John Samuel Prescott History CHAPTER THREE Rough Draft–Please read introduction first OHIO: MARRIAGE AND LAW

1834-1846 Some time between 1831 and 1834, John S. Prescott moved to Greene County, Ohio. No other members of his family seem to have been living there and he was not yet married. Why he came is unknown, but Americans in generally were on the move, pushing westward, and many of them came to Ohio for a while before moving further west. The first record of his life in Ohio is again one of controversy (but that is the only kind of thing that would show up in court records). On November 25, 1834, John was taken to court by a Mr. and Mrs. Wilson. It seems that John had publicly accused Eliza Wilson of adultery. She and her husband claimed that she was a good and virtuous women and had always had the good opinion of her neighbors until John's accusations. The case was finally settled on April 23, 1835. A jury found John guilty of slander (and Eliza innocent of his charges) and ordered him to pay damages. In the middle of the court battle, John married Nancy Ann Townsley on Dec. 4, l834 in Greene Co. Nancy was born 24 Nov. 1818, so would have only been 16 at the time of her marriage. She was the daughter of William (then deceased) and Elizabeth Townsley. Because Nancy was a minor, it was necessary for her mother to give consent to the marriage. When her father died, Nancy had received a part interest in 200 acres of land. When John wanted to marry her, her mother demanded a promise that the land would remain in Nancy's hands as John was facing the lawsuit with the Wilsons which after his marriage left him insolvent. He was legally advised that no papers were necessary to do this. Elizabeth then gave her consent and John and Nancy were married. On Sept. 20, 1835, John and Nancy's first child, Thomas was born. He died as an infant and is buried with his mother in the Clifton cemetery in Greene County, Ohio. John and Nancy had two more children who lived only a short time: An unnamed child who was born in Dec. 1837 and died in Aug. 1839, and a daughter, Sarah L., who was born June 8, 1839 an died June 29th of that same year. These are also buried with their mother in Clifton. John was soon embroiled in more controversy. On Apr. 26, 1835, as a result of losing the lawsuit with the Wilsons and other financial difficulties of which we have no record, John conveyed all his property to the commissioner for insolvents (or as we would say today, declared bankruptcy). The commissioner then tried to take possession of Nancy's land to help pay John's debts. In Nov. 1836 his wife's mother and brother, Elizabeth and George Townsley, in behalf of Nancy Ann Prescott, took John and James Collier, who was the commissioner of Insolvents to court. They explained the agreement that John had entered into prior to his marriage concerning the land, and asked that he be compelled to convey the property to George Townsley as a trustee for Nancy. John replied that he agreed with all that had been said, that he understood that he needed no legal papers to keep his wife's property from being seized, and that he was still willing to do what ever was necessary to see © 2009, Beth Davies AG®. Permission is granted to copy for personal, non-commerical use. 6

that Nancy kept her property. The commissioner of insolvents, James Collier, disagreed. He said he believed that John was insolvent when he married Nancy and that he acquired her property by marrying her, thus leaving it free to be sold to pay John's debts. The case was finally decided in Nov. of 1837. John was ordered to deed the property to George Townsley as Nancy's trustee and John and James Collier were ordered to pay the court costs. Land records for Greene county show that on Feb. 28th of 1839, John and Nancy sold to Elizabeth Townsley for $900 Nancy's 1/4 interest in this property for Elizabeth's lifetime. On April 17th of that same year, for an additional $300 they sold the land permanently to Elizabeth. John was involved in another series of court battles concerning a house. In the summer or fall of 1834 (which would have been before John and Nancy were married), a David Anderson contracted with William Harbottle to build a house in the town of Clifton on some land belonging to Elizabeth Townsley. Anderson was to furnish the materials and Harbottle was to do the actual building, for which he was to be paid $650. Apparently some of the materials were not furnished by Anderson, so Harbottle finally furnished them himself and finished the house in May of 1836, nearly two years after contracting to build it. During the process of building the house, Mr. Harbottle learned that it was being build for Elizabeth Townsley and he received instructions from Dr. John S. Prescott, her son-in-law, from time to time. Mr. Harbottle understood that the building was intended as a residence for John. For reasons not stated, Harbottle brought suit against John shortly after the building was completed and won a judgment of $13. The day that judgement was obtained, John, acting as agent and attorney for his mother-in-law, presented a bill of damages to the justice of the peace for $69.74 because the house was not finished as soon as it should have been. Although Mr. Harbottle felt he owed them nothing, in order to end all disputes he agreed to drop the judgment against John and to make four large columns for a porch and make a mantle piece, and move a few shingles on the kitchen and some other minor things in return for the bill of damages being dropped. The major jobs were done immediately, but the minor ones were not begun until September. When Harbottle sent his men to do them, they were sent away by John and forbidden to do them. In the meantime, back in July, a judgment on the bill of damages was rendered against Harbottle and he was ordered to pay the $69.74. Naturally, he didn't think this was fair, especially since by that time he had given John a receipt for the $13 John owed him and had done the greater part of the work. The Constable, Andrew Scroph was threatening to sell Mr. Harbottle's property to satisfy the $69.74 judgment against him. In September, William Harbottle filed a bill against John, Elizabeth, and the constable. In this suit, Mr. Harbottle states that he feels he has already settled the judgment with his previous actions and his willingness to complete the work. He also says he doesn't believe Elizabeth Townsley ever asked John to bring the damage suit against him. He asks that the three named individuals: John, Elizabeth, and the constable be prevented from collecting the damages from him. The suit was finally settled on May 5, 1837. Harbottle's bill was dismissed and he was ordered to pay court costs. While the court records don't make it clear that the house became John and Nancy's, Nancy is buried in Clifton, which would seem to indicate that they lived there. However, the 1840 census shows John, Nancy, and a daughter under 5 living in Xenia, which was the county seat of Greene County. The daughter would be Louisa who was born about 1840. © 2009, Beth Davies AG®. Permission is granted to copy for personal, non-commerical use. 7

