Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Leach Lawsuit and Deposition

Leach Lawsuit and Deposition

     In 1947 or 1948 a lawsuit was filed in the Circuit Court of Ohio County regarding the sale of a farm in 1919. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendant’s deceased father used undue influence to get a widow to sell her farm for less than full value.  This lawsuit pitted family members against each other, as the plaintiffs were: Chester Leach, Clyde Leach, Oscar Leach, Otis Leach, Ersa Leach, and Samuel L. Leach (all were represented by Claude E. Smith); and the defendant was S. D. Leach (thought to be Septimus Delimar Leach), who purchased or inherited the farm from Jasper Leach, his father, who had purchased the farm from the Widow Leach in 1919. The defendant was represented by Otto C. Martin.

     The farm in question (the Leach Farm) was located in the Bald Knob area of the county (also referred to as the Rob Roy section), which is East of Hartford a few miles. Bald Knob Road now runs North-Northeast from Hwy 231 (the road from Beaver Dam to Cromwell), crossing under the William H. Natcher Green River Parkway, to a road now known as Sandefur Crossing-Rob Roy-Oak Grove Road (and this road continues on for a mile or two). The farm in question is located on the north side of the road at point “A” on the following map (Point “A” is on the Bald Knob Road).

     The widow, Finis (Swain) Leach (1857-1937), lost her husband, Samuel William Leach (1851-1918), to the flu in December 1918 (she also lost one of her sons to the flu a month earlier).  Mrs. Leach sold the family farm to Jasper Leach in 1919 and moved to Beaver Dam to live out her life.

     Finis (Swain) Leach, and her husband Samuel William Leach, were my paternal great-grandparents. They both died before I was born. One plaintiff, Samuel L. Leach, was my father – he and his twin siblings (also plaintiffs), Otis and Ersa, were the only children of Leslie Leach (my grandfather), who died of the flu before this lawsuit was filed.  The other plaintiffs, Chester, Clyde and Oscar, were my deceased grandfather’s siblings.  In other words, the plaintiffs were the three living children of Samuel William Leach, plus the three children of his deceased child, Leslie.  I have visited this farm twice in the last few years and there is a Leach family cemetery located there.  The home and barns are all gone.

     There was a deposition taken February 11, 1948 of eleven witnesses, all of whom were neighbors or local people that the lawyers thought might have knowledge of property values in 1919, plus specific knowledge of the Leach farm.  The principal issue of the lawsuit was whether or not the Widow Leach, who was deceased when the lawsuit was filed, had received fair value for the farm when she sold it in 1919.  I do not know the outcome of the lawsuit, but the outcome is not the interesting part.

     What should interest you is the testimony of the eleven witnesses. These witnesses are: Charles Fulton, L. L. Leach (Leonard Luther Leach), O. D. Miller (Orvin Dewell Miller), Laban Hines, F. M. Williams (Fielden Malin Williams), Rob Williams, Roy Williams, C. W. Leach (Cecil Wayne Leach), Clay Leach, Martin Porter, and Arthur Haven. The testimony is under oath and each witness reveals a small bit of information about himself.

     Depositions are pre-trial testimony and are usually conducted in a lawyer’s office and the witnesses testify under oath. The reason for taking depositions is to find out what the witnesses will say prior to trial.  Then, at trial, the lawyers will not be surprised and the witnesses cannot change their testimony.  And, if a witness is unavailable to testify at trial, the deposition can be presented as the in-court testimony of the witness.  So, this series of depositions was routine trial preparation for the lawyers.  For the most part I have left the typing errors and spelling errors intact, only changing a few of them to make the testimony easier to understand.

     While many of the questions and answers are repetitive, I think you will find the testimony interesting.  If you are lucky enough to be related to one of the witnesses or to the Leach family, I know you will find it interesting.  It tells quite a bit about the farms in that part of the county; the timber; crops; roads; etc.  Also, I found the colloquialisms used by the witnesses entertaining and interesting.

     Each witness was paid $1.00 for attending the deposition.  The deposition ends with the following legal jargon:

State of Kentucky
County of Ohio

I, Edna Hudson, a Notary Public in and for the county and state aforesaid, do certify that the foregoing depositions of Charles Fulton, L. L. Leach, O. D. Miller, Laban Hines, F. M. Williams, Rob Williams, Roy Williams, C. Wayne Leach, Clay Leach, Martin Porter and Arthur Haven were taken by me at the time and place and for the purpose stated in the caption; that each of said witnesses were first duly sworn by me before giving the same; that said depositions were taken by me in shorthand and afterwards transcribed from my notes, signature and reading of depositions waived; that the foregoing pages contain a transcript of my said notes.

I further certify that the plaintiffs, Oscar Leach and Ersa Leach, were present in person, and that all the plaintiffs were present at said taking by Claude E. Smith, their attorney; that the defendant was not present in person, but by attorney, Otto. C. Martin.

Witness my hand, this March 12, 1948.

My commission expires October 6, 1948.

Signed:  Edna Hudson

     The depositions is more than 60 pages in length.  I plan to post each person’s testimony as an individual post; so, the next eleven posts will be the testimony of these eleven witnesses.  My plan is to post a different section of the deposition (a new person’s testimony) about every three days until the entire deposition has been posted.  So it will take about a month to post the entire deposition.

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