Family Drama Part 1: Wainscott Court Case

You never know what you will find on a trip to the archives. Most researchers will say to go in with a clear idea of what you need to find. I didn’t follow that advice. I had a list of names to search in the indexes, but quickly started yelling ‘squirrel’ in the midst of every page. (In case you need to remember how cute Dug is: ( Also, I am not sure what the genealogical equivalent of ‘squirrel’ is…

My goal this year is to get a better handle on researching the maternal side of my family but there are so many lines that seem to go nowhere. I felt lucky when I looked in court documents for the Wainscott family. Thinking I had found a will or probate document that would further my research, but instead found a multi-generational court case that I am still trying to decipher based on court documents made from copies of copies on microfiche.

Here is what I was able to transcribe from the court documents on my 4th great grandfather. He would have been about 22 when this happened. His father about 68. And Polly (assuming she was his sister) about 40. My grandfather’s name was William C. Wainscott and my grandmother was Sarah Hamlin. Based on that I assume Joseph Hamlin to be her brother but I haven’t been able to prove that yet.

The only facts I have at the moment are from these court documents so I am not sure what led up to the ‘riot’ or more importantly why Polly (aka probably Mary) is not allowed to stay at another lady’s home. Why were these men so desperate to remove her by force? So many questions!

Document 1

1845 State Vs Tucker, Robert G., Richard Wainscott, William C. Wainscott, & Joseph Hamlin

My Transcription follows. I put in xxx where I had no idea what the word was and I added a ? next to words where I was able to guess. I did fix the grammar a little so that it reads slightly better.

State of Tennessee Henry County

To any Lawful officer to Execute and Return Robert G. Tucker having given information to me on oath that Richard Wainscott, Wm C Wainscott & Joseph Hamlin of the County official/appeared/xxx on the 14 day of July 1845 at night xxx xx assemble themselves to gather with force and arms(?) at the house of one Lucian/Susan(?) Williams widow(?) late of said county for the purpose of committing a riot or an affray(?) and pushed(?) in said house after being ordered to keep out with force and took Polly Hamlin by force and dragged her out of doors cussing, swearing, and threatening others that were there to the evil example of all other and against the peace(?) and dignity of the state therefore xxx xxx to take the badges(?) of said Richard Wainscott, WM C. Wainscott, and Joseph Hamlin if to be found in said County and the safely keep to as to have them before some justice  of the peace for said County and be xx xx dealt with xx xx xx xx xx hand and seal this 14 day of July 1845.

C xxxx Justice of the Peace of Henry County

Tennessee for the plaintiff

Signatures follow that I wasn’t able to read entirely:

xx xxx

John xxx

Polly Hamlin

xx xxx xxx

Nancy Williams

Document 2

Richard Wainscott, Wm C Wainscott, & Joseph Hamblin it is considered by us in this case that the defendants are guilty of an unlawful assembly with the intent to commit a riot or an affray as is charged in the  warrant and that they will enter into xxxx with sufficient security(?) to appear at next term of the circuit court for said county in the Wednesday(?) after the third Monday in September to be further dealt with as the law directs this July xxx1845.

2 signatures I cannot decipher

$ amounts listed (possibly for court fees or recompense?)

Jane xxx

Mary xxx

Additional signatures illegible

Records I have requested to get more information on this case:

Henry County, Tennessee Circuit Court Records, 1818-1849 

WAINSCOTT, Richard*, 1841

WAINSCOTT, Richard*, 1843

WAINSCOTT, Richard*, 1845

WAINSCOTT, William C*, 1843

WAINSCOTT, William C*, 1845

So, we have a brother, a father, and possibly a brother in law going to house and taking with force a sister/daughter/sister in law… why? What happened? This story has intrigued me. I keep having to remind myself how different things were for women in 1845 and how Polly would have had few options if she did choose to leave. But to try and get her back in such a way? So much drama! I am looking forward to finding out more of how the story plays.

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