Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Family History Writing Challenge Day 25

John Priest's Death
When John Murdoch appointed John G. Priest to take over as administrator of the estate of Murdoch & Dickson following the death of his partner, Charles K. Dickson, in 1871, he probably never imagined the problems the assignment would cause for the next twenty plus years. John Priest died on July 4, 1900, and The St. Louis Republic newspaper on July 10, 1900 wrote an article that proclaimed "More Litigation Now in Prospect. J.G. Priest's Death Probably Will Cause New Proceedings in Murdoch and Dickson Case." The headline went on to read "It Was in His Charge for More Than Twenty Years-Many Suits Filed, but Settlement Not Reached." The estate of Murdoch and Dickson had $5,000 remaining in its accounts, and numerous plaintiffs, including the heirs of Charles K. Dickson, had filed suit to get the money released.

March 17, 1901, The St. Louis Republic reported that three lawsuits had been filed in connection with the administration of the Murdoch & Dickson estate. The article reiterated that this estate had been in litigation since the death of Charles Dickson in 1871. The new administrator of the estate, William C. Richardson, brought the suits against the Terminal Railway Association, the Mississippi Valley Trust Company and T. S. Evans and the Vornbrook Furniture Company. The suits all stemmed back to property that had been sold by the then-administrator of the estate, John Priest. The Richardson claimed that Murdoch had no authority to appoint Priest back in 1871, and therefore the  property transactions handled by Priest should be declared null and void. Two more lawsuits followed in May of 1901.

March 17, 1901
May 19, 1901

The case regarding the legitimacy of John Murdoch appointing John Priest as administrator of the estate, which impacted the above referenced lawsuits as well as others, began in the St. Louis Circuit Court on October 5, 1905. The case was appealed and went to the Missouri Supreme Court in 1914, where it was ruled that Murdoch had inappropriately assigned Priest to handle the estate.

October 6, 1905

The estate of John Priest, in the meantime, was having legal issues of its own. Following Priest's death, the Mississippi Valley Trust Company, as trustee for Sophia M. Capitain, Manette Capitain, Ringrose J. Capitain, Isabella Capitain and Chouteau Capitain filed suit against Ella B. Priest, Administratrix of the estate of John G. Priest, deceased, Auguste L. Priest, Warren G. Priest, John G. Priest, Jr., Virginia C. Priest, Annie Priest, Mark Priest, Chouteau Priest, Maude Priest and Ella B. Priest. John G. Priest was appointed trustee for the Capitains for the trust of Ringrose J. Watson, which was dated October 6, 1869. When Priest was removed as trustee in October of 1899, he was ordered to pay over to the new trustee the trust funds remaining in the estate. It was alleged that Priest received large sums of money belonging to the estate, but that he had not provided an accounting to the trust. He also did not turn over the funds as required upon his removal as trustee. The Court on January 27, 1902, ordered Ella Priest to pay the Capitains $5,100 plus six percent interest.

The allegations in the Capitain lawsuit sound suspiciously like John Priest's dealings with the Murdoch & Dickson estate.

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