Lauderdale County, Alabama Lawsuit
(William Mayfield et al. Versus Brice M. Mayfield)
Introduction by Phil Norfleet
considerable help from Doy Groenenberg and Peggy Jones, I have been able to
obtain a transcript of the Chancery Court Case of William Mayfield, et al.
versus Brice M. Mayfield, that was published in the November 1992 issue of the
Natchez Trace Traveler (see below). I also have a very legible and
complete copy of the original 10 page court record that was obtained at the
Lauderdale County Courthouse in April 1999. The record is found in Equity Book
C (1827-1830), pages 146-155. A digitized facsimile of page 147 of the original
record is also appended (click
on this hyperlink). Page 147 is significant because, on this page,
all the children of Isaac Mayfield, living at the time of Isaac's death in 1822,
are listed as well as the children of his then already deceased son, John
Mayfield (husband of Mary Woolf Mayfield) of Pulaski County KY.
"A descendant of Reuben Newton Mayfield, Mrs. Crouch*, now deceased of Illinois, got a genealogist to trace our John Mayfield line for Rev War Service and she claimed to find our John, 1768, was a son of another John, 1745-1816, d. Pulaski Co. Ky. Afterwards she tried to get in touch with the Gen. again but could never hear from her again. Now, I feel pretty sure if John, 1768, had a father John to die in Pulaski Co. Ky. that I would have known something of it. Mayfield was a pretty well known family and rather influential and I feel quite sure that John's father did not die in Pulaski Co. Still I feel quite sure I can remember that grandfather Alfred [son of John who d. 1813] told me his grandmother was Clarenda Pleasant. That would seem reasonable since John named a son Pleasant and a daughter Clarenda. I can not accept the John, 1745, as my ancestor until I have sufficient proof, the others seem to be doing it for me."
[Note by Phil Norfleet: I have been advised by direct descendants of Reuben Newton Mayfield (1859-1939) that Mrs. Crouch could not have been a descendant of this Reuben. Mrs. Taylor may have meant a relative of Reuben or a descendant of Reuben's grandfather, also named Reuben Mayfield (1792-1861).]
Since Ella Taylor probably did more research on the Mayfields of Pulaski County KY than anyone else, I consider her expression of doubts to be significant. If she had known of the Lauderdale County AL court records, I feel confident that she would have also concluded that Isaac Mayfield of Lauderdale County AL was her great-great-grandfather. However, as noted by Mrs. Taylor, it is possible that a lady named Clarinda Pleasants may also be one of her ancestors, but from a maternal line unconnected to the Mayfields.
Transcript - William Mayfield Lawsuit
NATCHEZ TRACE TRAVELER
LAUDERDALE COUNTY, ALABAMA - Vol. 12, No. 4, Nov 1992
WILLIAM MAYFIELD AND OTHERS VS BRICE M. MAYFIELD
CONTRIBUTED BY: Darrell A. RUSSEL, 501 West Cleveland Avenue, Florence, AL 35630-2045
The following case is taken from the oldest extant book of chancery court records. This book is labeled Equity Record C and covers the period 1827-1830. The case appears on pages 146-155. Punctuation is almost non-existent in the original and none has been added; however, paragraphing of the Bill of Complaint is an editorial artifact.
