University Archives


Future Supreme Court Justice David Davis’s Decree in Land Partition Case in Illinois

DAVID DAVIS, Document Signed, Decree in Redding and Shepler v. Calhoun, Ridgely, and Manley, Trustees of State Bank of Illinois, April 10, 1851, Woodford County Circuit Court, Metamora, Illinois. 3 pp., 8ʺ x 12ʺ. Expected folds; sheets attached with wax seals at top; very good.

In this decree from the Woodford County Circuit Court, Judge David Davis approved the commissioners’ division of property between two property owners and the trustees of the State Bank of Illinois. The Bank had failed in 1848, but the state legislature appointed three trustees to settle its accounts, and they were the defendants in this case.


And now at this day this cause again coming on to be heard, and it appearing to the court now here that, Joseph Meek, M. R. Bullock and William Davenport Commissioners, appointed by this court at the last term thereof, to make partition of the lands and tenements, described in said petition, have made their report to the court…and after a careful and thorough examination of said lands, proceeded to divide the whole tract into two equal parts of four hundred acres each, which said parts are designated by said commissioners as lots No one and two....

And the Court being fully advised in the premises, It is ordered adjudged and decreed and this court by virtue of the power and authority therein vested, pursuant to the statute in such case made and provided, doth adjudge and decree that the said Petitioners Peter C. Redding and Henry Shepler, their heirs and assigns, be and they are hereby vested with” Lot No. one.

And the said defendants John C. Calhoun, Nicholas H. Ridgely, and Uri Manley, Trustees of the State Bank of Illinois, as such Trustees are hereby vested with” Lot No. two.

David Davis (1815-1886) was born in Maryland and graduated from Kenyon College in Ohio in 1832. After studying law in New England, he gained admission to the bar in 1835 and moved to Pekin, Illinois, where he opened a law practice. Within a year, he relocated to Bloomington. Elected to the Illinois General Assembly in 1844, he became judge of the Eighth Judicial Circuit in 1848, with the reorganization of the judiciary based on the Illinois Constitution of 1848. At the time, the Eighth Circuit consisted of fourteen counties in central Illinois stretching eastward to the Indiana border. There, he heard thousands of cases argued by Abraham Lincoln, for whom he developed a strong personal and political friendship. Effectively Lincoln’s campaign manager in his 1860 bid for the Presidency, Davis worked tirelessly at the Republican national convention in Chicago to secure Lincoln’s nomination. In 1862, Lincoln appointed Davis to the U.S. Supreme Court, where he served until 1877, when he resigned to take a seat in the U.S. Senate. He served as the administrator of Abraham Lincoln’s estate and assisted Robert T. Lincoln, when it became necessary to commit his mother Mary Lincoln to an asylum.

From the famous Supreme Court collection of Scott Petersen.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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