Or, Subtitled: A North Alabama Example of Jarndyce v. Jarndyce
Dennis Lindsey’s Death
I have found no information about the cause of Dennis Lindsey’s death on 28 August 1836 at Oakville in Lawrence County, Alabama. Dennis was a young man not yet 42 years of age when he died. He left a young widow, Jane, who was 39, and eleven children, the first two of whom — John Wesley and Sarah Brooks Lindsey — were married. Several of Dennis and Jane’s children were very young when their father died: the last child, Dennis Edward, was not a year old, and the next four daughters — Margaret Tranquilla, Frances Rebecca, Martha Ann, and Mary Jane — were aged 2, 5, 7, and 10. As we’ll see from Dennis’s estate documents, though he had acquired a rather substantial estate, it was encumbered by debt, so in addition to having the responsibility to care for a large family of children when her husband died, Jane also had to face financial worries.
In his book Early Settlers of Alabama, James Edmond Saunders says that epidemics of malaria carried off great numbers of people in the county in its formative years. Malaria was endemic in much of the American South during the 19th century, causing not just fevers in its acute stage, but chills that recurred long after the acute stage had passed. Its transmission by mosquitoes was not understood for a long time, though it had been observed that malaria tended to prevail in lower-lying lands near bodies of water during the hot months of the year, so that people who could afford to do so often traveled to higher places during those months, if they lived in low-lying locales.
According to Dennis’s descendant Harold Speake of Moulton, not long before Oakville began to wither away as a town, a typhoid fever epidemic — the illness was popularly called “bloody flux” — swept the community, and this was one of the reasons that Oakville was abandoned. The term “typhus” or “typhoid fever” tended to be a plastic one in the first part of the 19th century, a catch-all term for a number of different fevers that were not necessarily typhoid in origin. It was during the typhoid epidemic of 1836 in Philadelphia that doctors began to refine their understanding of the illness, and, in particular, of how it was transmitted by a lack of social distancing in neighborhoods in which it had appeared, so that it quickly raged through entire neighborhoods, infecting large numbers of people. To explain lessons doctors had learned from the 1836 epidemic in Philadelphia, physician W.W. Gerhard wrote a book in 1837 entitled On the Typhus Fever, Which Occurred at Philadelphia in the Spring and Summer of 1836.
The settlement of the estate went on from October 1836, when Dennis’s heirs filed for administration, to 9 May 1846, when the final settlement occurred and such funds as were left after all debts had been paid were disbursed. Even then, Lawrence County records show James B. Speake as guardian of the youngest children — Dennis Edward, Margaret, Rebecca, and Martha Ann (Mary Jane had died in 1850) — filing an account as late as October 1852 of his guardianship of these children who were minors when Dennis died, with a disbursement to these heirs in December 1852. Dennis and Martha were still unmarried by then.
The estate settlement had spanned 16 years by this point….
I have spoken of the large number of debts Dennis owed to creditors when he died, and the large number of people indebted to him. When the economic bubble that had generated substantial wealth for cotton growers on the western edge of the cotton kingdom burst in 1837, one reason it ruined many merchants and planters (I cited Saunders’s Early Settlers of Alabama on this point previously) is that both had extended credit widely to those seeking loans of money, and had also received credit in that same way. The prosperity of merchants and planters on the edge of the cotton kingdom in the 1830s was built on a wide network of promissory notes that were circulated as if they were money — and not on solid cash.
As soon as those holding these notes began to call them in and demand payment, economic chaos ensued, and that chaos is reflected in the settlement of Dennis’s estate. Many debtors simply had no means to repay their debts. Some had left Alabama for parts unknown, leaving debts behind. It took years to untangle the mess of these debts and promissory notes in the estates of those who, like Dennis Lindsey, died just on the eve of the 1837 crash, and who had acquired considerable property growing cotton in north Alabama in the 1820s and 1830s, using the labor of enslaved people to do so.
Dennis Lindsey’s Estate Documents
Here are the estate documents I’ve found for Dennis Lindsey:
- About 21 October 1836: Lawrence County Orphans Court minutes state that Jane, widow of Dennis Lindsey, deceased, had relinquished her right to administer his estate, and John W. Lindsey and James B. Speake (Speak in the original) had applied for administration with Mark Lindsey and Samuel Irwin as sureties. John W. Lindsey and James B. Speake gave bond in the amount of $20,000.
