It is interesting to read old letters and documents that give us an idea of what our ancestors did and what impacted their lives years ago.
Recently a reader scanned an old letter family letter that involves some folks from the area a little north of Chatt.
The letter is from Rockford attorney E.E. Jackson, to Jess Pickering, RR Willshire, warning of a potential claim against Jesse, filed by Henry McGough, for the disfigurement of a horse.
In 1910 Jesse Pickering, farmer, age 27, and his wife Dorothy (Young), lived on State Line Road in Blackcreek Township. He actually lived just around the corner from the Miller farm on Sipe Road. I remember my dad and grandpa Miller mentioning his name. Henry McGough, age 69, and his wife Jane (Slater) lived a couple miles northeast, on “Addy Pike,” according to the 1910 census, which was likely what we know today as Rockford West Road.
Attorney Ethelmer Ellsworth Jackson, age 40, had a law office in Rockford and practiced there for over 40 years.
The letter is interesting to read. Note that Jackson used a comma at the end of each sentence instead of a period. I wonder if he had a secretary back then.
Rockford, Ohio, Feby-4th? 09
Mr. Jesse Pickering, Willshire, Ohio.
Sir. Henry McGough has left a claim with me against you for the disfiguration of a horse, that you bought of him and then in a few days returned to him and sid [sic] the horse was not as it was represented, although you had saw the horse tried and said you were satisfied with him and did no care to seem [sic] him hitched or further winded, Now he says you took the horse and paid for him and shaved his foretop and trimmed his main and cropped his tail and then in a day or two brought him back and demanded you [sic] money back which he paid, now it is you [sic] duty to put the horse in the same condition he was at the time you took him from McGough or else pay the damage you did to him, McGough gave you back the whole amount of your money, and you have suffered no loss, while he has suffered the loss of this disfiguration of this horse, Now you have damaged the horse and are entitled to pauy [sic] the damages, McGough sold the horse for $200.00. and the day you returned him or the next a horsebuyer made him an offer of $165.00. for the horse on account of the disfiguration that you did, this leaves you damageing [sic] this horse to the amount of $35.00. and this I demand as damages; and I will say that McGough as I understand him intends to test this matter if it is not settled, so if you want to save yourself trouble and expense pleas [sic] come in to this office and attend to this matter; and if I do not see, or hear from you by the 10th of this Month, I shall take it for granted you do not intend to settle this damage and Suit will be instituted.
Horses were valuable in those days, so this was probably a big deal. I am surprised that Henry McGough took the horse back and gave Jesse Pickering a total refund. And attorney Jackson asked that Jesse put the horse back in the same condition he was at the time of the purchase. That would a little difficult to do!
Perhaps Jesse was trying his hand at horse grooming. I don’t know much about horses and I don’t know if it was common to trim or groom a horse as described. Would his mane and foretop have grown back? Was it a work horse or a show horse? If the horse could still perform its job, did it really matter how it looked? I thought they looked at a horse’s teeth more than the mane. Goes to show you what I know.
It would be interesting to know how everything was resolved and if a lawsuit was ever filed.
As is so often the case, perhaps there was a little more to this story…
Thanks to Jake Myers for sharing this letter. It is truly an interesting bit of family history.