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Catalog Number 82
Object Name Records
Scope & Content ABSTRACT

Assorted handwritten legal and court documents dating from 1801 - 1825 pertaining to cases in what is now Baldwin County, Alabama.

SCOPE AND CONTENTS

The miscellaneous collection of unrelated legal documents shows the develpment of the court system in the first quarter of the 19th Century in what is now Baldwin County. These cases from the early days of the Mississippi Territory through the early years of statehood. The papers illustrate the evolution of the essentially King's Bench type of court operation in the Mississippi Territory created in 1798 to the creation of Baldwin County courts in 1809, a decade before Alabama became a state.
The significance of collection lies in the insight it provides into everyday legal affairs in the old Southwest frontier -- from routine estate settlements to litigation that went to the U.S. Supreme Court, such as slavery questions in the United States v. Schooners Marino, Louisa and Constitution and their cargoes of slaves.
Many of the immigrants involved in the court cases came in the first wave of the "Great Migration" to the lower Tombigbee River basin which became part of Baldwin County. In 1800 there was only a free and slave population of 1,250 pushing the line of settlement deep in the heart of Indian country bounded by the rivers and swamps along the 31st parallel that separated the country from Spanish West Florida.
While the isolated bail bond or court summons among the miscellaneous court records may not detail the basis of the court action, the record gives information on the characters and relatinships of the settlers who - for whatever reason - were sequestered in an isolated borderland corner of the young United States.
Litigation continued despite wars and Indian massacres in the sparsely settled Tombigbee - Tensaw River region. Benjamin Stoddart Smoot's name appears in several of the early documents. The young Smoot arrived in the area in the early 1800's and was appointed the Baldwin County sheriff. He married a daughter of Samuel Mims who was killed in the 1813 Fort Mims massacre and during a subsequent Creek Indian War he served on Andrew Jackson's staff.
The Mims are among several well-known settlers whose names appear in the court papers. Jesse Steadham, who had taken refuge in Fort Mims, was one of the few survivors of the largest massacre by Indians in the history of the United States. These records show he had a lawsuit against Samuel Mims which he continued against Mims' estate after the uprising.
The settlers were interested in their court system, as evidenced by a petition signed in 1809 by many of those named in the records in this collection. In a petition to Congress for the Alabama Territory, they wrote their situation "deprives them of the advantages of that union of Judicial talents and rotation Judges so necessary to check the aberrations of feeling, and to insure public confidence in the Administration of Justice, that our unorganized, detached and insulated situation renders it necessary in order to prevent our Countyr from becoming an Asylum of the abandoned..."

Title Miscellaneous Court Records Collection
Collection Miscellaneous Court Records Collection
Containers
Baldwin County Circuit Court, 1825
Baldwin County Circuit Court, 1825
Guide to Miscellaneous Court Records Collection, 2006
Guide to Miscellaneous Court Records
1801 Tobacco sale bill
Promissory Note: 1807:
Mississippi Territory, Washington District, 1808:
Washington District Court, Mississippi Territory, 1809
Washington District Court, Mississippi Territory, 1809
Mississippi Territory, Washington District, 1809
Mississippi Territory, Washington County, 1809
Mississippi Territory, Washington District, 1810
Promissory Note, 1810
Mississippi Territory, Baldwin Superior Court, 1810
Mississippi Territory, Baldwin Superior Court, 1811
Mississippi Territory, Baldwin County, 1811
Mississippi Territory, Baldwin County, 1811
Mississippi Territory, Baldwin County, 1811
Mississippi Territory, Baldwin County, 1812
Mississippi Territory, Baldwin County, 1812
Baldwin Court, Mississippi Territory, 1812
Mississippi Territory, Baldwin County Court, 1813
Bail Bond 1813
Mississippi Territory, Baldwin County Court, 1814
Mississippi Territory, Baldwin Court, 1814
Mississippi County Circuit Court, 1822
Transcription
Baldwin County Circuit Court, 1822
Baldwin County Circuit Court, 1822
Baldwin County Circuit Court, 1823
Baldwin County Circuit Court, 1823
Baldwin County Circuit Court, 1824
Baldwin County Circuit Court, 1824
Baldwin County Circuit Court, 1824
Baldwin County Circuit Court, 1825
Baldwin County Circuit Court, 1825
Old Baldwin County Letters