This is one of many defective documents in my file. The edges of the photocopy (which came to me from someone else) are cut off on all sides, and the court date is not visible. I am calculating a date of about 21 October 1836, because the inventory of Dennis’s personal property that the appraisers of his estate filed on 29 October 1836 states that they had proceeded to compile the inventory on 21 October after having received a court order to do so.
John W. Lindsey is, of course, Dennis’s oldest son and James B. Speake is his son-in-law. Mark Lindsey is his father.
At the same court session, the court ordered Samuel Irwin, Benjamin Cooper, Richard Puckett, P.A. McDaniel, and Ezekiel Thomas to appraise Dennis’s personal property and make a return to court within three months. The court also gave permission for John W. Lindsey and James B. Speake to sell such personal property of the estate as they deemed necessary for the benefit of the heirs, and return the sale account to the court within six months.
- 21 October 1836: Samuel Irwin, Richard Puckett, P.A. McDaniel, and Ezekiel Thomas inventoried the estate of Dennis Lindsey. The date is given in the Orphans Court record of the inventory presented to the court by these commissioners on 29 October and filed at November court 1836. This date is also on the original inventory itself, which is found in the case file of a lawsuit Dennis’s widow Jane filed against John W. Lindsey and James B. Speake regarding the administration of the estate. The suit seems to have been filed to produce an accounting of the estate as the minor heirs were receiving their shares. I’ve just cited that case file supra.
- November 1836: Lawrence County Orphans Court ordered that the inventory and appraisement of Dennis’s property be recorded. The court date at which the inventory was recorded, November 1836, is given on the original inventory document.
- November 1836: Jane Lindsey filed a petition for her widow’s dower. The dower petition lists Dennis’s landholdings at the time of his death and asks for Jane’s dower share of the land. It also states that William J. McCord was appointed at the same court session guardian of Mark J. Lindsey, Thomas M. Lindsey, Charles W. Lindsey, Samuel A. Lindsey, Mary J. Lindsey, Martha Lindsey, Frances Lindsey, Margaret Lindsey, and Dennis Lindsey, infant.
- At the same court session, John W. Lindsey and James B. Speake petitioned to sell the following pieces of real estate: the north ½ east ½ northwest ¼ of section 22 township 7 range 6; north ½ west ½ northwest ¼ of same coordinates; the north ½ west ½ northeast ¼ of section 21 township 7 range 6; the east ½ northeast ¼ of same coordinates; the north ½ west ½ northwest ¼ of section 15 township 9 range 6; “a part of the Sixteenth Section T 7 R 6”; southeast ¼ of ¼ of section 33 township 8 range 7 west; northeast ¼ northwest ¼ of section 4 township 9 range 6; south ½ west ½ northwest ¼ of section 15 township 7 range 6; north ½ east ½ northwest ¼ section 21 township 7 range 6; lots 8 and 15 in the 16th section, 80 acres; and lot 27 in the town of Oakville. The petition for the land sale once again names the heirs of the estate, noting that William McCord had been made guardian of the minor heirs. The court gave an order for the listed parcels of land to be sold and appointed Sylvanus Gibson to cry the sale, with payments to be made in three installments on 1 January 1838, 1839, and 1840.
Also at this court session, John W. Lindsey and James B. Speake requested that their inventory of notes and accounts belonging to the estate be recorded. The original inventory of notes and accounts owed to Dennis Lindsey at the time of his death compiled by John W. Lindsey and James B. Speake is in the case file cited above, Jane Lindsey, Widow, v. John W. Lindsey and James B. Speak(e), Admrs. of Dennis Lindsey Estate. The inventory shows a sum of $2,456.71 owed to Dennis Lindsey in notes and accounts.
- As noted previously, the inventory of Dennis Lindsey’s personal property compiled by the commissioners appointed to appraise the personal estate was compiled on 21 October 1836, presented to the court on 29 October, and recorded at November court 1836.
The inventory of personal property, which I have transcribed and will post in a separate posting containing my transcripts of some estate documents, suggests that Dennis Lindsey was a planter of some means, with a comfortably furnished house. His property includes china, queensware, a looking glass, bureaus, six Windsor chairs, several bookcases and books including the works of Josephus and Wesley, monthly magazines (later identified in the sale of the estate’s property as Methodist magazines), school books, and bibles and hymnbooks. There are also two fine carriages, and the usual stock of livestock on a Southern plantation of this period, with the usual farm tools. The inventory also includes enslaved persons named Nelson, Lester, Daniel, Abram, Armistead, a second Daniel, Eady, Caty and child, Jane, and Betsey. The estate’s personal property was appraised at $9,348.63, with notes valued separately at $2,456.71, as previously noted.
