Crawford County, Pennsylvania

Habitual Drunkards
© Thomas L. Yoset

     Among the miscellaneous indexes shelved in the Office of the Prothonotary is a volume labeled General Index to Habitual Drunkards, No. 1, Crawford County.  Sobriety was the subject of 1819 state legislation, which established procedures for examining the competence of any Pennsylvania resident who “by reason of habitual drunkenness, has become incapable of managing his or her estate, and is wasting and destroying the same.”1  Any relation by blood or marriage2 could petition the county court of common pleas to appoint a “commissioner” (usually an attorney)3 who would summon six or more jurors to hear the testimony of witnesses at an “inquisition.”4

     If the jury unanimously found the accused to be habitually drunk, the court would appoint a one or two-person “committee” to act as guardian and trustee of his person and property.5  The habitual drunkard could later petition the court to terminate or "supersede" the proceedings by alleging reformation and habitual sobriety.

     The General Index contains only nine entries, and was evidently started about 1877, as additional cases can be found among earlier common pleas and orphans court papers. Abstracted below, inalphabetical order, are all twenty-four known cases of habitual drunkenness commenced during the nineteenth century.6  The following four twentieth century cases are listed in the General Index, but not included here:
Name Case Number Date of decree
Hudson C. Carroll #117 Nov. Term 1904 25 Nov. 1904
Edgar M. Hannah #23 May Term 1901 15 April 1901
Robert McTier #15 Nov. Term 1908 12 Oct. 1908
Laban A. Smith #112 Feb. Term 1906 [discontinued]
     Sobriety cases, like lunacy proceedings, are an easily overlooked source of family history.7  The reader should remember that not all of the accused were guilty, or afflicted: some were found to be competent, and others later recovered.  Some suits may have been motivated by a desire to seize a relative's property, or other considerations.  Christiana Mackay, for instance, petitioned to have her husband declared habitually drunk at about the same time that she filed for a divorce--but it was Mr. Mackay who was later awarded a divorce from Christiana.

Court of Common Pleas #3 April Term 1854, Appearance Dk. 25:101

Petition of Malasina Best [signed with her mark] of Crawford Co., Pa., wife of Charles Best of Crawford Co., who has considerable estate both personal and real, and has a wife and seven children; acknowledged 9 Jan. 1854 before Cooper Ray, J.P.  Commissioner appointed 13 Feb., and commission issued 21 Feb. 1854 [no further proceedings shown].
Court of Common Pleas #30 Feb. Term 1860, Appearance Dk. 31:15

Petition of Joseph Fox of Crawford Co., Pa., a Pennsylvania citizen, and brother-in-law of Elias Brookhouser, who has a life estate in about 45 acres of land in Hayfield Twp. bounded on the north by Tracy & Saeger, east by Louis George, and south and west by Jacob Brookhouser, and some personal property of the probable value of $100; acknowledged 19 Nov. 1859 before A. Clark, J.P. Commissioner appointed 25 Nov. 1859, and directed to give notice of an inquisition to the accused inebriate, to his eldest son, and to his son-in-law Philip Straw.

Inquisition held at Meadville 19 Dec. 1859 with jurors Samuel A Torbett, Joseph Derickson, Jas R. Porter, Chas Mason, G. W. Howard, and Geo. K Bain, who find [on 20 Dec.] that Elias Brookhouser is now [aged] 54 years and is by reason of habitual intoxication and drunkenness incapable of managing his estate, and wasting the same, and has been so for the past three years or longer; that he has personal property (one yolk of yearlings, one colt, and a small quantity of oats) worth $25, and holds fee simple title to 53 acres 65 perches of land deeded to him by his father (see Crawford Co. Deeds P-2:336-37) and held in trust by Jacob Brookhouser; that he "receives from said [real] estate through the care of said Jacob Brookhouser (brother) and Mrs George (sister) a good & sufficient support ..."; and that his next of kin are Jacob Brookhouser, Mrs George, Mrs Phillip Straw, and Mrs John Fox.  Jacob Brookhouser appointed committee.
Court of Common Pleas #198 Jan. Term 1869, Appearance Dk. 43:181

Petition of Samuel D. Culbertson [signed S.D. Culbertson] of Meadville, a Pennsylvania citizen, and related by marriage to George Burns of Hayfield Twp., who owns considerable real estate and some personal property, and has a wife and three children; acknowledged 7 Jan. 1864; Wm. F. Dickson attests.  Commissioner appointed, and directed to give notice of an inquisition to J. C. Dickson; commission awarded 8 Jan. 1869 [no further proceedings shown].
Court of Common Pleas #59 Sept. Term 1898, Appearance Dk. 149:59, 506

Petition of Lillian M. Cook [missing from file]; commission issued 22 June 1898, with directions that notice of an inquisition be given to John W. Burns and his nephew Tracy B. Burns.

Inquisition [missing; according to the docket,] held 5 July 1898 with [unnamed] jurors who say that John W. Burns is aged about 60 years; that he is an habitual drunkard, and by reason of said drunkenness is incapable of managing his estate and is wasting and destroying the same; that he is not possessed of any real estate; that he receives from the Government of the United States a monthly pension of $12, which is all the personal property he is possessed of; that the relatives of the said John W Burns are Jane Burns his wife aged 50 years and Lillian Cook his daughter aged about 30 years who are all his heirs and next of kin.  Charles P. Britton appointed committee 25 July 1898.

Petition of John W. Burns, asking the Court to order his committee to pay his government pension to the Soldiers and Sailors Home at Erie, Pa., so that he might be reinstated as an inmate there; acknowledged 24 June 1899.  [See file for answer of Charles P. Britton.]  Jury sworn and finds for defendant, Charles P. Britton, 2 Oct. 1899.  Final account of Charles P. Britton, committee, ack. 13 Nov. 1899.  [See file for exceptions thereto, and Opinion of the Court.]
Court of Common Pleas #289 Aug. Term 1851, Appearance Dk. 22:205

Petition of Mosley Chase of Cussewago Twp., a Pennsylvania citizen, and son of Elhanan Chase, who owns 45 acres of land in Cussewago Twp., bounded on the north by Jas. Curry[?], east by McBride and Shea, south by McBride, and west by Sweeny, and no personal property; and who has six children under the age of 21 years; acknowledged 1 Oct. 1851 before Wm. G. Culbertson, J.P. Commissioner appointed 13 Nov. 1851, and directed to give notice of an inquisition to Harrison Chase.  Notice served by Mosely Chase 20 March 1852 on Elhanan Chase by leaving a copy at his residence with his wife, and served personally on his son-in-law William Sweney [elsewhere Sweny].

