1798 – Confrontation at Salt Works on Saline River

[1Transcribed from documents in Joshua Flaherty v. William Chribbs, Northwest Territory/Indiana Territory Court of Common Pleas, Knox County Court File Box 7, File 562, Knox County Public Library, Vincennes, Ind. (available online at Wabash Valley Visions & Voices Digital Memory Project, Indiana State University, http://visions.indstate.edu).

2Transcribed from Knox County, Ind., Court of Common Pleas Minutes 1801-1806, Knox County Public Library, Vincennes, Ind. (available online at Wabash Valley Visions & Voices Digital Memory Project, Indiana State University, http://visions.indstate.edu).

3Transcribed from documents in U.S. v. Joshua Fleehart [Flaherty], Indiana Territory General Court Case Files, Box 1, Folder 16, and Joshua Fleehart [Flaherty] v. William Chribbs, Indiana Territory General Court Case Files, Box 1, Folder 42, Indiana State Archives, Commission on Public Records.]

Complaint1

Indiana Territory
Knox County
August Term 1800

William Cribbs was attached to answer Joshua Fleehart &c

Wherefore with force and arms he the kettles of the said Joshua to the value of seven hundred dollars broke and destroyed and the waggon harness and horses to the amount of six hundred dollars with force and arms as aforesaid did take carry away and convert to his own proper use and wherefore he the salt of the said Joshua spill spoil and waisted to the value of the other three hundred dollars and other enormities to him the said Joshua then and there did to the great damage of the said Joshua and against the peace and dignity of the United States &c

And whereupon the said Joshua by his atty complaineth that the said William on the [blank] day of November in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred & ninety eight with force and arms in the county aforesaid the kettles of him the said Joshua to wit forty six kettles the value of seven hundred dollars did brake and destroy and the horses of the sd Joshua to wit three horses to value of four hundred dollars the waggon and harness of the said Joshua to the value of other two hundred dollars carried away and converted to his the said Williams own proper use as also the salt of the said Joshua to wit fifty bushels to the value of other three hundred dollars spill spoilt and waisted as also other goods wares & articles of the pltf destroyed to the value of 300 dollars and other great and grevious enormities to the said Joshua then and there did to great damage of the said Joshua and against the peace and dignity of the United States

Wherefore the said Joshua saith he is damnafied and hath sustained damages to the value of 2000 dollars therefore he brings this suit and there on pledges to prosecute.

[signed] Hamilton Atty

John Doe   }
Richd. Roe } Pledges

Witness Deposition Order2

[February Term 1801, p. 13]

Joshua Fleehart
vs
Wm. Cribbs

T. Vi et Armis.

Pltf. appeared by R. Hamilton. Deft. by H. Hurst Decln. filed on motion Deft. ruled to plead by Rule day in Prop. office.—on mo. ordered that a Dedn. to take the Depon. of absent Witness’s on the behalf of the Pltf. before Saml. Hopkins & Hugh Knox, Esqs. & ___ Burk or any two of them at the Court House on the Town of Henderson & state of Kentucky giving reasonable notice to the Deft. of time & Place—on motn. of Deft. same Rule Depono. of Lt. Parkinson & other witnesses to be taken at Fort Massac or at the cantonment 18 miles below Fort Massac before Capt. Lukins & Capt. Claiborne or any one of them—giving reasonable notice to said Pltf. of the time & place.—

Affidavits1

By virtue of a Writ of Ded [ ] to us directed & which is hereto annexed from Knox County in the Indiana Territory we have caused to come before us at the Courthouse in the Town & County of Henderson Kentucky on Fryday the first day of May 1801 Thomas Smith a witness in the cause now depending in the County of Knox aforesaid wherein Joshua Fleehart Plt & William Cribbs Deft who being of full age & sworn on the Holy Evangelists of Almighty God deposeth & saith that sometime in the month of October in the year 1798 he was hired by the said Joshua Fleehart to assist in making salt at the Saline Creek in the Indiana Territory

that having worked at that business until about the 20th day of the succeeding month a military party consisting of a Lieutenant Parkinson and about fifteen soldiers & William Cribbs came to the salt works, burnt broke & destroyed 46 salt kettles holding about 20 gallons each, about 45 bushells of salt ready made & for sale besides the brine in the kettles which would have made 15 bushels more

Took also a wagon with gear compleat & three good work horses which this deponent thinks well worth three hundred and fifty dollars – five good poll axes worth three dollars each, two hoes, a mallat, two spades, a [ ] iron wedge & a small pott worth fourteen dollars, some brass chains worth three dollars, three tin pans worth three dollars, a chest & seven pirouges worth fifty one dollars, a log chain & two hankerchiefs, two pair [ ], two [ ], two [ ] worth twenty dollars, an [ ] which were worth two hundred dollars.

