John Hunter vs. John Findly, Jessee Wallace, James Knox,

Lot #10 in Knoxville,ownership dispute, 12 October 1807,

Knox County, TN, DB N, vol. 1:149-156.


In equity Hamelton District September term 1807

This cause having come on to be finally heard on the 12th day of October 1807 in the court of equity for the district aforesaid before the honorable [David Campbell] and John Overton Esquires two of the Judges of the superior Courts of law and equity in end for the state of Tennessee upon the bill, answers replication and issues of fact found by the Jury when the substance of the complainants bill apeared to be that on or about the 20th day of February 1796 the complainant and said Jessee Wallace conversation respecting Lott No. 10 in Knoxville, and that upon the said conversation the said Jessee represented to said complainant that the said James Knox was ??? in fee simple of said Lott of land and that the said James Knox had authorized and impowered him the said Jessee by writing to sell the said lott of land or contract for erecting buildings thereon, and improving the same in such manner and upon such terms and conditions as to him the said Jessee might appear best - that said complainant being desirious of settling himself in Knoxville and procuring by purchase a lott that was unimproved and fully believing that the representations made to him by the said Jessee as agent for the said James for the purchase of said Lott, and the said Jessee did agree made to said complainant a good and sufficient title to the said lott provided the said James should be agreed to sell same and provided the said complainant would pay him the said Jessee agent as aforesaid one hundred dollars on the tenth day of August then next ensuing Twenty dollars to be paid in a good ??? and the balance in cash and that it was further agreed and contracted between the said complainant and the said Jessee agent aforesaid, that if the said Knox should not be agreed to sell the said lott that complainant should be paid for all the improvements he should deem said lott and that it was further agreed and contracted between said complainant and said Wallace agent as aforesaid that if said Wallace and said complainant could not agree upon the price of the improvements to be maid chosen by said Wallace and said complainant and that it was further agreed and contracted between said Wallace agent as aforesaid and said complainant that complainant should keep free and peaceable persession [possession] of said lot untill he should be paid for the improvements he might make over if said Knox should not agree to the above sale of the said lot and that a memmorandom of said agreement as before set forth was drawnup and signed by said Jessee and said complainant and sealed with there seals a coppy of which was filed with said bill and marked Exhibit No 1 and prayed to be taken as a part of said bill the said bill further states that said complainant in persuance of said agreement Deed will and truly pay to said Jessee as agent aforesaid the said sum of one hundred dollars the purchase money of said lot that within one week after making said agreement said complainant in persuance of said agreement by the concent and the express derection of said Jessee agent as aforesaid entered into the peaceable persession of said lot which was then holely unimproved that he ameately [immediately] began to improve the same and continued so to do untill he had expended in improving the said lot and directing buildings thereon amounting to the sum of Eleven hundred Dollars independant of his own perconly [personal] labour that from the time that he obtained persession of said lot untill sometime in the year of 1798 he leased the same to a certain Stephan Magines who from that time has continued his possession that until the last of January one thousand seven hundred and ninety eight he never heard nor had he any intimation that he was to be disturbed in the possession of said lot when by the said James or his said agent but during all said time was induced to think and firmly believe that a good and sufficient title would be made him in fee [simple] for said lot either by said Knox or said agent Jessee Wallace and that previous to said last of January he had expended the aforesaid sum of money in improving said lot the said complainent had been informed and did believe that said Jessee Wallace had full power and authority from said Knox to make said contract on behalf of said Knox and that he sealed and contracted with said Wallace as the attorney of said Knox duly impowered that the said John Findly some time in the fall of the year one thousand seven hundred and ninety seven went from Knoxville where he had resided for several years and as complainant was informed and informed and believed procured from said Knox a Deed of Conveyance to be made and executed from said Knox to him conveying to him and his Heirs the said lot that complainant veryly believed said Findly at and before the time of obtaining said conveyance for said lot from said Knox well knew and had full notice of the contract and agreement between complainent and said Knox through his attorney Wallace and that said Knox long before executing said conveyance well knew and had full notice of said contract and agreement that his said attorney had made on his behalf with said complainant that said complainant was informed and believed that said Findly paid nothing for said lot but what it would have been worth without any improvement thereon that about the last of January 1798 when complainant was informed said Findly had obtained a conveyance he applied to said Wallace agent aforesaid and said Findly and each of them and requested that he might either recover his title for said lot or the value of the improvement he had made thereon and was then and there and at all times thereafter ready to nominate and choose persons on his part to value said improvements but the said Jessee and John refused to make said title or to value said improvements the said Bill further charges them the said