Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Petition in Equity

Another package of Metcalfe County court records arrived in the mail yesterday from the Kentucky State Archives. The package contained three equity cases, two brought by Nancy D. Flatt, widow of Pleasant Flatt, and a case brought by my 3rd-great-grandmother Nancy Jane Flatt. The cases were filed against two lawyers, James A. Rousseau and Owens Miller. Nancy D. Flatt's case included Benjamin Myers, Sheriff of Metcalfe County, as a party. The third case was brought by Nancy D. Flatt against George Price, the lawyer in the Flatt v Masters case.
Source: KY State Archives. Metcalfe County Court records.

Upon reviewing the documents, it looks like Nancy D. Flatt filed a petition in equity on 28 January 1884 against Rousseau, Miller and Myers to overturn a judgment that was issued against her on 8 December 1883. Rousseau and Miller won a judgment for $1000 against Nancy, and received an execution order instructing Myers, Sheriff of Metcalfe County, to seize her property and put it up for sale. Nancy filed the petition with the court, stating the land (80 acres in Metcalfe County) was a homestead and was of less value than $1000. She claimed by law the land was exempt from levy or sale. She also said Rousseau and Miller knew this but proceeded to have Myers and his deputy advertise the land for sale in January 1884. Nancy said if the court did not grant the injunction to halt the sale, she would suffer irreparable injury. The petition was filed by her attorney, George Price.

The Court granted Nancy's injunction against Rousseau and Miller. The case was continued to at least the May 1884 term. The file doesn't show how the case was resolved, but it does appear that Nancy was able to hold onto her land.

The second case in the file involved Nancy Jane Flatt, who was last seen in Metcalfe County Court papers on the run from service of process in 1874-1875. Her equity petition was also brought against Rousseau and Miller. It looks like the Court ruled in favor of the two attorneys and discharged the action on 10 May 1885. By this time, Nancy would have been married to Pleasant Morgan, living in neighboring Barren County, Kentucky. It is curious that Nancy's petition was made in her maiden name. Unfortunately this doesn't provide a lead on the identity of my 3rd-great-grandfather, but it does show that Nancy Jane was still in the Metcalfe-Barren County vicinity between 1874-1885.

The final case in the file was brought by Nancy D. Flatt against her lawyer, George Price. It looks like her land was seized again in 1891, as she sought to overturn a forced sale that was made by Sheriff R. G. Gallaway on 27 April 1891. I can't tell when the case was originally filed, but Price filed an answer in November 1891. The case went to trial in May 1892. The Court ruled that Nancy D. Flatt was entitled to relief. The forced sale was overturned, and Nancy recovered her legal costs from Price.

According to the Kentucky State Archives, there are three other Metcalfe County Court cases involving Nancy D. Flatt which are currently missing (or out of order) from the case box. One is Commonwealth v Nancy Flatt, I am hopeful that case will be found in the Archives as it sounds like it might have more explanation on why Rousseau and Miller were executing a judgment against Nancy's land.

Some additional information for those who may stumble on this entry wanting to know more about the other parties in these cases.

James Alexander Rousseau was born on 19 January 1827. He was a veteran of the Mexican War and a prominent lawyer in Metcalfe County. He has a

Owens Miller was born on 7 January 1844 in Adair County, Kentucky. In the 1870 Census, he appears as a 26 year old lawyer and resident in the household of County Court Judge Samuel Shannon.

George R. Price was born around 1837-1838 and was another prominent lawyer in Edmonton, Metcalfe County, Kentucky. He is easily found in the 1870 and 1880 Censuses in Metcalfe County.

Nancy Dowell Hubbard Flatt died on 13 August 1899 in Metcalfe County, Kentucky. It looks like she assigned her land to her daughter Joanna Hubbard King. There are a few land deeds in the Metcalfe County land record index for Nancy D. Flatt. I have ordered these just to confirm, but I do not think the land is associated with Pleasant Flatt. I think this may have been land inherited from her father, Harrison Dowell, which could be one reason why she fought so hard through the courts to retain the property.

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