The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

The following is a brief account of a law suit held in Shannon County, Mo. in the pioneer days as told by Bob Morris.

"Some time after my father James F. Morris term as first sheriff of Shannon County had expired the election of his township elected him Justice of the Peace. Though while he was not busy every day in the week with court affairs yet he had enough law suits on hand to take up some of his time to prevent him from being among the fat bucks as much as he desired and he was glad to give up the office when his time was up for he believed there was more pay in hunting than there were fees in the Justice Courts. Some of the law suits that were tried before him was rather amusing. One day a man sued another man on a promisary note which lacked several months of being due, and brought the case before my father for trial. T. P. Stringer a petty foggy lawyer was employed by the Plaintiff to aid him in the case and George Chilton was the lawyer on the side of the Defense. This last named was well posted in the laws of the state at that date. The case attracted a great deal of attention for it was the only case of the kind known in the county where a holder of a note sued the giver of it for collection before it was due and a large crowd had gathered at my father’s house on the day of trial to see how the case was decided. It seemed that the defense had the sympathy of a majority of the people that were present. While my father was writing and the two lawyers were making preparation to begin the trial my father says ‘Mr. Stringer, you have no case’, but the lawyer contended that he had a strong case and that he was going to be at the defense and get judgement against him and while Stringer was up on his feet making a loud noise and bluster in favor of his client, William L. Martin rode up on a small jack and about the moment Mr. Martin dismounted, the donkey gave a doleful and lonesome sound and as Stringer was haranging for the Plaintif he heard the noise the donkey uttered but did not understand what made it nor where it emmitted from and stopped all at once and says "What is that" and Chilton replied "Oh. nothing serious". But Stringer was not satisfied and insisted on wanting to know what made the noise. "Oh, well, If you have to know", replied Chilton "it’s another donkey coming to defend some other man who has sued on another note before it is due." And the entire assembly of men roared out with laughter. Mr. Stringer failed to make a case of it and it was dismissed.

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