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Past and Present of Livingston County
Volume 1. History
by Major A. J. Roof. 1913
The log cabin of Joseph Cox, four miles north of Chillicothe, and in which county court was first held, was the scene of the first term of the Livingston County Circuit Court. Court convened on July 3, 1837, the Hon. Austin A. King of Ray county, on the "bench." The court officials were W. 0. Jennings, sheriff; T. R. Bryan, clerk; W. E. Pearl, deputy clerk; and Thos. D. Burch, prosecuting attorney. An appeal case from a justices court was the first called, the docket showing that Samuel Ashley was the appellant and Joseph Wolf scale the appellee. The case was tried by jury, which resulted in finding for the plaintiff in the sum of $14.12 ½. Wood and Burch represented the plaintiff and W. H. Davis the defendant, while the jury was composed of Samuel Parks, George Burch, George Tethers, J. L. Tomblin, Allen Lyle, Solomon Cox, Stephen Cox, J. B. Dewey, Hiram Comstock, William Peery, Joshua Whitney and W. L. Moore. At this time seven cases were tried and only three lawyers were present, those named above and W. C. Jones, of Carrollton.
The second term of court was held, beginning November 7, 1836, at which time a grand jury was empaneled consisting of J. L. Tomblin, James Todd, Robert Moss, John Cooper, Robinson Bryan, L. D. Sego, Evan Odell, Thomas Maupin, Nicholas Wells, Jonathan Nichols, Peter Malone, Jacob Goben, John Austin, William Reynolds, Thomas Jennings and Henry Carsner. The jury received its instructions and retired, but after deliberating a short time returned into court and reported "no business" and were discharged. This term of the court was brief, lasting only one day. Joseph Cox, whose cabin the court was held, boarded the judge, court officials and all litigants and attorneys in attendance.
The first court held in Chillicothe was in July, 1838, at which term the first indictments ever returned were found against Henry Carsner charged with perjury and William Yancey for selling liquor after nine o'clock on Sunday morning. The grand jury at this term was composed of Levi F. Goben, foreman, G. W. Martin, William Smith, Henry Duncan, John Stuckey, W. F. Ewell, Abram Blan, Elisha Bucher, M. R. Richardson, William Maybray, Abner Brassfield, Thomas Preston, William McCarthy, E. M. Guill, Isaac McCoskrie and William Woolsey. At this term Carsner forfeited his bond and Yancey was fined one dollar and costs.
The April term of the circuit court in 1839, Thomas C. Burch, appointed to the bench by Gov. Boggs, took his seat, but he was succeeded in December of the same year by James A. Clark, with B. F. Stringfellow as prosecuting attorney, At this term several indictments were found by the grand jury, usually the parties being accused of betting or playing cards for money. Among the indictments found were three against Lewis Hunt, Charles Blakeley and Jacob Rogers; two against Levi F. Goben, Sheriff Jennings and John Tatman and one each was booked against Ben. Hargrave, Ben. Baker, Jesse Newlan, Harrison Weldon, Wm. Oxford, H. B. Best, Michael Gardner, Elias Brown, Huston Martin, Samuel Chestnut, Francis Peniston, John Comer, Charles Scott, and Hiram Ashby. Only small fines were assessed against these parties with a lecture by the judge to "go and sin no more." For keeping a gambling house Jacob Rogers paid a fine of fifteen dollars into the court's exchequer. Levi Goben, the foreman of the jury, was also indicted for assault and battery, while John Graves, one of the old fathers of Chillicothe, was charged with burglary, but the indictment was quashed. The legal fraternity at this session included J. R. Williams, B. F. Stringfellow, Justiman Williams, Jr., W. Y. Slack and Wm. H. Davis. To this array of legal talent was added R. D. Ray, Charles Gordon and J. H. Savage at the April term, 1840, and in August of the same year Richard Vaughn. Judge Burch called a special term in 1839, to try one John Cunnings, charged with maiming a man named Hiram Taylor, but he was discharged for want of evidence.
Naturalization papers were issued to William Palethrop in April 1842, the applicant, a British subject, having previously declared his intention of becoming a citizen of the United States.
The county court in February, 1839, then composed of W. P. Thompson, D. W. Duncanson and Gilbert Woolsey, changed the names of four townships. Washington, Morgan and Marion were entirely new, Jefferson and Franklin only partial, all now in Grundy county. Jefferson was included as a part of Cream Ridge, and the name of Medicine creek was changed to Chillicothe, Shoal creek was made Monroe, Sugar creek was made Madison and Indian creek renamed Jackson. The present Monroe township, then called Shoal creek, was divided by a line running between sections 30 and 31 in township 57-25, east of Grand river. The northern strip of this territory was then named Greene.
The thirty-sixth Judicial circuit includes the counties of Livingston, Daviess and Caldwell. The present judge is Archie Davis, of Chillicothe and the stenographer Miles Elliott, The terms in Livingston county are held beginning the first Mondays in January, April and September.