The list of notes as transcribed in Lawrence County Inventory and Will Bk. 1835-1841 states that the list was presented by John W. Lindsey and James B. Speake at November court, but it also states that the document was filed on 9 December 1836. The original document in Jane Lindsey, Widow, v. John W. Lindsey and James B. Speak(e), Admrs. of Dennis Lindsey Estate has the same information, noting that the order to record the inventory was given at November court. The list of notes owed to the estate, which will also be appended in a separate posting with transcripts of estate documents, shows family members including Dennis’s father Mark owing Dennis, along with Dennis’s father-in-law Thomas Brooks and his brother-in-law Charles Brooks.
- 25 December 1836: Dennis’s personal property and some of his land was sold at an estate sale. We know this date from a January 1838 estate filed by his administrators, discussed below.
- 31 December 1836: Orphans Court ordered that “five discreet freeholders” of Lawrence County, not connected to Dennis Lindsey, John W. Lindsey, or James B. Speake “by consanguinity or affinity and entirely disinterested” be selected to allot Jane’s dower right in the pieces of land listed previously. The original court order is found in the case file of the lawsuit Jane filed against John W. Lindsey and James B. Speake as Dennis’s administrators.
- 12 January 1837: John W. Lindsey and James B. Speake appealed to Orphans Court for Jane Lindsey to be allotted her dowry right, following the previously filed commissioners’ report. The court allowed Jane the following land: southwest ¼ of section 15 township 7 range 6 west; south ½ west ½ northwest ¼ of section 15 township 7 range 6 west; lot 8 of section 16 township 7 range 6; and 7½ acres of the north boundary of lot 15, section 16 township 7 range 6. The commissioners signing this report on allotment of dower were R. Puckett, A.H. Farris, Samuel Irwin, Benjamin Cooper, and Wm. H. Price.
As I’ve noted previously, it seems clear to me that Dennis Lindsey and his family lived on the land he had purchased in section 15 township 7 range 6 west, and this would account for those coordinates being named first in the dower allotment of land made to Jane: she continued living with her children at the family’s homeplace at Oakville.
- 20 January 1837: Sylvanus Gibson, as commissioner appointed to sell the land of Dennis’s estate that was not sold in the estate sale of his other personal property, held a sale of the estate’s land. We know this date from an account of the notes owed to the estate for these parcels of land filed by Dennis’s administrators at February court 1838, a document discussed below. A loose-papers case file in Lawrence County shows Sylvanus Gibson taking legal action in January 1838 as commissioner of the real estate of Dennis Lindsey to recover a debt owed to the estate by Messrs. Terry, McDaniel, and Wood, who had purchased some of the land. These documents also note the 20 January 1837 date as the date on which Sylvanus Gibson sold the land.
On Sylvanus Gibson, whose sister Margaret married John Wesley Lindsey, son of Dennis, on 18 March 1836, see this preceding posting.
- 4 February 1837: in the loose-papers estate file of Dennis’s father-in-law Thomas Brooks in Morgan County, Alabama, there is a receipt signed on this date by John W. Lindsey and James B. Speake as administrators of Dennis Lindsey for $100 legacy money from Thomas Brooks.
Thomas Brooks did not die until 28 October 1838, and his wife Sarah did not die until 16 August 1837. On the back of this receipt is written a note that this legacy money was requested on behalf of Jane Lindsey (Lindsay in original) — as Thomas Brooks’s daughter, obviously — and that it was deducted from the $250 that she and other heirs received as their share of the estate. This makes me think that, in February 1837, Thomas Brooks had advanced Jane Lindsey a portion of the inheritance she would receive after his death in 1838.
- April 1837: John W. Lindsey resigned as estate administrator, and Samuel Irwin was appointed administrator de bonis non to serve along with James B. Speake. Mark Lindsey and Richard Puckett gave bond with Irwin for $20,000. After this and prior to James B. Speake’s report on 1 June 1837 of the estate sale, there are a number of documents in Orphans Court Bk. E that I see indexed but do not have: an estate account; an order for the account of the estate’s property to be returned to court and recorded (I actually do have an imperfect photocopy of this document, with the date cut off); and an order for annual settlement.
- May 1837: an account of the estate of David Knott of Lawrence County, Alabama, shows Dennis Lindsey and an unnamed son of Dennis being paid by the estate $12.40 with .20 interest in 1836 (Lawrence County, Alabama, Orphans Court Minute Bk. E, p. 194). Dennis’s brother-in-law Charles Brooks also appears in the estate account with a notation that the estate paid him $114.59 in 1836.
