Court of Errors and Appeals of New Jersey.
REUBEN H. FREEMAN and MARGARET, his wife, appellants,
ISAAC STAATS, respondent.
June Term, 1853.
1. Circumstances under which a deed, and a note and a warrant of attorney to confess judgment thereon, obtained from a man of intemperate habits, were declared void by a decree of the Court of Chancery, and the decree was reversed on appeal.
2. The complainant in a bill to set aside a deed made by him on the ground that it was fraudulently obtained from him, had before filing his bill, brought ejectment for the land; and while the cause in chancery was proceeding, he noticed the ejectment for trial. On petition, he was directed to make his election in which court he would proceed.
On the 11th of February, 1846, Isaac Staats exhibited his bill against Reuben H. Freeman and Margaret, his wife, stating that Abraham Staats, since deceased, the complainant's father, devised to the complainant the one-half of his homestead farm, containing about one hundred and thirty acres, in fee, by will dated August 17th, 1819; and that the said Abraham died on the 4th of May, 1821. That the complainant immediately thereafter went into possession of the said farm, and continued in the peaceable and uninterrupted possession thereof until the time hereinafter mentioned.
That about the year 1814, the complainant intermarried with one Martha A. Ross, by whom he had one child, a daughter, named Margaret. That his said wife died on the 6th of November, 1838.
That his said daughter, in 1837 or 1838, intermarried with Reuben H. Freeman, a man with pretensions to education and respectability, but entirely destitute of the means to support either himself or his wife. That the complainant took said Freeman and his wife into his house and supported them and two children until December, 1840, when the complainant, who was [page 815] the owner, in fee, of a valuable farm of about one hundred acres, worth $6000, which the complainant had acquired by his own labor and industry, adjoining the farm so devised to him, thought it advisable to urge upon him the necessity of earning his own support. And the complainant, also, in order to provide a comfortable support and maintenance for his said daughter and her children, did, on the 21st of April, 1838, convey to his said daughter the last mentioned farm of one hundred acres, and did also give to the said Freeman and his wife personal property to the amount of $1000.
That said Freeman and wife continued to reside on the farm of one hundred acres until the time hereinafter mentioned.
That while said Freeman resided with the complainant, after the said marriage, the complainant gave him sums of money from time to time, amounting in all to about $300, as near as complainant can recollect, and also made a conveyance to the said Freeman of the one-fifth part of a tract of land, with the improvements thereon, called the basin property, being part of the farm so devised to the complainant, which fifth part was worth at least, at the time of the said conveyance, $1000.
That in November, 1840, the complainant intermarried with Maria Matthews, by whom he has had one child, a son, named Abraham. That soon after the complainant's said marriage, the said Freeman and his wife insinuated to the complainant and other persons, that the said Maria was not faithful to her marriage vows; that she was a bad woman, and would ruin the complainant and strip him of all his property.
That by these repeated insinuations and charges against the said Maria, the complainant, who was then in the habit of drinking ardent spirits to intoxication, believing the stories so told to him by said Freeman and wife, was thereby induced to turn his said wife, Maria, from his house.
That the said insinuations and charges against the said Maria were false and unfounded, and were made for the purpose of inducing the complainant to convey away all his property in the hands and possession of said Freeman and wife.
That after the complainant had turned the said Maria away [page 816] from his house he continued to drink ardent spirits to great excess, and during the time the said Maria was so turned away, the said Freeman frequently urged the complainant to apply for a divorce from his said wife, at the same time charging her with loose and unfaithful conduct, and saying that she would ruin the complainant in his pecuniary circumstances. That the complainant, being at that time and long after in a constant state of intoxication, gave a listening ear to the said charges and insinuations against the said Maria.
That the said Freeman, while the said Maria was so absent from the complainant's house, carried the complainant to the office of a counsellor-at-law for the purpose of arranging the preliminary proceedings in order to apply for and obtain a divorce from the said Maria. That the said counsellor considered the charges against the said Maria too vague to be made the foundation of an application for a divorce.
That the application for a divorce being abandoned by the said Freeman, the said Freeman still urged the complainant, and while the complainant was in a state of intoxication, to convey to the wife of said Freeman the farm so devised to the complainant, and to confess a judgment to him, said Freeman, for an amount sufficient to cover all the complainant's personal property, which was worth $2000. And the said Freeman urged, that if the complainant did not so convey his said farm and confess the said judgment, the said Maria had run him in debt, and would run him in debt, and that all his personal property would go to satisfy the debts contracted by the said Maria.
That the allegations of the said Freeman that the said Maria had run him in debt and was running him in debt, were both untrue.
That on the 2d of September, 1843, and while the complainant was in a state of gross intoxication, and with the idea impressed upon his mind by the said Freeman, that the said Maria would ruin him, the complainant executed a deed to his said daughter, the wife of the said Freeman, for the farm so devised to the complainant, and at the same time gave his note to the said Freeman for $1600, or thereabouts, and a warrant of at-[page 817]torney to confess a judgment thereon. That when the said note and warrant of attorney were executed, the complainant did not owe said Freeman one cent, and that the said conveyance and note were given without any consideration.
That after the said deed was executed, and before the delivery thereof, and while it was yet in the hands of the scrivener, the scrivener advised the complainant not to deliver the same, but to wait a few days before the delivery thereof, and that he, the said scrivener, would take the said deed home with him and keep it some days, and then if the complainant, upon reflection ordered it to be delivered, he, the said scrivener, would do so, but not till then.
That the said scrivener did take the same deed home with him, to keep subject to the complainant's order. That while it was in the hands of the said scrivener, in order to induce the complainant to deliver the same to the said Freeman, or his wife, the said Freeman, in order further to inflame the mind of the complainant against the said Maria, and for the purpose of depriving the said Maria of a support and maintenance, and of defrauding the complainant of his said farm, obtained possession of the account books of the complainant, and where he knew the complainant would see and read it, wrote therein as follows: "September 7th, 1842. Samuel has been in Hunterdon, and so far as he can learn, Maria's character has been base, that she has no money up there, that Mrs. Nixon says that she is filthy and nasty, that she was at her house, that her brother would not have her there because she abused him and his wife, and accused her of stealing her muslin and flannel."
That the matters and things set forth in the said writing are false and unfounded, and were known by the said Freeman to be so when he wrote the same.
That the said Freeman wrote the same for the purpose of fraudulently getting possession of the said deed, then in the said scrivener's hands subject to complainant's order.
That the complainant has understood and believes that while the complainant was in a state of intoxication, the said Freeman prepared an order, addressed to the said scrivener, to deliver [page 818] the said deed. That the complainant has no knowledge whatever of seeing and signing the said order, and that either the said order is a forgery, or if the complainant was induced to sign the same, it was at a time when the complainant was so much intoxicated that he did not know the consequences of such an act.
That the said deed was delivered by the said scrivener upon the receipt of the said order.
That when the complainant executed the said deed, and when he gave the said note and warrant of attorney, he had not power of mind to comprehend the contents and effects thereof, and that the same were not executed of his own motion and free will, but by the suggestions, compulsion or contrivance of the said Freeman and his wife, or one of them.
That on the day after the said deed was executed, and before the delivery thereof, the said Freeman and his wife moved into the house and upon the said farm so devised to the complainant, and the said Freeman has had the rents, issues and profits thereof, and continued to occupy the same from that time.That the said Freeman caused judgment to be entered against the complainant in the Supreme Court on the said note, by virtue of the said warrant of attorney, and caused execution to be immediately issued thereon and delivered to the sheriff of Somerset to be executed. And that the said sheriff, by virtue thereof, caused all the personal property of the complainant to be sold, and that it was all bought at the said sale by the said Freeman at a nominal amount, and that said Freeman took possession thereof, and continues to enjoy the same.
That the said Freeman is now cutting down a large quantity of the wood and timber standing and growing on the said farm, for the purpose of selling and disposing of the same to his own use, and for the purpose of making rails to fence the farm which the complainant voluntarily conveyed to his daughter, the wife of said Freeman, as aforesaid. And the said Freeman gives out that it is his intention to cut down all, or nearly all, of the timber now standing and growing on the said farm so devised to the complainant, which will tend greatly to diminish the value of the said farm.
[page 819] That the said Freeman, since he so obtained possession of the said farm, has carted off of the same great quantities of the soil and manure made thereon, and applied it to the improvement of the land which the complainant voluntarily conveyed to said Freeman's wife, to the impoverishment of the complainant's said farm.
The bill prays that the said Freeman and wife may be decreed to reconvey, and the said deed may be declared to be void, and that the said judgment may be declared to be void, and prays an account of the said personal estate, and of the rents, issues and profits of the farm, and of the said manure and soil, and prays an injunction restraining the said Freeman and his wife from committing any further waste on the farm, and for such other and further relief, &c.
The injunction prayed was allowed.
In January, 1847, Freeman and wife presented to the court a petition, stating that before the filing of the bill the complainant had instituted a suit, in the Circuit Court of Somerset, for the recovery of the farm, on the ground that the said deed from the complainant was void, and that the said suit was still pending, and that since the filing of the bill the complainant had noticed the said suit at law for trial, to wit, at the last term of the said Circuit Court; and praying that the complainant might be compelled to elect in which court he will proceed.
And an order was thereupon made that the complainant make his election, &c.
The complainant elected to proceed in this court.
The defendants put in their joint and several answer.
Freeman denies that at the time of his marriage he was entirely destitute of the means or ability to support himself and family, and says that the allegation to the contrary is unjust and untrue; and denies that on his marriage he was by the complainant taken into his house, and afterwards, with his wife [page 820] and children, supported by the complainant until December, 1840; the contrary of all which he charges to be true, and that at the period of his marriage, he had completed his professional studies, and was qualified and competent to engage in the business of instruction or teaching, especially of the young; and that he had in hand, of his own money, several hundred dollars; and that, having been treated with incivility and rudeness by the said Isaac Staats, (impelled and actuated by an evil agent and influence readily imagined from the admissions in the bill itself contained, and which this defendant cannot advert to without grief and mortification,) this defendant, yet in the lifetime of his mother-in-law, left the residence of the complainant, with the design of making, so soon as he should be able, ultimate and final arrangements for the separate and independent support of himself and family. That with such design, he moved in the fall of 1839 to Newton, in Sussex county, and engaged in the business of a teacher for two or three months, and, while so employed, upon a visit made to his family, was urged by the complainant to abandon his said business at Newton, and return to the vicinity of the complainant's residence, the complainant then and there promising him, as an inducement for such return, that the complainant would convey to this defendant, in fee, a lot of land of ten acres, lying, (&c.,) and would largely contribute to the building of a comfortable house thereon for the accommodation of the family of this defendant, and to be his property, in which this defendant might resume and prosecute his business or employment of a teacher of youth.
He avers that, relying on the faithful performance by the complainant of such explicit and solemn agreement, he returned, and soon after engaged in the erection of a dwelling-house on the said lot, and expended thereon, of his proper moneys, $450, and incurred debts on account thereof to the amount of $1200; which debts the complainant, from time to time, neglected and refused to assume and pay, meanwhile leaving this defendant exposed to the clamorous demands and solicitations of impatient creditors, in direct violation of such solemn and explicit agreement hereinbefore stated. And he further avers, that this state [page 821] of things remained unchanged until about April 1st, 1838, when the complainant borrowed of George Munson $1000, and applied it to the liquidation of said debts, and, induced by the repeated solicitations of his wife, the said Martha Staats, afterwards executed a deed of conveyance of 4 66- 100 acres to his daughter, the said Margaret Freeman, and her heirs, in lieu of a conveyance of ten acres to this defendant and his heirs, as was by said complainant promised in manner aforesaid.
That during the summer of 1840, this defendant, influenced by the abusive and unstable conduct of the complainant, again determined to withdraw himself from the neighborhood of the complainant; and, with the view and object of selecting a proper location, devoted a period of between one and two months to a visit to and examination of the western part of the State of New York; and that shortly after his return, within two or three weeks, according to the best of his recollection, the complainant, without the knowledge of this defendant, and in fulfillment of a solemn and express promise by him made to his said wife during her last illness and shortly before her decease, made and executed a conveyance of the residue of the aforesaid farm of which the said ten acres promised as aforesaid were part, by the complainant purchased as aforesaid, to his daughter, the wife of this defendant, and to her heirs; but, (in violation, measurably, of the spirit of such express and solemn promise,) nevertheless withheld the delivery of such executed deed until certain terms by the complainant propounded were complied with or assented to by this defendant, viz., that this defendant should gather the then growing crops of both the aforesaid farms, estimated to amount to $800 or $900 in value, allow the complainant to take of the same sufficient for the consumption of his family and stock, and apply the residue to the payment of the debts of the complainant partially incurred in the erection of the said house; which said debts, amounting to $1600, the complainant stipulated should be assumed and paid by this defendant; and that the complainant should have, to his own use, the one-half of the winter grain, and one-half of a 30 acre field of grass, part of the said farm, the season then next following.[page 822]
And this defendant avers that the said terms were complied with on his part; but that the complainant subsequently refused to allow the proceeds of the said two farms to be divided as above stipulated by himself, and applied the whole to his own use, to the detriment and loss of this defendant of $600 or $700. And that this defendant made and executed to George Windsor a bond and mortgage, said mortgage containing said premises, to secure the payment of $1600, being the complainant's debts, and $1000 thereof, or rather, $1400 thereof, being the aforesaid $1000 borrowed by the complainant of said Windsor, as before stated, with several years' unpaid interest thereon; and that afterwards, a barn being built on said premises, the said debt was increased thereby, and the interest in arrear on said mortgage, to $2500, and a bond and mortgage to secure the last-mentioned amount executed by this defendant and his wife to Hannah and Maria Tenyck; the interest of which has since been paid by this defendant, but the principal remains unpaid, and a lien upon said premises; and that so much of the consideration of said last-mentioned mortgage as was needful was applied to the payment of said mortgage to Windsor.
And this defendant says, in correction of the erroneous or inconclusive statements in the bill in this behalf contained, that this defendant remained, with his family, in the occupancy of said house built as aforesaid for a period of four or five months, when, at the request of the complainant, he, with his family, removed to the house occupied by the complainant, to superintend the farming business of the complainant and to take care of the wife of the complainant, then in feeble and declining health.
