, attorney; undivided 2/5ths land and lots of Robert Duncan. They appeared 16 April 1845 in St. Louis. (FHL film 531,566)
R3-465: Benjamin Duncan to Willi & Armstrong (1845)
T3-383: John and James Duncan to S. Willi, Tr. (1845)
W3-325: Sheriff Sale for taxes, 1845-1846, incl: Ann Duncan, Wm. C. Lane agt, St. George Street. (FHL film 531,569)
E4-329: Loettitia Duncan by Shff to W.H. Dorsett (1845-47)
(quit copying most John & James & Benjamin)
G4-458: John & James Duncan tr. to B. Bates
H4-138: John & James Duncan by tr. to S. Willi
N4-549: Sheriff deed; whereas on 8 May 1850 an order of sale made in St. Louis Circuit Court; petitioners were John R. Shipley, Samuel Willi and David H. Armstrong; defendants were James Clemens Jr. and wife Eliza, Robert M. O'Blevins and wife Therese, Benjamin Duncan, James Armstrong and wife Nancy, Wilson Sissall and wife Mary A., James M. Duncan, John Duncan, Martha Duncan, James Monroe Duncan, John W. Duncan, Lucinda Duncan, Jefferson C. Galloway and wife Matilda, and James Bishop and wife Lucretia, Hampton Brashear and wife Mahala, Robert C. Duncan, James P. Duncan, Tennessee V. Duncan, Mary Ann M. Duncan, Martha Duncan, William Van Burin Duncan and Mary Metcalf; land sold May 1850 to David H?. Armstrong the highest bidder, $234? and $205, sell lots 6 and 7 in said plat, bounded by Chauteau Avenue, Motard Avenue, ??. Sheriff deed of sale in partition - mention of conflicting surveys. 8 May 1850. (FHL film 531,592)
Q4-490: 1848, Benjamin Duncan to M.J?. Duncan
S4-316: Robert Duncan to S. Duncan
U4-351: Lucinda Duncan to J. Clemens Jr.
Return to the St. Louis Co. MO Research File
St. Louis Co. MO Court Minutes
Vol. 1, 1816-1819 - no index (FHL film 1,503,009)
Vol. 2, 1819-1821 - no Duncan (FHL film 1,503,009)
Vol. 3, 1821-1824 (FHL film 1,503,009-10)
Pg.219: Robert Duncan to Jonathan, manumission (not copied)
Pg.142: June 18, 1822, Coleman Duncan vs. George Pitzer, breach of promise; Duncan to recover damages & costs.
Vol. 4, 1824-1827 - no Duncan (FHL film 1,503,010)
Vol. 5, 1827-1830 - no Duncan (FHL film 1,503,010)
Vol. 6, 1830-1833 - no index (FHL film 1,503,010-11)
Vol. 7, 1833-1835 - no Duncan (FHL film 1,503,011)
Vol. 8, 1836-1837 - no index (FHL film 1,503,011-12)
Vol. 9, 1838-1839 (FHL film 1,503,012)
Pg.7: 4 April 1838, Robert Duncan vs. Elias T. Langham, Enoch C. March, Benjamin W. Ayres, Jacob Toney, Charles Mullekon and unknown heirs of Jachariah Wilson, in partition; lands divided and shares allotted to each party, costs be taxed against the several parties according to their respective shares.
Pg.193: 17 July 1838, Robert Duncan vs. Maximilian Jaezewski alias Maximilian A. Yashejsky and Charlotte Davis, petition to foreclose a mortgage; $1500, lot in block 76 of St. Louis adj. late Thomas F. Reddick and late Lambert Lajire decd, which Maximilian acquired of said Duncan by deed same date as mortgage; foreclosure allowed.
Pg.230 23 Aug. 1838, Vincent Duncan vs. Andrew Pifer, replevin; defendant did not appear; plaintiff to recover damages and costs.