- June 1837: court minutes state that the court had ordered administrator James B. to make an additional account of the sale of Dennis’s estate, and this had been made and entered into reccord. On 1 June 1837, an annual settlement was recorded. It consists of an account of the sale of Dennis Lindsey’s property filed by James B. Speake. The date given is when the sale account was recorded by the court. The account does not state when the sale was held. The chief buyer was Jane Lindsey, the widow, who bought the bulk of the household goods, as well as enslaved persons Lester, Betsey, and Caty and her child. Jane bought several lots of books, including itemized books and magazines — four volumes of Methodist Magazine, Wesley’s sermons, and a life of Wesley with notes.
Other buyers included Dennis’s father Mark, who bought a saddle and one of the two enslaved persons named Daniel (evidently the older enslaved person with that name); James B. Speake, who bought a lot of land in Walker County, the works of Josephus, and other property; and Dennis’s son John Wesley, who bought numerous items including a bible, Clarke’s Commentary, and a common history. John W. Lindsey also purchased enslaved persons Eady and Abraham. (Note that when Dennis Lindsey’s sister Nancy and husband William Morris filed suit in April 1850 against Nancy’s brother Fielding Wesley Lindsey to contest his administration of the estate of their father Mark Lindsey, the Morrises alleged that Nancy’s brother Dinsmore Lindsey had taken possession of a number of enslaved persons belonging to Mark Lindsey’s estate. These included a woman named Eda. Is Eda the Eady whom John W. Lindsey purchased from the estate of Dennis Lindsey?)
Dennis’s brother-in-law Alexander M. Brooks bought one of the bureaus, and his cousin David Dinsmore purchased one of the fine carriages. The two enslaved persons who were not bought by family members, Nelson and Armistead, were bought by A.D. Neill and John Hodges. The land sold in various lots amounted to 429 acres; in addition, the account says that two lots in town, both with houses, were sold, as well as the lot in Walker County that went to James Speake. John W. Lindsey was a purchaser of much of the land, including the two lots in town; other buyers included [G.W.] McWhorter, Major Richard Puckett, and Fleming Hodges. A John Lindsey who appears to be a different person than Dennis’s son John W. Lindsey bought a lot of six acres; this is, I believe, a John Lindsey born in South Carolina in 1788, who died in Lawrence County between 1850 and August 1856, and who is, in my view, likely a brother of Mark Lindsey, Dennis’s father. Dennis’s brother Fielding Wesley Lindsey, listed in the sale account as West Lindsey, also bought a lot of land. The total amount that the sale netted is smudged and difficult to read. The final settlement in May 1846 (see below) records the figure as $10,297.01.
- 23 October 1837: in response to an application by administrators James B. Speake and Samuel Irwin, the court ordered that the administrators make an annual settlement of their administration at the courthouse in Moulton on Wednesday after the third Monday in December next, with publication for forty days in the Moulton News (Lawrence County, Alabama, Orphans Court Minute Bk. E, p. 254).
- January 1838: the administrators (whose names are given as John W. Lindsey and James B. Speake) presented an annual return of the estate to the court. Several interesting pieces of information can be gleaned from this lengthy account of notes still owing to the estate, and money it had taken in and paid out: first, it begins by noting cash on hand that Dennis held on 31 August 1836, which confirms the death date on his tombstone, 28 August 1836; second, it states that John Youngblood was paid for crying the sale on 25 December 1836, and this establishes the date on which Dennis’s property was sold; third, it shows Dennis’s estate paying on the same date (25 December 1836) his annual subscription to a female academy, an item that further illustrates his interest in education. The account runs up to 6 January 1838 and shows the estate with $6,436.46 1/4 credit and $3,224.34 1/4 debit, leaving a balance of $3212,10.
- February 1838: court minutes state that administrators James B. Speake and Samuel Irwin had given bond with John W. Lindsey, Fielding W. Lindsey, and Charles Brooks in the sum of $18,500 regarding the land of the estate that had been sold by Sylvanus Gibson as commissioner, who was to report the results of this land sale to court. At the same session, the court admitted to record a report of the notes owing to the estate compiled on 24 March 1837 by Sylvanus Gibson as commissioner in charge of selling the land of Dennis’s estate. The list of notes presented to court by James B. Speake and Samuel Irwin gives 20 January 1837 as the date on which the sale of land was held. The list of notes shows that purchasers of tracts of land that were not sold in the 25 December 1836 estate sale included Dennis’s brothers Fielding Wesley and David Dinsmore Lindsey and his son John Wesley Lindsey. They also included George W. McWhorter, Bennett Wood, W.C. Terry, and James McDaniel. The total amount owed the estate for land purchased at the sale held by Sylvanus Gibson was $7,795.21. This record also states that Speake and Irwin had given bond with John W. Lindsey, Fielding W. Lindsey, and Charles Brooks in the amount of $18,500 as they administered the account from the sale of real property.