These defendants deny that during the time of their residence with the complainant he gave to the defendant, Freeman, sums amounting to $300; or that he gave to these defendants personal property to the amount of $1000; or that the fifth part of the tract of land called the basin property was worth $1000; but allege that the complainant gave to the defendant, his daughter, during that period, property to the amount of $150 or $160 only, $65 of which was of the proper moneys of the mother of his said daughter, so deemed by the family and the complainant.[page 823]
And the defendant, Freeman, charges the further truth to have been, in that behalf, that the complainant, having an unsettled controversy, in 1834, with the Del. and Rar. Canal Co., relative to lands of the complainant used by the said company in the construction of their canal, offered this defendant $100 if he would obtain a satisfactory settlement of said controversy. And this defendant avers that he earnestly engaged in the said undertaking, at such request and upon such employment of the complainant; and, in the prosecution thereof, was obliged to visit Princeton eight or ten times, and N. Brunswick more frequently, and finally succeeded in arranging said controversy to the satisfaction of the complainant, after great pains and difficulty; and, in the arrangement, obtained from the said company the right to erect a basin, adjacent to the said canal, on the lands of the complainant; and, upon the like further request of the complainant, this defendant superintended the making of such basin; and, when the same was completed, the complainant sold the same, with an adjacent lot of 18 3/4 acres, for $3775, and in the conveyance thereof, caused the name of this defendant to be inserted as one of five grantees, as an acknowledgment and compensation, to the amount of $755, and not $1000, as charged in the bill, for the specific services and labors of this defendant of the nature before stated, as this defendant has supposed, such acknowledgment and compensation being freely and voluntarily made by the complainant, without any demand or request made or intimated by this defendant, or with his knowledge, inducing the same.
These defendants admit with grief that about the time charged in the bill, the complainant intermarried with Maria Mathews, and that said Maria had one child.
The defendant, Freeman, denies that soon after that marriage, or at any time, he insinuated to the complainant, or to other persons, that the said Maria was not faithful to her marriage vows, that she was a bad woman, and would ruin the complainant and strip him of his property.
And the defendant, Margaret, is constrained by self-respect to deny that such charges and insinuations were made by her, or [page 824] that by any means whatever the complainant was or could have been induced by these defendants, or either of them, to credit and believe such statements. On the contrary, they allege that had they not been restrained therefrom by the relation subsisting between them and the complainant and by obvious considerations of delicacy and propriety, yet they solemnly aver that the notoriously bad character and conduct of the said Maria Mathews made any such allegations entirely unnecessary. And the defendant, Freeman, says that before he ever saw or knew the said Maria, the complainant, before his most unhappy and disgraceful marriage with her, deliberately characterized and described her, to this defendant and to other persons, as the lowest of the low; stated that she was then frequented by an individual whom he named, and said he never would marry her; and this defendant avers that the said Maria in less than four months after said marriage was delivered of the child called by the complainant, in his bill, his child.
These defendants having fully denied that such charges and allegations were made by them or either of them, suppose more express disavowal of any such purpose or design as charged in the bill in the supposed making thereof is unnecessary; nevertheless they are constrained, though with grief and mortification, to affirm that the charges and insinuations in themselves were not false, but that the same can be sustained by plenary evidence, if it be needful so to do:
The defendant, Freeman, denies that he urged the complainant to apply for a divorce from his said wife with or without the charges that she was loose and unfaithful and would ruin the complainant; and although the complainant admits that he was not in a situation or competent to appreciate such appeals, or to recollect them, yet this defendant feels it incumbent upon him to submit a formal and more explicit denial of such charges, whencesoever derived. These defendants, therefore, aver that the said wife of the complainant, after she had been brought home by him, was frequently intoxicated, and utterly neglected household matters; that the laborers attached to the family of the complainant were for weeks together unprovided with proper and necessary [page 825] clothing; and large quantities of provisions laid up for the use of the family, by mid-summer of 1842, by improvident waste were entirely exhausted; that in this state of affairs, in July, 1842, the complainant and his said wife had a violent quarrel, and she withdrew herself from the home and family of the complainant, and after the complainant had made a deliberate and emphatic declaration that if she did so withdraw herself, she should never return again. And these defendants most explicitly declare that such quarrel and withdrawal of the wife of the complainant were both alike wholly uninfluenced by any act, procurement or advice of these defendants or either of them; that, on the day following the day of said quarrel, the wife of the complainant returned, nevertheless, with her sister, to the house of the complainant, who, thereupon, of his own mere motion, and without any interference or influence by any person of any kind, so far as these defendants have ever known or believed, refused to admit her into the house, and she accordingly went away. And these defendants say that they have heard and believe that she thereupon consulted counsel as to the nature of her marital rights and the mode of enforcing a support from the complainant. Then it was, as these defendants in like manner aver, that the complainant, of his own mere will and motion, took with him Samuel Van Arsdale, in the bill named, went to Somerville and caused to be inserted in one or both of the newspapers there published a notice or advertisement to the effect that he would not pay any debts that she might contract.
The defendant, Freeman, says that the complainant, being in a state of sobriety and recollection, requested this defendant to go with him to his counsel; and upon such request, and not otherwise, he went; and that the object of the visit was to advise upon the practicability of obtaining a divorce from his wife. That this defendant went as aforesaid, first to the office of Wm. Thomson, Esq., with whose view of the case the complainant was not satisfied, and himself proposed and went thence to the office of Thomas A. Hartwell, Esq., and advised with him, and at his request produced witnesses, and said witnesses were examined by said Hartwell, and a note of their testimony by him taken; [page 826] on which occasion the complainant withdrew and became grossly intoxicated.
And this defendant further avers that the complainant, still acting, as he supposed, under the advice of his counsel, certainly not under the advice of this defendant, also sent the said Van Arsdale to the county of Hunterdon, in which county the complainant had been informed, as this defendant understood, his said wife had formerly resided, to procure testimony or information, as the complainant stated, in aid of his application for such divorce.
And these defendants most distinctly charge and insist that these several steps were taken by the complainant uninfluenced in any way by these defendants or either of them, by persuasion, procurement or otherwise. And they say that whilst they were living apart from the complainant, having left his house in Dec., 1840, and before the complainant's said wife had finally withdrawn as aforesaid, they were repeatedly importuned by the complainant to return, in order, especially, that this defendant, Margaret, might superintend the family and household matters of the complainant; on which occasions the complainant charged his said wife with negligence, waste, and even theft, and declared that he would be ruined in consequence.
They further say that from sympathy with the deplorable situation of the complainant with reference to his personal and family affairs, they consented, returned and resumed the charge of the family of the complainant. Then it was, as the defendant, Freeman, alleges, that the complainant, having sent for this defendant, and being quite sober, as of himself and speaking his own uninfluenced sentiments, declared his apprehension that his said wife, absent, and clothed by law with authority to contract debts on his account and responsibility, would ruin him. To avert which, he proposed to convey his property to his daughter and cause a judgment to be entered against him in favor of this defendant. And this defendant utterly denies again that he, directly or indirectly, persuaded or urged, or in any way induced or influenced the complainant so to convey his property or confess said judgment.
[page 827] And this defendant utterly denies that he stated to the complainant that his said wife had run him in debt, or would run him in debt, and that all his personal property would go to satisfy the debts by her contracted. On the contrary, the defendant distinctly charges that the complainant himself made such statements, and added that she had stolen his money, and that he had not money enough even to pay his harvest hands or laborers, but had been obliged to borrow the same.
And these defendants also deny that on the 2d Sept., 1842, at or before the execution of the deed of that date, the complainant was in a state of gross intoxication. On the contrary, they aver that, although not perfectly sober, he well knew what he was about doing, and the nature of the transaction, and freely, intelligently and voluntarily executed said deed, and entirely uninfluenced by these defendants, or either of them, in the way charged in the bill, or in any way. And that in like manner the execution of the promissory note was well understood by the complainant, as were the other papers connected with the execution of said judgment for $1655. That the same were the complainant's measures by him suggested, and not by these defendants, and as these defendants believe and charge, perfectly understood by the complainant. And that as to the consideration of the judgment, they respectfully submit that the said consideration was fair, just, and a legal one. That these defendants, after their marriage, for eight years resided with the complainant under an assurance that he would do better for the defendant, Freeman, than he could do for himself elsewhere, and during that period devoted their time and services, to a very considerable extent, to the supervision and management of the family and business of the complainant, and during the whole period received from the complainant $80, the price of a horse given by the complainant to this defendant, and $3.50, more than which latter sum was by this defendant expended for tobacco for the complainant, at his request. That during the long period aforesaid, a very unusual amount of anxious, patient and enduring care, attention and forbearance were exacted by the situation and habits of the complainant, and that a very moderate estimate of [page 828] these services for such a period would at least amount to the consideration of the said judgment, more especially as they were paid no wages, and received no money except as aforesaid, during said period. These defendants, therefore, feel authorized to deny that at the time when the said judgment was confessed the complainant was not justly and truly indebted to the defendant, Freeman.
These defendants deny that the person who drew the said deed, after it was executed, advised the complainant not to deliver it, but to wait a few days, during which he would take and keep it, and if, upon reflection, the complainant should order it to be delivered he would do so, but not till then. These defendants charge the truth to be that the said deed was fully delivered, and the said scrivener expressly authorized by the complainant to take it and have it recorded. That the said scrivener voluntarily made the suggestion that he would retain it for a few days, that if the complainant should change his mind he might recall the deed. That such suggestion, if assented to, was scarcely adopted by the complainant, and that for all that occurred the said scrivener was still at liberty to have the said deed and accompanying mortgage recorded forthwith, had he chosen so to do.
And these defendants, and especially the said Freeman, denies that while the said deed was in the hands of the said scrivener he induced a delivery thereof, or influenced the mind of the complainant against his said wife, or to deprive her of support; this defendant pronounces the whole statement utterly untrue, if not preposterous, under the circumstances of the case as hereinbefore stated. And in like manner he denies that he obtained possession of the complainant's account book, or placed within it the note referred to in the bill. On the contrary, he charges that any such memorandum or note, if written by this defendant, of which he has no distinct recollection, was written at the request and under the dictation of the complainant himself, placed within the book aforesaid by himself and for his own purposes, with which this defendant felt so little interest that, with the aid of the best reflection he can bestow upon the point, he has not been [page 829] able more distinctly to recall the occurrence. With respect, nevertheless, to the purport or substance of the recited memorandum, unlike the complainant, these defendants entertain no doubt that such purport and substance were entirely true. This defendant most explicity denies that he wrote the said note, on the supposition that he wrote it at all, for the purpose of getting fraudulenly the possession of the said deed; such allegation, and all other allegations in the bill contained impeaching the fairness and strict integrity of this defendant, generally or in the premises, he prays leave to declare to be alike mischievous, malicious and untrue.
And these defendants utterly deny that the defendant, Freeman, while the complainant was in a state of intoxication, prepared and addressed such order as in the bill is mentioned, or that the same is forged, or the signature thereto, or by the complainant unintelligently executed; the contrary of which shameful and unfounded allegations these defendants affirm, and that said order was written early in the morning, under the dictation of the complainant and at his request, and without the slightest influence exerted of these defendants or either of them, and moreover, was deliberately signed by the complainant after it had been read by him and in the presence of the defendant Margaret.
And these defendants utterly deny, (such repeated denials seeming to be made necessary by the oft-repeated allegation in the bill,) that the defendant, (it is so in the answer,) at the time he executed the said deed, promissory note and bond and warrant of attorney, had not power of mind to comprehend the contents thereof and that the same were not executed by the complainant of his own motion and free will, or by the suggestions, contrivance or compulsion of these defendants or either of them. On the contrary, these defendants allege that the said several instruments were fairly, intelligently and in good faith executed, without the intervention of these defendants, their influence, or the exercise of any compulsion, concealment or fraud of any kind, and were just, proper and necessary acts in themselves, were [page 830] designed by the complainant, and in effect have subserved the true interests of the complainant hitherto.
And these defendants admit that, at the request of the complainant as aforesaid, they, shortly after the execution of the said deed, removed to the house and farm in said deed contained, and have received the issues and profits thereof, and faithfully and liberally applied a large share thereof to the support and maintenance of the complainant and his said wife, actually advancing towards the expenses of said wife during the first year ensuing the date of said deed upwards of $150, and applied, of the residue, from time to time, not less than $500 towards the liquidation of the debts of the complainant by him contracted previously to the execution of said deed; to which same object the complainant applied $250, by the assignment of sundry promissory notes by him previously taken and to the time of such application held and owned by complainant.
The defendants admit that judgment was entered on the said note, and execution issued, and after the expiration of two years thereafter, a sale of the personal property of the complainant made, and the same purchased by the defendant, Freeman, and held and owned by him ever afterwards; and that such sale was made necessary and proper, as these defendants aver, by the following, among other circumstances: that after the removal of the defendants to the homestead farm as above stated, the complainant under the influence of agencies which they willingly forbear to specify, desired to bring his said wife back, from which he was deterred a considerable time by the declaration made by these defendants that, should he persist in doing so, they would themselves leave the complainant; yet that the complainant, notwithstanding the remonstrances of the defendants, actually brought his said wife back, whose conduct, while so domiciled, became so intolerable that the complainant, by the advice and influence of a friend, principally, was induced to send her away again; but in doing so, authorized her to incur debts on his account. That his said wife, and also the complainant, did from time to time, incur such debts, to such an extent that the whole net profits of the said two farms were absorbed by the payment thereof, with [page 831] such payments as were before mentioned, by upwards of $200, and the complainant was subjected to suits on account thereof before justices of the peace, and judgments rendered against him; in consequence of all which, the preservation of the just rights of this defendant made such sale necessary; at which this defendant became the principal purchaser, for such price as the property would bring, as this defendant supposed it was his right and duty to do; and that the property hath since remained in the use and possession, subject to ordinary wear and transfer, for the benefit of the family and in a good degree for the benefit of the complainant himself.
And the defendant, Freeman, utterly denies that at the time of the filing said bill he was engaged in cutting down large quantities of wood for sale, for rails or other purposes, or that he ever declared that it was his intention to cut the whole or nearly the whole of the timber standing on the said farm, so far excepted only as was necessary to pay the costs and expenses of the litigation in which he was involved by the complainant.
And in like manner he utterly denies that he has carted from said premises large quanties of soil, manure or compost, or more than a just and proper proportion of either, or that the mode of cultivation or use of the homestead adopted by this defendant hath tended to the impoverishment thereof. On the contrary, he charges the arable land of said farm is from 60 to 65 acres, whilst the other or back farm has 100 acres of such land, and yields the principal part of the grain and provender, and that the cattle for the most part are pastured on said back farm and always yarded on the homestead farm. That during one season and winter, of 1842-3, between 600 and 700 bushels of lime, paid for by this defendant, were put on the said homestead farm, and about four-fifths of the manure of that year, and the residue used on the said back farm. That during the year 1844 a just proportion only of the manure was used on the said back farm, and that a precisely similar distribution thereof was made for 1845, with the additional appropriation of 100 loads of compost made by this defendant and used upon the homestead farm, whilst fifteen loads only of rich earth from the sheep pen were used [page 832] upon the back farm, and during the entire period no lime has been used or put by this defendant on the said back farm.