Vol.10, 1839-1840 - no index (FHL film 1,503,012)
Vol.11, 1840-1841 - no Duncan (FHL film 1,503,012-013)
Vol.12, 1841 - no index (FHL film 1,503,013)
Vol.13, 1841-1843 - no Duncan (FHL film 1,503,013)
Vol.14, 1843-1844 - no index (FHL film 1,503,013-014)
Vol.15, 1844-1845 - no index (FHL film 1,503,014)
Vol.16, 1845 - no index (FHL film 1,503,014)
Vol.17, 1845-1847 - no Duncan (FHL film 1,503,014-015)
Vol.18, 1847-1848 - no index (FHL film 1,503,015)
Vol.19 - no index (FHL film 1,503,016)
St. Louis Co. MO Circuit Court Minutes 1850 (FHL film 1,503,016)
(no index Vol. 18, 19 or 20; following from page by page; see deed N4-549)
20-12: #38, 8 May 1850, John R. Shipley, Samuel Willi and David H. Armstrong vs. James Clemens Jr. and wife Eliza, Robert McO'Blevins and wife Therese, Benjamin Duncan, James Armstrong and wife Nancy, Wilson Sissall and wife Mary A., James M. Duncan, John Duncan, Martha Duncan, James Munroe Duncan and John William Duncan, Lucinda Duncan, Jefferson C. Galloway and wife Matilda, James Bishop and wife Lucretia, Hampton Brashear and wife Mahala, Robert E. Duncan, James P. Duncan, Tennessee V. Duncan, Mary Ann M. Duncan, Martha Duncan, William Van Buren Duncan, and Mary Metcalf; that land on Motard Avenue cannot be divided, a portion covered by conflicting surveys; petition to sell this lot.
MAD: Benjamin Duncan's heirs: Benjamin Duncan, James Armstrong and wife Nancy, Wilson Sissall and wife Mary A., James M. Duncan, John Duncan.
Martha Duncan (MAD: widow of William who was son of Benjamin), James Munroe Duncan and John William Duncan (children of William & Martha).
William Duncan's heirs: Lucinda Duncan (widow), Jefferson C. Galloway and wife Matilda, James Bishop and wife Lucretia, Hampton Brashear and wife Mahala, Robert E. Duncan, James P. Duncan, Tennessee V. Duncan, Mary Ann M. Duncan, Martha Duncan.
"Reports of cases determined in the Supreme Court of the state of Missouri from 1827 to 1830" by Louis Houck, Consellor at law, Vol.II, pgs.138 to 139; spine title "Missouri Reports - Houck - Vol.1-2-3 reprint"; ("Missouri Reports") Vol.2, pgs.214 to 217 (California State Law Library, Sacramento, 1/2004)
VINCENT (a man of color) v. DUNCAN; Supreme Court of Missouri, St. Louis District; 2 Mo. 214; September, 1830, Decided.
Error to St. Louis Circuit Court.
(Opinion) TOMPKINS, J. This is an action for freedom under the statute of this State, brought by Vincent against Duncan. The defendant pleaded the general issue, and that the plaintiff was a slave. On both which pleas issue was joined and found for the defendant, and judgment was given accordingly. To reverse this judgment Vincent has brought up this case by writ of error.
It was in evidence that the plaintiff had been hired to labor at the Illinois Saline, near Shawneetown, from the year 1817 till the year 1825, when he was taken and carried bound to Kentucky: that he was the reputed slave of a family in Kentucky by the name of Duncan. That John Duncan, and sometimes the defendant, were in the habit of going to the Saline aforesaid, and hiring the plaintiff out and receiving pay for his hire. That the plaintiff, after remaining there some time, became disobedient to James Duncan, and discovered an unwillingness to go to Kentucky with James Duncan, and on some pretense got permission of James Duncan to stay at the Saline to settle his affairs; that finally he was taken and carried by force as above mentioned. That in 1826 he was delivered by John Duncan to the defendant, to be disposed of at the defendant's pleasure. That since the plaintiff had been in St. Louis, he had admitted himself to be the slave of James Duncan.
The court instructed the jury that by the Constitution of Illinois, the plaintiff might lawfully have been hired at the Ohio Saline in Illinois, from year to year, without being removed to any other State at the end of each year, without "working" his emancipation. Second. If the jury are satisfied that the owner of Vincent, residing in Kentucky, desired to withdraw him from the Saline, and attempted to do so, but was prevented by Vincent, that in such case Vincent cannot recover. Third. That under the ordinance of 1787, the bare fact that Vincent wrought at the Illinois Saline, from 1817 till 1825, does not work his emancipation. Fourth. That under the ordinance of 1787, the plaintiff cannot lawfully claim his freedom by reason of any residence in Illinois, which does not amount to a permanent settlement and the acquisition of a regular domicil there. Fifth. That the Constitution of Illinois is not and cannot be controlled by the ordinance of 1787, as to the existence of slavery within that State. Sixth. That if the jury shall be of opinion that the plaintiff constantly, down to the fall of 1829, when this suit was brought, acknowledged himself a slave, such evidence is legal and valid, and they may find their verdict upon it.
