Friday, August 5, 2016

On petition to the court

Continuing with the case of Hickey v Henson, in October 1859, the Jefferson County Court granted the petition submitted by William P. Henson to have his son Theodore Hickey be declared legitimate and renamed Theodore Henson.
Source: TSLA, Hickey v Henson case file.
The court summoned A. P. C. Bettis, John Skeen and Thomas Green (my 4th-great-grandfather, husband of Sarah Sally Hickey) to appear before the court in Dandridge on 2 January 1860. Apparently Rachel Cannon Hickey had refused to turn over her grandson to be placed in the home of William P. Henson, and her efforts were supported by the court, as Henson had not yet paid his previous court costs. Richard Thornhill's wife Margaret Thornhill was named as a witness and provided a deposition at the home of Richard Thornhill on 24 January 1860.

Henson appealed the bastardary case and put up a $500 bond to cover the costs and damages. In March 1860, the court heard testimony from witnesses on behalf of Henson, who said he was a man of good character, owned one or two farms and had two other children. Three witnesses said "Mrs. Hickey was too old to control the child."

David Kidwell testified on behalf of Rachel, confirming Martha Hickey had died in 1859 and Rachel had been caring for the boy. He was now helping around the farm, "going to the mill, plow and being great service to his grandmother." Kidwell also noted how Rachel had inherited her husband's farm, how Thomas Hickey had provided for Theodore in his will, and how Rachel had sent the child to school so he could read and write.
Source: TSLA, Henson v Hickey appeal.
Benjamin Click testified how he had taken the child from Rachel to Henson's home, how the child did not want to go live with him and how Rachel was distressed and in tears when this occurred. Click also provided hearsay testimony that Henson had fathered "a negro child belonging to the widow Massengill."

Henry Ryan testified that the child returned to Rachel's care after being at Henson's one day, had blisters on his hands from working all day. Ryan noted he was Rachel's son-in-law (married to Nancy Jane Hickey), lived 100 yards from her and had 6 boys of his own, implying that he was also nearby and able to help with the boy.

The court reconvened on 21 August 1860. After reviewing the evidence and testimony, it awarded custody to William P. Henson. The court also noted that Rachel had not been at fault in the case, and ordered Henson to pay her court costs. On 24 August Rachel appealed, requesting a new trial. This was rejected and discharged by the court. Through her counsel, Rachel appealed the case to the Tennessee Supreme Court in Knoxville. Richard Thornhill and Edward Snoddy appointed S.S. McCristian as counsel for Rachel (he was clerk of the court at the time). Samuel Thornhill and Henry Ryan served as witnesses in the request for appeal.

The appeal was filed on 6 September 1860. Counsel for Rachel argued that the court ruled in error. It is not clear what the final disposition of the case was. Rachel Cannon Hickey died in 1861. I have not been able to find Theodore Hickey or Henson in the census records, so I do not know what happened after he was placed into the care of his father William.

The case again shows how intertwined and connected the relationships were among the Thornhill, Hickey and Ryan families in Jefferson County. With the next post I'll take a look at the family of Thomas D. Hickey and Rachel Cannon Hickey.

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