And this defendant says that although the wood and trees on said farm, unless felled, will deteriorate, yet that he hath neither cut, or authorized to be cut, any timber during the spring of the present year, other than for ordinary uses for fuel, except for from 150 to 200 rails to be used on the said back farm, and four or five cords of fire wood. That during the last winter four or five cords of wood were sold or exchanged for coal, and a shoemaker's bill of $8 or $10 paid by so much wood, and none cut or disposed of beyond these items; and that in truth by far the greatest part of the wood cut from said premises was cut during the winter of 1842-3, to pay the debts of the complainant, and at his request.
The defendants deny that the complainant ever applied for or requested a re-conveyance of said farm, and that in the judgment of these defendants the same would be devoted to the purposes of vice and intemperance, to the great grief of all the near connections, relatives and true friends of the complainant, as these defendants sorrowfully charge would, according to every probability, be the sad and inevitable result should the complainant by re-conveyance, suit or otherwise become re-invested with said property.
William Bayles, a witness on the part of the complainant, being sworn. I married a sister of Isaac Staats, the complainant; I frequently seen Isaac Staats at his home in the year eighteen hundred and forty-two; I was there at least three times during the summer of that year; I was there at the time when Mr. Hartwell and Mr. Freeman were there; they occupied the parlor; I heard a talking in the room and I opened the door and looked in and seen Mr. Hartwell and Mr. Freeman; I then shut door; I see Isaac Staats drink twice during the forenoon of that day; Samuel Van Arsdale was not present; the liquor was under his bed in a gallon jug; I got the jug out one time for [page 833] him; he made a motion to get it and stopped and asked me to get it for him; I did not take him to be sober; I cannot answer to the question whether he was able to transact important business at the time; this is a matter of opinion with people; he had been drinking for a long time before this; I left him two or three times during the summer and did not expect to see him alive when I returned, on account of his drinking; I have seen him during that summer get out of his bed in the morning and appear to be very sick; he would vomit and be in great distress; his drinking continued every day that I was there; my wife lived there at the time; some one [excepted to] of the sisters remarked that Isaac was signing away his property, and that he was drunk; I do not recollect which one of the sisters; the occurrence above spoken of took place about the seventh of September, as I have been informed, and I returned there again about the time of raking buckwheat; I then found his situation about the same; I have heard Mr. Freeman and his wife both speak disrespectfully of Isaac Staats' wife frequently.
Cross-examined, says: I walked out the next day with Isaac Staats; he remarked to me that he had signed away his property, and had though of his grandchild, and had given his grandchild five acres of wood-land; this might have been a day or two after; I did not know that he had signed away his property until he told me, but I had heard it hinted in the family that he had; he did not say to me why he had signed away his property; I asked him no questions, for it appeared to me that the whole family wished to keep it a secret and not let me know what was going on; Mrs. Doty, Isaac's sister, was the first one that told me that Isaac had signed away his property; this was told me not more than two days after. Question. Did Mr. Staats say that he had conveyed his property in order to prevent his wife and Tait's bastard from having any part? Answer. He did not; I do not recollect of ever telling Mr. Freeman that Mr. Staats had said so; I don't believe I ever did; I heard Isaac say that he did not know whether the child belonged to him or not; Mr. Hartwell, Mr. Staats and Mr. Freeman were in the [page 834] room together; I cannot say how long they were together alone; the parties were together from ten o'clock till dinner time; Phebe Staats was frequently in the room with them; Phebe was called from the dinner table to go in the room; I did not see any other person go in the room; Isaac Staats was out of the room twice while Mr. Hartwell was there; I do not know that Isaac Staats called Phebe in the room; I cannot answer the question how long Isaac Staats was in the room before he came out first; on the occasions when he came out of the room was the times he drank the liquor; I drank with him both times; we took tolerably good drinks, both of us; the second drink we took was just before dinner; I do not think Isaac was sober before he took the first drink; we did not dine together; I dined in the other room; I do not know whether Isaac dined with the family; I do not recollect of seeing him after dinner; we had no conversation when we drank together; we drank in his sleeping room; he took the jug from under the bed; I heard other voices than Mr. Staats' when I opened the door and looked in; I did not know whose voices they were; I withdrew when I saw Mr. Hartwell in the room; I supposed they were at private business, and I did not wish to go in; I don't know how long Mr. Freeman was in the room; I don't know that Mrs. Freeman was in the room; Mr. Staats still drinks some; I don't see him more than once in two or three months, and I can't say whether he is intemperate or not; lately, I have seen him once in two or three weeks; I have seen him drunk about two months ago; I see him drink a little this morning; Isaac Staats told me about a year ago that the deed was signed on the second of September, and Mr. Thompson told me the same this morning; but for this I could not have told the day; I cannot tell what year it was; I kept no account of the time; I think the sister told me at the dinner table that Isaac was signing away his property; I think Isaac Long, and, perhaps, all the sisters were at the table; it was my wife that said that Isaac was signing away his property, and that he was in a handsome situation to do it, for he was as drunk as a fool; I do not know that I have said on my examination this morning that I did not know which of the sisters said [page 835] that Isaac was signing away his property; I now recollect it was my wife; I have drank liquor with Isaac Staats twice this morning.
In chief, says: I have walked with Isaac Staats about five miles this morning; I am not the worse of liqnor, neither do I think Isaac is; we drank but little at a time; after the second day of September, as long as I stayed, Isaac was not sober; he was not sober at the time of making buckwheat; he was drunk; he was not sober the next day when he talked with me while sitting on the rail; he got on and off the rail without assistance; he said nothing to me but that he had thought of his grandson, as above stated, as I remember; what was said was spoken sensibly; it was about ten o'clock, between breakfast and dinner; the fence was not quite half a mile from the house; we had been over to Mr. Freeman's house, about a quarter of a mile further, and was on our way home; we started walking together and returned together; we climbed fences during the walk; I think two or three, going and returning; some bars might have been laid down; we did not drink together during our walk; I can't tell whether Isaac staggered or not; I was there three or four days after the deed was executed; I can't say that the deed was executed when I was told at the dinner table that he was signing away his property.
Catharine Martin, on the part of the complainant, being sworn, says: I am acquainted with Isaac Staats and his wife; I have stayed at their house two nights and a day; I was caught there in a snow storm; the house was comfortable enough; it was in good ordinary order; the table was clean and tidy; I go about the country considerable; I buy up butter, eggs and poultry for market; I have bought butter of Mrs. Staats two or three times; it was good or I would not have taken it; things were in good order about the house, as far as I have seen.
Cross-examined, says: It was two or three years, or four or more, when I was at the house; when I come to think of it, it was [page 836] more than six years ago; it was when Isaac lived at the homestead; I was in the dwelling-room where they lived and in the best room occupied by me; I was in Mrs. Staats' best room; I was not in the kitchen at this time, but I have been in the kitchen; I don't recollect of seeing any liquor drank while I was there, but I think it more than likely there was some drank by Isaac; he was in the bed most of the time, and was there in consequence of drinking, as it appeared to me; he might have drank, but I don't remember; the servants done the work; Mrs. Staats nursed her baby; I disremember whether she was tidy or slovenly in her appearance; she did not go out of the room much, as the baby was sick; I was there two or three times after the snow storm; I can't remember how much butter I bought; it was over twenty-four pounds; from what I observed at all the times I was there I should think the household matters were well ordered; I merely called after the snow storm, without staying any time.
Sarah Higgins, on the part of the complainant, being sworn, says: I knew Mrs. Staats four years before she was married to Mr. Staats; she lived with me about four years before she was married, and until she married Isaac Staats; she washed for me; I live on a large farm along the Raritan river; we had a great deal of work to do, and she done a great deal; she was very quick, smart and cleanly; she satisfied me with her work better than any help I have had before or since; I have employed several girls; I never saw or heard anything amiss of her while she lived with me; when she went away she said I would miss her, and I did miss her; Isaac Staats courted her while she lived with me, and took her from there to marry her; I called to see her the first summer after she was keeping house; things looked cleanly--as well as any woman's; she took me from the cellar to the upper rooms, and everything looked in good order that I saw and she showed me.
Cross-examined. While she lived with me I can't say that I ever saw her drink any liquor; I never drank any liquor with [page 837] her; I never see her under the influence of liquor; I called to see her twice after she was keeping house--stayed perhaps two hours; my husband and daughter-in-law were with me; at the time she lived with me there was plenty of liquor in the house, and she might have got it if she wanted it; I never thought of her drinking, but I have heard a report since that she drank; I can't tell who I have heard it from; my husband went with them when they got married; Mr. Staats visited her from June the first till November, except five or six weeks while he was sick, in harvest time; he was there more than a dozen times; I can't charge my mind with the number of times; he came regularly every week.
Elizabeth Giles, on the part of the complainant, being sworn, says: I lived with Mr. and Mrs. Staats a part of the time they resided on the homestead farm; I was there one week at first with Mrs. Staats' infant; one week was the longest time I was there; I went there frequently; the things about the house were very comfortable and nice; I was there about six weeks before Mrs. Staats left the homestead; the clothing of the servants about the house, and their rooms, were very comfortable; there were three colored servants about the house--one woman and two boys; I seen plenty of provisions; I never see any lack or want of necessary provision; Mrs. Staats conducted herself very well, as far as I seen; I was there a number of times; stayed sometimes a day and sometimes half a day; I had her baby to nurse--she was ailing; I have never seen her drunk; I have never seen her drink liquor or anything that would intoxicate; I was about the house a good deal when I was there; the house and housekeeping affairs was managed as well as farm-houses are generally managed.
Cross-examined. I was not acquainted with Mrs. Staats before she was married; I never saw her when she appeared to be under the influence of liquor; I don't know anything about the character of Mrs. Staats for sobriety; I never heard anything said about her; she was confined to her bed-room when I [page 838] was there; she was not able to do anything; she gave directions as to her family matters--they came in and asked her; I was in the cellar; they had plenty of meat and butter there; I have not lived with Mrs. Staats at any time since; I have washed for Mrs. Staats since she has been living at Bound Brook; while at her house, I have not seen her drink or under the influence of liquor; while at the homestead, and since at Bound Brook, I have seen Isaac Staats frequently drink; he was in the habit of taking long and severe frolics; since he lived at Bound Brook I have seen him take frolics; I see him intoxicated about four months ago; I have seen him three or four times within the last four months; I did not at these times see him drunk; he did not appear to have been drinking; since living at Bound Brook they sometimes seemed to live very scant, and sometimes they had enough--sometimes they had not enough provisions to eat; my father's name is Isaac Long; I looked into the closet to see what provisions there were in the house, and to get something to eat; Mr. Staats worked at farming work while living in Bound Brook; he worked with Benjamin Giles; I don't know how many days he worked there or how much he was paid for it; I don't know of his working at any other place, but I have heard of his working at one other place, but did not hear how long he worked; I do not know that they have been furnished with provisions from the homestead since they lived at Bound Brook; I don't know how long they have lived at Bound Brook.
In chief. When I visited them at the homestead Isaac was drinking a good deal; I never saw him sober there; the house they lived in at Bound Brook was an old hatter's shop; there was but one room in it that was fit to live in; the house was very open; there were four rooms in the house; the two rooms above were occupied by an Irish family, and after they moved out Mr. Staats moved up stairs; Mr. Staats moved in the house before the Irish family went in.
Samuel Van Arsdale, on the part of the complainant, being [page 839] sworn, says: The paper shown him, marked Exhibit B on the part of the complainant, is in the hand writing of Reuben H. Freeman; I have compared this paper with the account book of Isaac Staats, and find that it was cut out of the book; it fits in a place in the book; it is the same kind of paper, and the same ruling; I examined the book this day; I remember when Mrs. Staats left the homestead; there was there at the time 5 smoked hams and 5 shoulders; there was a barrel and a half cask of pickled pork; there had been more, which had been used; Mr. Staats killed 14 hogs the fall before she left; he gave one to Mr. Freeman, and I think sold 2 to pay his tax; I never found any want of provisions in the house while Mrs. Staats was at the homestead; there was plenty of butter, and she sold a good deal to Mr. Carhart and some to Mrs. Martin; when Mrs. Staats left, the blacks in the house were well off for clothing; I went with Mr. Staats and his wife to New Brunswick; they bought two pieces of muslin--thirty-three yards in each; they also bought 18 yards of muslin at Dayton's; he bought each of his three black boys a Sunday suit, and each two every-day suits; I never knew them to be scanted in any way while I lived there; I have known Mr. Freeman to come there and get two hams; I have known him to come and eat at the table while Mrs. Staats was there, somewhere in the neighborhood of a dozen times; Mr. Freeman told me that Mrs. Staats was a good cook; while I was in the family everything looked very well; the house appeared as good as houses ordinarily do.
Cross-examined. I am not interested in the event of this suit; I have not advanced money to carry on the suit; I have not said that unless Mr. Staats gained this suit I would be ruined, or words to that effect; Mr. Staats owes me eighty-eight dollars and sixty-nine cents for work on his farm, and for nothing else; I hold his note for this; I knew a person named Mrs. Nixon; when I knew her she lived in Hunterdon county; I see Mrs. Nixon when I went to Hunterdon, as I have stated in my evidence in the state of the case; I had a conversation with Mrs. Nixon when at her house; I was acquainted with her son; she [page 840] asked me how Mrs. Staats come on; I asked her no questions with reference to Mrs. Staats; when I went to Hunterdon I took Mrs. Staats with me and left her at Mr. Updyke's; she went on a visit; I took her at the request of Mr. Staats; I used to go up frequently in that neighborhood; I never took Mrs. Staats but the once; she stayed about a week; when Mrs. Staats lived at the homestead she did not go from home to stay a day, but this one time; I have not been, and am not now, security for Mr. Staats for money.
In chief. I never see Mrs. Staats drunk while I was there, nor never see her drink any ardent spirits; I have never seen Mr. and Mrs. Staats quarrel; they used to have some words when he was in liquor.
William Thomson, on the part of the complainant, says: I compared the paper marked Exhibit B; I believe it has been taken from the account book of Isaac Staats; the paper, and the ruling and the indentations compared precisely; previous to Isaac Staats' making a deed to his daughter for the homestead farm he never came to me, either by himself or with any other person, to consult with me about the manner of disposing of his property, or for the purpose of consulting me about obtaining a divorce from his wife; Mr. Freeman came once alone to see me with regard to the property of Isaac Staats; I did not hear about the manner in which the property was disposed of until after the business had been done, and then from Isaac's wife.
Lawrence V. L. Shepherd, a witness on the part of the defendants, being sworn, says: I am acquainted with Samuel Van Arsdale and Isaac Staats; Samuel Van Arsdale formerly lived with Mr. Staats; I hold a note of Isaac Staats' for the sum of fifty dollars; no part of it paid; Samuel Van Arsdale's name is on the note; at the bottom of it; I have the note with me at this time, but I refuse to produce it; I have no right to show it, it is my note; it is my own business; I don't know that I have been advised not to show the note; I have not been told that [page 841] my showing it would endanger the recovery of the note; I think my showing the note might injure me; I have no reason for not showing the note except my own will and pleasure; I have shown the note to Mr. Freeman and a witness, and that must suffice; the note was given for Mr. Staats' debt; he took the money.
