Dekalb County, Tennessee
Court Records


Submitted by LaVelda Faull of
Glasgow, Ky.

The following is a partial transcript of the court case styled "JOHN B. TAYLOR vs STEPHEN ATNIP" from the Supreme Court, Middle Tennessee, Box 111 from the TN State Archives in Nashville, TN. Both the plaintiff and defendant were from DeKalb County, TN. I am transcribing from a copy of the original handwritten documents that I obtained from the Archives when I was there a few years ago.

Replevin Brief for Appellant.

This is an action of replevin instituted by the plaintiff against the defendant ATNIP for a horse. The defendent ATNIP a constable justifies under an execution in his hand against one WILLIAM SWINEY and alledges that the horse is the property of SWINEY and not TAYLORs. The Jury in the Court below found for the defendent and the Court refused a new trial and it is to the finding of the Jury and refusal of the Court to grant a new trial that we except and insist there was error as the proof shows as clear as can be that the horse was the property of the plaintiff and we insist that if there ever was a case that calls for the interposition of this honorable court is it this. It will be seen by reference to the proof of ALLEN PAGE on page 6 of the record that he sold the horse to the plaintiff fairly and bona fide and also by WILLIAM SWINEY on page 6 (who is the execution debter for whose debt the horse was levied on and who the deft insists owned the horse at the time of the levy). He states that the horse was the property of the plaintiff and that he had no claim upon him whatever and that he sold him fairly and bona fide to ALLEN PAGE the witness heretofore spoken of on page 6 for seventy seven and 50/100 dollars and that the whole transaction was fair. Then we insist that it was error in the Court below to refuse a new trial as the verict of the Jury was palpably absurd and against the Testimony.       Signed: WM WADE for Appellant

State of Tennessee

Be it remembered that at a Circuit Court began and held for the County of DeKalb in the State of Tennessee at the Court House in the Town of Smithville on the third Monday it being the sixteenth day of April in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty-five and of the independence of the United States the seventy ninth year. Present the Honorable Judge JOHN L GOODALL Judge of the Fourth Judicial Circuit presiding in the State aforesaid Proclamation being made court was opened in due form.

In the name of the State of TN You are hereby commanded to summon STEPHEN ATNIP personally to appear before the Judge of the Circuit Court of DeKalb County at the courthouse in the Town of Smithville on the 3rd Monday in December next to answer JOHN B. TAYLOR wherefore he detains his goods and chattels to wit a certain bay horse seven or eight years old about 16 hands high to the plaintiffs damage two hundred dollars and do you also take said horse from the possession of the said STEPHEN ATNIP and deliver him said horse to the said JOHN B TAYLOR on his order...witness JOHN B TUBB, Clerk.
3rd Monday in August 1854.


Came the parties by their attorney and there came a jury of good and lawful men to wit THOMAS MOOR, F R OVERSTREET, BEDIAH RICH, EDWARD W EDGE, LEVI BOZARTH, NICHOLAS SMITH, B L JOHNSON, JESSE SEWEL, JOSEPH CANTRELL, JOHN C CANNADY, JAMES ARNOLD, and MICAJAH BROWN who being duly elected and sworn the truth to speak upon the issue.....upon their oaths do say that have not agreed upon their verdict in this cause and thereupon said Jurors are permitted to disperse by consent of the parties to meet her again tomorrow morning to resume the full consideration of this cause. April 24th,,AD. 1855


Came the parties by their attorneys and came again the same Jury elected tried and sworn in this cause as yesterday who retired to consider of their verdict and again return into court and upon their oaths do say they find the issue in favor of the defendant and assess his damages by reason of the premises to two dollars and eleven cents and the jurors aforesaid upon their oaths aforesaid do further say the assess the value of said bay horse to the sum of seventy dollars. It is therefore considered by the court the Plaintiff return said horse to the defendant and if he does not so that the defendant recover of the plaintiff and WILLIAM M. WADE his security in the replevin bond said sum of seventy dollars the value of said horse.......24 April A.D. 1855


Came the plaintiff by his attorney and moves(?) the court for a new trial in this cause which motion is by the court averred(?) when the plaintiff prayed an appeal in the nature of a writ of error to the next Supreme Court of errors and appeals....and the plaintiff having given bond with E. W. TAYLOR and W. M. WADE his security said prayer is by the court granted and thereupon the plaintiff tendered to the court his bill of exception which is signed sealed and ordered to be made part of the records in this cause.

      Bill of Exception

Be it remembered that this cause came to be heard before his Honor Judge GOODALL and a Jury of DeKalb County on the 24th day April 1855 when the plaintiff after rendering the papers in the cause and introduce the following pro(?) of ALLEN PAGE who proves that he bought the horse in controvery from WILLIAM SWINNEY and about ten days after he sold the horse to plaintiff bone fide that he give note to SWINNEY for 70 dollars - Swinney owed him 90 dollars with TAYLOR security both notes payable at same time - night before he sold the horse to TAYLOR, SWINNEY stayed with witness and next morning he told SWINNEY to go to plaintiff and if he could sell the horse and witnesss would come after a while - he sold the horse for 77 dollars and 52 cents stock on his note from SWINNEY and he SWINNEY took TAYLORS' note. Before that SWINNEY said he was going to the south with plaintiff and plaintiff was to board his horses in the rout(?) and SWINNEY was to help plaintiff with his drove for it and after SWINNEY sold the horse he said he was going to the south with TAYLOR to work. After SWINNEY return from south paid witness 70 dollars both came back about the same time.