WILLIAM MAYFIELD AND OTHERS vs BRICE M. MAYFIELD
The third Monday after the fourth Monday in September 1824 the Honourable Reuben SAFFOLD Judge Presiding:
The bill of Complaint of William MAYFIELD Archibald MOORE & Elizabeth his Wife against Brice M MAYFIELD in the Honourable the Circuit Court for the County of Lauderdale and State of Alabama In equity Humbly complaining your orators and [blank space] William MAYFIELD Archibald MOORE and Elizabeth his Wife Respectfully represent to your honour that Isaac MAYFIELD - Senr. Late of the County of Lauderdale and -State of Alabama departed this life intestate in the State and County aforesaid in the month of Feby 1822 possessed in his own wright [sic] of the following Property to Wit one Negro Woman Slave named NANCE about thirty years of the value of $600 and her children DICK VINE TOM CALVIN & CALEB the oldest of which is about twelve years of age and the ages of the others unknown to your orators & oratrix which children are of the value of $1500, also one Negro Woman named BETTY about forty five years of age of the value of $400, also one horse of the value of $I 25, and household furniture the quantity and value of which is unknown to your orators & oratrice,
Your orators & oratrice represent to your Honour that said Isaac MAYFIELD left at the time of his death the following Legitimate Children who are his heirs to Wit your orator William MAYFIELD your Oratrice Elizabeth wife of said Archibald MOORE Isaac MAYFIELD Larkin MAYFIELD both of the County of Giles & State of Tennessee Tabitha CONDRY Widow, Jane ELAM wife of David ELAM of the County of Rutherford and State of Tennessee - Winnifred SALLY wife of Joseph SALLY of Kentucky Brice M. MAYFIELD of the County of Lauderdale & State of Alabama and the Children of John MAYFIELD decd who was one of the Children & heirs of said Isaac decd to Wit Reuben MAYFIELD Pleasant MAYFIELD Seborn MAYFIELD Alfred MAYFIELD Journal S MAYFIELD, Clara MAYFIELD Artimsia MAYFIELD Elizabeth MAYFIELD & Frances Wife of Edward BUCKHANON all of the State of Kentucky your orators and oratrice further state that the above described Property which Belonged to the said Isaac MAYFIELD Senr at the time of his death was at that time and hath remained ever since and now is in the possession of said Brice M. MAYFIELD whom your orators and oratrice prays to be made defendant to this Bill with apt words &c
Your orators and oratrice further charge that they never recd from said Isaac MAYFIELD Senr any portion by way of advancement or in any other way and that the said Brice M MAYFIELD wholly refuses to let them have any part of the said estate in his possession or to suffer the same to be divided or to render an account of the quantity or value ass. Isaacs household furniture or to account for the hire of sd Negroes notwithstanding he knows that your orators and oratrix are heirs of said Isaac and entitled to their distributive shares of his estate and they pray that said Brice M discover on oath the quantity and value of said intestate estate and the annual Profits thereof since he has had the same in his possession
Your orators and oratrix further represent that they are informed that the said Brice M MAYFIELD pretends to claim said property under a pretended bill of sale or deed of Gift from said intestate but they positively charge that if any such bill of sale or deed of Gift exists it was procured by the said Brice M without payment of a consideration and at a time when said Intestate was not of sound mind and memory and altogether incapable of making any contract by which his fights, or the right of his heirs could be affected.
Your orators and oratrice further State that the above named Larkin MAYFIELD & Isaac MAYFIELD whom they also pray be made defendants to this bill who are heirs of said Intestate recd of him Said Intestate in his lifetime portions equal to the amount of their distributive shares of the above estate to Wit the said Larkin recd a Negro girl named SYLVIA of the value of $600 and the said Isaac a Negro boy named ANDERSON of the value of $500, and that they ought not to be permitted to share in the division of the above mentioned estate unless they will bring what they have heretofore recd into hotch potch,
Your orators & oratrix further charge that said Brice M MAYFIELD received from said intestate in his lifetime property more than equal in value to the amount of his distributive share of said estate to Wit a Wagon and four horses of the value of five hundred dollars and that said Brice M ought not to be permitted to share in the division of the above mentioned estate unless he will Bring what he has heretofore recd into hotch potch --
Your orators and oratrix further charge that said Brice M MAYFIELD conceals from them as far as be can the value of the estate of sd Intestate in his hands & will hold from your orators and oratrix the whole of the same Falsely pretending that he hath a legal tight by Virtue of a feigned Bill of Sale or deed of Gift from said intestate all which actings and doings are contrary to equity & good conscience & tend to the Great injury of your orators and oratrix
In tender consideration whereof and for as much as your orators and oratrix are remediless in the Primary Law only in a Court of equity where matters of fraud &c are properly cognizable & relievable To the end therefore that the said Brice M MAYFIELD Isaac MAYFIELD Junr & Larkin MAYFIELD may upon their several corporal oaths be compelled full true and perfect answer to make to all and singular the premises as fully and completely as if the same were herein again set down and repeated and they severally interrogated thereto and that a decree of this Honourable Court the proportion of your orators and oratrix in said estate of said Intestate and the profits thereof be Set apart to them in Severalty and that your honour Grant to your orators & oratrix such other and further relief as to your honour shall seem mete and consistent with equity.
