Source: Annals of Cleveland, abstracts of the records of court cases in Cuyahoga county, Ohio.
WORKS PROGRESS ADMINISTRATION
DIVISION OF WOMEN’S AND PROFESSIONAL PROJECTS
ANNALS OF CLEVELAND
COURT RECORD SERIES
OF CUYAHOGA COUNTY, OHIO
1858 – 1860
CUYAHOGA COUNTY ARCHIVES SURVEY
IN COOPERATION WITH THE HISTORICAL RECORD SURVEY
CLEVELAND, MAY 1939
The key line appearing above each abstract contains in order the court symbol, case number, docket number, page number, filing date, and disposal date. Court symbols used in this abstract are:
CP = Court of Common Pleas
D = District Court
- pg. 195 –
BUSINESS, TRADE & FINANCE
Abstract 159, Debts & Debtors
CP 430 - 29:251; (no date), 1860; Mar. Term, 1861.
WILLIAM EDWARDS and HIRAM IDDINGS, d.b.a. EDWARDS AND IDDINGS vs. FRANCIS BENITZ; Money Only.
CP 1402 - 30:202; Sept. 7, 1861;
D 17 - d:528; Aug. 25, 1862; Sept. Term, 1863.
WILLIAM EDWARDS and HIRAM IDDINGS, d.b.a. EDWARDS AND IDDINGS vs. FRANCIS BENITZ, ALEXANDRINA BENITZ, GEORGE OTT and AMELIA OTT; Relief.
Francis and Alexandrina Benitz were married in 1837 and made their home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where they lived for 4 years. Mrs. Benitz, who had a dowry of $500 before her marriage, received $200 more from her father in Germany. She permitted her husband to invest the money in business and it was lost.
In 1841 the couple and a daughter, Amelia, moved to Cleveland and on December 25, 1843 Benitz in his own name entered into a contract with Levi Johnson for the purchase of 25 feet of land off the west side of sublot 76, fronting on the north side of Federal Street (now St. Clair Avenue). The parcel was part of a subdivision of original two-acre lots 178 to l8l and 187 to 190. Benitz paid $10 his own money on the contract.
Mrs. Benitz' father died in Germany, and on September 28, 1846 Mrs. Benitz received $285 from his estate.
The couple later built a house and grocery store on their lot. Benitz stated that the building cost about $300 and was paid for with his wife's money.
In 1848 Mrs. Benitz planned to raise money to pay the balance due on the land. On December 1, 1848 she received an additional $325 from her father's estate.
Benitz declared that his wife received $1,800 in all from her father's estate. He added that it was understood between him and his wife that the last bequest was to be used to pay for the property and that the property was to be entirely in her name. The land was paid for on December 27.
On her husband's return from making the last payment Mrs. Benitz found that the deed had been made in his name. She protested and he promised to properly reconvey the land to her whenever she wished.
The firm of Edwards and Iddings declared that Benitz owned the land in fee simple because in opening an account on September 3, 1858 he represented that he was the sole legal owner of the lot. On the strength of that representation the firm extended credit. Hiram Iddings of the firm said Lafayette Vorce, bookkeeper for the firm, was willing to testify that he heard Benitz assert several times that he owned the property. Benitz denied saying that he was the owner of the real estate or that such ownership was the basis for his receiving credit.
About this time Amelia married George Ott.
The Edwards firm maintained that up to November 1, 1859 there was delivered on Benitz' account goods valued at $578.93 over all credits. Mrs. Benitz pointed out that the Edwards firm held as collateral security 7 shares of stock of the St. Clair Street Gravel Road Company — par value $25 a share — and an assignment of a land contract for land on St. Clair Street on which contract $800 had been paid. There were 2 houses valued at $1,000 on this property. Mrs. Benitz explained that she had acquired the St. Clair Street contract for $50, which she claimed was at the time worth $300 to $500 more than the amount due upon it. The Edwards firm admitted this but added that there was $1,200 due Leonard Case on the contract. The land was not worth enough to pay the $1,200 and the security therefore was worthless.
Benitz and his wife conveyed their part of lot 76 to Ott for a nominal consideration of $1,500 on November 1, 1859. The Edwards firm declared that both Benitz and his wife were well aware of his indebtedness to the firm when the conveyance was made. The firm therefore charged that the conveyance was made in secret trust so that Ott could later convey the property to Mrs. Benitz and in effect place it beyond reach of Benitz' creditors. Benitz contended that he joined in the conveyance at his wife's request only and that there was no secret about it.
The Edwards firm related that between November 1 and November 22, 1859 it delivered to Benitz goods valued at $90.46. Benitz' account was closed that month. The Edwards firm said it first learned of the conveyance of the property only after the account terminated.
On December 10, 1859, Mrs. Benitz said, a note was given for the balance then due the Edwards firm.
The Edwards firm declared that in pursuance of the secret trust, Ott and his wife on February 13, 1860 conveyed the property to Mrs. Benitz for a nominal consideration of $1,500.
Mrs. Benitz said that soon after the reconveyance, the Edwards firm surrendered the 7 shares of stock to Benitz. William Edwards of the firm stated on the occasion that the firm had more security than it wanted.
The Edwards firm on February 18, 1861 recovered a judgment for $669.47 in an action against Benitz in the Court of Common Pleas. The firm stated that the judgment was recovered on a balance of an account for merchandise sold to Benitz. Mrs. Benitz insisted that the judgment was obtained on the note given December 1859 and not on the account.
On February 19, 1861 the Edwards firm obtained an execution against Benitz' property. The execution was delivered to the sheriff, who returned it with a notation to the effect that he had levied on personal property, which he advertised and sold on March 4, l86l for $129.89. The increased costs amounted to $21.22. The balance of $108.67 was paid to the Edwards firm on March 18, 1861, leaving a balance of $560.80 due on Benitz' account. The firm pointed out that the sum so made upon the execution was the full value of all the property belonging to Benitz subject to levy. Benitz was then wholly insolvent and had no property except part of lot 76 out of which the judgment could be satisfied; therefore there remained but to levy against Mrs. Benitz' property.
Benitz pointed out that all that was left of Mrs. Benitz' inheritance from her father was the real estate she owned. Mrs. Benitz herself said her husband sent her no money and that she was obliged to support herself. She valued her household furniture at $250.
On September 7, 1861 the Edwards firm filed suit in the common pleas court against the Benitzes and the Otts, asking that they be compelled to declare whether any real consideration was paid for the conveyances of the property and asking that the real estate be sold and the proceeds applied to the satisfaction of the judgment.
The court dismissed the case and ordered the Edwards firm to pay all costs. The Edwards firm appealed to the District Court, which also dismissed the case in its September 1863 term.
© Peter Benitz (Benitz Family)