Cross-examined. I don't know that Samuel Van Arsdale signed the note; I did not see him; Isaac Staats took the note and brought it to me with the name of Samuel Van Arsdale on it; I don't know that Samuel ever told me he had signed the note; the note is dated January 15th, 1846; I think Mr. Staats told me he wanted the money to get an injunction to stop Mr. Freeman from cutting off the woodland.
In chief. I think we were speaking of the note, and Mr. Van Arsdale told me I need not be uneasy about my note, that if Mr. Staats did not pay it he would; this was some two or three weeks or perhaps a month after the note was given; I do not remember the time; Samuel Van Arsdale never at that time or any time denied that he had signed the note; I did not ask him whether he had signed it; I do not know what use Mr. Staats made of the money only as he told me; I am not particularly acquainted with the handwriting of Samuel Van Arsdale.
Michael Lawler, a witness on the part of the defendants, being sworn, says: I was at work on the homestead farm of Isaac Staats for three or four days in the month of July, eighteen hundred and forty-two; I observed that Isaac Staats was very much in liquor; he did not go out much; he walked about and came to his meals; this was his appearance and situation before Maria, his wife, left him; I observed him, I think, the day after she left; he had then rather a better appearance; he had a clean shirt on, was shaved and washed; I saw Mrs. Freeman there; I don't think he was as much in liquor as he was when I went there; I think he still drank after this; I saw him drink only when we came in to our meals; I did not see him drink at any other time; I think William Post, who was at work there, told [page 842] him he would drink himself to death, if he did not stop; he would not live long; I think for that day he did not drink as much; the two last days I was there I did not see but what he drank as much as the first day I was there; he did not tell me for what purpose he kept a club; I can't say that I see any evidence of his being out of his mind; I was in the house so little of the time I had no chance of seeing much of him; I asked him for my pay when I was done my work; he told me he hadn't it then, but if I would call in a few days he would have it for me; he did not ask me how many days I had worked at that time; about a week after he did ask me; in our conversation he seemed to understand what was said; I could not see but what he understood what he said; when I came for the money he said he hadn't it, but he guessed he could get it for me, and I supposed he was going to borrow it of his sister; he went into another room and came out with an order on John Creed for the correct amount; I can't say which sister I suppose he went to borrow the money of; I can't say whether or not the order was in the handwriting of Mr. Staats; it appeared to have been just written; I presented the order to Mr. Creed and he paid me the money immediately; I am not acquainted with the handwriting of Mr. Staats.
Peter Clickener, on the part of the defendants, being sworn, says: I have had a conversation with Isaac Staats with reference to Maria, his wife; the time after she first left his home and was at John Tait's I frequently seen her along the road while passing from here to Mr. Staats'; she wished me when I see Mr. Staats to ask him if he would not take her back; the first time I saw him I asked him if he could not do something for her; he told me no; I told him he ought to do something for her in the situation she was in; he asked me if I would take her and board her, that he could not have her there; I said I would not; he did not give any particular reason, but said he would not have her in the house; I do not know that he said anything more at that time; some time after Mr. Freeman had moved to Staats' he (Mr. Staats) came to my house and asked me and my wife to [page 843] come in and see him, that everything was comfortable; Mr. Staats said that he could turn his wife into the fields with the cows; he would take her home, but he could not take her in the house; this conversation was had some time after she had left home; I think about the time she was leaving Mr. Tait's; I do not know how long she was at Tait's.
Cross-examined. I don't know that he was exactly sober at the time we had the conversation; he had not, I think, been drinking much.
In chief. I can't say that he was sober; he seemed to know what he was saying; we had quite a talk together at the time; the conversation took place at his house; no other person present; I don't recollect the time of day; it was in the forenoon some time.
Peter Clickener being again called on the part of the defendants, says: Directly after Mrs. Staats left her home, Samuel Van Arsdale came to my house; I said to him you have had a break-up at your house; I asked him how it came; he said it went so that they could not live so any more; he said if she had not left, he would; they lived so he could not stay; he could not get his clothes on Sunday morning in time to go to church; she would iron them on Sunday morning; nothing else in particular was said; we talked some time; what little I saw of the clothes of the blacks they were quite indifferent; I was not much there at the time; I can't say but what they had clothes enough; they seemed to be quite raggy.
Cross-examined. I have known Samuel Van Arsdale for ten years; until this trial people have thought better of him than they have since; I have not thought so well of him.
In chief. The Samuel Van Arsdale spoken of is the person who was a witness on the trial.
[page 844] Doct. Robt. S. Smith, on the part of the defendants, being sworn, says: I have been for many years acquainted with Isaac Staats, and subsequently with Maria Staats, his wife; I am the family physician; I reside in Bound Brook; the day Isaac Staats was married I had a conversation with him; he said that Mr. Higgins had called upon him and invited him up to marry his present wife, as she was in a particular situation; she then lived with Mr. Higgins; Isaac said he had no doubt but what others had had illicit connection with her and that the offspring might or might not be his; he named John Tait and Isaac Fisher as the persons who had had the illicit intercourse with his intended wife; he said under such circumstances he did not think it his duty to marry her, and he did not think he would marry her; I can't say how soon after the marriage Isaac brought his wife home; I was there on the evening of the day he did bring her home; I was there repeatedly after he brought his wife home; I cannot say that I believed her to be a very tidy housekeeper as I had been accustomed to see her; I should consider her as careless in her personal appearance; I know but very little about the management or arrangement of the family; I was there only on my professional visits; never eat with them; the appearance of the house was not very nice; my impression is that the blacks about the house were not very nice, but I am not positive; I can't make any estimate as to the quality or quantity of their clothing; I have no data for doing so; I frequenty seen Mrs. Staats after she was separated from her husband and since they have lived together; by observing her I should think there was something peculiar about her, that she had not been properly educated, but I have never seen in my presence any gross impropriety on her part; I have never seen her in a state of intoxication; I remember Mr. Freeman going to the house where Mrs. Staats resided to take Isaac Staats from there to his home; he had been taken sick there with a bleeding at the nose and had been there for two or three days; Freeman came to my house and told me he had come to take Isaac home and he could not get admittance to the house, and requested me to go with him for the purpose of getting Isaac to the wagon to [page 845] go home with him; it was dark; I do not recollect whether he had a bed in the wagon; I am not positive whether it was dark or in the morning; I went in the house and asked Mr. Staats if he wished to go home; he said he did; just at that time Mrs. Van Hordin came in and told him that Mr. Freeman was coming; as soon as Mrs. Staats heard that she ran to the door for the purpose of fastening it with a knife, as I thought; about that time Freeman arrived at the door; he pressed from the one side, and she from the other; he finally opened the door and came in; Isaac then said that his shoes were under the bed, and he wished them got for him; Freeman started to get the shoes, and as he was going to the bed Mrs. Staats struck him on his breast, and he called upon me to witness it; she opposed them in putting on his coat; I spoke to her and told her that was all wrong; there was no further opposition made, and he was taken and put in the wagon; I can't say how long after the separation this occurred, or how long before they lived together again; I think Mr Staats remained at home on the homestead for some months after this, but how long I can't say; I think Mr. Staats was assisted to the wagon, but not carried; I don't think he was drunk at the time; my impression is his nose had been bleeding; I have had but small opportunity of seeing the conduct of Mrs. Staats since she lived in Bound Brook; I have called occasionally to see the children when they were sick; I see nothing very peculiar at these times; her reputation here for quiet and discreet conduct has not been very good, except for a few months past I have heard that she has been more orderly; this is the neighborhood talk; I have heard that there has occurred breaches of the peace in the house occupied by her and her husband; Isaac Staats, up to the present time, is considered an intemperate man; I have frequently seen his handwriting and seen him write; I am, I think, acquainted with his signature. [Being shown paper marked Exhibit A on the part of the defendants, says]: The signature to the paper is the genuine signature of Isaac Staats; I have no doubt of this; the writing in the body is not the writing of Isaac Staats. [The paper marked Exhibit B on the part of defendants, being shown him, says the signature to the assign- [page 846]ment on said paper is the genuine signature of Isaac Staats.]
Cross-examined. At the time I was called upon by Mr. Freeman to assist in getting Isaac away, his wife was much excited, and she refused to admit him in the house; Freeman succeeded in getting in the door because he was too strong for her; she struggled as long as she could on one side of the door and he on the other, and he finally pushed it open; he entered the house without her consent; the quarreling and breaches of the peace spoken of I have heard grew out of a difficulty between Isaac and a foreign family that lived in the same house; the house was no way comfortable for two families; it had been an old hatter's shop; this was the disorderly conduct I had reference to; I think Mrs. Staats is high tempered, pretty spunky; I was Mr. Freeman's family physician while he lived with Isaac Staats; I can't say the time of year I was called upon by Mr. Freeman to assist in getting Isaac home, but they had fire in the room; I had no difficulty in getting in; Mrs. Staats let me in without any trouble; I don't think Mr. Staats has continued as intemperate as when he lived on the farm; nothing like as much so, from what I have seen; when Isaac lived on the homestead he would get so bad from intemperance that they would send for me as a physician; since he has lived at Bound Brook this has not been the case, and therefore I judge he is not so intemperate; with one exception I was sent for as a physician since he has lived in Bound Brook; I think he has lived in Bound Brook two years; at the time he told me he had been sent for to marry his wife I considered him sober; he was married the same day, as I have understood; I should say Mrs. Staats was five or six and twenty when she was married; I think Mr. Freeman and his wife lived in the family of Mr. Staats for some years after they were married; I am certain they did; they lived there until after the death of Mr. Staats' first wife; some of Mrs. Freeman's children were born there; my impression is that all her children were born on the homestead farm but one; I was the physician at the birth of all the children; the first birth Mr. Isaac Staats paid me for my services; Mrs. Freeman is rather [page 847] a delicate woman, although her health is pretty good; I think for a while after Mr. Freeman's marriage he was up in Sussex county, as I have understood; after that I think he worked on the farm with Mr. Staats; my impression is that Mr. Freeman was not a great while in Sussex; Mr. Freeman is a clergyman, as I have understood; when Isaac Staats and his wife lived on the homestead farm he was for a great deal of the time in a state of intoxication; I have seen at other houses the blacks and whites a little ragged; when I was a boy my clothes would get ragged, and the same since I have been a man.
In chief. I should think one family could get along very well in the house occupied by Mr. Staats in Bound Brook; I have heard the neighbors say that Mrs. Staats was noisy along the road at other times than when occasioned by the connection with the foreign family; I have heard Mrs. Staats use abusive language, but I have no recollection of hearing her use profane language; at the time Freeman went to take Isaac, her language was violent; she called him by abusive epithets; I have no doubt it was best that Isaac should go home at the time; I have understood that Mr. Freeman was preaching while in Sussex; he is of the Protestant Episcopal Church; so far as I have seen, the conduct of Mr. Freeman and his wife towards Isaac Staats has always been respectful and kind; they always nursed him and treated him kindly; I have never seen anything otherwise; I express no opinion as to Isaac's natural disposition, but intemperate people are apt to be petulent, and I should think frequently unmanageable; I should say that Isaac, when under the influence of liquor, is very self-willed; that he will have his own way; my professional visits were generally short, and I have not had the same opportunity of judging as those who lived with him.
Cross-examined. I would not call the house Isaac lived in in Bound Brook a good house for me to live in; I recollect on several occasions of hearing Mrs. Staats speak of Mr. Freeman and use violent language; one time when he burst in the door [page 848] upon her; I consider her an ignorant woman; I thought it best for Isaac to go home because I thought Mrs. Freeman would nurse him with more judgment than his wife; there was everything about the house that I required in my attendance on him, and that was a few rags, a little syrup, and a spoon; her family consisted of herself and child; a colored family occupied the back part of the house; Mrs. Staats occupied but one room; it had things necessary in it; there was a bed, table, some chairs and a stove; what else I don't know; I believe Mrs. Freeman had an abundance of everything; I was once called to Staats' house when he lived on the homestead to dress a wound which I was told was inflicted on him by Mr. Freeman.
In chief. The wound was inflicted the night he brought his wife home; Isaac was drunk when I saw him on that evening; he was not violent or abusive in his language; he was bleeding profusely and was ungovernable with respect to keeping the bandages on his wounds; I have no recollection of hearing Mrs. Staats use violent or abusive language except towards Mr. Freeman.
John H. Voorhees, on the part of the defendants, being sworn, says: I now reside and have for many years resided in Bound Brook; I have the charge of the house called the old hatter's shop as the attorney of Peter Marselius, who owns it; I rented it to Isaac Staats and his wife two years ago this spring; it was a tolerably comfortable house; there are better and worse houses; it is a two-story frame house; it was built for a hatter's shop; the building was put up new since I have lived in Bound Brook; the building contains four rooms, two above and two below; one room below and two above are filled in, plastered and whitewashed; the other room below is lined with boards; a family lived in the house a part of the time with Isaac Staats that called themselves English; they got in with the consent and permission of Mr. Staats; I rented the house to him and I could not let any one in without his consent, and I told him they might go in if he was willing; they went in [page 849] on the joint application of Isaac and the Englishman; it was not my movement or request; I was not in the house more than two or three times during the two years Isaac Staats lived there; I heard, from the store opposite the house the fracas between Mrs. Staats and Mrs. Dickson; there was considerable noise; it was protracted for some time; they both came to me to complain; Mrs. Dickson came first and expressed herself much ashamed about it, that there should be such a noise, and she should be concerned in it; Mrs. Staats, I think, came the next day; I don't think I went over to the house at that time; the object in the first application, as I thought, was to me as a magistrate; I put them off, not having authority, not being a justice; I was and am now a judge of the court; I have frequently since heard a noise and loud talking in the house; I have heard Mrs. Staats' voice in anger; she generally talked pretty loud; I don't know that I ever entered the house on occasion of the disturbances; I have went there to talk about the rent; I can't say anything particular about the appearance of things in the house; they lived, I suppose, as they wanted to live; they had a bed and a table and chairs; it was rather in a common style they appeared to be fixed; I should think their style of living was otherwise than orderly from the noise I have heard about the house from time to time; Mrs. Staats' appearance was pretty common; she was slovenly in her dress, generally speaking; she looked rather otherwise than nice and tidy; I have frequently seen Mr. Staats intoxicated since he lived in Bound Brook; I have not seen him within the last two or three months much out of the way; he moved more than a month ago from the village, and I have understood he has moved to a house on the back part of the farm formerly occupied by him; I don't know that I have ever seen Mrs. Staats intoxicated; sometimes she has acted a little strange, but I don't know that she was under the influence of liquor; I have never seen her drink any liquor; I would have supposed at times that she was under the influence of liquor, or else I could not account for her being so noisy; for the first year or year and a half, she was often heard in the street talking loud, but for the last two or three months there [page 850] has been a great change; I have heard nothing of her; she would not conduct herself in a turbulent manner, only she would talk loud; she would frequently have errands in the street, and she would have her little boy running after her, and she would sometimes halloo at the boy; I can't say she was noisy on Sundays, as I do not reside on the front street on Sunday, my dwelling-house being on the back street; I have heard a good many people speak of their conduct being bad, and there being more or less noise about the house; that they considered it was not a well-kept house; this was the general understanding so far as my information goes; there were two Irish families that successively occupied the house with Staats after the English family left; the one family I understood they took in as boarders; the woman was confined there, the man turned out to be a great drunkard, and they would not let him come in the house; he was drunk and crazy, and he tried to force his way into the house and Mrs. Staats battled him off; I heard Mr. Staats say that he had boarded Dickson and his wife, and he had not paid him; on one occasion I was credibly informed that Mr. Staats intended to let a disreputable family in the house with him, and I went to him and forbid it, and he denied his intending to do so; the character of this family was notoriously bad; so considered in our neighborhood; I am acquainted with the handwriting of Mr. Staats; I have seen him write. [Being shown paper marked Exhibit A, says]: The signature thereto is the genuine signature of Isaac Staats; I have no doubt paper B is the same.