Inquisition held 27 March 1852 with jurors Charles W. Barton, Walter Crocker, Wilmot Bartle, James D. Gill, William A. Hurst, and William D. Lowry, who say that Elhanan Chase is by reason of habitual intoxication and drunkenness incapable of managing his estate, and wasting the same; that he is possessed of a farm in Cussewago Township of from 40 to 42 acres of land, mostly improved, also some 50 acres of wild land in Erie County, and about $250 in personal property, being household furniture, farming utensils, and some stock on his farm.  Witnesses paid: E. Teney [i.e., E. A. Tinney?], H. Sweny, Warren Gill, and John McGuire.

E. A. Tinney appointed committee 24 Aug. 1852.  [See file for inventory and appraisement of Elhanan Chase of Cussewago Twp., farmer, taken 19 June 1852; for petition of E. A. Tinney, committee, to mortgage 45 acres bounded north by county line, east by Daniel A. McBride, south by F.A.A. Wilson, west by Morgan Swaney; for notice given 16 Feb. to "Misses Catharine Chase, wife of Elhanan Chase, and William Chase, the next of kin"; for waiver of notice, with hope that the petition be granted, signed Katharine Chase and Wm. Chase, James Irons attesting; and for court order.]

Petition of Elhanan Chase [signed E Chase] to expedite the inquisition, as he has reformed and become habitually sober; Catharine Chase, his wife, joins in support of the petition.  Court orders 8 Aug. 1853 that all proceedings be suspended for three months [no further proceedings shown].
Court of Common Pleas #5 Aug. Term 1861, Appearance Dk. 32:351

Petition of Hugh Hamilton of Mead Twp., a Pennsylvania citizen, and a relative by marriage of James Clark of Woodcock Twp. ("the wife of your petitioner and the second wife of said James Clark being sisters"), who has wasted and destroyed nearly all his property both real and personal, and has three children; acknowledged 26 Feb. 1861 before Prothonotary.  Inquest awarded 2 April 1861, to be held next week before the Associate Judge, with a jury empaneled from jurors then in attendance at court; notice to be given to Robert Clark, father of James Clark.  Inquest postponed 10 April 1861 to the fourth Monday of May [no further proceedings shown].
Court of Common Pleas #133 Nov. Term 1865, Appearance Dk. 36:671

Petition of Catherine Deichman [signed C.E. Deichman], wife of Joel Deichman, of Crawford Co.; acknowledged 3 Oct. 1865 before A. Clark, J.P.; with supporting affidavit of F. W. Ellsworth.  Commissioner appointed 3 Oct. 1865, and James Miller given notice of inquisition to be held 25 Oct. 1865 [no further proceedings shown].
Orphans' Court Dk. B:13 & papers [no term number]

Petition of the undersigned, Pennsylvania citizens and residents in Lehi[gh] Co., Pa., regarding Peter Dinkey of Meadville "(to whom the first of your petitioners is a brother and the other a brother in law by marriage with one of the sisters of the said Peter)"; signed Jacob Dinkey, John Saeger [no ack.]; George Dichman [signed George Deichman] attests.  Commissioner appointed 8 Aug. 1836.

Inquisition held 24 Dec. 1836 with jurors Edward A. Reynolds, Nicholas Conrad [signed (in German script) Johan nicklaus conroth], Wm McLaughlin, Samuel S. Adrain, George Davis, Zavan Sacket Jr., and Daniel Waggoner [signed Daniel Wagner] who find that Peter Dinkey is an habitual drunkard; that his real estate consists of a house and lot in Meadville, at the corner of South St. and the Susquehanna & Waterford turnpike, 6 acres south of Meadville fronting on the turnpike; and about 57 acres in Woodcock Twp., with an old log house and about 30 acres cleared; that he "is as near as the inquest can ascertain, of the age of forty two years. that he has a wife of about the age of thirty five years. And one male child named William about five months old. And that he has no other child to the knowledge of the inquest."  George Deichman and John George appointed as committee 15 Feb. 1837, with Joseph Derickson substituted 11 April 1837 when the latter declined to serve.

See Crawford County Genealogy 17(1994):50 for further details.
Court of Common Pleas #51 Nov. Term 1866, Appearance Dk. 38:421

Petition of Mary Ann Ford [signed Mary A Ford], lawful wife of William A. Ford; acknowledged 23 Aug. 1866 before Prothonotary; with supporting affidavit of F. A. Price.  Commissioner appointed 25 Aug. 1855, and directed to give notice of an inquisition to Peter Ford, father of the accused inebriate; commission issued 3 Sept. 1866 [no further proceedings shown; noted on papers:]
"Deed W.A. Ford to James Ford -- Book M, No 3. p 244 Made 15 Sept. 1866 in trust for family."

Court of Common Pleas #81 Nov. Term 1872, Appearance Dk. 50:491

Petition of Hannah Freymouth [signed Hannah Fryenouth(?)] of Meadville, wife of Amandus Freymouth of Meadville; acknowledged 16 Sept. 1872 before Clerk; Frank Smith attests.  Commissioner appointed 16 Sept. 1872, and directed to give notice of an inquisition to Amandus Freymouth.

Inquisition held at Meadville 29 Oct. 1872 with jurors Wm Pentz, C. M. Wood, H J. Humes, H. T. Haggerty, C W Tyler, and J.W Smith, who say that Amandus Freymouth is an habitual drunkard; that he owns one lot on Chestnut St., Meadville, with a two-story frame building, and one house and lot on Poplar St., and about $200 worth of personal property, consisting of household goods, saloon fixtures, etc.; that he "is of the age of about 35 years; and that his heirs and next of kin, are Hannah Freymouth, his wife aged 30 years, and one daughter aged four years."  James B. Brawley, Esq., appointed committee 18 Nov. 1872, but declines appointment, and John G. Hanes [Amandus' father-in-law] appointed committee 27 Nov. 1872.