On the 17th of Sept., 1840, while Nancy was still living, Elizabeth Townsley made out a will, though it was not probated until 1855. In this will, the only thing she leaves to Nancy is "the cherry cow and the white face cow and calf". When John Prescott became a lawyer is not clear, but as seen above, he seemed to be practicing law by 1836. Perhaps his own legal problems had compelled him to learn more of the law, or perhaps he was already trained in it when he came to Ohio. The microfilmed tax records for Greene County do not begin until 1839. John S. Prescott was listed as a lawyer on the tax lists of Greene Co., practicing in Xenia. He is found in the list of professional men of the county at the end of each year from 1839-1846. He does not appear to have done well as a lawyer, if the amount of tax he paid is a measure of his financial success. Each year he was the lowest or one of the lowest tax payers of the lawyers listed. The l846 tax lists were certified by the auditor in July, which gives us a rough idea of when he left Ohio, since he appears on tax lists in 1846 in Ohio and had a daughter born in December of that year in Wisconsin. On the 14th of December, 1844, John and Nancy's 5th child, William T. Prescott, was born in Xenia. On the 24th of that month, Nancy died, possibly from complications of childbirth. The Xenia Torchlight newspaper of Dec. 26, 1855 reported the death of: Prescott, Nancy Ann, wife of Dr. J.S. Prescott died in Xenia Ohio Dec. 24, 1844 aged 27 years. John, at 35, was left a widower with a new baby and a four year old daughter. On Dec. 9, 1845 in neighboring Clark County, Ohio, John married Mary Elizabeth Harris who, according to family tradition, had moved to Ohio from Pennsylvania with her family. John and Mary left Ohio sometime in 1846 to begin a new life as a Methodist minister in Wisconsin. John's last appearance in Greene County deed records is in 1850. He and his wife, Mary E. Prescott, of Greene Bay, Brown Co., Wisconsin, and formerly of Greene County, Ohio sold a piece of land at that time. But John was to return to Greene County many times during the last few years of his life and apparently maintained ties with his friends there for many years. Sources: Greene County Cemetery Records, Collected and compiled by Lindsey M. Brian, pg. 54. Greene County Marriages, 1803-1842 Greene County Court of Common Pleas, Vol. B, pg. 345-349, 384-390 Greene County, Ohio Deed Records, Vol. 19, pg. 601, Vol. 20, pg. 467, 480, Vol. 27, pg. 2. Greene County Probate Court, Vol. K, pg. 37. 1840 U.S. Census of Greene County, Ohio © 2009, Beth Davies AG®. Permission is granted to copy for personal, non-commerical use. 8

Prescott History written by Alice A. Blake in 1939. Marriage and Death Notices from the Xenia (Ohio) Torch-Light, 1844-1870, compiled by Robert A. Hodge and Lois L. Hodge Greene County Ohio Cemetery Inscriptions, Volume 1, Miami Township, compiled by The Greene Co. Chapter of The Ohio Genealogical Society, p. 18. Clarke County, Ohio Marriage Records, Vol. 3, 1845-1854, p. 24.

© 2009, Beth Davies AG®. Permission is granted to copy for personal, non-commerical use. 9