Thursday, February 12, 2015

Family History Writing Challenge Day 12

For two years John Murdoch handled the responsibilities of administering the Murdoch & Dickson partnership estate. But on October 14, 1873 he executed a deed of assignment of the partnership assets to John G. Priest for the benefit of creditors of Murdoch & Dickson. Through this assignment he undertook to convey to Priest as assignee all of his own property for the benefit pro rata of his individual creditors, and all of the property of the firm of Murdoch & Dickson for the benefit pro rata of the creditors of the firm. Subsequently in that same year, failing to obey an order of the court to give an additional bond as surviving partner, Murdoch was removed as administrator of the estate of Murdoch & Dickson. The Southwestern Reporter, in giving an overview of a lawsuit that was filed many years later, stated, "From the record facts before us, we have no doubt that the firm owed in excess of its assets and was insolvent."

James Eads and Barton Bates, as Trustees of the estate of Charles K. Dickson, were provided with the following accounting of the assets of the firm of Murdoch & Dickson. The amount of $93, 237.47 is shown, and a note below it states "subject to credits and debits." This was presumably provided to them by Priest.

Balance sheet of Murdoch & Dickson

John Priest, in the meantime, proceeded with his assignment, collecting assets, allowing claims, and disbursing moneys. Priest remained in the assignment capacity until 1888. At that time he applied for discharge from those responsibilities.

John Murdoch continued to work in the auctioneering business. A Tour of St. Louis or the Inside of a Great City by Joseph A. Dacus and James William Buel, published in 1878, had an accounting of the auctioneering firm of O.J. Lewis & Co.

In St. Louis there are several large auction houses, but the chief one among the many, representative of the West, is the immense house of O. J. Lewis & Co., No. 417 North Fifth Street. The present firm is the successor of Murdock & Dickson, who established business in 1836 at No. 204 and 206 North Main Street, at that time the center of the jobbing trade of the city, where they did a very large business. In the year 1873 Mr. O. J. Lewis purchased the entire interest in the concern, when the name of the firm was changed to its present title.

Because Murdoch & Dickson was in the process of liquidation, it would be interesting to know what, exactly, O.J. Lewis was able to purchase in 1873. Perhaps it was just the expertise of John Murdoch, as future city directories have him listed as working as an auctioneer with O.J. Lewis & Co. Lewis experienced great success with the business, moving it to a six story building consisting of twenty-seven thousand square feet.

While it must have been exciting to work for a company experiencing such growth, one can only imagine what it was like for Murdoch, who had always been his own boss, to no longer be the one calling the shots.

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