Petition of Amandus Freymuth [signed Amuand(?) Freimuth], who "has become completely reformed and not drank a drop of any thing intoxicating for a period of four years," that proceedings be superseded, acknowledged 11 Aug. 1877.  Commissioner appointed and reports 24 Sept. 1877 that Amandus Freymouth has entirely reformed from the use of intoxicating liquors, and that he is as well in body and mind and as capable of attending to business as he ever was, based upon the following [signed] testimony taken at Meadville 22 Aug. and 5 Sept. 1877:
Amandus Fraumouth [signed (in German script) Amaund[?] Freimuth]: "I lived with Hanes about 3 years after Hanes was appointed [committee], last year I worked for William Flaugh, about eight or nine months; John G. Hanes collected my wages since the committee was appointed; I have worked on the farm all the time in West Fairfield Twp.; This year I worked for William Heath since a few days before the 4th of July. I have not drank ... since I left Meadville, between four and five years ago; I am just as well physically as I ever have been since I came to this country, over twenty years ago; When I first came to this country I went to my brothers and from there I went to Mathias Flaughs, from there I went to John Lupers and staid there a little over nine months; From there I went to Rev H H Thompson's and staid about ten years, from there I went into the Army and was there three years; From the Army I came to Meadville and was there until John G. Hanes was appointed committee; When I came to this country I had nothing but my clothes, my brother sent me the money to come from New York; I have no property except such as I have earned by my own labour; I own a house and lot on Poplar Street in Meadville, I paid $3,000.00 for it; That is where I kept house while I was in Meadville; I own a store building on Chestnut St in Meadville, now occupied by Henry Ernst; My house was well furnished; I married a daughter of John G. Hanes, about ten years ago, I don't exactly remember the date; I now have two children; I kept house with by wife and family until Hanes was appointed, and I went home with him; Hanes refused to give me money to buy tobacco with; He said he had quit and I must too; If it was not for my teeth I would not want it either; I went over to the Hanes house and asked my wife to come and live with me; Hanes said I should not have my wife or any of my property." [John G. Hanes, committee, objects to the testimony.]  William Heath [signed Wm D Heath]: I resides in East Fairfield Twp., have lived there 52 years, was born there, about a mile from Cochranton; have known Amandus over 20 years, since he could speak scarcely any English; the longest he has been away from me was when he was in the Army; while he was working for Flaugh I saw him about every Sunday at church; he is working for me now.  Sarah Fraumuth [signed Sarah E Freyermuth]: I am a sister-in-law of Amandus, has known him ever since he came to this country; he came to our house when he first came to this country; he was with my husband a year ago last March; My husband was butchering; Amandus kept his accounts and everything was correct and right.  John Peterson: I reside in Fairfield Twp., about ¼ mile from John G. Hanes; I own a farm and live there; have lived there all my life, 43 years; have known Amandus about 9 years; passed Hanes' home when they were quarreling; his wife said she would never live with him [extended account]; when I first got acquainted with him he was keeping a restaurant in Meadville.  Hiram Smock: am 47 years of age; live in West Fairfield Twp., joining farms with John G Hanes; have known Amandus 8 or 9 years; he attends church regularly.  William Flaugh: Live in East Fairfield Twp.; have known Amandus since he first came to this county; he worked for me seven months and a half from the middle of March 1876; I was just a boy when he came to this country, we were both boys, he a few years oldest; I was 16 or 17, he was 19; He worked for my father.  Mathias Flaugh: Am an Elder in the German Reform Church; Amandus is a member and attends church regularly; I have known him ever since he came from the old country; I am the father of William Flaugh; I live on the same farm with my son.  Aaron Flaugh: Have known him ever since he came to this country; I am past 35 years of age; my observation of him has been since he came to work for my brother.  Silas Powell [signed Silas W. Powell]: Know him 3 or 4 years; I live about half a mile from Hanes; "Am 24 years old 25 in Oct."  Jacob Fraumuth [signed Jacob Freyermuth]: I am a nephew of his; I have known him ever since he came to this country; he worked in our neighborhood last summer and I saw him every other Sunday during the summer at Church.  David Waters corroborates the testimony of Aaron Flaugh.  A. T. Harvey and Reuben Doutt corroborate the testimony of Aaron Flaugh. [Testimony continued 5 September 1877:James Adams [signed Jas. M. Adams]: I reside in Cochranton; know him 20 years; for 10 or 12 years he worked on the farm joining the one where I live; regard him as a sharp, shrewd businessman.  Robert Patton: Have known him for about 20 years; can corroborate testimony of James Adams; reside in Cochranton; saw him there in my store.  Alexander Patton [signed Alx Patton] corroborates testimony of James Adams; I have been at his place of business in Meadville frequently; saws him at my store; guess he called at the store every time he came to Cochranton.  Robert Pegan: I have known him some 17 or 18 years; I was frequently in his place of business while he was in Meadville; this summer he was in my place of business; I keep an Eating House in Cochranton; in former times I only knew him as a saloon keeper, I saw him behind the bar, at his saloon.  James Martin: Know him for about 20 years; I live in Cochranton.  Robert Heath: Know him for about 20 years; he has been at my house frequently some years ago; I live 3 miles south east of Cochranton.  John Bell: Have known him for about 20 years; he lived near me with Rev. Thompson for a number of years; have known John G Hanes since 1845 and I now consider Amandus Fraumuth much the smartest business man of the two.  George Hardy [signed with his mark]: I have known him for about 20 years, worked all harvest with him this summer.  J. H. Peterman [signed John H. Peterman]: Am J.P. of Fairfield Twp.; know him for about 20 years; have worked with him; he and I were in the Army together.  William Heath [signed Wm D. Heath] (recalled): is acquainted with John G Hanes and have heard him say several times since these proceedings commenced that Fraumuth could have his property back and he was perfectly willing he should have it if he would pay him back what money he had advanced.

Court decrees 20 Dec. 1877 that Amandus Freymouth is reformed and has become habitually sober, all proceeedings are superseded and terminated upon Amandus executing a mortgage to John G. Hanes for $2000 upon his house and lot on Poplar St. conditioned for the payment of any sum which may be found due ... upon final settlement of his account and confirmation, with John G. Hanes to satisfy certain debts of Amandus, and collect rents from this date until 1 April 1878.  Final account of John G. Hanes shows cash from [sale of] saloon fixtures, household furniture, and barber shop furniture, with a balance due of $1450 per agreement, acknowledged 12 Feb. 1878; filed 25 March 1878.
Court of Common Pleas #159 Nov. Term 1859, Appearance Dk. 30:536

Petition of O.H.P. Herrington of Greenwood Twp., a Pennsylvania citizen, and son of Edward Herrington of Fairfield Twp., who is possessed of some personal property, and has eight children, and one grandchild, the child of a deceased daughter; acknowledged 29 Sept. 1859 before Cooper Ray, J.P. Commissioner appointed 8 Oct. 1859, and directed to give notice of an inquisition to Edward Herrington and his sons-in-law Frdk Wyhtman [Frederick Wightman] and Theodore Minnis.

