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Chappell, James M. v. Meadows, Osborne and wife, etc: Chancery Cause, Halifax County

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brought up debts on your respondent Branch Drinkard, and that he has paid off John Drinkard. These respondents admit that the said Francis Drinkard made advancements to his children in his lifetime, and they are desirous to ascertain the precise value of the advancements made to each, but have no means of doing so - most of the present distributees being remote descendants of the said decedent. But these respondents are advised that the question of advancements is not one about which the administrator as such, should feel any solicitude. They humbly conceive that that question is one between the distributees alone. With regard to the alledged payments, the said Chappell has exhibited no evidence of such payments, which they particularly require. These respondents charge that in fact the decree aforesaid was for less amounts than they were justly entitled to. They charge that the said Chappell throughout, managed the estate with a view to his own interest alone. That in the first place he expended a considerable sum of money belonging to the estate of said Francis Drinkard in the prosecution of a fruitless suit against your respondent Osborne Meadows to recover five slaves a woman & 4 children under the pretence that they belonged to the estate, when he was assured that the mother was given to the wife of the said Meadows by her father in his lifetime. But with the view, no doubt, of appropriating them as he did the other negroes which belonged to the estate, (as will be presently seen) he persisted in said suit and was defeated. That he knew said woman had been given as an advancement he afterwards furnished the most conclusive evidence himself if, indeed, it be credible For afterwards when he claimed to be the owner of the share of Meadows and wife, when he was directly interested in swelling the advancements to the other children and reducing that to Mrs. Meadows he filed in the cause aforesaid a paper wholly written by himself, purporting to be an affidavit made by Polly Drinkard (though not signed by her) the widow of the decedent, who has resided with said Chappell ever since her husband's death, in which she is made to state with great particularity, all the advancements, and that the woman aforesaid, then a girl, was an advancement, and valued by the giver at $250., whilst all the others were valued at about $700. The respondent Osborne Meadows charges that the pretended purchase was a fraud upon him: that in fact the power of attorney which he made his son did not authorise a sale, but only authorised him to receive his share &c, as will be seen by the same filed in the cause aforesaid. But if it had given such authority, he insists that his said attorney was ignorant of the amount of such share and said Chappell made false representations to him in relation to the amt. The pretended "large claim" that hung over the estate at the time, and which he represents in his bill was lost from inattention, was on No account claimed by the admr. of Beverly Drinkard decd, long since barred by the act of limitations which was easily defeated, not on account of inattention, for the sheriff of Halifax, who was the admr, attended to it most diligently. They think they will be able to prove that said Chappell instigated said suit himself for the purpose of embarrassing the estate that he might buy out the distributees for a small amount. They further charge that the said Chappell, when no portion of the slaves were required for the payment of debts, and before he pretended to own any interest in the estate, and when no distributee was moving therein, caused the slaves belonging to the estate to be sold under the forms of a decree of the county Court of Halifax; that he caused the sale to be made at a time of the year when they would bring the lowest price, and bought them himself, he being then a negro trader, and took them to the south. The said slaves, four in number, they state were young and likely and the Court will see by the report of the sale that they sold extremely low. The said Chappell continuously managed to get the commissioners to report the sale without stating the purchaser. These respondents insist that said Chappell shall account for the slaves at their full value at the time of sale, or at the time of year when they would have commanded most. They insist that all costs expended in said suit shall be stricken from his account if the same is again to be remodeled. They further insist that said Chappell shall be credited only for the amount he paid for debts against them if indeed he brought up any debts debts against them or any of them - valid and recoverable in the courts of this state. As to the alledged debts he "paid off" as stated in his bill, they insist if he did so, it was not done at their instance and can constitute no debt against them, but if it does, they feel fully justified under the circumstances of this case in insisting that they are barred by the lapse of time, which defence they rely upon in all cases of claims raked up & said Chappell against them or either of them And in all cases of claims set up by said Chappell against them, which they did not contract with him expressly - Having answered this prays &c Samuel B Drinkard John N. Drinkard Osborne Meadows his mark witness - Jas W Womack