Outstanding and historically important ledger book
1882·Territory of Montana
by (TERRITORY OF MONTANA)
Territory of Montana, 1882. hardcover. very good(-). 478 pages, folio (12.5 x 7.75 inches), original marbled boards (worn) re-backed with maroon linen, designated: "Minute Book No. 10," the proceedings of the 1st District Court, Territory of Montana, November 13, 1882 - April 11, 1886, the official record of hundreds of criminal and civil cases almost entirely in the hand of Theophilus Muffly - (1833 - 1898), a pioneer of the Territory who emigrated to Virginia City in December of 1864 and who was appointed to the bar by the United States Supreme Court. He was one of the lawyers present at the opening of the District Court of the Judicial District and subsequently served as Clerk of the Court, Attorney, Probate Judge, Justice of the Peace, and Police Magistrate. This remarkable offering provides great insight into the inner workings of the Territory's Judicial system, which on the surface amounted to little more than a glorified "good ol' boys club," with little concern given to the issue of "conflict of interest." There are instances whereby District Attorneys prosecuted cases one day and then represented defendants in the same court room the next. Thus, it created an environment whereby prosecutors opposed each other in some cases and then jointly prosecuted defendants in similar cases. In one instance, James E. Callaway (a signer of the 1884 Montana State Constitution) was appointed by the court to represent a defendant who could not procure counsel. Ordinarily this would not raise eyebrows except for the fact that Callaway was one of the most prominent District Attorneys in the court. Henry N. Blake, First Chief Justice of the Montana Supreme Court and arguably one of the most gifted jurists in the Territory had no qualms about handling an exorbitant amount of divorce cases, collecting his usual fee of $50.00. This was done while he was an Associate Justice serving on the Montana Territorial Supreme Court! One thing that is evident is that this ledger is a virtual who's-who of many of the most prominent figures in Montana history, including entries for lawmen who would eventually be murdered, lawyers who would become important legislators (including a Governor), and pioneers who would become founders of the State Constitution. Many of these people lived colorful and distinguished lives while others would be forever clouded by controversy. Of special interest to historians will be the very last cases of Justice Everton Judson Congers (1834 - 1918) -- a Civil War hero who sustained several wounds in combat but who will forever be remembered for his role in the capture of John Wilkes Booth. He was appointed to the Court in 1880 by his friend Rutherford B. Hayes despite being a confirmed alcoholic, morphine addict, and habitual gambler. He made many political enemies and in 1883 was suspended from the bench due to "incompetence, neglect of duty, and keeping companionship of low, vile people," a decision upheld by President Chester A. Arthur. Public outcry and an internal investigation later attributed his drinking and drug addiction to injuries sustained during the war. Congers was re-appointed to the bench but it was just one day before his term was set to expire and he was out of a job. Interestingly, in his later years, he relocated to Hawaii where he served as the attorney for Queen Liliuokalani. Congers presides over several interesting cases including an indictment for "marking and branding a calf with intent to steal same," of which he set bail at a staggering $500.00. On the other hand, a person convicted of "manslaughter with malice" received a generous sentence of six years incarceration. Charles W. Turner (1846 - 1907), a prominent attorney who appeared many times before Congers, might have summed it up best when he said, "He called them the way he saw them with little left to the imagination or reason." Turner became a law partner of Andrew F. Burleigh (1846 - 1907), who is also heavily represented in this book, and was subsequently murdered by a gunman in 1907. Burleigh performs his duties as District Attorney but also represents gold mine owners and railroad interests throughout the book. There is no doubt that the experience he acquired from these cases laid the groundwork for his becoming Receiver of the Northern Pacific Railroad. Another prominent District Attorney whose earliest known cases are documented is Robert B. Smith (1854 - 1908). He was appointed to the job by President Cleveland in 1885, launching his political career which culminated in his being elected Governor in 1896. Smith procures indictments and then prosecutes defendants charged with a host of frontier crimes including "grand larceny," "drawing and exhibiting a deadly weapon in an intimidating manner," and "driving away steer." Approximately half of the cases cited pertain to Civil Court issues, several with high-powered litigants such as Simon R. Buford (1845 %u2013 1905), a pioneer and prominent businessman who owned S.R. Buford & Co. Another litigant was Amos C. Hall -- the most prominent banker in the Territory and owner of Hall-Harrington & Co. There are several entries of "Officers of the Court" who would later become prominent sheriffs and marshals, including Frank S. Metzel, who was shot and killed while intervening in a bank robbery, and James E. Summers, who was killed while attempting to serve an arrest warrant. It should be noted that this book contains many more names of prominent people. All cases presented, be they criminal or civil, are adjudicated from beginning to end -- from indictment to sentencing and from service of warrant to final litigation. The rarity of this book lies in the fact that it is unique and that it is the only documentation of the proceedings within. Staining inside the covers does not affect the interior. Very good(-) condition.
(Inventory #: 267192)
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