See Crawford County Genealogy 9(1986):42-44 and court papers for additional details.
Court of Common Pleas #46 May Term 1886, Appearance Dk. 100:32

Petition of Sara G. Herron, wife of David R. Herron, who has no relatives living in said county, or near thereto, and who is now under restraint in the State Hospital for the Insane at Warren, Pa., and has a very small estate, consisting of a pension of $8 per month from the U.S. Government, that the costs of inquisition will be found an undue burden; acknowledged 19 Feb. 1886 before Clerk; with supporting affidavits of O. H. Hollister and Frank M. Braymer, who have been acquainted with defendant for more than three years last past.  Commissioner appointed 22 Feb. 1886, and directed to give notice of an inquisition by telegram to the brother of D. R. Herron at Pittsburg[h].

Inquisition held 27 Feb. 1886 with jurors M. M. McFarland, John D Clemson, Frank Henry, J. E. Ellis, Thos. J. Barr, and Oscar Hartman, who "find that the said David R. Herron is & has been a lunatic & habitual drunkard since January 1, 1886, that he is about fifty years of age, that he has a wife, Sara G. Herron & no children, and that he has an estate of $8. per month pension due from the U.S. Gov't & no other estate so far as we are informed & believe."  Sara G. Herron appointed committee 15 March 1886.

Petition of D. R. Herin [signed D R Herron], who is now of sound mind, in good health and habitually sober, to have the proceedings superseded; acknowledged 11 Nov. 1886 before Prothonotary.  Commissioner appointed and the following [unsigned] testimony taken at Meadville 22 Nov. 1886:
T. J. Smiley: I am a member of the Board of Trustees for the State Hospital for the Insane at Warren Pa.; have known him for a number of years; have seen him as often as once a week for the last six months; can see nothing wrong with him at the present time mentally; has been strictly temperate for the past three or four weeks; [cross:] he was committed upon certificate of two physicians from Meadville, think the primary cause of it was intemperance; confined because his mind seemed to be deranged from the excessive use of intoxicating drinks; he left the asylum last Saturday I think; he was not allowed intoxicating drinks there; cannot say whether his habits of intemperance have been cured; he was discharged last summer, he had been there about three months; he came to Titusville in August or September and became so badly intoxicated that it was necessary to return him to the Asylum.  M. R. Rouse: I live in the City of Titusville, have known him a number of years; talked with him last evening ate supper with him; he talks as rational and sensible as he ever did as far as I can see.  Dr. C. P. Woodring: I am a practicing physician; have been acquainted with D. R.. Herron about five years, have seen him frequently in that time, have treated him professionally, have recently examined him as to his sanity, consider him sane; he is in fair health.  O. H. Hollister: I have known him seven or eight years, he seems to be all right at present, think he is temperate at present.  P. F. Hallock: I am acquainted with him and have been for some years, have seen him several times within the last ten days and have had frequent conversations with him; have observed him critically for the reason that I was present when testimony was taken about ten days ago in this case; in my judgment he is as sane as any person and from all appearances his habits are good.
S.G. Herron, committee, recommends at Meadville 29 Nov. 1886 that the proceedings be superseded, "as I consider the said D.R. Herron fully recovered and competent to manage his own affairs."  Proceedings superseded 29 Nov. 1886.

Court of Common Pleas #3 Nov. Term 1887, Appearance Dk. 106:3

Petition of Sara G. Herron, "that David R. Herron, a resident of said County, now is and for a period of more than one month last past, has been a lunatic, and a habitual drunkard; that [he] is now under restraint in State Hospital for the Insane at Warren Pa, and that he cannot conveniently be removed to the place of his residence; that [he] has a very small estate, consisting of a pension of $8.00 per month from the U.S. Government, and that the costs of inquisition will be found an undue burden; that she is the wife of the said David R. Herron and that he has no relations living in said County or near thereto"; acknowledged 19 Aug. 1887.  Supporting affidavits of O. H. Hollister and Frank M. Braymer, who have been acquainted with David R. Herron for more than three years last past; acknowledged 5 Sept. 1886 [sic].  Commissioner appointed.

Inquisition held 12 Sept. 1887 with jurors Jno. Hartman, S. R. Harper, Jacob Work, Frank Power, G. L. Kaler, and A. Waid, who "find that the said David R. Herron is & has been a lunatic & habitual drunkard since July 1, 1887, that he is about fifty years of age, that he has a wife Sara G. Herron & no children and that he has an estate of $8.00 per month pension due from the U.S. Gov't. & no other estate so far as we are informed and believe."  Sara G. Herron appointed committee 12 Sept. 1887.
Court of Common Pleas #55 Aug. Term 1852, Appearance Dk. 23:133

Petition of Samuel J. Johnston of Woodcock Borough, a Pennsylvania citizen, and a son of James Johnston of the same borough, who owns considerable real estate in value and some personal property, and who "has a wife named Mary and seven children beside the petitioner named respectively, Elizabeth A. Mary O. Jennett, Robert Telitha Francis, Thos. Franlkin and Margarett"; acknowledged 25 May 1852 before the Associate Judge.  Commissioner appointed 25 May 1852, and directed to give notice of an inquisition to the inebriate and to Robert Johnston as his near friend and relation.