Cross-examined. I don't think the writing in the body of the paper, (Exhibit A,) is the writing of Isaac Staats; the English family never paid me any rent; they bargained to pay Mr. Staats one dollar per month; Dickson said he had paid Isaac rent, and showed me Isaac's receipt for a part of the rent, which had Isaac's genuine signature to it, and Isaac said he had not paid any rent; the last Irish family that was in the house went in with Isaac's consent, under an agreement to pay eight dollars rent until the first day of April; it was agreed that Isaac should take the east end of the house; when I went there to warn him [page 851] out I found Isaac living up stairs; this was a peaceable family, and I know of no difficulty between them and Isaac and his wife; there is but one front door to the house; there is a back door; I don't know of any means of support that Isaac and his wife has except their hands; I have heard that he has his support from Mr. Freeman; I have frequently seen Mr. Freeman's wagon delivering bundles at the door, which I supposed were provisions; bags, & c., and also I have seen wood sent there; I can't tell where Freeman got these things from; common fame says he got them from the farms, and the farms he got of Isaac Staats; I have heard of no difficulty since the last family resided in the house; this family were reported to be quiet, peaceable people before they moved in, or I would not have consented to their going in; Mrs. Staats had naturally a loud, strong voice; I believe it is not very uncommon for women to be noisy when they think they are imposed upon; I don't know that I have seen Isaac intoxicated since the holidays.
In chief. I was a witness in the ejectment trial between these parties; so far as I have seen of Mrs. Dickson I thought she was a peaceable, decent turned woman; she said to me that Mrs. Staats had scalded her, and showed the mark on her face, which came pretty near to being a blister; I can't say much about Dickson; he appeared to be a crank John Bull of a fellow; he was a teacher by profession; he taught school a quarter at Weston; I have heard he could not get a license; I have seen Mr. Staats but seldom since the holidays; perhaps two, three or four times; perhaps more.
Cross-examined. I have heard that Dickson was a shoemaker.
Hiram Bush, on the part of the defendants, being sworn, says: I am a tailor by trade; I live in Bound Brook and do business there; I have made some clothes for Isaac Staats; after they were made they laid in my shop for a long time; there is a coat there now which has been there close to two years; I have asked Mr. Staats several times to take it away; [page 852] when I first asked about it he said that Mr. Thomson advised him not to take it, as it might have a bearing on the suit between him and Mr. Freeman respecting his farm; latterly he has said that he had no convenient place to keep it, and wished me to keep it; when Mr. Freeman first left the cloth with me to make the clothes, Mr. Staats refused to come and be measured; I believe I have cut two suits for him independent of what I have made for him; I think they were made in Mr. Freeman's house; I have seen them in the possession of Isaac Staats; the clothes I cut for Mr. Staats were of common cloth, suitable for every-day wear; the coat which I have on hand is a very good article; this coat has always been subject to his order; he could have it at any time he called for it.
John Bush, on the part of the defendant, being sworn, says: I live in Bound Brook; I am a hatter by trade; am now engaged in that business; Mr. Isaac Staats has had several hats of me; he once ordered a hat of me and I kept it for him a long time; he did not call for it, and I sold it; I think some time after this Isaac Staats came to me and ordered a hat, and said that Mr. Thomson had told him to come and get a hat and he would pay for it; I made the hat; [[[[before he called for it Mr. Freeman came to see me and asked me if Mr. Staats had spoken for a hat; I told him that he had some time before and had not taken it; he asked me if I had refused to trust him; I said I had not, and that I was then making him a hat on Mr. Thomson's order; Mr. Freeman said he would pay for it; he then asked me what kind of a hat it was; I told him the price was eighteen or twenty shillings; I am not positive which; he said if Isaac wished a better hat I must let him have such a one as he wanted; he said he wished him to have good and respectable hats and he would pay for them; he did not wish to dictate to him what to buy or where to buy; anything he wanted in my way, either hats or caps, I must let him have, and he would pay for them; this conversation was between one and two years ago.] [The testimony enclosed in brackets excepted to by com- [page 853]plainant.] I made a hat for Isaac this spring and charged it to Mr. Freeman.
Martha Ross, on the part of the defendants, being sworn, says: I have been acquainted with Isaac Staats ever since he was an infant; I can remember him when he was my son-in-law, and I can remember yet; I remember having a conversation with him not many weeks before his last marriage; he told me that he had a mind to change his condition; I told him he had a right; I then asked him who it was; he told me it was a girl about twenty-two years of age; he would not tell me who it was, but signified that she was a girl of low standing, as I understood it; I did not know whether he meant poor or what; he said she was of a low stamp, or words to that effect; from what he did say, I understood she was of a low character; the conversation took place in my own house; I had a conversation with him in my own house about the time his wife left him; he had then been living at the homestead, and his wife was living there with him, as I expect, for I had not heard of her leaving there; he said a good deal; he came to ask my advice; he said the woman he had did not take good care of the things; he meant his wife; he had been married so short a time and she had cost him so much; he named six hundred dollars; he told me he had killed two as good beeves as he wished to kill, and as much pork as he had been used to kill, the last fall, and that he was out of meat, and that harvest was coming on; he said I have no meat, no lard, no tallow, no candles, and that he had no meat for his harvest hands, and he would have to buy; he said his negroes were naked for shirts; that he had bought three pieces of muslin and that they were now naked; I thought from what he said that the muslin had not been made up; I don't recollect that he said anything about their other clothing; I advised him to keep liquor out of his house; have none for his family, himself, his hands, or his visitors; he sat some time with elbows on his knees and his face in his nands and considered for some time, and then raised up and said that it could not be done; it was not long after this before I learned he had advertised her. [page 854] Some time after Mr. and Mrs. Freeman lived at the homestead I was there; Justice Dunn came there to collect an account; he was a wagon-maker and lived near my house; he spoke to Isaac Staats about the payment of this account; Mr. Staats said you must call on Mr. Freeman for the payment, for I have made all my property into his hands, and he is to pay all my debts; I suppose he was as sober as he ever was; I did not see any liquor about the house; he was then living with Mr. Freeman; I cannot say how long I was there, it might have been a week and perhaps longer; it was several days; he seemed then to be living very comfortable; everything appeared to be right; he was waited on at table first by Mr. Freeman; he was sober all the time I was there; I was there several times and I never see him in liquor while he lived with Mr. Freeman; I made several visits, sometimes a week at a time; he always appeared to be sober and contented; I see Isaac Staats at Mr. Freeman's last fall, in the fore part of October, or last of September; he came for provisions; I see him get bread, butter, meat, and I think a goose; he asked for eggs, but did not get any; I understood that there were no eggs, as the fowls had been burned at the time the barn was burnt.
Cross-examined. I am the grandmother of Mrs. Freeman; I will be eighty years of age on the twentieth of June next; when he came to talk to me about gettting married I thought he was sober; I can't say he was entirely sober; when he (Isaac Staats) came to ask my advice, after his marriage, I took him to be sober; I have no acquaintance with his wife; I never spoke to her but once, and that was shortly after he was married; he married a stranger to me; I never heard of her name; after Isaac had talked to me about his getting married, I went over to see him, and I and his sister Phebe tried to persuade him to put off getting married until he was better acquainted with the woman, and before I left him he said he thought he would.
In chief. I have known Samuel Van Arsdale since he was a little boy; when he lived with my son James he often came to [page 855] see me; while he lived with Isaac Staats he did not come but once; I heard him say he did not want to eat Mrs. Staats' cookery.
Exhibits made in the above cause by the defendants before me, and marked April 25th, 1848:
Exhibit A, an order on Mr. Hartwell, signed by Isaac Staats.
Exhibit B, Policy of insurance to Isaac Staats, assigned to Reuben H. Freeman.
Exhibit C, Mortgage from Reuben H. Freeman to Isaac Staats.
Exhibit D, Deed from Isaac Staats to Isaac Staats Freeman.
Exhibit E, Deed from Isaac Staats to Margaret Freeman.
The further examination of witnesses in the above cause adjourned, by consent of parties, to Wednesday, the 3d day of May next, 10 o'clock A. M., at the house of Philip F. Fisher, Middlebrook.
Wednesday, May 3d, 1848. Parties appeared pursuant to adjournment, and the examination of witnesses continued in the presence of William Thomson, Esq., solicitor of complainant, and William H. Leupp, Esq., solicitor of defendants.
Richard Staats, a witness on the part of the defendants, being sworn, says: I formerly lived with Isaac Staats; I left him about 4 years ago; I have lived with Mr. Richard Vail in Green Brook since I left Staats; also with Edward Stille, near New Brunswick; I now live with Isaac Brokaw, in Somerset county; in the year eighteen hundred and forty-two I lived with Isaac Staats; Mr. Staats and his wife Maria were living at the time on the homestead farm; his wife lived with him there a year, and I lived with them during that year; I had but one shirt during the time, and that one I borrowed of Harry, who lived with the Miss Staats in another part of the house; I wore that shirt three weeks before it was washed; when I took the shirt [page 856] off to be washed I had a part of a shirt to wear, which only covered my shoulders; I had one pair of pantaloons, which were all in pieces; I had an old jacket, which was in bad order; I had no coat, but had to wear my master's coat; I had one pair of stockings and one pair of shoes; the stockings were in pieces and ragged; I could not get my clothes washed and mended properly; Mrs. Staats was too lazy to wash them; there was a black woman there to wash, named Betty Staats; she washed all she knew to wash; she was busy with other things; while I lived with Mr. Staats I saw Mrs. Staats once in liquor; she would swear and carry on, and threaten to knock me over; she offered to strike me once, and I ran out of her way; I eat in the kitchen; while I was at my meals she would sit in the corner and use the chamber pot; on some days, in the summer time, it would be nine o'clock before I would get my breakfast; she would, sometimes, lie sprawled on the floor; sometimes he would be on a scale and would not let his wife come in the room, and she would lie on the kitchen floor; she has laid on the kitchen floor all night; there was beds up stairs where she could have gone to, instead of lying in the kitchen; during the nights Mrs. Staats slept in the kitchen my uncle, Franouts Van Derben, was in the kitchen; Jack also slept in the kitchen; after Mr. and Mrs. Freeman came back Mrs. Staats would swear and bless Mr. Freeman; she would call him everything--a crazy devil and a son of a bitch; he would not say anything to her, and she would keep on saying these things until he would get out of her sight; I left the house because I had no clothes to wear on Sunday; I went down to Newark; was gone three or four days; I came back there again to see how they would use me there: I was not used much better after I came back; there was not much got for my meals, and what was got was nasty and not fit to eat; Isaac Staats about half the time had nothing on his shoulders; no shirt on which covered his shoulders; he laid in bed generally on a scale; he was frequently on a scale; Samuel Van Arsdale lived there when I did; I have heard him tell Mrs. Staats she must be a little more nicer about the meals;[page 857]
Cross-examined. I have lived the last winter at Mr. Freeman's; I left there the first of last April; the reason I did not say I lived with Mr. Freeman was I did not think of it; I left Mr. Stelle's because I went away and stayed two or three days, and he said he did not want me, because I was not steady enough; he did not discharge me because he said I was such a liar he could not believe anything I said and he would not have me about him; Lewis Smock, Betty, Jack and Frank lived with Mr. Staats while I lived there; they are all colored people; the night Mrs. Staats slept in the kitchen I slept there till about twelve o'clock and then I went up stairs to bed; she would sleep in the kitchen almost every night or two; when he was quarrelng with her, the other black persons were in the kitchen; sometimes Isaac would get mad at her and would keep her out in the kitchen; would not let her come in; I have seen her use the chamber pot in the kitchen almost every morning or two; the other blacks were present; I saw her drunk once, but I did not see her drink; I have seen her drink, but not at that time; I have seen her drink liquor twice; there was plenty of liquor about the house; Isaac was pretty much on a scale all the time his wife lived there; he began to wind up after she was gone; he wound up a day or two after she left; he got sober and stayed so for a while, but I do not know how long; his wife left him before harvest; Isaac was sober during harvest; I left there the next spring; can't say exactly what time; Isaac did not commence drinking before I went away.
In chief. When he was sober I could not see that he had drank any; he might drink a good deal without being drunk and without my seeing him; I can't tell my age; I have known Isaac Staats for several years; I went there when I was a small boy; he has always been in the habit of drinking ever since I have known him; during the time his wife lived with him on the farm he would sometimes work on the farm: sometimes I would hear Mr. Staats and his wife quarrel with one another. [page 858] She would occasionally go off on a visit and stay most all day; I don't remember of her staying all night.