- 19 October 1839: Richard Puckett and William H. Price made a deed of trust in Lawrence County to the bank of Alabama at Decatur as well as to various other parties including James B. Speake as administrator of Dennis Lindsey. Thomas Lile of Morgan County was trustee. Among the notes owed by Puckett and Price was one for $1,200 to Samuel Irwin and James B. Speake as administrators of Dennis Lindsey. Among the property Puckett and Price mortgaged was a 40-acre tract previously belonging to Dennis Lindsey and a tract of 6 1/2 acres on which his son John W. Lindsey was living (Lawrence County, Alabama, Deed Bk. I, pp. 54-9).
- 28 December 1839: Dennis Lindsey’s heirs received patents for lot 1, 6, 7, 8, 10 and 15 in section 16 township 7 south range 6 west in Lawrence County.
As I’ve noted previously, the settlement of Dennis Lindsey’s estate continued for some 16 years following his death. The following are some of the estate actions that continued after 1840 (this is not a complete list, as can be seen if you compare it with the snapshots offered above from the index compiled by Lawrence County Archives to county record books):
- 1 March 1841: the court issued another order for an annual settlement to be filed by the estate administrators.
- 5 April 1841: the order for settlement was continued.
- June 1841: an annual settlement was recorded.
- 3 June 1841: Lawrence County sheriff Christopher C. Gewin through his deputy Charles Gibson, acting on an execution of Lawrence County court issued 3 February 1841 in a case filed 15 July 1839 by Sylvanus Gibson for the use of Speake and Irwin, administrators of Dennis Lindsey deceased, sold land to the Bank of Alabama at Decatur. The land sale was to satisfy debt owed to Dennis Lindsey’s estate by William Grey, William T. Elliott, and William E. Terry (Lawrence County, Alabama, Deed Bk. K, pp. 101-2 — see the next entry below for more on this case, spelling the surname Grey as Gray in that deed).
- 7 June 1841: as administrators of Dennis Lindsey, James B. Speake and Samuel Irwin filed their annual settlement of the estate, showing it with $2,182.69 (Lawrence County, Alabama, Orphans Court Minute Bk. F, pp. 545-551). Among the many debtors owing the estate were Dennis’s widow Jane, her brother Charles Brooks, her first cousin James Brooks, Dennis’s cousin David Lewis Dinsmore, and Dennis’s son John Wesley Lindsey through the firm of Lindsey and Gibson.
- On 28 July 1841, Lawrence County sheriff Christopher C. Gewin sold land belonging to William T. Elliott for $250 to the bank of Alabama at Decatur. The deed for this land sale states that Gewin was acting on the basis of two writs from Lawrence County circuit court, one of them issued 3 February 1841, in a case filed by Sylvanus Gibson Sr. as commissioner of the real estate of Dennis Lindsey, deceased. Gibson filed for the use of James B. Speake and Samuel Irwin as administrators of Dennis Lindsey to recover a debt of $115.54 (with $17.80 1/4 for court cost) owed by William Gray, William T. Elliott, and William E. Terry. Gibson’s suit was 15 July 1839 (Lawrence County, Alabama, Deed Bk. K, pp. 55-6). See also Lawrence County, Alabama, Deed Bk. L, pp. 270-1, with chancery court affirming the land sale on 5 January 1846.
- 13 September 1841: Berville M. Hodges of Lawrence County made a deed of trust to John Hodges of South Carolina with John M. Jackson as trustee. The deed contains information about Bervillle’s neighbors, noting that he was mortgaging the land on which he lived on the road from Moulton to Oakville, which bounded his land on the north and ran by his house and past a horse-powered mill south of and near Oakville with the land of James B. Speake bordering it on east and south, along with land of Sylvanus Gibson Sr, On the west, commencing at the bridge crossing the Flint River, the Flint River bordered Berville’s land. Berville also mortgaged land he had from the estate of Dennis Lindsey bounded east and south by lands owned by Jane Lindsey, and on the west by town lots of Oakville (Lawrence County, Alabama, Deed Bk. I, pp. 586-9). Note that the deed tells us that Dennis Lindsey and wife Jane lived just outside Oakville, not far from a bridge crossing the Flint River, and their son-in-law James B. Speake lived near them. For information about a suit of debt that Jane Brooks Lindsey’s brother Charles filed against Berville M. Hodges in April 1840, see this previous posting. Dennis and Jane’s son John Wesley Lindsey married Sylvanus Gibson’s daughter Margaret, as previous postings have noted. On 2 May 1842, as trustee, John M. Jackson sold the land to John B. Sale — see Lawrence County, Alabama, Deed Bk. K, pp. 147-8.