Inquisition held at John Shearer's house in Cambridge Twp. 28 June 1852 with jurors David Powell Sr., Jacob Baugher [signed Jacob S Baugher], Daniel Burgess, William J. Thorp, Daniel Rupert, and Frederick Allen, who find that James Johnston is an habitual drunkard and has been so for the last 10 years or longer, that he owns about 18 acres of land in Woodcockboro and two cows and household furniture, that he has disposed of about 21 acres of real estate since becoming an habitual drunkard, that he is aged 50 "and has a wife of the age of forty-nine, and eight children to wit. S. J Johnston 27, Elisabeth Ann 24, Mary O. 22, Jennett 19, Robert 17, Margaret 14 Thomas F. 11, Elitha 11, all residents of [Crawford] co."  Robert Johnston of Cambridge and Samuel J. Johnston of Woodcock appointed committee 10 Aug. 1852.
Court of Common Pleas #131 Aug. Term 1853, Appearance Dk. 24:280

[Papers catalogued as "missing"; the docket indicates that the petition was filed by Catharine Kauffman, and a commission issued 25 July 1853; proceedings returned and filed 9 Aug. 1853.]
Court of Common Pleas #48 Nov. Term 1878, Appearance Dk. 70:48

[The docket indicates that the petition was filed by James Lamb, and a commissioner appointed 27 Aug. 1878.  The only paper in the file is the following:]  H R Womersly, G A Dickson, E Koestis, J Shartle, G A Steel, and S W Sellew summoned as jurors for an inquisition to be held 6 Sept. 1878 as to Levi L. Lamb of the Borough of Townville
Court of Common Pleas #145 Feb. Term 1862, Appearance Dk. 33:73

Petition of Christiana M. Mackay [signed Christiana Maria Mackey] of Crawford Co., Pa., a Pennsylvania citizen, and the wife of John R. Mackay of Conneaut Twp., who owns considerable personal property and has a wife and three children; acknowledged 16 Jan. 1862 before A. Clark, J.P.; Elizabeth M. Holcomb attests. Commission issued 25 Jan. 1862 [no further proceedings shown].

For divorce actions, see #103 Feb. Term 1862, Appearance Dk. 33:52, Chrisitiana Maria Mackay vs. John Robert Mackay, and #45 Feb. Term 1863, Appearance Dk. 34:23, John Robert Mackay vs. Christiana Maria Mackay.
Court of Common Pleas #128 April Term 1877, Appearance Dk. 64:128

Petition of Peter Miller, a son of Sebastian Miller of Crawford Co.; acknowledged 8 Feb. 1877 before J. N. McCloskey, J.P.; with supporting affidavits of John King and Luther Leberman [signed L.A. Leberman Col].  C.M. Boush, Esq., appointed commissioner 8 Feb. 1877, and directed to give notice of an inquisition to Sebastian Miller, John Miller, and (Sebastian's friend) Sebstian Striffler.

Inquisition held at Meadville 15 Feb. 1877 with jurors Adam Orris, Henry Hartman, James D. Gill [signed J. D. Gill], Charles Brawley, William Henderson [signed Wm W. Henderson], and Laffayete Barr [signed L. Barr], who say that Sebastian Miller is an habitual drunkard, that he owns a lot in Meadville Fourth Ward, bounded east by Market St., north by Pine St., west by lot of Sebastian Leiser, and south by Pine Alley, with two frame two-story houses thereon, valued at about $4000, and no personal property of any value; that he is 65 years of age, "has no wife, that he has eight children living, to wit: Peter Miller aged thirty seven years, John Miller aged thirty three years, Michael Miller aged twenty nine years, Charles Miller aged twenty three years, George Miller aged twenty two years, Barbara intermarried with Wm. Haines aged thirty five years, Mary intermarried with Fred. Rice aged thirty one years, Rosa Miller aged eighteen years."  Testimony of witnesses [unsigned]:
Mrs. Mary O'Daniels: I know him for many years; he is old.  John King: Know him 12 years, been a tenant of his; when he gets tenants he abuses them and they can not stay; the property is well situated for renting; since I have gone it is little occupied; he could not have shot at the man in self defense because the man was across the street.  Peter Miller: I am his oldest son; he "has got seven children viz: Peter thirty seven years old, John thirty three years, Michael twenty nine, Charles twenty three, Barbara intermarried Wm Haines, aged thirty five years, Mary intermarried with Fred Rice aged thirty three one years, Rosa Miller aged eighteen years, George Miller twenty two years, Mrs. Miller my mother is death [sic] my father Seb. Miller is sixty five years old"; he has very little personal property.  Charles Wilkes: Know him for 10 years; I saw him shoot at a little girl across the street, he calls every passer by the most outrageous names; Everybody is affeared of him that is the reason he can get no tenant.  John Gable: I know him for many years, for the last three lived near him.  Isaac Moyer: I know him 25 years, lived in same neighborhood for the last 6 years; he abuses everybody; If he gets the money from his property into his hands he would either kill himself drinking or nothing would be left in a short time.  Frank Shaedley: Known him for last 10 years, want to have nothing to do with him.  Frank Striffler: He has trouble with his tenants.  Michael GardnerGeo. P. Barns: Know him for two three years; He is the closest man I ever dealt with.  David Boyd: Know him 10 years; have arrested him for drunkenness and disorderly conduct, get frequent complaints.  John Miller: I am a son of his; I left home 9 years ago, his drinking habit is very bad the last 15 years; when he is drunk he is very abusive no one can get along with him, he uses weapons then; he pawned my son's violin that was left with him to fix it; a week ago Saturday I was called for, found him drunk badly, found my sister in bed bleeding; the property would rent well but cannot obtain any renters.  Ignaz Michel: I know him for the last 9 years.  Wm Quay: I live on the same street, known him for 9 years.  Henry Hemler: Known him for 9 years; I sold him the property he owns. Mrs. Barb. Haines: I am his oldest daughter; I live in one of his houses; I was beaten by him about three weeks ago in one of his drunken fits; he advertised his party for sale.  Peter Leinen[?]: I know him 7 years.  Witnesses for the accused: Louis Michel: He is a close man in some things.  Michael Hauk: I live near him. John Mahrhoeffer.
Michael Gartner appointed committee 21 Feb. 1877 on petition of Peter Miller and John Miller, both of Meadville, the two oldest sons.  Peter Miller appointed committee 23 Sept. 1878 in place of Michael Gartner, who resigned