John Findly Jessee Wallace and James Knox with combinding for the purpose of injuring the said complainant and causing an Ejectment to be instituted in the name of the ??? of the said Findly in the County Court of Knox County and with recovering Judgement for said lot against said complainant and said complainant prayed such relief as might just his case which was the scope of said complainants Bill and the substance of said Findlys answer appeared to be that he knows nothing of such a contract between complainant and Jessee Wallace as stated in said Bill nor doth he know whether complainant was paid anything in pursuance of said contract nor doth he know that complainant and said Jessee was made signed and sealed such an instrument of writing as stated in said Bill that if ever such contract was entered into said Findly was induced to believe said Wallace had no power or authority from said Knox to make such contract for this reason that said Knox at the time he sold andconveyed asured him that he had not sold himself nor he authorized any person to sell or make such a disposition of said lott as said Jessee hath attempted to make if he did sign and seal the contract stated in said bill that he doth not know whether said Wallace made any or what representation he may have made to the said complainant respecting a power that said Knox might have given him authorizing him to make such a contract in his behalf as is alledged in said bill that he doth not know whether complainant traded with Wallace as agent or attorney for said Knox in said contract or in what capacity he traded with him but states that it is observible that in the face of said memorandom that the contracting parties apear to be John Hunter on the one part and Jessee Wallace of the other part and not James Knox by Jessee Wallace as it ought to have been if said Jessee Wallace had been contracting for said James Knox and it is further remarkable on said contract that the name of Jessee Wallace is subscribed to said contract not as the ??? of agent or attorney but mearly as Jessee Wallace contracting in his own right that he believes said complainant obtained possesion of said lot about the time stated in the bill, but doth know in persuance of What or whether in persuance of any agreament or whither with consent and by the direction of said Wallace or not that he believes said bill that he believes said was wholly unimproved at the time complainant alledges he purchased - that after complainant got possession of said lott he erected on said lott one square log house, one kitchen and one frame house but does not know what sum he expended in improving said lott - that some time in March 1798 said complainant had not compleated said frame house, but had only erected the frame thereof and wither boarded the same to the under part of the window frames of the first story only and had the roof put on, that in the month and year last mentioned he gave complainant notice that he had purchased said lott of said Knox and had obtained a conveyance for the same and then requested complainant to desist from improving said lott that he resided in or about Knoxville the whole of the year 1796 and about the tenth day of March 1797 he left Knoxville and went to Franklin County in Pennsylvania where his father resides, that intending to return to Knoxville had a deposition to purchase said lott No 10 from said Knox concurving(?) him the only true proprietor thereof that he communicated his intention of purchasing to Joseph Knox who he believes wrote to said James Knox informing him of defendants wish to purchase that some time in the summer 1797 defendant accidently fell in company with Brutly(?) McGhee who he informed of his intention to purchase from said Knox that said McGhee inform him that Jessee Wallace had sold said Lott to John Hunter and if he bought it he would ruin Jessee Wallace or words to that effect that on or about the 23rd day of October 1797 James Knox came to him and proposed selling said lot to him and positively assurred him that he had never sold said lot in any manner whatsoever and that he never authorized or empowered any person to sell or dispose of it that upon that discorce defendant believing and relying in the ??? made by said Knox proposed and agreed to give said Knox one hundred and seventy dollars for said in consideration of which said Knox agreed to make him a will in fee simple for said Lott and that said James about the 23rd day of October 1797 signed sealed and delivered a deed in fee simple to him for said lot No 10 that some short time after he had returned to Knoxville and made it known that he had obtained title from said Knox for said lot the complainant and said Wallace came in company to the house of Stephan Duncan where said defendant then lived and expressed a wish to see his deed of conveyance for said lot that he show his deed to them and after they had read it they jointly proposed purchasing the title of defendant, and proposing him one thousand dollars provided he ??? convey to complainant all his right and interest in said lot and that defendant agreed to convey provided they would pay him one thousand dollars and they did agree to pay him one thousand dollars worth of property and that he posponed bringing an action of Ejectment for the recovery of said lot for one or two terms on account of said promise and undertaking Defendant says that as well as he recollects some time after said discorce had taken place between him and complainant and Wallace complainant did request him to pay him for the improvement he had made on said lot and that he did concur he was in no wise bound to pay said complainant for him improvement in as much as he did concur he had no title to said lot and that he had made said improvement in his own wrong that he doth not know whether Knox knew of the contract stated in the bill or not, previous to the time he made the conveyance to him but says from the representation Knox made to him he is induced to believe he did not ??? bringing the Ejectment and recovering a Judgment