Jack Staats, a witness on the part of the defendants, being sworn, says--I am past twenty-one and not twenty-two; I think I lived with Isaac Staats in the year eighteen hundred and forty-two; I lived on the farm from the time I was born; I left there in November last; I think Mrs. Staats lived on the farm a year and better or two years; Dick lived there when I did; while Mrs. Staats lived there I had one shirt; I got one more after a while; I had but one for a month, and it was not washed during that time, because I had no other to wear; when Mrs. Staats went away I had but one shirt; I had one poor vest; my coat was middling good; my stockings were not good; my clothes, generally, were ragged; my meals were pretty good; Mrs. Staats' sister generally got the meals; I have known Mrs. Staats to sleep in the kitchen several nights; I have known her to use the chamber pot while we were at our meals; in the same room; I can't say exactly how late it would be sometimes before we would get our breakfast; perhaps nine or ten o'clock before we could get out to work, because we could not get our breakfast earlier; Mrs. Staats would not get up till late in the morning; I have seen her sometimes drink rum; two or three times a day; I did not see her stagger, but she would be kind of wild; I can't say I ever see her sleep on the floor in the day time; I have never heard her quarrel with her husband, but he would sometimes find fault with her; he would tell her to dress herself up and look decent; she said she had not clothes to do it; he told her she could get clothes; she said she had no money to get them with; he said he could give her money; she then got clothes; he would sometimes find fault with her about the work not being done up; she said she done all she could do during the day; he said if she tried she could get it done, the days were long enough; she said you know I do my best and do all I can; he said, I think you don't try much; I can't say that he found fault with anything else; she would call Mr. Freeman everything she could lay her tongue to; she would call [page 859] him a pauper--said he ought to be shot with a gun, and then throw the gun away, as it would not be fit to shoot anything else; she would call him a devil and a son of a bitch; I can't say I have ever heard her call him a God damn vagabond or a reprobate; after she left there she would come down for things and then she would give him a spat--she would swear at him (Freeman;) sometimes she would swear at me; she would call me a damn nigger, frequently, when she got out of humor with me; sometimes she would threaten to knock me over; she threatened me once and came after me with the butcher knife; she said if I did not behave myself she would cut me with it; I meant I had behaved myself; I told her I would tell Mr. Staats; she said I could tell him as quick as I pleased; I did tell him; he told her she had better be careful; she said she wanted the niggers to obey her; I had not refused to obey her; I generally done everything she told me; sometimes during the harvest of eighteen hundred forty-two he was drunk, and sometimes he was sober; I don't remember seeing Mr. Staats at work in the orchard at this time, pitching hay: I now live with Mr. Stelle; have been there about a month; before going there I stayed at my father's a while at Harris' lane; I worked with Mr. Lelaw's last winter, and when not there was at my father's.
Cross-examined. I lived on a farm with Mr. Freeman until I left there last fall; I don't know but what Isaac Staats drank a great deal in the summer and fall of eighteen hundred and forty-two; I think he was drunk pretty much all the time, off and on so; he always worked in harvest till that year, but did not work any in that harvest; it was owing to his drinking so much; he would drink sometimes for a week; he drank during the course of the fall of that year; I often went for rum for him; I would get a gallon at a time, at Mr. Lewis A. Tucker's, in Bound Brook; sometimes I would get it at Mr. Van Arsdale's; there was a barrel of rum brought from New Brunswick by Phineas Annin, but I can't say who sent for it; Phineas lived with Mr. Freeman; Mr. Freeman was home at the time; I think he knew of it; I helped to put the rum in the cellar; Phineas and [page 860] I think Mr. Freeman helped too; my sister went the most of the time to draw the rum for Isaac; she would fetch it in a tin basin and pour it in a jug; Isaac kept the jug in his own room; he could not go and draw it himself, because he was intoxicated; I can't say I ever saw Mrs. Freeman draw any of the rum, but I think she did draw some; I can't say I ever saw Mr. Freeman draw any.
In chief. I can't say whether or not Isaac Staats sent for the barrel of rum; I think it was got at Mr. Runyon's; Mr. Staats did not go with the wagon when the rum was got; Isaac Staats used to send me for the rum when I got it by the gallon; no other person ever sent me; I got the rum before the barrel was got; I did not get any after; Mr. Staats was often in the habit of taking long frolics before eighteen hundred and forty-two; I think that Isaac Staats always worked in harvest before eighteen hundred and forty-two; he would be out in the field with his hands; can't say that he mowed any; he pitched hay; he never would cradle, but he would rake sheaves; he would superintend the other hands, but would not work, except as I have stated.
Hiram Nixon, on the part of the defendants, being sworn, says: I live near Quakertown, in Hunterdon county; I am the son of Mrs. Harriott Nixon; I was acquainted with Maria Matthews before she married Isaac Staats; she worked at our house for my mother for about six months; I remember Samuel Van Arsdale being on a visit at my mother's house in the month of August or September, eighteen hundred and forty-two or forty-three, I can't say which, exactly; he asked me some questions about Maria Matthews, the wife of Isaac Staats; he asked me what was thought of her; I think I told him she was not a great deal thought of with some young folks; I can't say as to her reputation; her character was bad, as I have heard some people say; I can't say as to her general character. Question. What were the particular charges made against her reputation? [This question was objected to.] Answer. I have heard that she would [page 861] tell things that was not so; I can't say that I have heard she was intemperate; I can't say that the young people would not associate with her, but I have heard one or two say they did not wish to be in her company; the reason that she would tell things that was not so; I remember once that she went to the Quakertown store while she worked for us and bought her a new dress, and she came home to my mother and told her that she had got a new dress, and that either she or her father had bought it; my father, the next day, was up at Quakertown store, and Mr. Waterhouse, the merchant, told him that Maria had bought a new dress and had it charged to him; this my father told me; my father came home, and I think asked Maria what she meant by getting such things charged to him, and then saying that she or her father had bought them, or words to that effect; he said to her why did you not have them charged to me and then come out and say so and not say you had them charged to your father or that you had bought them; he told her she must never do so again, but if she was willing to go on and work it out he would settle it; I think he owed her but little, if anything, at the time; I have heard her swear while she lived with us; I can't say that I named these things to Samuel Van Arsdale, not these particular things; I can't say whether the account I gave to Samuel Van Arsdale of Maria was favorable or unfavorable; I asked Samuel Van Arsdale how Maria and her husband were getting along; I think he said bad enough; I am sure he did; then I talked on and one word brought on another, until he said that if she went on in the same manner she did, or something to that amount, she would ruin her husband; that she could throw out with a teaspoon as fast as he could bring in with a scoop-shovel; he talked about her affairs and their living; he said that they would milk in the pails and would let the milk stand in the pails until the pails were wanted, and then they would throw the milk into the swill barrel or strain it; sometimes the milk would stand until it was green; he said a good deal about her, but I can't recollect what was all said, but what he did say was to her disgrace, as I took it; he did not say anything about her actings at Camp Meeting; he did not say that he had been re-[page 862]quested to come and inquire about her character; did not say why he made the inquiries; he did not say anything about Mr. Staats desiring a divorce from her; I can't tell how long this visit was after they were married.
Cross-examined.--I can't tell how old Maria was when she lived at my house; it appears to me it was twelve or fourteen years ago when she lived there; I think she was under the age of twenty years; she stayed and worked until she had satisfied our folks about the dress; she generally worked for a living; her parents were very poor; I don't know anything myself against her character; I don't know that I ever heard any complaint about her work while she lived with us.
Harriot Nixon, on the part of the defendants, being sworn, says: I remember Samuel Van Arsdale being at my house and staying all night; I can't say how long since, but it was after Isaac Staats was married; I can't say when it was that Maria Mathews, the wife of Isaac Staats, lived with me; she was with me for a few months; Samuel Van Arsdale did not ask me any questions about Maria; I heard him talking with the family about her, but I do not recollect anything in particular that was said; I think there was something said about muslin, and I think I told them it was not as it had been represented by them, and that it was not theft; my boys and Samuel had been talking about her; I understood that one of my young boys, 18 years old, had represented it to Samuel Van Arsdale as a theft, or that they understood it so; I replied, in the presence of Samuel, that it was a mistake, that they ought to be cautious how they spoke, for I told them that she had gone to Waterhouse's store and stated that Squire Nixon had told her to come and get a dress, and she got some few yards of cambric muslin with the dress, and when I saw the things she had got I asked her where she had got them, and she replied, her father had gave them to her; after she had said that her father had given them to her my husband went to the store and they asked him if he had sent Maria Matthews to get these things; he replied not, and that [page 863] they must not let her have anything without an order; my husband said nothing to Maria after his return; he was not in the habit of having any conversation with my girls; my husband told me to talk to Maria about it; I did talk to her in private; I says to her, Maria, I am sorry you have told me such a story, and I feel it my duty to warn you against such things; I told her that she had told us a story in this, that she had gone to the store, and when she was owing us three dollars had run us in debt about six dollars, and then saying that her father had given her the things; she began to cry, and replied that she would make it all right; she did stay and make it all right; this was the correction I made about the theft; I did not consider her nice and tidy in her habits; she was young; she would step out once and a while at nights, and be gone an hour or so; we had near neighbors, and she said she had been there; I told her I would not put up with it; she then quit going out at nights; she would frequently go out on Sundays and leave me alone; sometimes for a whole day; I never heard anything particularly alleged against Maria, only that she was not possessed of as much judgment or mother wit as some other girls in the neighborhood of her age; I feel confident in saying that the young people in the neighborhood who thought anything of their character were not willing to associate with Maria; I never heard that her family had discarded her until after she was married, and they told me they had heard of her bad conduct; Maria's family told me instances of her bad conduct; I mean her sister and her sister-in-law; I never discovered while she lived with me that she was fond of drink; my husband's name was William Nixon; he died about nine years ago; we kept a public house in Quakertown for a number of years; we did not live in Quakertown when Maria lived with us.
Cross-examined. I think Maria was about fourteen years of age when she lived with me; her parents were poor people; I do not know the cause of the young people not wishing to associate with Maria, except she was poor, and perhaps they thought she did not conduct herself as she ought to do; the most re- [page 864]spectable class of society of young people shunned her company, but I do not know for what cause; I do not know anything against her moral character; I had but little acquaintance with her until she came with me; her sister and sister-in-law said that they thought she did not act very prudent and take care of things, and that she might do better than she did; they said nothing else.
In chief. I don't remember ever hearing her use profane language; she knew I would not approve of it.
Bridget Donnelly, on the part of the defendants, being sworn, says: I lived in the house of Isaac Staats while he lived in Bound Brook, from the first of November till the first of April last; they left there before I did; about three weeks before; I saw Mrs. Staats sell a pair of pillows while I was there; she got eighteen pence for them; they were feather pillows; I do not know what they were worth; she also sold a skein of yarn to Thomas McGuire for one shilling; I don't know what it was worth; while I was there part of the time they lived peaceable, and sometimes they quarreled; sometimes there were blacks there at the house; when they quarreled they swore a little at one another; he would sometimes get drunk; I never see her drunk; I have seen her take a little rum when she had been washing and was afraid the baby would take cold; one night when I came home I found Mrs. Staats out of the house in the street, and she went in my part of the house and she told me her husband had driven her out; sometimes she would call me up to make peace between them; sometimes by day and sometimes by night; Mr. Staats never struck me; I never heard him say anything about the father of the child, but I heard him cast up a man to his wife, and I asked Mrs. Staats what it meant, and she said he was drunk, and did not know what he was saying; he said to his wife that if she wanted to see Tait, he was in Kline's that afternoon and she could see him, and she said she did not want to see him at all; he has not mentioned, as I heard, about Tait being the father of the child; I told Mrs. Ress that Mr. [page 865] Staats had talked to his wife about Tait, and that if she wanted to see him he was in at Kline's; when I lived in the house with them they always appeared to have enough provisions, except when Mr. Staats having taken a glass too much, and had not gone to the farm to get them; I expect Mr. Staats fetched his provisions from Mr. Freeman; he went almost every day, but I cannot say how often he went; I have seen Dick, who lived at Mr. Freeman's, fetch her things three times; I expect the wood was brought from the farm; Dick sometimes helped Mr. Staats, and my husband helped him once, but I do not know where they brought it from; I expect they had plenty of wood; I did not see any lack of it; Mr. Staats would go off to work sometimes, but I do not know how often or where he went; it was in the winter time, and I did not see him go to work very often.
Jane Doty, on the part of the defendants, being sworn, says: During the time Mrs. Staats lived on the homestead I have heard her use profane language frequently; I have heard her make threats against the family; she said she would kill me and all the rest; she once heard some conversation in our room when we were talking to Isaac, and she said "it was a damn lie, you would not say it and face me;" the conversation was respecting them, but I do not know what it was; when Mrs. Staats left the negroes had not any shirts; they wore their winter coats in the summer time to cover their ragged shirts; me and my sisters assisted in making shirts for the negroes after Mrs. Staats went away; there was a great deal of muslin in the house at the time she went away; she was very slovenly in her personal appearance; sometimes she was not fit to be seen, and sometimes she looked tolerably decent; she was generally very dirty; I was sworn as a witness in the ejectment cause between these parties; I do not know whether Isaac and his wife lived peaceably or quarrelsome; I never went in their part of the house; I don't recollect of hearing them quarrel.
Cross-examined. We try to keep things very nice about our premises; I am a sister to Isaac Staats; his wife left him be- [page 866]fore harvest; we did not associate with Mrs. Staats while she lived there; I have seen in her front rooms; they looked very well, but I never was in her kitchen or dairy, and can say nothing about them from my own knowledge.
In chief. I was in one room and in the entry; they looked as they always had done; Isaac never introduced her to us, and she never came to see me, and I did not go to see her; I was never acquainted with her; her reputation was bad; I never heard of her before she came there to live.
Eliza Coddington, on the part of the defendants, being sworn, says: After Isaac Staats and his wife separated I was at the house of Mr. Freeman, on the back farm, for three weeks and three or four days; it was not quite two weeks after; I was employed in making coats, pantaloons and vests for the black boys; they appeared to be very destitute of clothing; they had none to cut out by; I had to cut out by guess; I inquired for patterns to cut by and they said they had none; they brought me in a pair or two of pantaloons, but they were so much worn that they were no guide; I was employed by Mrs. Freeman the same fall, but I do not recollect how long I was there; I think it was more than one day; I can't tell how Isaac Staats was at the present visit.
Cross-examined. When I was at Mr. Freeman's I altered two dresses for Mrs. Freeman; I don't know where the stuff was got to make the clothes for the negroes; I was frequently at the homestead about these times, and have been frequently since; they always treated Isaac Staats kindly in my presence, as far as I observed.
Sarah Bayles, on the part of the defendants, being sworn, says: I am a sister of Isaac Staats; we tried to persuade Isaac not to get married; he said he was determined to marry her, and she was one of the lowest of the low; he would often say after he was married that he would have to put his property [page 867] out of his hands to save it, as she was wasting it, and he was afraid she would waste it all as she was going on; he said she would ruin him; I have heard her often use profane language, swearing much; I have never heard such swearing as I have heard from her; she used awful language; she threatend to shoot me; said she was determined to shoot me; she went away on the sixth of July of her own accord, so far as I know; in August Isaac and Samuel Van Arsdale took her in a wagon to Quakertown; Isaac said he was going to take her there to stay; she had returned after she first went away; was gone two or three days; he did not receive her, but met her at the door and ordered her to be gone; he told her she should never come there again; he had a cane in his hand and held it up and told her to be gone in a threatening way, so that she run for it; some of the sisters were present; I don't recollect which ones; Isaac asked me to go into the cellar to oversee the milk and butter; it looked awful; I could not describe it; I found it very dirty, and the milk and cream had stood so long that they were very offensive; I caused tin patty pans and basins to be taken out of the ash hole; they were very dirty; not fit to be used; I found a great many things in the oven shed; pocket handkerchiefs and child's clothing, very dirty; the black woman would not wash them, and I told her to go and burn them; I found several flannel shirts for the child; they were made with slits for the arm holes, not sewed; they were used in this way, and when dirty throwed away; I was there and superintended the house for Isaac; the black woman done the work under my directions; I did not find any meat in the house, but some bones; there was not a whole ham or shoulder; I directed Betty to get some meat, and she cut a little off the ham bones, as much as she could get; Mrs. Staats was very dirty in her appearance and dress; the blacks were very nearly naked; they were very ragged; they had not a change of clothing; I assisted in making clothing for them; after Mr. and Mrs. Freeman took possession things were altered just as they used to be--very much improved--as they were when the first Mrs. Staats was there; after Mr. and Mrs. Freeman returned Isaac had his [page 868] room and had everything very comfortable; he would drink, and always will; he would be very rational for several days, and appeared to be comfortable and happy, and then he would begin to drink as usual; on the day the deed was made I do not recollect making any remark at the dinner table about Isaac deeding away his property; I was affronted with him and did not speak to him; I don't recollect of saying myself, or of hearing any of my sisters say that Isaac was conveying away his property, and that he was in a pretty condition for doing it, that he was as drunk as a fool.