Petition of Sebastian Miller [signed Seb Müller], who, "without admitting that he ever was an habitual drunkard in the legal signification of that term says he is reformed and is habitually sober," that his committee be discharged; acknowledged 7 July[?] 1881 before W. C. Power, J.P.  Commissioner appointed 12[?] Sept. 1881 and reports 26 Nov. 1883 "that he is not reformed, only partially reformed," based upon the testimony of the following witnesses, taken on the dates indicated:
3 Nov. 1881: James R Porter. Frank A. StrifflerJoseph T. MartinJohn King: "he moved out of the 4th ward, into the 3rd ward where he now lives with his son Charles."  P Alex AffantrangerFrederick RiceJohn Marhoffer [/s John Marhöfer].  George ShreckJacob ShoemakerFrank Hanoway7 Dec. 1881: Balser Schisler [signed B Schissler]. Michael Frantzman: "I am 77 years old next April ... I live with my daughter."  2 Dec. 1881: Fred. Moessner10 Jan. 1882: Levan Staley,"am 54 years old."
Petition of Peter Miller, committee, for a private sale of the real estate to Charles A. Miller, the youngest son, granted 15 June 1889.
Court of Common Pleas #96 May Term 1883, Appearance Dk. 88:96

Petition of Frank H. Moon [signed Frank Moon] and Geo. C. Wallace [signed G C Wallace], the former a son and the latter a son-in-law of Orris Moon, a resident of Pine Twp; acknowledged 6 April 1883 before Prothonotary; with supporting affidavits of Henry E. Wiser and D. S. Barackman, who have been acquainted with Orris for more than ten years, stating that he has been unfit to manage himself and his affairs for the past four or five years. Commissioner appointed 6 April 1883, and directed to give notice of an inquisition to Orris Moon, Chas. Moon, and Henry Moon as next friend.

Inquisition held at the Court House 12 and 13 April 1883 with jurors Fos. ["F. F." per costs] Bennett, J. P. Williams, S. J. McCray, Emmet McArthur, Dan Nash, and Robt. Andrews, who find that Orris Moon is not an habitual drunkard; that he had owned about 98 acres in Pine Twp. which were sold to Jno W Sheldon 2 April 1883, and has personal property (including livestock, buggy, wagons, farming implements, household furniture, and mortgage); that he is aged 55 years or thereabouts; and that his heirs and next of kin are five children, namely Helen, wife of Geo Wallage, aged 29 years; Charles Moon, aged 28 years; Maria, wife of Jno Sheldon, aged 27 years; Frank Moon, aged 23 years; and Henry Moon, aged 16 years.  Testimony of witnesses [unsigned]:
Frank Moon: I was 23 years old last December; Orris Moon has the following children: Helen, wife of Geo Wallace, her age 29; Charles Moon, age about 28; Maria, wife of John Sheldon, age 27; Frank Moon, age 23; Henry Moon, age 16; my father had a farm 100 acres in Pine Township, which he sold to Mr Sheldon, with well improved frame house 24 x 32, painted, a good farm house insured for $1000, three barns one 24 x 34, horse barn, cow barn 40 x 50, hay barn 20 x 20, orchard of five acres, farm worth $8 or $9000; he said he was going to sell his property, get that girl and go to New York State; [cross examination:] for the last 4 or 5 years have lived 2 years with Mr Wallace, have seen my father almost every day; am a wagon maker, have been at his house once a week for the past year.  C. P. Straw: I live at Linesville, have known him 8 or 10 years.  Doct Tyler: I live in Linesville, physician for 30 years; was called to see him some weeks ago, [he] had taken an overdose of ars[e]nic.  S. E. Bunday: Have known him 12 years; it was at Crossingville where I referred to his having the tremens.  Wm. Wallace: Known him 12 years, live 50 rods from him.  Mrs Wallace: Am his daughter; he said he would sell his farm run through with his money & go to the Poor House; he seemed to be out of his head when he poisoned himself.  Mrs Maria Sheldon: Am his daughter; I have not seen my Father often the last year, [he has] not been at my house for a year.  Jno Gaugh: Known him 10 or 11 years.  J. D. Irons: Known him 10 or 12 years, live in Pine Twp., a little over a mile [from him]; am a Justice of the Peace.  Jno Bunnell: Known him 10 or 12 years, live in Linesville, he has frequently been in my Billiard Room.  Jas H Garner: Known him 12 years some; am in Linesville often.  Mrs. McFadden: Live on Moons place for a year & a half, tenants of his; he lived & boarded with us. Cullender McFadden: I am his tenant; he tries to skin me alive.  -- Barrachman: Brakeman on M & L RR, known [him] 13 or 14 years, [he] occasionally goes out home on train.  Hiram Sheakley: Known him 11 or 12 years, see him once or twice a week.  Henry Moon: Am his son, have not seen him over five or six times the last year, been away from home for a year.  Henry Thompson: Known him 12 years, live in Linesville, he is there almost every day; he has a farm; don't think he works.  Z B Farr: Known him 3 years.  George Graham: Known him 15 years.  Chas Moon: Have been living with my father for the last four months; gets so that he rolls around the gutter.  Levi Kissell: I am turnkey at Jail.  Geo Wallace: Am his son-in-law; I forbid him bringing women to the house.  M. S. Cotton: Live in Linesville, on a farm adjoining Moon farm; for the last two years he has been letting out his farm.  M A Arnold: Live in Linesville, keep a Hotel. S A Miller: Live in Linesville & do business there; sold him goods; bought his cattle.  Wm Van Winkle: Known him number of years; live ½ mile from Linesville.  Anthony Garwood: Had business transactions with him.  Jno Sheldon: Am his son-in-law; have seen him 6 to 10 times in last year; before that he worked for me; worked his place with him 3 years ago; bought his farm.  H. C. Espy: Met him occasionally at Meadville and Linesville and at my place on business transactions.  Saml SheldonA BatesOrris Moon: I am 55 years old; can read print can't read writing, can't write; have rheumatism in my knee & it sometimes makes me stagger; have business transactions such as farmers do; sold my farm; I told my son that I would go East and live with my sister who is a widow.  Jno O McClintock: Known him 2 or 3 years, saw him in Meadville frequently.
[Note on cover, dated 6 June 1883:] "It does not appear that there was probable cause for this application."  A motion to have the petitioners pay the court costs was granted 31 March 1884.
Court of Common Pleas #95 Feb. Term 1864, Appearance Dk. 35:48

Petition of A. W. Myers, son of Joseph B. Myers of Woodcock Twp., who owns "considerable property (a farm upon which he resides in said Township County & state) and has a wife (the mother of the petitioner) and ten children, two of whom are young and reside with their parents"; acknowledged 29 Dec. 1868 before Prothonotary.  Supporting affidavit of Elizabeth Myers, "who is the wife of Joseph B. Myers and resides in Woodcock Twp.; that Joseph B. Myers and this deponent have ten children of whom three (the youngest) are still residing at home. Their names as follows. John. Sarah Ann intermarried with Henry Braymer. Henry. Sophia intermarried with Thomas Ford. Alexander. Emma intermarried with S Kelley. Albert. Mary. Juliette. Augusta. all but Juliette & Augusta being over the age of twenty one years. That said Joseph B. Myers is aged sixty three years and a farmer by occupation, and owns a farm on Woodcock Creek in said Township containing about eighty acres with considerable improvements"; acknowledged 14 Dec. 1863.  Commissioner appointed 12 Jan. 1864, and directed to give notice of an inquisition to Mrs. Elizabeth Myers.

