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Collection of Retained copies of Court of Common Pleas Documents of John Hutchenson vs. William McCurdy Concerning a Slander Suit Charging Adultery and Fornication with a “negro girl” Coshocton and Jefferson Counties, Ohio 1822-1823, the case tried by two famed early Ohio Lawyers: Samuel Herrick and Charles B. Goddard

Mainly legal folio, 23 pages, folded, docketed, sheets browned, some tears with a few holes, in good legible condition.

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Herrick and Goddard’s retained copies of documents filed in this unusual case involving early Irish settlers of the Coshocton, Ohio area, which focuses on interracial relations and laws concerning adultery. Apparently a William McCurdy repeated tales that John Hutchinson (variously spelled) had fathered out of wedlock children with a black woman in Pennsylvania and then fled the area, later marrying an Ohio widow.

               The declaration filed September 30, 1822 in the Court of Common Pleas, Coshocton County, by Herrick & Goddard attorneys, brought suit in amount of $ 1000.00 that William McCurdy answer to a plea of trespass and complaint that he had falsely and maliciously accused Hutcheson of fornication and adultery; “he ran away from George G. Ashbridge’s place after getting his negro girl with child… and ran away from Pennsylvania…” Later testimony, among several depositions of witnesses, in 1823 stated: “About three years ago I told you that the said Hutchenson had got a black woman with child while living at Geo Ashbridge’s (of Chester County, Pennsylvania), and that it cost him one hundred dollars and that he left that country immediately after.”

              One Samuel Dean also testified to hearing the same story and said that John Hutchenson was the same who married “the widow Leytte in my house.” The black woman was later named in the documents as Elizabeth Nelson and it was noted that she had a husband, William Nelson, who had left her two years prior to go into the army. She had twins at the birth, allegedly fathered by Hutchinson.

              The last document, filed April 18, 1823, was an attempt by attorney W. B. Hubbard to get a new trial, saying that his client was essentially convicted on hearsay.

              “Among the teachers of the earlier day were William B. Hubbard, a banker and lawyer, who subsequently went to Columbus, and became famed as a railroad magnate.” – Graham, Albert Adams, History of Coshocton, Ohio, 1881.

             Although the plaintiff and defendant and the trial itself are unknown, the attorneys representing them were substantial. The defendant’s firm of Herrick & Goddard consisted of Samuel Herrick (1779-1852), who was the U.S. Attorney for Ohio, and U.S. Representative from Ohio 4th District, 1817-1821. [See Congressional Biography]. His partner, Charles B. Goddard, was born in Plainfield, Connecticut; his father was Calvin Goddard, a Judge of the Supreme Court. Charles went to Ohio in 1817, settling in Zanesville, he married Harriet Munro Convers; was representative in the Ohio Legislature in 1838-39, and State Senator from 1845-1848, and Speaker in 1847-1848; he served as Major General of Ohio Militia, President of the Zanesville Canal and Manufacturing Company, and one of the first directors of the Zanesville Athenaeum.