Rector v. Danforth

Rector v. Danforth is a complicated probate case involving a dispute over property. Celia Jane Rector’s claims to be the daughter, and only living heir, of James Danforth. John V. Danforth, James’ brother, was the administrator of James Estate. Celia’s mother, Eliza Hacking, was, as best we can ascertain, a slave once belonging to James. This case is indicative of the social and judicial mores of citizens who lived through the rebellion, and an example of complicated issues that arose from slavery.

Celia claimed that James acknowledged her as his own child, and openly stated his intentions to provide her with financial assistance. Her age was not given, but Celia was married at the time of her father’s death. Celia brought claim for a large amount of property that she believed to be hers, as his heir. John immediately filed a motion to dismiss the charges stating, “the court (has) no jurisdiction of the subject.” We do not know the outcome of the case; neither are we afforded the testimony and depositions regarding the matter. Regardless, the case is telling of the difficulties and postwar experiences that many civilians faced.

Contributed by the Greene County Archives and Records Center

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