Inquisition held at Meadville 27 Jan. 1864 with jurors Cyrus Kitchen, Kennedy Davis, A. Stewart Davis, Jesse Smith, J. C. Dickson, and Henry C. Davis, who say that Joseph B. Myers is aged 63 years and a habitual drunkard, possessed of about $500 of personal property and land valued at about $150; that Elizabeth Myers, aged about 55 years is his wife[,] and John G. Myers, aged about 36 years, Sarah A. aged about 34, H B aged about 31, Sophia E aged about 29, A.W. aged about 27, Emma M aged about 25[,] Joseph A aged about 22, Mary A aged about 20, Juliette A aged about 17 and Augusta M aged about 13 are his children and heirs.  The following were paid for testifying: Andrew Ryan, 7 miles; Francis H. Wilson, 7 miles; George R. Wilson, 7 miles; Andrew Floyd, 6 miles; James Wygant, 6 miles; Russell Hanover, 6 miles; John Myers, 7 miles; Henry Braymer, 16 miles; and Elizabeth Myers, 16 miles.  Squire Kelley appointed temporary committee 12 Feb. 1864.

Petition of Joseph B. Myers [signed J B Myers] of Woodcock Twp., who was become reformed and habitually sober, to have proceedings superseded; acknowledged 5 Nov. 1864.  Testimony taken 23 Nov. 1864:
Samuel B. Long [signed S B Long]: I have known Joseph B. Myers for 30 years; I live about 1¼ miles from him; I keep hotel, have for 2 years past.  Andrew Ryan, Esq. [signed A. Ryan]; I have known him for over 30 years, live in his neighborhood; he worked for me some through the summer, 8 or 10 days.  W. P. Bradshaw: Live within half a mile of him; known him ever since I have known anybody--25 years anyhow.  Wm M. Wilson [signed Wm Wilson]: I live in sight & hearing of Mr. Myers & have for over 30 years; I have understood that his wife left once or twice on account of his drink.  A. B. Floyd: I have known him ever since 1833.
Proceedings suspended 25 Nov. 1864, subject to future order or directions of the Court.

Proceedings reinstated 11 Jan. 1865, "It appearing on the examination of witnesses in open Court, that James B. Myers has been for several weeks last past an habitual drunkard."  By consent, Benjamin G. David, Esq., of Saegertown, appointed committee.  Inventory filed 14 Feb. 1865.

Petition of Joseph B Myers [signed J B Myers] of Woodcock Twp., that he has become reformed, and is habitually sober, to have the proceedings superseded; acknowledged 15 Jan. 1867.  Commissioner appointed 15 Jan. 1867.  Supplemental petition of Joseph B. Myers [signed J B Myers], who has remained habitually sober; acknowledged 19 Aug. 1867.  Testimony taken at Meadville, on the dates indicated:
31 Aug. 1867: Andrew Ryan, Esq. [signed A. Ryan]: Am 42 years old; reside on Woodcock Creek; joined farms with him; he boards with the man who bought his farm.  George Ryan [signed George P. Ryan]: Am 23 years old; reside in Woodcock Twp.; have known him since my infancy; don't live more than a half mile from him.  Saml B Long [signed S B Long]: Am 61 years old; reside in Woodcock Twp.; I keep a public house.  William Wilson: Am 52 years old; reside in Woodcock Twp., about a half mile from him.  William M Long [signed W M Long]: Am 47 years old; reside in Woodcock Twp., about a mile & a quarter from him.  J. B. Stull: Am 44 years old; reside in Woodcock Twp.; am a farmer; am acquainted with him and have been for about 35 years; live about a mile from him.  5 Oct. 1867: Wm Dickson [signed William S(?} Dickson]:  Am 63 years old; reside in Woodcock Twp.; am acquainted with him, have been for 30 or 40 years; live about a half mile from him; join farms.  23 May 1868: S B Long: Am 62 years of age; he now boards with Mr Swartz; I kept a public house until last April; I live on the public road leading from Saegertown to Blooming Valley.  Wm M Long [signed W M Long].  Jas A Hurd: I have known him over 30 years.  John B Myers [signed John G Myers]: I am a son of his; from the 10th of Oct. to the last of Jan. he boarded with me, since that time at Mr. Swartz.  Sarah Swartz [signed with her mark]: He has boarded nearly 4 months at our house.  John Wykoff [signed John Wikoff]: I have known him 40 years.  "It is agreed that Jacob Stull, Geo Ryan, Samuel Schwartz, Henry Lilly, Permelia Ryan would if sworn testify to the same facts ...."
By consent of the parties in interest, committee discharged 25 May 1868.
[no case number; filed with Court of Common Pleas #19 Feb. Term 1849 (divorce action)]

Petition of Hannah Parker [signed Hannh Parker] whose husband Ledyard Parker has been a lunatic at intervals or habitual drunkard for some 8 years, and has a wife and 4 children; acknowledged 19 Nov. 1847 before Wm D. Tucker, J.P.  Commissioner appointed 19 Nov. 1847, and directed to give notice to Wicks [elsewhere "Wix"] Parker, the brother of the husband; served "by copy left as his former residence." C. W. Stewart, Alex Throop, James Porter, Joseph Zinn, Jonathan Davids, Jesse Rupp, Wm Lattermore, David Guchard/Gushard, H. L. Richmond, and S. B. Long subpoenaed to testify.

