Sunday, January 19, 2014

Nancy Benham In Contempt of Court

Letter to the court by Nancy Parris Benham (1782-1860)
She is the great- grandmother of my great-grandfather
Grover Lewellen  (1892-1963)
I found this little gem as I was going through some papers. I'm sure I am not supposed to have this . . .  In fact, I'm pretty sure that someone in the records office in Pike County, Missouri would have been fired for sending this original record from the Vincent Benham Estate Papers. The paper is cracking, the ink is faded . . . it's old and it's awesome! Perhaps this original was sent to my grandmother by mistake. Regardless, hopefully there is still a copy in the record books for others to retrieve. If not, then there may not be many in my Benham family that know of this.

Here's a little history about it: There was an administration on Vincent Benham begun in Aug 1820 by Nancy (Parris) Benham and Abner Hobbs. They were cited in 1822 and 1826 to make settlement and they finally did so, showing sale bill in the amount of $278.50. But apparently, Nancy did not answer to the court in a timely manner and was cited for her negligence in 1822. This is an old document where Nancy addresses the court about her citation and pleads to them for pardon.
Here's a link to a scanned copy of this document:

 Nancy's answer to the Court's citation

And here's a transcription of the letter:
To the Honorable County Court of Pike County

Having been commanded and brought before you by a writ of attachment for not having made settlement of the estate of my late husband Vincent Benham deceased, and for acting with contempt towards this court, touching the same - beg leave to offer to your honors the following reasons in excuse for the neglect. 1st not being acquainted with the nature of business of this I depended on the Justice of the Peace who was called to swear and qualify the appraising and presented the said papers to the court as they were prepared by the persons aforesaid, but the Justice having nelected to sign his name to the certificate which he has made on the send said papers they would not be received by the court, and before I could again get his certificate of the same the said Justice of this state and one of the appraising court Daniel Ra__ died - so that I could not have them sworn before any other person, and the reason why I did not present them here before is that I am well inform and have reason to believe that James Fugate the Justice of the peace aforesaid will be in this county again by the next term of this court, or that I can otherwise procure his signatures to the same.
I therefore beg that your honors will grant me till the next term of this court to make said settlement, and further Beg that I may not be fined being a poor widow with large family of children. I'm duty bound will ever pray it.
Nancy x Benham

November 4, 1822

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