- 30 September 1841: Lawrence County sheriff Christopher C. Gewin, by a writ from Lawrence County court dated 29 September 1840 in a case filed by Sylvanus Gibson, commissioner of the real estate of Dennis Lindsey for the use of Wiley Huffaker, sold land belonging to Bennett Wood. The case was filed against Henry Terry and William Terry of the firm of H. & W. Terry, James McDaniel, and Bennett Wood for a debt of $453.49 and $38.29 damaged and $26.45 1/4 court costs. Judgment rendered 21 January 1839 (Lawrence County, Alabama, Deed Bk. K, pp. 118-9). Wiley Huffaker is Wesley Huffaker; his name is given erroneously in the deed.
- 7 March 1842: at chancery court for the Northern Division of Alabama on 24 January 1842, Judge James C. Watkins ruled in a case filed by Sylvanus Gibson Sr., James B. Speake, and Samuel Irwin as administrators of the estate of Dennis Lindsey, deceased, against James McDaniel, William C. Terry, Bennett Wood, and Richard Puckett. The court roled that 80 acres in section 22, township 7, range 6 west in Lawrence County be sold to James B. Speake as estate administrator (Lawrence County, Alabama, Deed Bk. K, pp. 87-9).
- 7 March 1842: the court appointed James B. Speake as guardian for Dennis’s minor children Martha Ann, Rebecca F., Margaret T., and Dennis Edward Lindsey.
- 6 February 1843: an order for the annual settlement was recorded.
- 3 April and 1 May 1843: the order for annual settlement was continued.
- 6 June 1843: the court approved an annual settlement of the estate filed by Speake and Irwin showing the estate with a balance of $3,751.06¾. The settlement shows debtors Fielding Wesley Lindsey, David L. Dinsmore, Lindsey and Gibson (this is evidently John Wesley Lindsey and brother-in-law William A. Gibson), and James McDaniel continuing to owe payments for the land they had purchased from the estate.
- 14 June 1843: the court ordered that the commissioners appointed to sell the land of Dennis Lindsey’s estate make a final report to court (Lawrence County, Alabama, Orphans Court Minute Bk. G, p. 437).
- 3 October 1843: a citation was issued to commissioners and administrators to sell more land belonging to the estate.
- 4 November 1843: an order was given to record the sale of the additional real estate.
- 5 May 1844: the court issued a decree for a title of estate land to be provided to J.C. Reese and ordered a settlement to be produced by the guardian of the minor heirs.
- 1 July 1844: an order was issued for an annual settlement on behalf of the minor heirs.
- 2 March 1846: an order for the final settlement was given, and the guardian of the heirs was ordered to produce an annual settlement.
- 9 May 1846: final settlement was made, with James B. Speake and Samuel Irwin producing a final account. The settlement account shows that when the administrators inventoried notes owed to the estate on 9 December 1836, they amounted to $2456.71, with interest in May 1846 computed at $1,818.03. The sale of personal property had netted $10,297.01, with interest amounting to $6,544.31. The real estate had sold for $10,684.09, with interest by May 1846 computed at $6,291.95. More land was sold on 5 January 1846 for $520.80, with interest of $13.86. The 1837 cotton crop had brought $2,210.48, with interest of $121.40, to a total of $41,126.42.
By 1846, the expenses charged against the estate were $39,339.53, leaving a balance of $1,786.89 to be divided among the heirs. The estate settlement lists the following heirs, each of whom received at total of $162.44: John W. Lindsey; Sarah B. Lindsey, wife of James B. Speak; Mark J. Lindsey; Thomas M. Lindsey; Charles W. Lindsey; Samuel A. Lindsey; Mary J. Lindsey, wife of James J. Brooks; Martha A. Lindsey; Rebecca F. Lindsey; Margaret T. Lindsey; and Dennis Lindsey, the latter four under guardianship of their brother-in-law James B. Speak.
