Sunday, September 19, 2010

Black Sheep Sunday: Great great Grandmother SARAH THOMPSON WHITECOTTON, 1856 Court Case, Bradley Co TN

Offence: "maintaining a house where men and women of evil name fame and conversation came together for drinking, fiddling, whooping, hallowing, cursing, swearing, blackguarding and whoring and otherwise misbehaving themselves." 

May-Sept 1856
To the Sheriff of Bradley Co--Greetings. We command you to summon:
Sarah "Sally" Whitecotton
Mark Hinkle
Thos Renfrow
Allen Marlowe
Jesse Wooden
William Wooden
Henry Wooden
James Wooden
Josiah Thompson (Sarah's brother)
John Thompson (Sarah's brother)
David Thompson (Sarah's nephew, son of Avery)
instantly to be and appear before the Judge of our Circuit court at a court now sitting for this county of Bradley at the courthouse in the town of Cleveland, to testify, and the truth to depose, in a cause depending in said court, wherein the state is the Plaintiff and Sarah "Sally" Whitecotton is defendent, on behalf of the state of TN, and this they shall not omit under the lawful penalty. Witness: J H Payne, clerk of our said court at office in Cleveland, the 1st Monday of May, 1856 (it was noted in a later document that some of those summoned could not be found).
( It is not clear from the documents whether SARAH THOMPSON WHITECOTTON was really maintaining a bawdy house, or if they were just having a wild party! But this is for sure my gg grandmother, just two years after the birth of her youngest child, and after the disappearance of her husband, James Monroe Whitecotton. There are in total 4 cases that I have found so far against the Thompsons & Whitecottons in Bradley Co TN for this time period. This may be in part why most of the family moved on to AR & MO. Interesting to note that so far no court cases have been found in Christian Co MO against Sarah or the rest of her family in later years. Which make me wonder if sheriff J H Kuhn or deputy J K Brown had a grudge against certain families?? Sarah's sister Malinda Thompson (Whitecotton, Riddle) was also brought up on charges of "Lewd Behavior" and "Cohabitation" in a separate case from about the same time period. She was living with William Riddle, who was a Melungeon,  at the time. )

The grandjurors on behalf of the state of Tennessee elected (illegible) charged to (illegible) for the body of the county of Bradley aforesaid upon their oath (illegible) that a certain Sarah Whitecotton, late of said county on the first day of Sept, 1856 and on divers other days and times before that day with (illegible) in the county of Bradley aforesaid, unlawfully and willfully did keep and maintain a certain common illgoverned and disorderly house, situated as being in the county of Bradley aforesaid, and in the said house, for the lucre (money) and gain of her, the said Sarah Whitecotton, certain persons (illegible) men and women, of evil name, fame and dishonest conversation, then (illegible) at other said days and times, there unlawfully, willfully and willingly did come to frequent and come together and the said men and women in the said house of her, the said Sarah Whitecotton, at unlawful times and in the night and as in the day, as in the other days and times, there to be as (illegible) drinking, fiddling, whooping hallowing, cursing, swearing, blackguarding, and whoring and otherwise misbehaving themselves, unlawfully and willfully did permit and still yet do permit, to the great damage and common nuisance of all persons living, being in, residing, passing and repassing to the evil example of all others in like case offending, as is against the peace and dignity of the state.
George W Bridge, Attorney General for the third Judicial Circuit

for Keeping a Bawdy House
Williamson Parks, Prosecutor
B F Stout
Thos Rains
Allen Marlowe
Jesse Wooten (Wooden)
Henry Wooten (Wooden)
Josiah Thompson (crossed out, he must not have testified against his sister)
J E Walker (crossed out, must not have testified)
witnesses on behalf of the State, sworn & sent before the Grand Jury, Sept 5, 1856
Documents indicate that Sarah was charged a fine of $33.95 for her crimes, and when she could not pay the fine, was put in jail.

AFFIDAVIT FROM SARAH WHITECOTTON (written for her, she could not read or write)
Mr George W Bridges, Attorney General for the third Judicial Circuit of the State of Tennessee: Please take notice that I will on the 20th day of this instant, September 1856, at the jail of Bradley County, Tennessee, take the oath of insolvency to the discharge from my imprisonment for fines and costs for which I am now imprisoned in the case of the State of Tennessee against me for keeping a Bawdy House, when and where you can attend if you see proper. Sept 10, 1856
Sarah Whitecotton, her X

I, Sarah Whitecotton, in the presence of Almighty God, solemnly swear, that the schedule now delivered and by me substantiated, doth contain to best of my knowledge and rememberance a full, just, true and perfect account and discovery(?) of all the estate, goods and effects unto me (illegible) belonging, and said debts as are to me owing unto my person in trust for me, and of all securities and contracts whereby any money may hereafter become payable, as any benefit or advantage accrue to me, or to my use, unto any other person or persons in trust for me, and that I, or any other person or persons in trust for me have not land, money or stock, or any other estate real or personal, in (illegible) of the value of the debt or debts with which I am not charged in execution, and that I have not directly or indirectly sold, (illegible) or otherwise dispersed of in trust, or concealed well in any part of my lands, moneys, goods, stocks, debts, securities, contracts, or estates, whereby to secure the same to (illegible) or expect any profit or advantage thereby, or to defraud or deceive any creditor or creditors to which I am indebted in way howsoever. So help me God.
Sarah Whitecotton her X
Sworn to sentencing before me Sept 20, 1856
Janus Donohoo
County Judge

(So it appears that my great great grandmother SARAH THOMPSON WHITECOTTON spent a few months in prison, to pay off the debt which she could not pay, which is most likely why her children were living with their grandparents Joseph & Jane Thompson, and with their Aunt Melvina Priscilla "Siller" (Thompson) Mowery & Uncle James Mowery in Arkansas. Sarah Whitecotton is listed in the 1860 Hamilton Co TN census living in the household of Thomas and Mary (Thompson) Goodwin. Mary was Sarah's older sister.)

Have a great day!


© Betty Tartas  2010 (revised 2023)


Anonymous said...

Well, that's a rich bit of history, one way or another.

Are you a good hostess? If so, maybe you got your aptitude for such things from your great-great grandmother!

Carol said...

I love researching someone who has a little spit fire in their lives! At least you find some good stuff, other than farming, deeds and the sale of a cow or horse! Great stuff you have here!