By February, 1858, Daniel Dill had been dead for nearly three years. The estate administrator, Edwin B. Gould, seemed to be in a holding pattern – hiring out Daniel’s slaves and renting out Daniel’s store – but doing little else while waiting for the real estate dispute to be resolved.
Some members of Daniel’s family had likely been contacted in connection with the administration of the estate. A brother Andrew had borrowed money from Daniel and still owed $62. Andrew lived in Iowa; he had several children including a teenaged son named Daniel, perhaps named for his Uncle Daniel. As we shall see, Gould had made some genuine attempts to contact Andrew and other likely heirs of Daniel’s estate.
Somehow, Daniel’s brother Peter (my 4x-great-grandfather) had gotten wind of the situation. Peter had been born and raised near Germantown, Ohio. His parents were Peter Dill (of uncertain heritage) and the devoutly Quaker Phebe Brown. He was at least seven years younger than Daniel and was born into the family approximately five years after they left Georgia. He and his wife Emily (Patton) and four young children moved to Indiana in the late 1830’s, eventually settling near Morgantown. Morgantown was about 120 miles straight west of Germantown. Eventually, Peter and Emily had eleven children in all.
In February 1858, I believe that Peter and perhaps his next youngest brother John travelled south from Morgantown to Mobile on behalf of their siblings to take stock of the situation. It would not have been an easy trip – they likely made their way to Cairo, Illinois and from there traveled by a combination of steamboat and railroad to Mobile. On February 12, Peter filed a petition with the probate court in Mobile1 [ref 1229-1230]:
To the honorable John A. Hitchcock Judge of the Probate Court of Mobile County.
The petition of Peter Dill and John Dill respectfully showeth that your petitioners are brothers and heirs at law of Daniel Dill late of said Mobile County in the State of Alabama deceased, who died intestate and without lawful issue him surviving.
That the other heirs of said Daniel Dill deceased are the children of Andrew Dill deceased, the children of Mercer Dill deceased, the children of William Dill deceased, the children of Sarah Pegg deceased and Elizabeth Ricks* [asterisk refers to following note in margin: wife of Levi Ricks which Andrew, Mercer, William Sarah and Elizabeth were brothers and sisters of said Daniel and all of whom except said Elizabeth died before he died leaving children that survived him and are still living] .
That E.B.Gould of Mobile has heretofore been appointed by your Honorable Court administrator of the estate which was of the said Daniel Dill at the time of his death but that said administrator has not filed his accounts for annual or partial settlements of his administration as by law he was required to do – although he has been cited by your Honor to make such settlement as your petitioner the said Peter is informed and believes nor has said Gould reported to your honor from time to time as by law he was required to do. what amounts of money he has from time to time received by sales of property of said estate or hire of slaves and rent of real property belonging thereto although as your said petitioners charge upon information and belief has received large sums of money belonging to said estate by such means and is using or has used or permitted the same to be used for other objects than the good of the persons interested as heirs and distributes of said estate.
Your petitioners therefore and because said Gould is not a fit person to be administrator as aforesaid pray that he be removed from the administrations and some other person to be appointed in his place.
What is wonderful about this petition is that it includes Peter’s signature. Peter would have been 51 years old at the time he made this signature.
As shown above, the petition also contains some good genealogical data that confirms that this really is “our” Peter, and that Daniel is definitely my relative. The names of the other siblings match what I have in my family tree and correspond to their father’s probate records in Preble County, Ohio2. However, he lists none of his half-siblings. His father’s probate records stem from a lawsuit filed by the second wife against the children of the first wife, so obviously hard feelings still remain.
The allegations in the petition are pretty bold – that Gould has not filed annual accounts with the court (this is true; the probate records include no annual accountings prior to 1858) and that Gould is receiving large sums of money and using it for personal gain.
The judge immediately entered an order for Gould to appear and “show cause why he should not be removed as administrator”. This set in motion a flurry of activity during the months of February and March, 1858. Gould filed a response on February 23 defending his handling of the estate, stating that he “doubts the authority of the person signing his name Peter Dill…it would be well for him to show by what authority he has come hither to make such unfounded charges” [ref 1243].
On March 1, Gould finally filed his first statement of accounts with the court. He had one statement covering the period July 1, 1855 through March 1, 1857 [ref 1098-1099] and a second statement for the period March 1, 1857 through March 1, 1858 [ref 1140]. He also filed a statement defending his administration of the estate and also describing what heirs he had been able to locate [ref 1240-1241]. There’s some real genealogical gold in this petition, which I have indicated in bold type below.
To the Hon. John A. Hitchcock Judge of Probate of Mobile County.
Your petitioner states to your Honor that more than eighteen months have elapsed [misleading: he had been administrator for 32 months] since he was appointed the administrator of the estate of Daniel Dill late of said county deceased.