Your orators and oratrix charge that they fear the said Brice M MAYFIELD will Before a decree can be had in this cause remove the above named property Without the Jurisdiction of this Court or alien or otherwise dispose of the same so as to render any decree that may be made in Behalf of your orators and oratrix ineffectual to prevent which your orators and oratrix pray an Injunction directed to said Brice M MAYFIELD commanding him & his agents &c not to remove said Property or any part thereof Without the Jurisdiction of the Court or to alien or otherwise dispose of the same until a final hearing of this cause in Chancery.
May it please your Honour to Grant your orators & oratrix the States most Gracious Writs of Subpoena directed to &c commanding &c & your orators & oratrix as in duty bound will ever pray &c
[Signed] HARRIS & FIELD Solicitors
WILLIAM MAYFIELD & OTHERS vs BRICE M MAYFIELD LARKIN MAYFIELD & ISAAC MAYFIELD Jr
The State of Alabama - To the Sheriff of Lauderdale County Greetings - Bill in Chancery
We Command you to Summon Brice M MAYFIELD Larkin MAYFIELD and Isaac MAYFIELD Junr. to appear before the Judge of our next Circuit Court to be held in Lauderdale County at the Court House in Florence on the first Monday after the fourth Monday in September next ensuing to answer a bill in Chancery preferred against them in our Said Court by William MAYFIELD and Others, Copy of which bill accompanying this writ you will deliver to the said defendants herein fail not and have you them at that time this Writ Witness Presley WARD
Clerk of our Said Court at office the 9th day of June A D 1824 and forty eight years of American Independence Issued 9th June 1824 Test P. WARD Clk - Recd 1 1 June 1824 Executed on Brice M MAYFIELD by delivering a copy July 14th 1824 Larkin & Isaac MAYFIELD not found in my county J N BAKER Shff By his Deputy D W. McREE
The Separate answer of Brice M MAYFIELD to a Bill of Complaint of William MAYFIELD in Lauderdale Circuit Court in Chancery against the said Brice M MAYFIELD Larkin MAYFIELD & Isaac MAYFIELD In answering said bill of Complaint saving now and hereafter all manner of exceptions to the manifold uncertainty and untruths in said Bill of Complaint Saith that true it is that Isaac MAYFIELD Senior departed this life in Lauderdale County Alabama intestate about the twentieth day of February 1822 at the house of this respondent with whom said Intestate Lived since about some time in the year 1819 That on the 30th day of April 1818 he bought of said Isaac MAYFIELD Senr the Negro Woman named NANCE and her children DICK & VINE for which engross he agreed to pay the said Isaac one thousand dollars & that since that period said Negro Woman NANCE has had three other children to wit CALVIN TOM & SALLY that at the date of the purchase of the above named egress NANCE was about 27 years old DICK about four years old and VINE about 2 years old that he purchased of said Isaac MAYFIELD Senr said Negroes Woman BETTY for which he paid the Sum of two hundred and six dollars in Cash and which he will be able to prove was paid to and for the use & benefit of said Isaac Senr & which was a full & fair price for her that this respondent states that he always lived with his father & his father with him until his death in 1822 that at the request of his said Father Isaac MAYFIELD Senr and mother he from the time he was competent and able to take the control and management of his fathers estate and affairs he done so & continued to do so until his death that the Wagon and team spoken of was Brought from the State of Kentucky in or about the year 1807 or 1808 by his father that none of said Isaac Snr children lived with him at that time but this respondent & said Larkin MAYFIELD that this respondent never _____ or claimed said Wagon & team that as the servant or agent of his father while living with him he used said Wagon & Team for his said fathers Benefit that he frequently paid money which he considered his own hard earnings for the necessary repair of said Wagon & harnaces & that said Isaac Senr about as well as he recollects the year 1818 sold said Wagon & _____ Gear & Probably _____ to William CHAMBERS the proceeds of which was applied by said Isaac to his own use & that this respondent never had any benefit from the use of said Wagon but as it might be to serve his father and family that as to the horse spoken of if he understands what here is alluded to his father had a horse for which this respondent gave him a mare of much Greater value that on a visit to his Brother in Lincoln County said mare got killed by accident that afterward this respondent let him have a horse to ride which horse he generally rode until his death and to which the said Isaac has no title or claim whatever but was permitted to use him as he pleased that at the time of his death said Isaac had no estate real or personal worth two dollars that he lived with this respondent as one of his family and was supported by him as one of his own children which he done as a duty It Being the ever expressed wish that he should live and end his days with this respondent in preference to any other of