The Yankee West: Community Life on the Michigan Frontier

By Susan E. Gray | Go to book overview

The Unhallowed Dicker Traffic 3
THE NECESSARY NEIGHBORS

On November 4, 1843, one Paris Fletcher appeared before Richland Township justice of the peace, Mumford Eldred Jr., in response to a warrant issued on the complaint of Chauncey W. Calkins. Five witnesses gave testimony. The defendant then signed a confession, drafted by Eldred, admitting his "violation of . . . an act to provide for the protection of the Indians. . . . A[p]proved April 9th 1841." Fletcher was fined $20 as mandated for first- offense violations of the state statute. He was also charged a hefty $5.07 in court costs, for the Richland justice of the peace court had expended considerable time and effort in bringing him to trial. Meticulously, Eldred recorded the costs of a warrant and two subpoenas, the constable's fees for their delivery, as well as the costs of Calkins's affidavit, Eldred's judgment, and payments to the witnesses. All in all, Fletcher's trial had involved a fairly elaborate and expensive procedure for a legal forum in which most defendants either responded readily to a summons and confessed their guilt in person or admitted it by failing to appear. 1

Fletcher's case was unusual for another reason. The principal business of

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