BARNEY PAGE states that he was present when plaintiff bought the horse from ALLEN PAGE. ALLEN said he didn't think TAYLOR offered enough and SWINNEY was present and said he thought it was enough plaintiff gave $77.50 for the horse.

WILLIAM SWINNEY proves that he sold the horse in controversy to ALLEN PAGE and PAGE some days after sold her to TAYLOR for seven dollars and 50 cents more than he got from him he was present when the trade was made and gave PAGE the note he held on him and took TAYLOR's note for the horse that he went with plaintiff to the south and had no claim on the horse after he sold him to PAGE, was present when Deft took the horse out of the possession of plaintiff. He took the note on TAYLOR and had not paid PAGE the difference between the notes and being asked if he did not state to WM HAINES(?) a short time after he returned from the south in the Town of Smithville that he sold the horse in the south for a watch and and forty dollars replied that he did not. States he did not recollect of staying at ALLEN PAGEs the night before plaintiff bought the horse, thought he stayed at home. Was nothing said between him and PAGE about selling horse to plaintiff or meeting there - he just happen in there. Stated that there is a settlement between him and PAGE.

R. V.(N?) GILBERT, Deputy Sheriff took the horse out of the possession of the Defendant by a writ of Replevin from a Justice of the Peace and afterwards return him to the defendant and while in his possession replevin him with the writ in this court.

The defendant then offered to read an execution against WILLIAM SWINNEY which was excepted to because not proven (the handwriting of the Justice was proven) and the execution was read: State of TN, DeKalb Co, To the Sheriff or any constable of said county, you are hereby commanded that of the goods adn chattels lands and tenements of WM SWINNEY if to be found in your county you make the sum of thirty-four dollars and 93 cents with interest and all cost to satisfy a Judgement that ENOCH ATNIP obtained against him before me on the 7day of October 1854...19 Oct 1854     Signed: E. D. FISH, J.P for said county.

"I levy the fifa(?) on one bay horse as the property of WILLIAM SWINNEY this the 30th day October 1854.    Signed; STEPHEN ATNIP."

"This property is taken out of my possession the same day the levy was made by R V GILBERT and one JOHN B TAYLOR who claims to have a writ of replevin in favor of said TAYLOR for said horse issued by JONATHAN FUSON Justice of the Peace for said county and cites me to come before WM H MAGNESS, Esquire at his office on the 21st Oct 1854 this the 20th Oct 1854...

He then introduces HEZEKIAH ALLEN who proves that some time before the plaintiff went south and before SWINNEY sold the horse he saw the plaintiff and SWINNEY and SWINNEY was trying to sell the horse to plaintiff. Witness told Sweeney he had better sell the horses that the deft would levy on them. Swinney said he was going to take the horse into Jackson County and feed(?) them three weeks and then go off with the plaintiff. Witness then said to SWINNEY that deft would get them as they went through Smithville and plaintiff replied that he could take the horse through Smithville and Deft would not get them.

WILLIAM HAMES/HARRIS? stated that WILLIAM SWINNEY told him in the Town of Smithville since he came back from the south that he sold the horse for a watch and forty dollars in the south .

The Plaintiff excepted to this testimony. Exceptions overruled and proof allowed.

The court among other things not excepted to charged the jury as follows, "That if the Jury bvelieves the sale of the horse from SWINNEY to PAGE and from PAGE to Plaintiff was mere col--ble(?) and intended to hinder and delay the creditors of the debts of SWINNEY and might be levied upon in satisfaction of executions against him and if the Jury believes that the horse was in the possession of SWINNEY at the time of this levy by the deft and was still his horse, then they should find for the deft. But, if they believed the plaintiff had in good faith purchased the horse of PAGE or even of SWINNEY then they should find for the plaintiff. That if the horse was the property of SWINNEY and at the time of the levy in his possession, then the execution was sufficient authority to authorize the seizure of the defendant.

This was all the testimony in this cause.

APPEAL BOND: We, JOHN B. TAYLOR and EXEKIAL W TAYLOR acknowledge ourselves indebted to STEPHEN ATNIP in the sum of five hundred dollars to be void if the said JOHN B. TAYLOR prosecute with effect an appeal in the nature of a writ of error to the next Term of the Supreme Court of Tennessee at Nashville by him prayed from a Judgement rendered against him in favor of STEPHEN ATNIP in the Circuit Court of DeKalb County at the April term of said Court 1855 for the sum of 77 debt and 2 dollars and 11 cents damages, and also the cost of suit...
Signed: JOHN (x his mark) TAYLOR

D. Sheriff GILBERT executing writ....1.00
Pltf witness BARNABAS PAGE.....5 days....3.75
pltf witness HEZEKIAH H. ALLEN JR....5 days....3.75
pltf witness WILLIAM HAINS (or HARRIS?).....7 DAYS....5.25
pltf witness ALLEN PAGE....5 days....4.63

Note: No verdict on the appeal was given in these papers.

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