Cross-examined. I don't remember of anything being said of that kind; he was more rational on that morning than I had seen him for some time; he was quite drunk in the afternoon of the day; he was generally under sail; I did not speak to him that morning; I was angry with him; I told him that he had the care of my property, and as he could not take care of his own property, he should not take care of mine; he said he ought to pay at least one-half that was lost of my property; I thought, as he was putting his property out of his hands, I would not get anything he had promised me; Mr. Freeman's wagon brought the barrel of rum from New Brunswick, but I do not know who brought it; I can't tell for whose use it was; Margaret wished to have it so that she cold hand it out herself; Isaac did not keep as much drunk during the time the barrel of rum lasted as he did when he sent and got it by the gallon; I went in to see the wife when she was sick; I never visited her; she said she would shoot me, because it was my fault that Isaac had drove her away; I went into the garret to see how things looked; the parlor looked as usual; she hardly ever went in that; I looked in the cask where the hams and shoulders were kept; I did not see any meat, and the blacks said there was none; I did not examine; there was nothing there but cobs; I know no reason why Isaac called his intended wife the lowest of the low; I had never heard of her until about a week before he married her; I never speak to Mrs. Staats when I see her; I have not seen her in a long time; I do not want her back again, [page 869] I never said when Isaac brought his wife home, after he was married, that I would have them separated before the end of the year; I never said anything like it.
Mary Smith Staats, on the part of the defendants, being sworn, says: I am the sister of Isaac Staats; Isaac said he would marry her--that she was one of the lowest characters--but he would marry her and bring her there; he said he would marry her for spite; he referred to Reuben Freeman; I told him perhaps his spite would fall on his own head; when Mrs. Staats came there I think the negroes had plenty of clothing; when she went away they were very scantily clothed; they had hardly any clothing; I don't suppose the blacks had any shirts, as Isaac came and asked us to make some shirts for them as soon as she left; he begged us to act like sisters to him, as we used to do, and said his negroes had no clothing; I and my sisters assisted in making shirts for the negroes; I was in the cellar after she went away; it was not in a very good condition; everything was dirty; Mrs. Staats was very slovenly in her appearance; her clothes, generally, were very untidy; at times she was tidy enough; when she first went away, I think she went of her own accord; she stayed one or two nights; she came back very early in the morning; I did not hear Isaac say anything to her when she went away; when she came back he refused to let her come in; he told her she should go away, and she went; I think he had a stick in his hand; I have frequently heard Mrs. Staats swear and use profane language; I think I heard her say the morning she went away that she would shoot Mrs. Bayles, as she was the cause of her being driven away; she was in a great passion; I have heard her and seen her act as if she might be drunk, as no person but one that was drunk would act.
Cross-examined. I never see her drink any; I don't say she was drunk, because I did not see her drink; Isaac was angry at Mr. Freeman when he said he would get married; he never [page 870] seemed to like Mr. Freeman; I don't remember that they at that time had been quarreling.
In chief. I never heard Isaac advise with Freeman about his affairs; I don't know that he treated Freeman with reserve, and kept him at a distance; when Isaac refused to let his wife come in, myself, Mrs. Bayles, Isaac and his wife were present; I don't recollect of any other person being present; Mrs. Staats' sister went away and came back with her.
Cross-examined. Isaac said his intended wife was one of the lowest characters, as I think; I don't remember that Mrs. Bayles was present; the family were sitting around, but I don't know that Mrs. Bayles was there; I don't know that she was not there.
Phebe Staats, on the part of the defendants, being sworn, says: I am the sister of Isaac Staats; I was but very seldom in his house when he and his wife lived on the homestead; I went into the cellar as soon as she went away the last time; things did not look very well in the cellar--looked as if they were neglected; I do not know that they were offensive; the negroes were very bad off for clothing; they had no change, and what they wore were very dirty; when she was gone, I and my sister made them clothing; Mrs. Staats, in a general way, looked very slovenly.
Elizabeth Ross, on the part of the defendants, being sworn, says: I am the daughter-in-law of Mrs. Martha Ross, a witness examined in this cause; I sat by when Isaac Staats told mother he had a mind to change his situation; she told him he was free to do as he pleased; he said he was going to marry a young girl twenty-two years of age; he did not name her; he said she was one of the lowest; I don't recollect of his saying anything else; after he was married I heard him say to Mrs. Ross that he had not been married two years to her, and that he had killed two beeves and as many hogs as he had been used to kill; [page 871] that harvest was coming on, and that he had no meat for his hands, and no lard, no candles; he said he had bought three pieces of muslin, and that his negroes were naked, without clothes and without shirts, and what to do he did not know.
Presco Wright, on the part of the complainant, being sworn, says: After the execution of the deed from Isaac Staats to Reuben H. Freeman, I lived with Mrs. Bayles, the sister of Isaac Staats, in the year eighteen hundred and forty-five and six; I heard Mrs. Bayles say that Isaac Staats was as drunk as a hog at the time he signed the deed to Mrs. Freeman. [Excepted to]. The Misses Staats spoke disrespectfully of Mrs. Staats, but I never heard them speak to her; they often spoke of her to me; called her a dirty huzzy, and dirty slut; I never heard them make use of such expressions in the hearing of Mrs. Staats; I don't think I ever heard them speak to her; she did not live there at the time, and never came nearer than the barn; I have heard Mr. Freeman speak disrespectful of her, called her a dirty moggy.
Cross-examined. I heard Mrs. Bayles speak of Mrs. Staats as above at the dinner table; I think it was in the first season I was there; I do not recollect the month nor the season of the year; I think it was in the summer; I am quite certain it was in eighteen hundred and forty-five; I can't say how long it was after the execution of the deed. Question. Can you say whether it was six months or several years after the execution of the deed? Answer. I cannot tell how long it was; Miss Phebe Staats and Mary Staats were present at the table; we were talking at the time about the property, and I remarked that I thought it was rather hard the way Isaac was living; I can't say exactly how Mrs. Bayles came to make the remark; she spoke out in her general tone of voice; Miss Mary Staats was not deaf at the time; I can't say whether Mrs. Doty was or was not present; Mrs. Doty was not deaf at that time, as I ever observed; no one else was present; I did not live there at the time the deed was executed; neither did I live there at any time while Mrs. [page 872] Staats was there; I worked the farm on shares and boarded with the Miss Staats the first year; the second year I got married and boarded at my own home; Mrs. Staats was not present when Mr. Freeman called her a dirty moggy; he spoke this to me; I saw Mrs. Staats frequently; sometimes her dress looked very well, and sometimes not; sometimes she looked neat and clean, and at other times not so much so; I never see her look nasty or filthy; I can't say who spoke or what was said before Mrs. Bayles made the remark as above stated by me; I don't recollect that Mrs. Bayles made any further remark of that character; I never see Mrs. Staats intoxicated.
Isaac Long, on the part of the complainant, being sworn, says: I was at the house of Isaac Staats at the time the deed to Mrs. Freeman was executed; I was working for his sisters; when I came into dinner Mrs. Bayles told me what Isaac was about to do; that he was going to give away his property or put it out of his hands; she said he was in a pretty predicament to do such a thing as that; she said he was as drunk as a hog; I can't recollect that I ever heard the Miss Staats speak disrespectful to Mrs. Staats; I seldom heard them speak to her; I can't recollect that I ever heard them speak of her; can't say that I ever heard Mr. Freeman speak of her; the deed had been executed at the time Mrs. Bayles made the remark, as she said; she said that dinner had been put off until Miss Phebe had been in and executed some paper; the dinner was rather later than common; I do not think it was as late as two o'clock; I can't say what time it was; Miss Phebe Staats and Polly Staats were present at the table at the time the remark was made by Mrs. Bayles; I can't say whether or not Mrs. Doty was present; I don't recollect that there was any reply or remark made to what was said by Mrs. Bayles; no one spoke before Mrs. Bayles made these remarks; I was sworn as a witness for Mr. Staats on the trial of the ejectment.
In chief. I don't recollect whether or not Capt. Bayles was present at the time Mrs. Bayles made the remark; Samuel Van [page 873] Arsdale was not present; he worked for Isaac, and lived in the other part of the house.
Mary Van Norden, on the part of the complainant, says: Mrs. Staats lived with me five months before she moved to the Van Dyke house, next door to me, in Bound Brook; I can't say what year it was; it was in this house that Mr. Staats was sick; Mrs. Staats occupied a part of the house--more than one room; there was another family in the house; Mr. Staats came there sick; he bled a great deal at the nose; I was there when Dr. Smith came in, and some short time after Mr. Freeman came in to take Mr. Staats home; it was on the Sabbath morning; he came with a wagon; I am not positive that the door was fastened, but Freeman lifted the latch and came in the room where Mr. Staats was; Mrs. Staats said to him, you shall not take my husband away; Freeman had shoved her against the bedstead with the door; Freeman said he would take him home, and got his great coat and put on him, and led him to the wagon; Mrs. Staats cried, and said it was hard that other folks should come and take her husband away; Mrs. Staats was bad enough off for provisions and clothing; she had not clothing enough to look decent.
Cross-examined. Doctor Smith was in the room when Mr. Freeman came in; Mrs. Staats flew to the door and Freeman shoved her back towards the bedstead; he did not shove her but once; he shoved her with the door; I did not see him shove her with his hands, but it was just as bad; I can't say that Mrs. Staats attempted to strike Mr. Freeman; I heard no threats that she would strike him; I did not hear her call him any names; I never see Mr. Freeman there before this time; I don't know that Mr. Staats made any objections to going with Mr. Freeman; he was very sick; I don't think he was right in his head; I don't know that he had been drinking, or that his sickness was caused by his having had a frolic; I had not seen him for some time before; Mr. Staats helped himself as much as he could in getting on the great coat; he was [page 874] very weak and feeble; I believe I recollect of seeing a bed over the side of the wagon; I did not go out to look; I did not get any wood or provision of Mrs. Staats at the time she lived with me; I was sworn as a witness on the ejectment trial.
In chief. I think Mr. Staats was sitting on the side of the bed when Mr. Freeman came in; he had his pantaloons on; I don't know whether he had a jacket on or an under coat; I have known Mrs. Maria Staats four or five years; I became acquainted a year or two years after she was married; I have seen her frequently since; I never knew her to be in the habit of drinking rum or getting drunk; I never knew her to drink but once while she lived in my house, and that was as a medicine; she had a bedstead, three or four old chairs, and an old table that they had to stand against the wall to keep it from tumbling down, and a great big ugly stove.
Cross-examination. I believe she cooked what she had to cook; I never seen but one pot; Maria and me never took a social glass together--neither have I with Isaac.
Frances Winters, on the part of the complainant, being sworn, says: I am the daughter of Mrs. Mary Van Arsdale; I recollect when Mrs. Maria Staats lived the next door to my mother; I resided at the time with my mother: I should not think that Mrs. Staats was provided for at all, from the way she lived; there was a scarcity of provisions in the house; she came to my mother's one Sunday evening, and asked me for God's sake to give her a piece of bread for her child; she had no clothes to dress with but what was given her by her neighbors; she had not comfortable or decent clothing of her own; when I have been in her house I have known her to be scarce of provisions; I have known her to have nothing from one morning to another but what she got from our table; I have went to her house to see, and found nothing but an old crust of bread; she had no other furniture but what my mother has stated; I never see Mrs. Staats drink a drop in my life--neither have I ever see [page 875] her intoxicated; I have often heard that she acted like a drunken person when she was angry.
Cross-examined. I have seen provisions brought there in a wagon by a boy; I have seen Mr. Freeman there, but I don't know that he ever brought any provisions; Mrs. Staats was on one occasion out of provisions from Sunday night to Saturday morning; she eat with me three times a day; I told her she must send or go to the farm and get some provisions; she sent a black woman that lived in the house with her, and then Mr. Freeman's nephew brought the black woman and some provisions in a wagon; there was a bag containing about fourteen pounds of flour, and a half bushel basket; it did not appear to be full; there was also a jug with some milk; it was a quart jug; Isaac Staats was living down home at the time; I think it was the week she had not seen him; it was after Mr. Staats had had the sickness, and after he had separated from her and gone home; I can't say how long after Mr. Freeman had taken him home; it was not longer than five or six weeks; at other times Mrs. Staats generally eat in her own house; I have seen her eat with the family in the same house five or six times; the family was colored people; Mr. Staats did not live with Mrs. Staats when she lived next door to my mother; he would come and see her; he would come in the afternoon and stay till evening; sometimes he would come late at night; I can't say whether he stayed all night; it was during the time she lived there that the week occurred that she was scarce of provisions; I lived at home, engaged in taking in sewing; I have given Mrs. Staats a dress and two or three other articles; my mother gave her a calico dress and two aprons; I don't know of any other person giving her any articles of dress; she used to know some of my sisters, Mrs. Vanhest; I guess she never went to any other place than our house for provisions; she never asked us for anything until after she came to board with us; she never asked anything of us while Mr. Staats lived with her; while she lived with us and while she lived next door to us Mr. Staats did not live with her; she had no employment during that year except [page 876] taking care of her child; she did not work out or take in work; her first child was near a year old when I was first acquainted with her; she paid my mother three dollars a week board for the first four weeks--after she paid twenty shillings; Mr. Staats came and spoke for her board and paid for it; my mother furnished good comfortable board.