Inquisition held at Meadville 11 Dec. 1847 with jurors Alanson Lindley, Addison Rowland, Wm McArthur, Jesse Rupp, William Davis [signed William Davis Jr.], and John C. Kean, who find that Ledgar Parker has been during the last 6 years, an habitual drunkard, and is lunatic, with sane intervals, and that his insanity is the result of drunkenness; that he has no real estate, and his personal property is worth not more than about $30; that he "has a wife and four children, the oldest Benjamin F is about 8 years, David 7 years, Mary Franes [sic] 4 years and Rhoda Jane 2 years of age."
#112 Aug. Term 1875, Appearance Dk. 57:112-13, 523-29

Petition of Nancy Tarr and Eli C. Tarr of Titusville, the wife and a son of George A. W. Tarr of Titusville, who "with increasing frequency is violent and abusive to his family and friends, threatening them with bodily injury, and with death, [and who] avows his intention to withdraw his money and government bonds from the bank ... and dispose of the same, and particularly to prevent his wife and children from any part therein or benefit therefrom"; acknowledged 3 June 1875; with supporting affidavits of Isaac Relf ("he does not provide for his family as he ought"), Jas L Dunn, M.D. ("am a practicing physician residing in Titusville ... he has lost his money almost entirely; he is also physically broken down"), J. J. Hirst, William Fibbs, M. E. Bassett, J.P., Mrs. Nettie Fibbs (daughter of George A. W. Tarr), and Eli C. Tarr.  Commissioner appointed.

Inquest held at Titusville 21 and 22 June 1875 with jurors Clark Brown, James R. Luce [signed J. R. Luce], John M. Allen, Z. Martin, C. E. Tracy [signed Chas B Tracy], and N. R. Bates, who say that George A. W. Tarr is an habitual drunkard and has been so for one year past; that he owns one house and lot on South Franklin St. in Titusville; that he possesses goods and chattels consisting of U.S. bonds ($55,000), Forest Co. bonds ($10,000), money in bank ($12,152), two horses ($150), one cow ($40), and household furniture including piano ($300); that he is of the age of about 45 years; and that his heirs and next of kin are Nancy Tarr, wife, aged 40 years; Eli Tarr, son, 21 years; Cassia, daughter, 19 years; Matilda, daughter, 20 years; Nettie, daughter, 17 years; Mary, daughter, 14 years; Susie, daughter, 12 years; Peter, son, 10 years; and Goldie, daughter, 5 years.  Peter Bennehoof of Cherrytree Twp., Venango Co., appointed committee 7 Aug. 1875, and his bond set at $100,000.

[Court proceedings dragged on through at least 1901.  Nancy Tarr was appointed committee in 1878, and then removed, on the petition of her daughters Mrs. Annetta Fibbs and Mrs. Catherine Carr, as committee of the person of George A. W. Tarr  (she continued as committee of the estate).  Nancy appealed (and lost) when she was ordered to pay her daughters' attorney fees out of the estate; see Tarr's Estate, 10 Pa. Super. Ct. 554 (1899); see also 1899 Crawford Co. Hist., 866 (biog.).]
#67 April Term 1853, Appearance Dk. 24:143

Petition of Nathan S Swift of Woodcock Twp., a Pennsylvania citizen, and brother-in-law of Joseph Thayer of Woodcock Twp., who is possessed of some personal property and has a wife and several children; also signed Clarissa A Thayer [not ack.]; Joseph Stager and James Wykoff attest 21 March 1853 before Jesse Wheelock, J.P.  Commissioner appointed 27 March 1853, [with notice of inquisition to be given to?] "William Willis" next friend [no further proceedings shown].
#83 May Term 1888, Appearance Dk. 108:83, 332-33, 336-38

Petition of Elizabeth C. Dale of Warren Co., Pa., a Pennsylvania citizen, and sister to the mother of Frank E. Wilkins of Oil Creek Twp., who is between 29 and 30 years of age and owns an undivided one-half interest in about 7 acres of improved land near Titusville and in some personal property; acknowledged Warren Co., Pa., 31 March 1888.  Supporting affidavits of Daniel M. Zook and Susannah Stewart; acknowledged 7 April 1888 before J. Holden, J.P.  Commissioner appointed 10 April 1888, and directed to give notice to Frank E. Wilkins and his sister Mrs. Rebecca M. Niles.

Inquisition held at Titusville 9 May 1888 (after two continuances) with jurors W. J. Booth, G. Shamburg, A. S. Ralston, A. C. Harton, S. D. Robinson, W. W. Pennell, and Dr. H. Y. Pickering, who find that  is an habitual drunkard and incapable of managing his estate.  O. D. [elsewhere Orin D.] Harrington appointed committee 11 June 1888, on the testimony of George Battles, Mrs. Adelia Bevins, Doctor G. W. Barr, Doctor I. L. Dunn, Maggie Britt, and D. W. Niles for petitioner, and of S. Stettheimer, D. P. Roberts, John Mather, John Lee, Mr. Peterson, Mr. Firth, S. Alderman, and Casper Hack for respondent.

Petition of Frank E. Wilkins, who has become restored to his reason and is habitually sober, to have the proceedings superseded, etc.; acknowledged at Titusville 12 May 1894.

Rebecca M. Niles of Chicago, Ill., appointed committee 20 Oct. 1900.  Sale of real estate ordered 27 Oct. 1902.

1 1818-19 Pa. Laws 74-75 (Chapter 49, "An act relative to habitual drunkards," approved 25 Feb. 1819).   BACK

2 The 1819 act prohibited a wife or child from initiating proceedings, but was amended in 1836 to permit application by any relative, as well as a person interested in the estate.  1836 Pa. Laws 589 (No. 171, approved 13 June 1836).   BACK

3 Commissions de Inebritate Inquirendo were in the nature of, handled identically to, and often confused with writs de lunatico inquirendo (lunacy cases).   BACK

4 Or, in cases of economic hardship, as where the accused inebriate had little or no property, the inquest could conducted by the judge using anyone called for regular jury duty.  See, e.g, the case of James Clark.   BACK

5 In some instances, separate committees were appointed of the person and of the estate, such as the Tarr case involving considerable wealth.   BACK

6 The more genealogically significant testimony has been paraphrased, and most of the evidence concerning inebriation omitted.   BACK

7 See also "Crawford County Lunacy Petition Abstracts," Crawford County Genealogy 9(1986):40-48.  The writer has compiled a listing of all nineteenth century lunacy actions.   BACK