The final settlement transcribes the following receipts to heirs who had already been paid part of their inheritance: T.M. Lindsey, 11 and 21 March 1846; and Samuel A. Lindsey, 21 March 1846. The final settlement also notes that $447.09 remained in the hands of James B. Speake as guardian of Margaret T. Lindsey, $379.17 for his ward Martha A. Lindsey, $444.37 for his guardianship of Dennis Lindsey (i.e., James Dennis), and $478.60 for his ward Rebecca F. Lindsey. On 4 May 1846, the court recorded receipts for the following disbursements by James B. Speake from the estate: $90 to Samuel Asbury Lindsey on 5 January 1846; $350 to Mark Jefferson Lindsey on 12 March 1846 and another $50 on 21 March; $290 to James Irwin Brooks on 23 March with a notation that this was the share of James’s wife (Mary Jane Lindsey) while she was living with her mother; and $200 allotted to Samuel Irwin for his administration of the estate, as allotted by the court in the final settlement in May 1846 (Lawrence County, Alabama, Orphans Court Minute Bk. I, p. 79).
- October 1852: court ordered James B. Speake to make final settlement of his guardianship of Rebecca F. Kellogg, Martha A. Lindsey, Margaret T. Hunter, and Dennis Lindsey, and to report this final settlement at December court.
- 10 December 1852: James B. Speake produced an account of the final settlement to the minor heirs who had been under his guardianship. Rebecca, Margaret, Martha, and Dennis had all received their final share of the estate, with Rebecca F. Lindsey’s husband Samuel H. Kellogg and Margaret T. Lindsey’s husband William Hunter signing receipt for their wives’ share.
In addition to the documents found in Lawrence County Orphans Court books and Will and Inventory books, Lawrence County loose-papers court case files document a number of legal actions regarding the estate of Dennis Lindsey. I have already cited the suit Dennis’s widow Jane filed against John W. Lindsey and James B. Speake as estate administrators, which was evidently about assuring the interest of the minor heirs in the estate. I’ve also cited a case Sylvanus Gibson filed as commissioner appointed to sell Dennis Lindsey’s real estate, against debtors who had bought land but not paid notes for their land purchase when those notes came due.
Notes on Cases Filed Regarding Dennis Lindsey’s Estate
Here are brief notes about several other cases regarding Dennis’s estate, which are documented in loose-papers case files that I have reviewed:
- Samuel White v. James B. Speake and Samuel Irwin as administrators of Dennis Lindsey: White filed suit in July 1838 regarding a debt of $550 and $63.18¾ that White claimed the estate owed to him for the use of the firm of Bennett Wood and Anthony B. Farris. On 12 February 1839 date, the court subpoenaed Speake and Irwin to answer White’s bill of complaint.
The complaint states that on 29 May 1835, Dennis Lindsey had made a promissory note to pay Samuel White $550 for value received. The case file has the promissory note written by Dennis Lindsey with Alexander M. Brooks signing as his security.
- Sylvanus Gibson v. William Gray, William T. Elliott, and William C. Terry: this is a debt case involving a 20 January 1837 promissory note that Gray, Elliott, and Terry made to Gibson as commissioner of the real estate of Dennis Lindsey, in the amount of $115.34. Gibson was trying to recover payment. On 3 June 1841, the three defendants mortgaged property to the Lawrence County sheriff C.C. (Gauween?) with Charles Gibson acting as deputy.
- Sylvanus Gibson v. Bennett Wood, Anthony Farris, and William C. Terry: this is another debt case regarding land of Dennis Lindsey that Sylvanus Gibson had sold on behalf of the estate. The case involves a promissory note the three made on 19 January 1837 to Gibson acting for the estate, in the amount of $234.07.
- Sylvanus Gibson v. James McDaniel, William Terry, and Bennett Wood: Gibson was seeking to recover $558.51 owed to him by the defendants from a note made 1 January 1837, so that he could pay the estate. The case file has a receipt dated 7 March 1842 and signed by J.B. Speake for $21.18¾ paid by the court to the estate, as “overplus” from a sale involving this debt.
- Sylvanus Gibson v. Berville M. Hodges and Joshua T. Kimsey: Gibson was trying to obtain payment of a debt of $273.30 due him from Hodges and Kimsey as he settled his account with the estate of Dennis Lindsey. He filed suit on 25 August 1841.
- James B. Speake and Samuel Irwin as administrators of Dennis Lindsey v. John W. Lindsey, William H. Price, and James O. Reese: Lindsey, Price, and Reese had made a promissory note at Oakville on 1 June 1837 in the amount of $1,001.87, evidently for land purchased from the estate. They had failed to pay their debt to the estate.