Lewis Smock, a colored man, on the part of the complainant, being sworn, says: I lived with Isaac Staats at the time he married his present wife; I was there when he brought her home; he had two black boys; they were not in good condition for clothing when Mrs. Staats came; they were named Jack and Dick; Jack was in a very bad condition when I was there; his clothes were ragged and he was filthy and lousy; he had body lice on him; Dick's clothing was very poor; he had no stockings--only stocking legs; it was in the winter; the swill barrel stood in the corner of the kitchen; it was very nasty about it; after Mrs. Staats came there she went to work and fixed their clothes and bedding; she had Jack cleaned and give him a clean shirt and jacket; she had the swill barrel moved; there were maggots under it; she cleaned up pretty much everything about the kitchen and made things more comfortable; I lived there with Mr. Staats until the next spring; I never lived on Doct. Janeway's place; I farm it on the shares, and have since this spring a year ago; I slept with the boys before Mrs. Staats came; the bed was not much--a tick with some straw in it; I could not sleep in it, and sometimes slept by the fire; there were plenty of bugs in the bed, and they troubled me so I could not sleep; Mrs. Staats made it more comfortable; she made me and Jack take the old bed and put clean straw in it; she had a bedstead to put the bed on; before it laid on the floor; I slept in the same bed for a while after Mrs. Staats came there; my woman came there to live and Mrs. Staats made a bed for us up stairs.
Cross-examined. I can't tell exactly what time I went to live with Mr. Staats; it was in the fore part of winter; I can't [page 877] tell how many shirts Dick and Jack had, but they had no good ones; they did not go to church on Sunday; I never see Dick change his shirt but once; I know he did not change his shirts once or twice a week; I did not see the boys wear more than one pair of pantaloons; I never see them shift them; I don't know how many pantaloons they had; Mr. Staats had one black girl to work for him while I was there; she was a young woman; I don't know why she did not keep the kitchen clean; Mrs. Staats was not there when I went there; she came two or three weeks after; I was there before she was married; I don't know what new clothes the boys got after Mrs. Staats came there; Dick got a pair of pantaloons; can't say he got anything else; can't tell what Jack got; we had plenty to eat while I was there; I complained about the bed to Mrs. Staats when she came there; I complained to no one else; the boys and me talked about it among ourselves; I had no right to put clean straw in the tick; I never asked for clean straw; don't know that the boys ever asked for it; no one has talked to me about what I was to swear to here to-day.
In chief. I went to live with Mr. Staats before sowing time; I then left him and went to Judge Lattourett; I can't tell how long I stayed there, whether a month or two months; Mr. Staats got hurt and sent for me to come and stay the winter with him, and I went; I never see Mrs. Staats drink any while I was there; I never see her intoxicated.
Diana Staats, a colored woman, on the part of the complainant, being sworn, says: Lewis Smock is my husband; I heard his testimony; I was at Isaac Staats' for two weeks while my husband lived there; it was after the holidays when I went; things were in pretty good order, clean and decent, when I went there; I was there one day after in the spring; the black boys had very poor clothing when I was there in the winter, but they were clean; their clothes had not been made yet; I had a very good, clean bed to sleep in; the boys had good clothes on in the spring when I was there; I saw nothing about the house to [page 878] complain of; everything appeared to be in good order; I now live on Doct. Janeway's farm with my husband; when my husband worked out I lived with Schuyler Nelson in New Brunswick; I lived with him eight years for my time, and six years after I was out of my time; I then went to house-keeping; afterwards I broke up house-keeping and went to live two years more with Mr. Nelson; I cooked, washed and ironed while at Mr. Nelson's.
Cross-examined. I can't say that the black boys had got any more clothes when I was there in the spring; their clothes then appeared to be good; they were some worn; I can't say but what they had the same clothes in the winter, but they had not them on; I did not examine to see whether they had got any shirts; I did not hear them say they had got any new clothes during the winter; when I first went there Mrs. Staats was there; it was after the marriage; can't say how long after.
Jane Staats, a colored woman, on the part of the complainant, being sworn, says: I went to work for Mr. Staats after he was married; Mrs. Staats sent for me; when I went there she set me to washing and cleaning up things; I washed two bed blankets which the boys had slept in; they were not in very good condition; I did not see the bed; I see lice on Jack; Mrs. Staats had Jack cleaned; she made him wash himself; I washed one shirt for him; I was there one week; we were engaged in cleaning the house.
Cross-examined. Jack is my son; I don't know why Jack did not keep himself clean; I heard Mrs. Staats tell Jack to wash himself; I don't know what time of the year I went there; it was along in the winter; I don't know how long Mrs. Staats had been there, or how long she had been married; Betty is my daughter; I expect she is industrious and smart; I did not examine the bed; there were bugs on the floor where the bedstead had been; there were no bugs in the bed clothes which I washed; I never heard Jack complain of having vermin before;[page 879]
Cornelia Brokaw, on the part of the complainant, being sworn, says: I live near the farm where Isaac Staats formerly lived; the next farm but one; I was at Mr. Staats' house once or twice while Mrs. Staats lived there; it was some time after she came there; it was in the summer time; I was in the cellar; I thought everything looked nice and clean; did not see anything otherwise.
Cross-examined. Mrs. Staats had just been cleaning house, and she took me in the cellar to see it; I think it was about the last of May or first of June; I did not notice anything except the butter; that did not look very nice; it looked as if it had been scalded; that was all that looked amiss in the cellar; I was in the parlor, also; I don't know that I was in any other room; I called there once after this; I think in the fall; on my first visit I was there about half an hour.
The following papers were exhibited on the part of the defendants and marked as exhibits in the above cause:
Exhibit F for defendants, a note of hand given by Isaac Staats to Garret Schenck, for $20, dated August 25th, 1842.
Deed from Isaac Staats to Caleb C. Brokaw, John Earl and Daniel H. Voorhees, trustees of school district, marked Exhibit G.
Isaac Long's account against Isaac Staats and receipt for payment, marked Exhibit H.
Samuel Van Arsdale, a witness on the part of the complainant, being sworn, says: When I was going home on the day I was examined as a witness in this cause before, in Somerville, I told Isaac Staats that I had forgot that I had been security for him to Lawrence V. L. Shepherd, or I should have stated it when I was giving my testimony; I had really forgotten that I was security; I had heard nothing of the note since the time I put my name on it, and had not been to Mr. Shepherd's house since.
Daniel M. Vail, a witness produced and examined on the part of the defendants, being first duly sworn according to law, to [page 880] testify the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, in the above-stated cause, on his oath says: I reside in the city of New Brunswick, and am engaged in the grocery business; my place of business is on the corner of Peace and Church streets, in said city; I have done business there six years last March, in partnership with Thomas Simpson; Clarkson Runyon kept store at the same place previously, and I was a clerk with him four or five years; there was one barrel of whiskey, during the time that I was a clerk and since I have been in business, and only one barrel of whiskey, sold at that place to the complainant; this barrel of whiskey was sold to complainant and delivered on the eighteenth day of May, A. D. eighteen hundred and forty-four; this was the only barrel of whiskey sold to complainant, so far as I know; I don't know to whom this barrel of whiskey was delivered; it was delivered according to the order sent for it; the order I have now, and it has been with me ever since; the order is that now produced by me, and marked Exhibit A on the part of the defendants; Reuben H. Freeman paid for this whiskey.
Phineas F. Annin, a witness produced and examined on the part of the defendants, being first duly sworn according to law, to testify the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, in the above-stated cause, on his oath says: I live in New York; I was sworn on a trial of the ejectment between the parties in this cause, as a witness, at Somerville; I am a nephew of Reuben H. Freeman; I remember getting a barrel of whiskey, at a store on the corner of Church street, in New Brunswick; I had an order for it, I think; Mr. Vail, who has been sworn as a witness, is, I think, the person who delivered this barrel of whiskey to me, but I am not certain; a black boy, named Jack Staats, two years older than I was, was with me; I know I had a piece of paper with writing on it, but I do not recognize the paper now shown me, (Exhibit A,) as the paper; it was in warm weather that I got this whiskey, and the second year after we moved from the back farm to the homestead farm of Isaac Staats; I think we removed in September, eighteen hundred and forty [page 881] two, at the time I lived with Reuben H. Freeman; I went with him in July, eighteen hundred and forty-one; I lived with Reuben Freeman four years, to a day; there was no other barrel of whiskey purchased by Isaac Staats, or by any one else, and brought to the farm, that I know of, during the whole time; I recollect that on one occasion, on the back farm, when we were planting corn, one of the black boys, Jack, come there; Reuben H. Freeman asked Jack why he did not take off his coat; Jack said he was ashamed of his shirt, that he had not changed it in some weeks; this was in eighteen hundred and forty-two; when the defendants moved to the homestead, Maria, the wife of Isaac Staats, was not there; the next place Maria Staats lived at was Bound Brook; she lived there about a year, not longer; after this, I think, she moved in Reuben Freeman's old house, on the back farm; I went frequently with Isaac Staats to Bound Brook, to Mrs. Staats' house, while Mrs. Staats lived there; I took him in the wagon; it seems to me that I have taken provisions to Bound Brook for Mrs. Staats, though I don't recollect any one time; I know we used to take things to her; subsequently, when she lived on the back farm, I took wood and provisions to her; a few months after September, eighteen hundred and forty-two, when Samuel Van Arsdale left there, I slept with Isaac Staats, and I slept with him as long as I remained, except once in a while when he went to see his wife, when he would stay with her; I have taken him to his wife's myself; before we moved on the homestead, I remember being there more than once and seeing them have breakfast very late; I thought about 10 o'clock; it was in warm weather; after defendants had moved on the homestead farm, I don't think immediately, Mrs. Staats came on the farm and abused Reuben Freeman by calling him names; she called him a "damned reprobate of hell;" said she "would cut his damned heart out of him;" this she did frequently; she acted like a drunken woman I thought; I have seen her follow after Reuben H. Freemon, when he would turn his back, abuse him and call him names, raise a stick or switch at him; I have seen her put her fist under his nose, and at these times she would use profane and [page 882] abusive language towards Mr. Freeman; during the time she lived on the homestead, I have seen her a few times; after she left the homestead her appearance was very dirty; during the time that I lived there I have seen Isaac Staats sober; he would take frolics from time to time; after the barrel of whiskey was got I did not see any difference in his drinking; before the barrel of whiskey was got he got his liquor from Bound Brook; sometimes I went for it, sometimes the black boys, by his request; we got it in a jug; Mrs. Freeman treated Isaac Staats as well as any woman could treat him; Mr. Freeman treated him well, as far as I saw; I have seen Isaac Staats raise a knife to Mr. Freeman, at the table, more than once.
Being cross-examined, on the part of the complainant, says: I was nineteen years of age on the twenty-third day of last March; I am learning the business of engraving on wood with my brother-in-law, Robert Roberts, New York; he works for the American Tract Society.
A paper purporting to be an order drawn by Reuben H. Freeman on Messrs. Vail & Simpson for a barrel of spirits, for Isaac Staats, dated May 18, 1844, produced and marked Exhibit A on the part of the defendants, June 3d, 1848.
MAY 18th, 1844
MESSRS. VAIL & SIMPSON--Send by my boys a barrel of cider spirits, for Isaac Staats. It must be good or he will send it back.
R. H. FREEMAN.
The cause was argued in the Court of Chancery by James S. Green and Joseph W. Scott, for the complainant, who cited 1 Swanston 137; 1 Ves. & Beam 199; 1 Coxe 352, 3; 1 Wash. Rep. 578; 4 Cruise's Dig. 23; 1 Paige 581; 2 Green's Ch. 631; 2 Kent's Com. 451, of edition of 1832; 2 Paige 30; 5 Mason's Rep. 28.
And by William H. Leupp and P. D. Vroom, for the defend- [page 883]ants, who cited Saxton's Ch. 357, 324; 1 Chitty's General Pr. 526, 7; 3 P. Wm's 130, note a; 2 Green's Ch. 157; 1 Green's Law Reports 238; Fonbl. 138; 2 Green's Ch. 376; Saxton's Ch. 458.
THE CHANCELLOR ordered that a feigned issue be formed in the Supreme Court, and that the same be tried, (&c.,) to inquire, determine, and inform this court by the verdict of the said jury: First. Whether the said deed, (describing it,) is a valid deed, or whether the same was obtained from Isaac Staats by fraud, covin or misrepresentation. Second. Whether the said promissory note and warrant of attorney, (describing them,) were for a valuable consideration, and whether the said sum of $1655 was in good faith due from the said Staats to the said Freeman; and ordered further that copies of the bill, answer, depositions and exhibits read on the hearing of the cause in the Court of Chancery may be read and received in evidence on the trial before the said Circuit Court and jury, and ordered further, at the instance of the counsel of the respective parties, that a certain paper writing, on file in the chancery clerk's office, marked Exhibit A, which purports to contain the testimony of the witnesses taken in the trial of an action of ejectment at the Somerset Circuit, in November Term, in 1845, between John Den, ex dem. Isaac Staats, plaintiff, and the said Reuben H. Freeman, defendant, or a certified copy thereof may be read in evidence in the said trial so to be had, and that the said evidence may be read as original or rebutting testimony, and ordered further, at the like instance, that no new witness or witnesses be produced and sworn on the said trial, unless ten days' notice in writing be given of such intention, and of the name and names of such witness and witnesses, and of their respective places of abode.
And the Chancellor reserved all further and other directions until the issue be tried and the postea returned.
By the assent, and at the instance of both parties, a special jury was struck, before his Honor James S. Nevius, a justice of the Supreme Court, for the trial of the said feigned issue, and [page 884] at the November Term, 1850, of the Somerset Circuit, the same was tried before the said justice and such jury, and the said jury, by their verdict, found that the said deed was and is invalid, and that the said Isaac Staats, at the time of the making and executing the same, was incapable of conveying or assenting to any conveyance by reason of extreme intoxication, and that the said deed was obtained from the said Isaac by fraud, covin and misrepresentation, and that the said promissory note and warrant of attorney to confess judgment thereon were obtained by the said Reuben H. Freeman from the said Isaac Staats by fraud, covin and misrepresentation, and that the said sum of $1655 was not in good faith due and owing from the said Staats to the said Freeman, nor was any part thereof.
The feigned issue was tried on the same evidence that was taken in the Court of Chancery and sent down to be used on the trial, and none other.
At the June Term, 1851, of the Court of Chancery, an application was made to that court for a rule to show cause why the verdict should not be set aside on the ground that it was against the evidence. And the Chancellor, after argument, refused the rule.
And on the 4th February, 1852, after argument, a decree was signed by the Chancellor, by which it was decreed that the said deed was and is void, and that the said Freeman do, on the service of a copy of the decree, deliver up the same to the said Staats, to be canceled, and that the said Freeman do also deliver up to the said Staats the possession of the premises, and that the said Freeman and his wife re-convey the premises to the said Staats, free and clear, (&c.,) and that the said note and warrant of attorney and the judgment entered up thereon are, and were from the time of the entry thereof, null and void, and that the said Freeman do, on service of a copy of the decree, execute to the complainant a release of the said judgment, that the same may be marked satisfied on the record. And a reference to a master was ordered, to take and state an account, (&c.)
An appeal from this decree was taken to this court.[page 885]
Leupp and P. D. Vroom, for the appellants.
J. S. Green and J. W. Scott, for the respondent.
The decree of the Chancellor was unanimously reversed.