his children That some short time after the obligation become due which was executed by this respondent to secure to said Isaac Senr the aforesaid sum of one thousand Dollars for the Negroes NANCE DICK & VINA said Isaac Senr informed this respondent that he was advised by some of his friends to sue this respondent for said sum of one thousand dollars This respondent then informed Said Isaac Senr that he did not wish to be sued and that rather dm have any difficulty or altercation with him he would surrender to him the Negroes which was refused by said Isaac who observed that he .had always lived with him that he had no use for said Negroes or money but to support him during his life & proposed to this respondent that if he would enter into obligation in a Penalty of two thousand dollars conditioned to maintain him during his natural life he the said Isaac would surrender and give up to this respondent said one thousand dollar note which was done accordingly which obligation is marked as an Exhibit A & prayed to be taken as a part of this answer that he is not able to state positively what property his Brothers & Sisters the children of said Isaac Senr may have reed but that as he has understood & believes John MAYFIELD above named deceased & William MAYFIELD one of the complainants recd each a tract of land that he considers he has to said Negroes a good and bonafied title by contract evidenced by writing dated 30th April 1818 & 25 May 1819 marked B & C and herewith filed for a valuable consideration without fraud and that the said Isaac MAYFIELD Senr was at all times before and until his death of sound mind & memory & that he has well earned in service every cent of Property which he now holds and where he may have obtained through him said Isaac Senr & in money advanced & paid for him having answered said bill in all things which he is advised it is necessary for him to answer he prays to be dismissed with his reasonable costs &c
The State of Alabama Lauderdale County
This day came Brice M MAYFIELD before me Presley WARD Clerk of the Circuit Court for said County and made oath that the matters as stated and set forth in the foregoing answer of his own knowledge are true & those slated from the information of others he believes to be true
/S/ B M MAYFIELD
Sworn to & subscribed before me this 7th day of August 1824 P. WARD Clk
Know all men by these presents that I Brice M MAYFIELD of the County and State aforesaid am held and firmly bound unto Isaac MAYFIELD Senr in the sum of two thousand Dollars to be well and Truly paid I bind myself my heirs administrators and Assigns &c now the condition of the above obligation is such that whereof the said Brice M MAYFIELD purchased of his father Isaac MAYFIELD Senr Negroes for which him the said Brice M MAYFIELD gave his note to Isaac MAYFIELD his father for the sum of one thousand Dollars which note he the said Isaac MAYFIELD doth give up to said Brice M MAYFIELD on conditions that said Brice M MAYFIELD will decently maintain him the said Isaac MAYFIELD during his life time both with food & raiment sufficient to render him comfortable in his old age therefore if him said Brice M MAYFIELD doth comply with the above bond then this obligation to be void otherwise to remain in full force and virtue in Law and equity in Law
Given under my hand this 18th May 1820 /S/ B M MAYFIELD (seal)
Test James SUMMERS
Know all men by these presents that I Isaac MAYFIELD of County of Giles and State of Tennessee for the consideration of the sum of one thousand dollars to me in hand paid hath this day Bargained Sold and delivered unto Brice M MAYFIELD of the County of Giles and State of Tennessee three Negroes a Woman and two children all slaves the woman’s name is NANCE about the age of twenty seven years old also the children one is a boy and the other is a girl the boys name is DICK about four years old the girl’s name VINEY about the age of two years old I do hereby warrant and defend the said Negroes NANCE & children to be sound healthy and sensible against the claims or claim of any other person or persons whatsoever
given under my hand and seal this 30th day of April 1818 /S/ Isaac MAYFIELD (His Mark)
Test Henry M MAYFIELD Saml ERWIN James SUMMERS
Know all men by these presents that Isaac MAYFIELD of the County of Giles and State of Tennessee hath this day Bargained and sold unto Brice M MAYFIELD of the County and State aforesaid a Negro Woman name BETTY about the age of thirty seven years old for the sum of two hundred and six dollars to me in hand paid which Negro woman is a slave for life I do hereby warrant the said Negroes from me my heirs and assigns for life I also warrant the said woman from all claim or claims of all other persons whatsoever
Given under my hand and Seal this the 25th day of May 1819 /S/ Isaac MAYFIELD (seal)
Test Isaac MAYFIELD James SUMMERS
At the October term of said Court and Being the 17th day of October 1828 Came the Complainants and failing to Prosecute his bill it is considered by the Court that the same be dismissed and that the defendants recover against the complainants the costs in this behalf expended – [End]