With respect to William Cribbs conduct & agency in the aforesaid destruction this deponent saith further that about three weeks before the military party came and affected the aforesaid depradation that William Cribbs came to the works in company with an Indian [and] he offered to trade with Fleehart for salt. Fleehart told Cribbs that he would immediately leave the works if by either the authority of the United States or the Indians he was warned to so but that he would keep possession until he was ordered to depart. Cribbs staid at the works about three days & went away. When the aforesaid military party came about three weeks after, William Cribbs was the first person this deponent saw. William Cribbs was the particular man who broke the first kettle & shewed & instructed the soldiers how to break them & William Cribbs appeared a prime & busy agent in all the destruction commited & this deponent was informed by the party that William Cribbs was their pilot from Fort Massac to the works.

This deponent further says that when he was liberated at Fort Massac William Cribbs told him that when he first went to the saline works he acted as a spy on those who were there & that they all might have taken the [ ]. Further saith not.

[signed] Thomas Smith

Kentucky Sct
Sworn & subscribed before us this first day of May 1801 at the Courthouse in the County & Town of Henderson

[signed] Sam Hopkins
Hugh Knox

Isaac Knight being of full age & sworn deposeth & saith that the whole of the testimony of Thomas Smith is true of his knowledge except that he did not see William Cribbs break a kettle, that he heard him directing the soldiers in which manner to do it. The said deponent says he was a hand hired to work at the saline works, that he went with Thomas Smith & was with him until they made their escape from the guard boat.

[signed by mark]
Isaac Knight

Kentucky Sct
The deposition of Isaac Knight taken in the cause Joshua Fleehart ag. William Cribbs in the Court of Knox County Indiana territory was taken subscribed & sworn to before us at the Courthouse in the Town & County of Henderson on the first day of May 1801. Given under our hands

[signed] Sam Hopkins
Hugh Knox

Removal Order2

[May Term 1801, p. 31]

Joshua Fleehart
vs                } Tres Vi et armis Dg 2000$
William Chribbs

Parties called & appeared Deft. by his atto. comes into court & produces a writ of Habis Corpus from the Genl Court of this Territory to remove the Deft. body. Ordered that William Cribbs and the cause of his Detainer be certified into the Genl Court to be holden on the first Tuesday of Septr next—

Order on Costs3

The United States to the Sheriff of Knox County Greeting:

We command you that of the goods and chattels lands and Tenements of Joshua Fleehart in your bailiwick you cause to be made the sum of Forty three dollars forty four & one half cents and have that money before our Judges of our General Court on the first Tuesday of March next to be paid to William Chribbs for his costs and charges by him sustained about his defence in a certain action of Trespass vi et armis b y him the said Joshua against the said William in our said General Court before us at Vincennes presecuted; and to the same William by our same Court, according to the form of the statute lately made and provided adjudged because the said Joshua did not afterwards prosecute that action whereof the said Joshua is convicted, as it appears to us on records; and have thee there this writ.

Witness the honorable Thomas T. Davis Chief Justice of our said Court at Vincennes the sixth day of September One thousand eight hundred and three and of the Independence of the United States the twenty eighth.

[signed] H. Hurst Clrk

[The reverse indicates the document was filed in March 1804 and contains the notation “Satisfied” with the signature “Wm Paine.”]

United States v. Joshua Fleehart

Deposition3

The examination of Joshua Fleeheart taken before me on the twenty fourth day of August One thousand Eight hundred and one touching a settlement made by said Fleehart at a place known by the name of the Saline.

That some time in the month of October 1798 John Duff now decd. had rented the said Saline of a certain Indian but finding himself unable to carry on the works, the said Duff in the month and year above mentioned rented the said works to said Fleeheart, the said Fleeheart giving him the sd. Duff one third of the salt made at said works. The said Fleeheart to be[ar] all expences except the furnishing one Horse to be used about the Saline. The said Fleeheart says he contin[u]ed to work at the said Saline about six weeks in putting the works in order.

About the last of Octr. or first of Nor. in the same year a certain William Chribbs in company with an Indian came to the sd. Saline with a letter from the Commissary to John Duff requesting him to hunt some lost cattle. After some conversation the sd. Chribbs proposed a partnership in working the Lick. I told him I could not take him in as a partner. Chribbs then proposed to contract with sd. Fleeheart for a quantity of salt. Sd. Fleeheart told him he could not enter into any such contract for he did not know at what moment he might be ordered away either by the Indians or the United States. That he was ready to withdraw whenever ordered by either the Indians or the U. States.

The mark of Joshua Fleehart

Taken and subscribed before me one of the Judges of the General Court of Territory
[signed] Henry Vanderbergh

Indictment3

Indiana Territory
Knox County

The Jurors for the United States of America upon their oath present that Joshua Fleehart late of St. Vincennes in the said County of Knox yeoman on the first Day of November in the year of our lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety eight with force and arms did enter into certain lands situate lying and being at a place called the Saline Spring in the said County of Knox belonging to the Indian Tribes residing in the boundaries of the United States and secured to them by Treaty with the said United States and did make a settlement on the said lands, contrary to the form of the statute in that case meade and provided and against the peace and dignity of the United States.

[signed] John Rice Jones
Atty Genl of the Indiana Territory