These instructions are assigned for error.
First. By the Constitution of Illinois, negroes may be hired to work at the Saline if they be not hired for more than twelve months at a time. If a negro were really hired to work at the Saline for five years, the fact that the negro, at the end of each year, was removed over to Kentucky, and afterwards brought back, would not cure the fraud. We conceive then that if the negro were in good faith hired there for one year only, that at the end of the first year he might be again hired another year, without being taken across the line of the State. In this instruction, then, nothing wrong is seen.
Second. If the owner of Vincent could lawfully hire his negro for twelve months at the Saline, an involuntary escape of his negro at the end of the year would hardly be construed to cause a forfeiture; but it could hardly be conceived that the evidence here given could warrant such an instruction. It rather appears that the negro was unwilling to go, and the master was unwilling to use force. The instruction then is wrong.
Third. Nothing can be conceived more vague than the instructions here asked. The ordinance was made to prevent the introduction of slaves into the Territory of which Illinois was then a part. This court has several times decided, that if the owner of slaves took them with him into Illinois, with intent to reside there, and did reside there, keeping his slaves, it was a fraud on the ordinance, and the slave became free. If he stay in Kentucky, and send his slave over to Illinois to reside there, it is equally a violation of the provisions of the ordinance. The evidence here is, that his owner hired him to labor there. Had the negro eloped from his master and gone over to Illinois without his owner's knowledge or consent, the case is provided for by the act itself. The state of the case did not warrant the instruction. It might mislead the jury, and is wrong.
Fourth. The object of this instruction is not easily perceived. It appears to the court that a slave is not capable of acquiring either a permanent settlement or regular domicil by residence. This instruction is also unwarranted and erroneous.
Fifth. This instruction is not erroneous.
Sixth. Any fact admitted by the plaintiff might be given in evidence against him, and he would be reduced to the necessity of disproving such fact; but whether he be a slave or not, is a conclusion of law from certain facts which may or may not exist. Such an admission, made even by a lawyer, would be no evidence. This instruction was surely wrong.
The counsel for the plaintiff prayed the court to instruct the jury, that if the plaintiff resided at the Ohio Saline as a laborer, in the year 1817, by the consent of his master, he was entitled to his freedom. This instruction was refused. The Constitution of Illinois was adopted in Dec. 1818, and it was in evidence that the plaintiff was hired at the Saline in 1817, and remained hired there till 1825. This instruction ought to have been given. The judgment of the Circuit Court is reversed, and the cause is remanded for further proceedings in conformity with this opinion.
(MAD: from the Missouri Supreme Court Historical Database http://www.sos.state.mo.us/archives/judiciary/supremecourt/
Supreme Court Case Files; Contributor Appellant Vincent, a Man of Colour, Respondent Coleman Duncan, filed 1820, St. Louis Co. Civil proceeding, reversed, assault and battery, false imprisonment, petition for freedom, employment in Illinois cannot be slave labor, Opinion found in 2 MO 215; Identifier Old Box Number 539, Location 16A/5/5, Box 143, Folder 6; Courtesy of the Missouri State Archives)
"Reports of cases determined in the Supreme Court of the state of Missouri from 1829 to 1835" by Louis Houck, Consellor at law, Vol.III, pgs.109 to 110; spine title "Missouri Reports - Houck - Vol.1-2-3 reprint"; ("Missouri Reports") Vol.3, pgs.194 to 197 (California State Law Library, Sacramento, 1/2004)
RALPH (a man of color) v. DUNCAN; Supreme Court of Missouri, St. Louis District; 3 Mo. 194; May, 1833, Decided.
Appeal from St. Louis Circuit Court.