And this ends what I know at present about the estate of Dennis Lindsey, and about his death in 1836. In my next posting, I will provide a transcript of some key documents from the estate including the inventory of the estate’s personal property and notes owed to the estate when Dennis died.
 James Edmond Saunders, Early Settlers of Alabama (New Orleans, 1899),p. 43.
 Lawrence County Heritage Book Committee, “Oakville,” in The Heritage of Lawrence County, Alabama (Marcelline, Missouri: Walsworth, 1998), p. 22.
 For an excellent analysis of how the cotton-based economy of the plantation South in places like Georgia and Alabama in the first half of the 19th century was based on the illusory wealth of extended credit rather than actual cash on hand in bank accounts or safes, see Edward Baptist, The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism (New York: Basic Books, 2014), pp. 90-95.
 Lawrence County, Alabama, Orphans Court Bk. E, p. 51.
 The estate inventory is in Lawrence County, Alabama, Inventory and Will Bk. 1835-1841, pp. 232-237. The original inventory is filed in a loose-papers case file box, Jane Lindsey, Widow, v. John W. Lindsey and James B. Speak(e), Admrs. Of Dennis Lindsey Estate, case 247, box 171, folder 6. This document has the same dates given in Inventory and Will Bk. 1835-1841.
 Lawrence County, Alabama, Orphans Court Bk. E, p. 51.
 Lawrence County, Alabama, Inventory and Will Bk. 1835-1841, p. 235.
 Lawrence County, Alabama, Orphans Court Bk. E, p. 91.
 Ibid., p. 100.
 Ibid., p. 101.
 Ibid., p. 102.
 See supra, n. 5.
 Lawrence County, Alabama, Inventory and Will Bk. 1835-1841, pp. 232-7.
 Ibid., pp. 236-7.
 Jane Lindsey, Widow, v. John W. Lindsey and James B. Speak(e), Admrs. Of Dennis Lindsey Estate, #247, box, 171, folder 6.
 Lawrence County, Alabama, Inventory and Will Bk. 1835-1841, p. 247. The case file of Jane Lindsey, Widow, v. John W. Lindsey and James B. Speak(e), Admrs. Of Dennis Lindsey Estate has the original report the commissioners Puckett, Farris, Irwin, Cooper, and Price submitted to court on 12 January 1837, with their signatures. The document notes that the commissioners were appointed 31 December 1836. The allotment of dower is also recorded in Lawrence County, Alabama, Orphans Court Bk. E, p. 130.
 See Lawrence County, Alabama, loose papers file 2353, box 3, folder 47. The list of notes for land purchases filed by the estate administrators in February 1838 shows that these are W.C. Terry, Bennet Wood, and James McDaniel.
 Thomas Brooks’s loose-papers probate file is held by the Morgan County Archives in Decatur.
 Lawrence County, Alabama, Orphans Court Bk. E, p. 184.
 Ibid., p. 194.
 Ibid., p. 202.
 Ibid., p. 254.
 Ibid., pp., 202, 304-8. A sale account also appears to be recorded in Lawrence County, Alabama, Inventory and Will Bk. 1835-1841, pp. 304-8.
 Lawrence County, Alabama, Orphans Court Bk. E, pp. 305-9.
 Ibid., p. 333; and Lawrence County, Alabama, Inventory and Will Bk. 1835-1841, pp. 347-8.
 See Margaret Matthews Cowart, Land Records of Lawrence County, Alabama (priv. publ., Huntsville, Alabama, 1991), p. 68.
 Lawrence County, Alabama, Orphans Court Bk. F, p. 424.
 Ibid., p. 451.
 Ibid., p. 545.
 Ibid., Bk. G, pp. 165-6.
 Ibid., p. 368.
 Ibid., pp. 421, 428.
 Ibid., pp. 431-3.
 Ibid., p. 482.
 Ibid., p. 497.
 Ibid., Bk. H, pp. 88-9.
 Ibid., p. 175.
 Ibid., Bk. I, p. 1.
 Ibid., pp. 62-71.
 Lawrence County, Alabama, Probate Minutes Bk. A, p. 368.
 Ibid., pp. 413-7.
 See supra, n.
 See supra, n.
 Lawrence County, Alabama, Loose Papers Court Files, case 2293, box 171, folder 2.
 Ibid., case 2487, box 171, folder 4.
 Ibid., case 2488, box 171, folder 5.
 Ibid., (case 2489, box 171, folder 3.
 Ibid., cases 3055-6, box 171, folder 1.
 Ibid., case 3108, box 171, folder 7.
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