denies all fraud and combination wherewith he stands charged and prays to be dismissed in the scope of said defendants answer and the answer of the said James Knox one other of said defendants appeared to be in substance that said defendant about the spring of the year 1792 purchased said lot that sometime afterwards he was informed that the lots in Knoxville were tax and would be sold for payment thereof unless the taxes were paid said lot being at that time of small value and at a great distance from his residence he wrote as he believes to Jessee Wallace to make sale of lott but upon what terms he does not recolect that in the spring of the year 1796 he received a letter from Jessee Wallace of which the following is a copy April 22nd 1796 - Sir after my compliments to you I would inform you that I have sold your lot lying in Knoxville for one hundred dollars upon condition you agreed to the same, and if not that the man is to be paid for his improvement agreeble to workmans ??? answer this possable ???, so no more at present but remains your friend - Jessee Wallace "to James Knox" that shortly after receiving said letter he was in company with John Wallace who ??? defendant that said lot should not be sold for taxes On receiving this information said defendant on the twenty fifth May 1796 wrote pointedly and expressly to Jessee Wallace designating him to said sale and mentioned it was not his wish to have said lot sold that after writting said letter his partner Michael Monaghan that he mentioned to him that he did not like the stile of said letter and requested to write and did write one to the said purpose disagreeing to said sale that the last mentioned letter was sealed and directed to Jessee Wallace and delivered to said John Wallace to deliver to said Jessee that defendant heard no more ??? said lot untill the fall 1797 when he met said Findly in Cumberland County and sold and conveyed said lot to him for one hundred and twenty dollars verily believing said lot was vacant and unimproved that he never received any consideration for said lot from complainant or Jessee Wallace and that he knew nothing of any improvements untill some time in the year 1799 that he did give to said Wallace some conditional power to sell or take care of said lott but how far said power extended he cannot say that he knew of no sale except the information in the above quotted letter which he disagreed to previous to executing the deed to Finly in 1797 that he did not cause the ejectment to be instituted and prays to be dismised and the substance of the said Jessee Wallaces answer apeared to be an admission of the truth of all the material facts in said bill of complaint and insisting that he had a power to make said sale denies all frauds and combination and praying to be dismissed. And it appearing that at March term 1805 the following issues of fact had been made up by the court. First did the said James Knox impower Jessee Wallace to sell lot No 10. 2. If the Jury find there was such a power they will say whether said Wallace pursued said authority or not. 3d At or previous to the time of the purchase of said lot No 10 comitted to have been made by John Findly another of said defendants had the said John Findly notice of said sale by said Jessee Wallace acting as agent for said Knox to plaintiff 4th what is the value of the improvements made by said Hunter on said lot in pursuance of said agreement specified in exhibit No 1 and farther appearing that at September term 1805 a Jury was sworn to try the said issue and that they found that said Knox did impower Jessee Wallace by letter and verbally and by his answer on the second issue that said Wallace did pursue his authority. And on the third that Findly had notice previous to his purchase of said lott No 10 and on the fourth that the improvements on said lott No 10 was worth one thousand one hundred and fifty dollars agreeable to the exhibit No 1 which said bill answers replication issues of fact and finding of the Jury having been read examined and considered it was by the Court ordered that a decree be drawn up conveying the lott No 10 to the complainant and now to with on the fourteenth day of October 1807 the said cause again coming on to be finily heard in said Court before the said Judges and the said bill answer replication issues of fact and finding of the Jury being ??? examined and considered by said Court and the ??? heard and considered It is be the said Court ordered adjudged and decreed that all the right, title, and interest, of them the said James Knox Jessee Wallace and John Findly or any or either of them of in and to the said lott No 10 in Knoxville in the county of Knox and of in and to convey part and parcel thereof ??? out of them any and each or either of them and that the right title interest property and claim of said lott and every part and parcel thereof and its hereditaments and apurtenances be and are hereby invested in the said John Hunter the complainant and his and assins forever to be held by him and his heirs against them the said James Knox John Findly and Jessee Wallace and each of them and thire and each of their heirs, and it is further ordered adjudged and decreed by said Court that the said John Findly one of the defendants pay all the costs of this suit in case he has property sufficients to pay the same; and in case he has not it is ordered adjudged and decreed that each of the parties do pay their own costs Given under our hands in open Court in Hamilton District fourteenth day of October, 1807


Joseph Greer Clk David Campbell

John Overton


State of Tennessee

Hamilton District

I Joseph Greer Clerk & master of the court of equity for the district aforesaid do certify that the foregoing is a copy of record in the suit John Hunter vs John Findly Jessee Wallace and James Knox, as on record in my office in testamoney whereof I have hereunto subscribed my name and affixed a seal at office in Knoxville the 4th day of November A.D. 1808.

(seal) Joseph Greer by his Deputy

G. Wilson

Registered November the 7th 1808