(opinion) TOMPKINS, J. Ralph sued for his freedom in the Circuit Court of St. Louis county, and judgment being given against him in that court, he comes here to reverse that judgment. On the trial of the cause it was testified by John Steele, that he had heard John Gordon, the former master of Ralph, say in the year 1818 or 19, that he had been in the habit of hiring Ralph to work occasionally at the Ohio Saline from the 1814 or 15, till the time of the conversation aforesaid. Witnesses were called to impeach Steele's character for veracity, others were called to support it; and William Gordon, a witness on the part of the defendant himself, by his testimony, seemed to support that of Steele. William Gordon was asked by the defendant if he did not live near his brother John Gordon in the years 1815-16-17-18 and 19, and if he knew that his brother hired Ralph at the Saline in those years; to which question he answered, that he lived in five miles of John in those years, he never knew of his (Ralph) being hired by John Gordon at the Saline. The witness, to make the matter more certain, was asked, whether if John Gordon had hired Ralph at the Saline, he did not believe he should have known it. The answer was, "I believe if John Gordon had hired him there I should have known it. I heard John Gordon say in his life time the negro hired his own time, and went to the Saline of its (his) own accord." The object of the ordinance of 1787, was to prohibit the introduction of slaves into the Territory of which the present State of Illinois constitutes a part, and the master who permits his slave to go there to hire himself, offends against the law as much as one who takes his slave along with himself to reside there, and if we are at liberty to regard the moral effect of the act, it is much worse to permit the slave to go there to hire himself to labor, than for the master to take him along with himself to reside there under his own inspection or to hire him out personally to some person who will be bound to pay the master the hire; yet even this last act has been decided to be a violation of the provision of the ordinance. Abner Martin, one of the plaintiff's witnesses, also testified that he was the nephew of John Gordon (former owner of Ralph, that in 1831 he was 21 years old and that he recollected, when he was about seven years old, he had heard John Gordon say that Ralph was at work at the Ohio Saline. The witness stated that he had spent much time in Gordon's family, had no knowledge that Ralph was employed at the Saline, except from Gordon's statements. Much other testimony was given to prove a hiring of the plaintiff at the Saline and at the lead mines near Galena in Illinois, some part of which time was since the defendant became owner; but this assent was not expressly proved.
This testimony and some other not very material to be noticed, being given, the counsel for the defendant moved the court to give six instructions, the sum and purpose of which is as follows; First. That the Constitution of Illinois takes date and was obligatory from the time it passed unless some other date is provided to the instrument. Second. That the execution of a note by the defendant to the plaintiff as given in evidence in this case does not operate a manumission of the plaintiff. Third. That in order to entitle the plaintiff to recover in this suit, it must be proved that the defendant assented to his residence in Illinois. These instructions were given.
The plaintiff prayed the court to instruct the jury that the Constitution of Illinois took effect on 3d December, 1818, when Congress assented to the admission of that State into the Union, and not before that time. This was refused. The plaintiff then prayed for a new trial, which was refused. This court is of opinion that the instruction asked by the plaintiff should have been given, and that the first instruction asked by the defendant should have been refused.
We have no doubt that for the purpose of self government, the Constitution of Illinois might well have been in force from the time of its adoption; but for the purpose of the present cause, we incline to limit its effect to the time when Congress assented to the admission of the State into the Union.
It cannot be said that the second and third instructions asked by the defendant were improperly given; but the evidence that the defendant gave his note to the plaintiff is certainly admissible to prove that the defendant treated with him as with a free man. Nor is it necessary to prove that the assent either of Gordon the former claimant, or of Duncan, the defendant, was expressly given to the residence in Illinois, by virtue of which the plaintiff claims his freedom. This assent may be inferred from circumstances. The motion for a new trial was, in the opinion of this Court, improperly overruled. Then for the reason that the first instruction asked by the defendant was, in the opinion of this court, improperly given, and that asked by the plaintiff improperly refused, and because the plaintiff's motion for a new trial was, in the opinion of this Court, improperly overruled, (there being, as we think, evidence enough to entitle the plaintiff to a verdict), the judgment of the Circuit Court is reversed, and the cause remanded for further proceedings in conformity with this opinion.