That he has ever since diligently and to the best of his abilities administered said estate. But your petitioner saith that although he has paid all the debts of said Dill so far [not true; as we shall see, Gould has failed to pay taxes] as the same have been presented to him (with the exception as noted at the end of this petition) yet the the said estate is not as he believes in a condition for settlement and distribution for reasons hereinafter stated. Your petitioner craves leave to file for a partial settlement in the nature of an annual settlement two accounts supported by all the necessary vouchers. One of said accounts exhibits which the receipts and expenditures of the administrator up to the first of March 1857 and the other from the said date up to the first of February 1858. Your petitioner begs leave, hereafter, to file a supplemental account with all the necessary vouchers and schedules in order to a full and final settlement of said estate and will be ready to do so whenever required so to do by this Honorable Court.
Your petitioner saith that there is still pending a suit against the estate to recover a valuable and the only piece of real property belonging to the estate. This suit was in existence when this petitioner qualified as administrator. He has given all the attention requisite to promote the interests of the estate. He has employed suitable counsel and he hopes for a speedy and successful issue [all of this is true, although the counsel employed for the lawsuit are the same attorneys representing him against Peter, seems kind of fishy].
This petitioner saith further that he has made unre[..]ed inquiry by correspondence and otherwise to discover the heirs of said Daniel Dill. He states below the names and residences of a number of persons, some of whom are represented to the heirs of said Dill and some represented themselves to be such. Your petitioner has reason to believe that there are other persons besides those named who will claim to be heirs of said Dill, and he believes that there are some he has named below who have no title whatever to heirship. The ages of children of the brothers and sisters of said Dill, claiming as heirs, this petitioner has not yet succeeded in ascertaining.
- Ezra Dill claims to be a brother lives in Auburn, Sangamon County or in Albin, Illinois. [yes, this is a half-brother, the youngest child of Peter Dill Sr. and his second wife Sarah Wimmer]
- John Dill claims to be a brother lives in Sigourney Iowa. [this might be a nephew, a son of Andrew – see below]
- Peter Dill claims to be a brother residence unknown. [I’m sure Gould knew full well where Peter was from]
- Betsy Ricks claims to be a sister lives in Illinois near Sigourney Iowa. [Census records show the Ricks family in Indiana at this time]
- Nancy Wall claims to be a sister lives in Hylven P.O. Chatahouchie County Georgia. [BOMBSHELL! I believe she is a sister to Daniel’s late wife! See also “Massey” below.]
- William Dill deceased claims to be a brother heirs unknown. [William was the oldest sibling and had died in 1835]
- M.Dill deceased claims to be a brother, heirs unknown. [This is Mercer Dill who had died in 1840]
- Andrew Dill deceased brother – his heirs (children) live in Keokuck Iowa. They are said to be the following: Daniel, John, Catharine, Peter and William. [Andrew Dill had borrowed money from Daniel and it turns out that he had died in 1853, two years before Daniel died. Perhaps this is why the debt was never settled.]
- Sarah Peg deceased sister. Her heirs (children) are stated to be Peter Peg, Mary Peg, and Susan Peg. They live in Keokuck Iowa. [I believe Sarah died in 1838, I have not done any research on her family]
- Michael F. Dill, supposed brother of Daniel Dill, lives in West Alexandria. [I believe this is a half-brother living in Preble County, Ohio]
- Daniel D. Massey – claims for a sister or half sister his wife. They live in Thomas Co., Georgia. [BOMBSHELL – this is Daniel’s brother- and sister-in-law. More to come!]
- John W. Dill, probably brother or half brother lives in West Albin Preble County Ohio. [yes, this is Peter’s next youngest brother and a co-petition of Peter in the original complaint]
- Moses Bailey claims for his wife a sister or half sister. Lives at Lick Creek (Ohio). [yes, Daniel had a half-sister Maria whose married name was Bailey]
Your petitioner has given as exact information as he is able in regard to the claims of the above named persons to be heirs of Daniel Dill. The heirs are generally illiterate and are dispersed over several states of the Union and it has been to easy task to get even the unsatisfactory information he already possesses. But he will as he feels it to be his duty persist in his inquiries until he can get full information. The only debt yet unpaid is due Dr. Kennedy living formerly in Lauderdale County Miss. the amount is $36.50. Your petitioner prays that these accounts may be audited and allowed.
E.B. Gould administrator, estate of Daniel Dill deceased.
The biggest news in this statement is a revelation about Daniel’s late wife. The “Massey” name is a big clue and really helps shed light on an aspect of Daniel’s past AND some further insight into the Dill family heritage. We’ll dig into that next time.
1All references to the probate file are image numbers from Ancestry’s online version. See Original Will Records, Daniel Dill, Pigeon Hole No 85, Files 9-41, 1814-1946, Index, 1813-1957; Author: Alabama. Orphans’ Court (Mobile County); Probate Place: Mobile, Alabama.
2“Ancestry.com – Preble County, Ohio Common Pleas Court Records 1810-1850.” Accessed June 11, 2017. https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/49302/FLHG_PrebleCntyComRec-0102/85438?backurl=https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/17585942/person/529854434/facts/citation/4528519750/edit/record.