The Library Springfield-Greene County Library District Springfield, Missouri
Local History

Cow in Court

 Cow in court
Interesting suit now pending in Wilkerson's court. Officers baffled.
Many attorneys are taking part in the case.
The case is waxing warm

"A cow that has been sold on credit, mortgaged, sold for cash before the mortgage was filed for record, replevined, ordered returned and has now disappeared, is causing a great deal of wrangling among the lawyers of the city. The case is pending in the court of Justice W. W. Wilkerson of North Campbell Township and it seems that every person who is in any way connected with the suit has employed an attorney.

"The cow, which is described in the court as a 'brindle Jersey Durham, left horn crumpled, about 9 years old, giving milk', was originally the property of an old woman named Mrs. Childers, who lives on West Chase Street, west of Broad. She sold it to a Mrs. Burleson on credit and took no mortgage or security of any kind. Mrs. Burleson evidently saw that she had an excellent opportunity to clear a neat sum. Simply selling the cow was not enough for her and she went to Attorney Harry Durst and mortgaged the animal for $10. Having this money she proceeded to look for a buyer and soon succeeded in closing a deal with Mack Ray, by which she received $18 for the cow. Mrs. Burleson then, it is said, decided to visit relatives who live just across the Kansas line and out of the jurisdiction of the courts in this city.

"Mrs. Childers happened to be in the neighborhood in which Ray resides and noticed that he was in possession of the cow which she had virtually loaned to Mrs. Burleson and she went to the residence of that lady for an explanation but learned that she was not in the city. She then went to the justice court and filed a suit of repleven. A special officer was deputized to serve the papers and he returned the cow to the original owner, who should keep it until the day of trial when the ownership should be decided by the court.

"When the day of the trial came Mrs. Childers did not appear in court and the justice rendered a verdict in favor of Ray. An execution was issued and Constable Stokes was ordered to recover the cow from Mrs. Childers and give it to Ray but when the constable arrived at the Childers home he did not see the cow and after an investigation no trace of it was revealed. Mrs. Childers said she would not tell where it was but the officer learned from the neighbors that she is selling milk and it is his opinion that the brindle Jersey which is causing so much discussion is kept in some secluded spot and is milked each day by Mrs. Childers or one of her friends.

"Some persons think that she has sold it to the cattle men at the Frisco stock yards and that it has long since been sent to St. Louis, where it is probably butchered by this time and is perhaps being retailed in some of the shops of this city at the present time. The judge, the constable, one of the lawyers or Mr. Ray may have eaten a steak cut from that cow for supper last evening, yet the case is still being disputed in the court and there are no signs of a cessation of hostilities.

"The cow is valued at $40. Mrs. Childers claims it on the ground that she never received any pay for it from Mrs. Burleson. Mr. Ray is looking for the $18 that he paid for the cow. Harry Durst is looking for the cow in order that he may satisfy the mortgage of $10 and the constable is looking for the cow because he has to. Mrs. Childers is the only person who could give any light on the subject but she absolutely refuses to talk and there is no way of making her do so.

"W. C. Robertson is interested in the case but whom he represents cannot be learned. He was in court yesterday afternoon and had an argument with Constable Stokes as follows:

'You must get the cow. You've got to. If you don't it will be hard for you.'

'I can't attach a cow when the cow can't be found. I don't know where it is and can't learn.'

'I don't care whether you know where it is or not you have got to get it. It's up to you.'

And that is where the matter stands."

If a cow or other valuable animal wandered off there were laws to ensure the return of the animal, if found.  See an Index to Greene County Stray Records 1833-1913 to see if your ancestors also had cow trouble. If you need some law forms try our Gale Legal Forms database. You will need a current library card to access this database. The Missouri State Statues are available online as are the Missouri Code of State Regulations. The statues and codes do not require a library card.

Find this article at