(MAD: from the Missouri Supreme Court Historical Database http://www.sos.state.mo.us/archives/judiciary/supremecourt/
Supreme Court Case Files; Contributor Appellant Ralph, a Man of Colour, Respondent Coleman Duncan, Respondent James Duncan, filed 1832, St. Louis Co. Civil proceeding, reversed, assault and battery, false imprisonment, petition for freedom, employment in Illinois makes free regardless of Duncan's Missouri residence; Identifier Old Box Number 539, Location 16A/5/5, Box 143, Folder 7; Courtesy of the Missouri State Archives)
"Reports of cases determined in the Supreme Court of the state of Missouri from 1829 to 1835" by Louis Houck, Consellor at law, Vol.III, pgs.207 to 208; spine title "Missouri Reports - Houck - Vol.1-2-3 reprint"; ("Missouri Reports") Vol.3, pgs.385 to 387 (California State Law Library, Sacramento, 1/2004)
GORDON v. DUNCAN; Supreme Court of Missouri, St. Louis District; 3 Mo. 385; June, 1834, Decided.
Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Louis County.
(opinion) M'GIRK, C. J. The plaintiff Gordon brought an action of assault and battery against the defendant, in which judgment was rendered for the defendant. In this case there was a special verdict, which verdict finds, that in May, 1830, the plaintiff brought his action under the statute for freedom against Coleman Duncan, that the court made an order and under that order the plaintiff was hired out during the pendency of the suit until some time in April, 1831, when on motion of Coleman Duncan the court made an order, of which the following is a copy: "Ralph v. Coleman Duncan." "It is ordered by the court, that Ralph the plaintiff in this case be delivered by the sheriff to James Duncan or to Coleman Duncan on their or either of them entering into a recognizance with sufficient security in the sum of six hundred dollars, conditioned that the said Ralph the petitioner shall at all times during the pendency of this suit have reasonable liberty of attending his counsel, and that the said Ralph shall not be removed out of the jurisdiction of this court, and that he shall not be subject to any severity of treatment because of his application for freedom." The court farther finds that said James did, with Robert Duncan as his security, in April, 1831, enter into a recognizance agreeably to this order, and that thereupon the sheriff of St. Louis county did deliver Ralph into the possession of James Duncan and that James Duncan delivered Ralph to Robert Duncan in April or May, 1831, and that Robert Duncan kept and detained Ralph as the slave of Coleman Duncan until March or April, 1832, and that the services of Ralph, while thus kept, were worth the sum of $100. The court further find, that in the spring of 1832, Robert Duncan hired Ralph to one Lawrence as the slave of Coleman Duncan; that Ralph worked with Lawrence at seventy-five cents per day till his wages amounted to $50, which sum was paid to R. Duncan for the hire of Ralph. The court also find that in the suit commenced by Ralph against Coleman Duncan as aforesaid, judgment was rendered by said court at the November term thereof, 1833, and that by that judgment Ralph was declared to be free, and that he was liberated as to the said Coleman Duncan and all persons claiming under him. Whereupon the court gave judgment for the defendant in the court below.
But one question is raised by the parties in this case, which is, can the plaintiff, under these circumstances, maintain an action of trespass and false imprisonment, and give the wages in evidence. To prove that this position is correct, no authorities have been cited on either side, both parties rely on the general principles of law as applicable to his side of the case.
Mr. Geyer for the defendant contends, that in this case the party had a right to the possession and service of the plaintiff by authority of the law, and that in every such case, no action of false imprisonment will lie. He likens this case to a case of temporary indentures, &c.
