1813 Rufus Easton Court William Christy - John W. Thompson Sheriff St. Louis
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1813 Rufus Easton Court William Christy - John W. Thompson Sheriff St. Louis:
1813 St. Louis Presiding Court of William Christy. This Original Court Document is autographed by several men of this time period including the famous Rufus Easton. It is also autographed by Deputy Sheriff Carr for John W. Thompson Sheriff. It also has the autograph of a clerk John H. (not able to make out the last name). Case brought before Presiding Judge of the Common Court of Pleas August 14, 1813 in the Territory of Missouri County of St. Louis.This is one of those RARE finds of the early Territorial period of St. Louis History. Rufus Easton was an important figure as an attorney, and land speculator who was involved with such men as William Russell, Edward Bates and more.More Information on Easton below:Rufus Easton was born in Litchfield, Conn., May 4, 1774. His parents were of English descent, and some of the family rendered important services in the Revolutionary war. He received a good education before entering upon the study of the law. In February, 1791, he became a student in the law-office of Ephraim Kirby, a prominent lawyer of Litchfield, and remained with him two years, completing his studies elsewhere, and obtaining a license to practice law. To what extent, if any, he practiced in Connecticut does not appear; but at the opening of the present century he is heard of at Rome, N. Y., where he soon became known as a promising young lawyer. Here he attracted the attention of the leading men of the Republican party, and was so deep in their confidence as to be consulted regarding Federal appointments in Western New York, as appears from letters addressed to him by Gideon Granger, Mr. Jefferson's Postmaster-General.Mr. Easton spent the winter of 1803-4 at Washington. The subject of the approaching Presidential election was beginning to attract attention, and De Witt Clinton was prominently mentioned as a candidate, and was in communication with the leading Republicans. Just before Mr. Easton's departure for the seat of government, Mr. Clinton addressed him a note, requesting him to watch the progress of measures and act accordingly.While in Washington Mr. Easton determined to remove to New Orleans, and left for that purpose early in March, armed with a letter from Aaron Burr to a gentleman in Louisiana. The young lawyer evidently had strongly impressed Burr, for the latter showed him many attentions, and did much to make his stay in Washington a pleasant one.Mr. Easton did not, however, visit New Orleans, but decided to locate at Vincennes, Ind. His stay there was short, for in the same year he settled at St. Louis, which became his permanent residence.He again visited Washington in 1804-5, and received attention from men of prominence. It was during this winter that Burr completed arrangements to carry out his favorite project of establishing a Western empire on the banks of the Mississippi, with New Orleans for its capital. It is probable that he then resolved upon securing the co-operation of Easton; and in order to increase Easton's influence with the people of the Territory, as well as to place him under obligation to himself personally, he procured for him, in March, 1805, the appointment of judge of the Territory of Louisiana; and a few days later addressed him a letter, courteously phrased, and recommending him to make the acquaintance of Gen. Wilkinson, the newly-appointed Governor of the Territory, and others who, Burr said, were about to remove to the Territory. In the light of subsequent events this letter was of importance as foreshadowing Burr's conspiracy against the government, but there was nothing in it that then excited the suspicions of Easton, who interpreted it as merely one of the many civilities which he had received from Mr. Burr. That Burr and Wilkinson had formed an unpatriotic alliance fully appeared upon Burr's trial for treason; but Easton was not and could not then have been aware of the fact.Burr spent that summer in a trip down the Ohio, visiting Blennerhasset's Island, etc., and in June, 1805, was at Massac, where, in anticipation of visiting St. Louis, he wrote Judge Easton a letter designed to establish the most intimate relations between him and Governor Wilkinson, which indicates that he hoped to find him, when he arrived in St. Louis, not only in harmony but on terms of confidence and friendship with that official.Burr came to St. Louis in September, and the object of his visit was undoubtedly to secure the co-operation of Easton and other prominent men of the Territory in his scheme. He soon had a conference with Easton, and broached the subject of the empire, but received a decided and spirited refusal, and at once broke off all communication with him. After Burr left St. Louis, Wilkinson expressed a strong dislike for Easton, and circulated charges of official corruption against him, which came to the ears of President Jefferson, who, when Easton's commission expired, nominated another person to the office. Easton at once repaired to Washington, and sought an opportunity to meet the charges against him. He was granted a personal interview with Mr. Jefferson for that purpose, and the latter, being satisfied that Wilkinson's allegations were unfounded, appointed Judge Easton United States attorney. When Burr's conspiracy was officially disclosed to the President (in October, 1806), Judge Easton was appealed to for information on the subject, and frankly revealed all he knew. His own skirts were certainly clear of complicity in the matter, for as early as January, 1805, he wrote to Gideon Granger, stating his belief in the existence of a traitorous project to divide the Union, and in the following October informed the President that "Gen. Wilkinson has put himself at the head of a party of a few individuals who are hostile to the best interests of America." Judge Easton was violently attacked by witnesses in Burr's trial for withholding certain important information regarding the plot from the government, but he filed a deposition disclaiming any knowledge beyond what has been related, and was completely acquitted in the judgment of the leaders of the administration. He enjoyed a friendly and interesting correspondence with Mr. Granger and many of the leading men of his time, and was honored with letters from Jefferson, Clinton, Calhoun, Granger, and many others.In 1805 a post-office was established in St. Louis, and Judge Easton was appointed the first postmaster, a proof that the government reposed the utmost confidence in his patriotism and integrity. His popularity and influence in the Territory gradually increased, and in 1814 he was elected delegate to Congress and served four years. Upon the organization of the State government in 1821 he was appointed attorney-general, and continued in that office until 1826. He died at St. Charles, Mo., July 5, 1834.During this long and varied career Mr. Easton was actively engaged in the practice of his profession, and was indisputably the leading lawyer of the Territory. He was noted more for the soundness and vigor of his intellect than for eloquence, although he was not without many of the graces of oratory. He expressed himself with extraordinary clearness and force, and would have been esteemed a strong debater at any bar in the country. But his chief excellence consisted in his fine executive and administrative talents. He discharged the duties of every one of the many and important offices he held with distinguished ability and unimpeached fidelity.Judge Easton was a man of very kind heart, and was charitable to the full extent of his means. He and his accomplished wife (who was a native of New York) dispensed a most generous hospitality, and few strangers of note visited St. Louis without receiving an invitation to his house.He left a large family. The oldest son, Col. A. R. Easton, is still living. There were seven daughters; one married the Hon. T. L. Anderson, of Palmyra, Mo.; another became the wife of the Hon. H. S. Geyer; the third married Archibald Gamble, a brother of Governor Gamble; another was the wife of Major Sibley, of St. Charles. Mrs. Sibley was a lady of fine literary taste, and with her husband founded and endowed the Lindenwood Female Seminary at St. Charles, which became and is yet noted as an institution of learning.Judge Easton engaged largely in real estate speculation, his partner being William Russell, father-in-law of the late Hon. Thomas Allen. They owned the ground on which the present city of Alton, Ill., is situated. The city was named after Judge Easton's oldest son, and several of its streets after members of his family.