On the other side, Mr. Bird for the plaintiff insists that the order of the court after the first order was made, was void and without authority. We are inclined to this opinion; but we think let that matter be determined either way, still the question must not and cannot depend on the right of the court to make the order when it did. In our opinion the whole question is this, was the plaintiff free at the time the defendant had him in possession? If he was, then he is entitled to recover. It is true that in every such case, nothing more than wages ought to be allowed, nothing for indignity, inasmuch as the person claiming the slave might well suppose the plaintiff was a slave; but if a case should arise where the defendant well knew he had no right to the plaintiff as a slave, and the act on his part was wanton, fraudulent and wicked; we see no reason why vindictive damages might not be given; but we have no evidence of that kind in this case, nor is that a question now. Suppose an action of assumpsit were brought instead of the present one, might not the defendant object that the plaintiff was put into his hands by the court and the law, and therefore no promise would arise on his part? We think he might, and it would be no more clear in such case whether assumpsit or trespass would be the appropriate action than it now is. Are we to understand the defendant that no action at all will lie? If this is his argument, we cannot sustain such doctrine. If it were doubtful whether assumpsit or trespass should be preferred, that would be a good reason to allow the present action, the plaintiff having used it and the court not being able to determine he has been wrong in his selection. But the truth is, false imprisonment is the right action as seems to us; the plaintiff was imprisoned and all the court did was to provide a security that the plaintiff should be forthcoming for the purposes of the suit; no change was made as to the right of freedom and slavery. Now if the plaintiff should sue the sheriff for the time he had him, the sheriff might well say he only acted in obedience to the order of the court, and that would protect him as a trespasser. Yet in assumpsit he might be compelled to pay over the money, if the plaintiff shall establish his freedom, for in that case the statute expressly says he shall do so. We cannot see in what way any principle of law is violated by allowing the present action to prevail. We are therefore of opinion the judgment of the Circuit Court ought to be reversed, and the same is reversed; and this court proceeding to give such judgment as the said court ought to have given, do find the defendant guilty in manner and form as alleged in the plaintiff's declaration. And as to the second plea of the defendant above pleaded, this court find that said Ralph is not and was not a slave as alleged by said plea. We assess the plaintiff's damage to the sum of one hundred and fifty-three dollars, &c.
(MAD: from the Missouri Supreme Court Historical Database http://www.sos.state.mo.us/archives/judiciary/supremecourt/
Supreme Court Case Files; Contributor Appellant Ralph Gordon, Respondent Robert Duncan, filed 1834, St. Louis Co. Civil proceeding, affirmed and ordered, assault and battery, ordered $153 to Gordon for contracted labor while freedom sue pending; Identifier Old Box Number 536, Old Folder Number 7, Location 16A/5/4, Box 135, Folder 12; Courtesy of the Missouri State Archives)
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DOGGETT et al. v. LANE et al; Supreme Court of Missouri; 12 Mo. 215; October, 1848, Decided.
DICKSON & GANTT, Plaintiffs in Error, v. DESIRE'S Administrator, Defendant in Error; Supreme Court of Missouri, St. Louis; 23 Mo. 151; March, 1856, Decided.
Go to the St. Louis Co. MO Court Records Part 3 - Robert Duncan's land
BERNARDER v. LANGHAM; Supreme Court of Missouri, Third Judicial District; 7 Mo. 476; May, 1842, Decided.
OTT v. SOULARD; Supreme Court of Missouri; 9 Mo. 581; October, 1845, Decided.
Go to the St. Louis Co. MO Court Records Part 4 - Robert Duncan's land
EVANS & RIEHL vs. LABADDIE; Supreme Court of Missouri; 10 Mo. 425; March, 1847, Decided.
JACOB KISSELL, Plaintiff in error, v. THE BOARD OF THE PRESIDENT AND DIRECTORS OF THE ST. LOUIS PUBLIC SCHOOLS; Supreme Court of the United States; 59 U.S. 19; 15 L. Ed. 324; 18 HOW 19; January 23, 1856, Decided; December 1855 Term.
BRADDOCK JONES, Pltff. in Er., v. JAMES G. SOULARD; Supreme Court of the United States; 65 U.S. 41; 16 L. Ed. 604; 24 HOW 41; January 7, 1861, Decided; December 1860 Term.
Go to the St. Louis Co. MO Court Records Part 5 - Robert Duncan's land
GEORGE EBERLE v. THE BOARD OF PRESIDENT AND DIRECTORS OF THE ST. LOUIS PUBLIC SCHOOLS; Supreme Court of Missouri; 11 Mo. 247; March, 1848, Decided.
Go to the St. Louis Co. MO Court Records Part 6
CHAUVIN et al., Plaintiffs in Error, vs. WAGNER & DORSETT, Defendants in Error; Supreme Court of Missouri, St. Louis; 18 Mo. 531; October, 1853, Decided.
THOMAS B. DUNCAN, Respondent, v. LORENZ FRANK et al., Appellants; Court of Appeals of Missouri, St. Louis; 8 Mo. App. 286; February 3, 1880, Decided.
MICHAEL JODD et al., Respondents, v. THOMAS B. DUNCAN et al., Appellants; Court of Appeals of Missouri, St. Louis; 9 Mo. App. 417; December 7, 1880, Decided.
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