University of Chicago Library

Guide to the Lincoln Collection, Lincoln Law Cases 1837-1859

© 2010 University of Chicago Library

Descriptive Summary


Lincoln Collection. Lincoln Law Cases




0.5 linear feet (1 box)


Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center
University of Chicago Library
1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.


The Lincoln Law Cases collection contains records of cases handled by Abraham Lincoln and his various legal partnerships from 1837 to 1859. Collection includes plaintiff complaints, summons, affidavits disclosing verdicts of juries. It forms part of the William E. Barton Collection of Lincolniana.

Information on Use


The collection is open for research.


When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: Lincoln Collection. Lincoln Law Cases, [Box #, Folder #], Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library

Biographical Note

Rev. William Eleazar Barton (1861-1930) The Rev. William Eleazar Barton (1861-1930) was one of the early twentieth century's most prominent writers and lecturers on the life of Abraham Lincoln. Born in Sublette, Illinois, in the same year Lincoln assumed the presidency, Barton grew up in an environment heavily influenced by reverence for Lincoln. After pursuing undergraduate studies at Berea College in Kentucky, Barton earned his divinity degree from the Oberlin Theological Seminary in 1890. He served parishes in Tennessee, Ohio, and Massachusetts before becoming the pastor of the First Congregational Church of Oak Park, Illinois, a position he held until his retirement in 1924. Four years later, Barton accepted an appointment as lecturer at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, where he also organized and served as pastor of the Collegeside Congregational Church.

Barton's work as a writer produced a number of denominational manuals for church organization and a series of books presenting the wisdom and parables of a character he named Safed the Sage. For the last ten years of his life, however, Barton was best known to the public as a prolific author and lecturer on Abraham Lincoln. His publications about Lincoln included The Soul of Abraham Lincoln (1920), The Paternity of Abraham Lincoln (1920), The Life of Abraham Lincoln (1925), The Great and Good Man (1927), The Women Lincoln Loved (1927), and The Lincoln of the Biographers (1930).

In the course of compiling material for his writings and talks, Barton visited Lincoln sites in Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois; interviewed surviving Lincoln relatives and acquaintances; and traveled as far as California and England to collect information and conduct genealogical research on the ancestry of the Lincoln family. While acquiring a large collection of books, periodicals, pamphlets, manuscripts, and ephemera related to Lincoln and the Civil War era, Barton also purchased privately or at auction historical materials amassed by other Lincoln collectors such as John E. Burton and Osborn H. Oldroyd.

Scope Note

Abraham Lincoln practiced law, both civil and criminal cases, from 1836 to 1861 in Central Illinois. Many cases involved issues such as breach of contract, assault, bootlegging, and debt collection. The legal cases in this collection were compiled by William E. Barton and represent only a sampling of the number of cases that either Lincoln or his partnerships handled.

The collection is organized alphabetically by case name and includes material such as formal plaintiff complaints, summons of defendant’s witnesses to court, and affidavits disclosing the verdicts of the jury. Also in the collection are notes written by William E. Barton with his commentary on the cases.

Lincoln's legal partners and collaborators included:

Lincoln & Linder (Usher F. Linder)

Benedict & Lincoln (Kirby Benedict)

Wright, Craft & Lincoln

Kinney, Wright, Craft & Lincoln

Stuart & Lincoln (John Todd Stuart)

Logan & Lincoln (Stephen Trigg Logan)

Lincoln & Herndon (William H. Herndon)

Related Resources

Browse finding aids by topic.

Subject Headings


Box 1   Folder 1

Albin vs. Bodine papers, 24 Ds., 1848-1850

  • Summons of defendant, 1848
  • J.H. Murphy, plaintiff attorney, written complaint of plaintiff, 1849
  • Summons of witnesses (10), 1848-50; Surety pledge for costs, 1849
  • Affidavit of defendant that plaintiff cannot pay costs, 1849
  • Affidavits of witnesses on number of days spent in court (7), 1849-50
  • Jury’s statement of findings, undated; List of names, undated
  • Motion of plaintiff for new trial (2), 1849
Box 1   Folder 2

Allen vs. Runsdell papers, D. 4p.,1840

  • S.T. Logan, written complaint of plaintiff
Box 1   Folder 3

Anderson vs. ----- papers, A.D. 1 p., 1837

  • Richard Anderson, promissory not of payment on case outcome in plaintiff’s favor, Photostat positive, 1837
Box 1   Folder 4

Benson vs. Mayo papers, 9 Ds., 1851

  • Lincoln & Linder, attorneys for plaintiff, complaint of plaintiff, 1851
  • Promissory note in Benson v. Mayo (in Lincoln’s hand), 1851
  • Writs of summons (6) 1 missing, 1851
  • Affidavit of witness on number of days in court, 1851
Box 1   Folder 5

Conneau vs. Whitney papers, A.D. 1 p., 1838

  • Notice to defendant of deposition to be taken, in Lincoln’s hand, 1838
Box 1   Folder 6

Davidson vs. Bailey papers, 9 Ds., 1851-1853

  • Samuel Davidson, authorization to his counsel to bring action, 1851
  • Surety’s pledge for costs, 1851; Summons of witness, 1853
  • Affidavit of witnesses on number of days spent in court (4), 1853
  • Notes on this case by William E. Barton, undated
  • Typescript of A.L.S. by Lincoln to Linder, 1853
Box 1   Folder 7

Dibblee et al. vs. Alexander et al. papers, 13 Ds., 1850-1853

  • Copy of a conveyance for the benefit of creditors, 1850
  • Copy of trust deed for the benefit of creditors, undated
  • Complaint (3 typescript copies), 1850
  • Answer of defendants (typescript copy) originally in Lincoln’s hand, undated
  • John W.G. Alexander, separate answer, undated
  • Answer of Robert Clark and Robert Reed, undated
  • Charles Emerson, answer in Lincoln’s hand, 1851
  • Refiling of complainant’s general replication, and request for default judgment against defendants not appearing, in Lincoln’s hand,1 holograph, Photostats: 1 positive, 1 negative, undated
  • Petition of defendants that the case be heard at next term of court, 1851
  • Decree, undated
  • Answer of Mary Chestnut and James W. Ross, in Lincoln’s hand, 1852
  • Deposition of Kirby Benedict (holograph and typescript copy), 1853
Box 1   Folder 8

Dibblee vs. Chestnut papers, 26 Ds., 1850-1851

  • Note owed to Dibblee by Chestnut, 1848
  • Note owed to Dibblee by Chestnut, 1848
  • Promissory note of payment of O.J. Chestnut et al., 1850
  • Surety’s, A.W.B. Ray pledge for costs, 1850
  • Lawyer’s noted on complaints, undated
  • S. Blookins, attorney for plaintiffs, complaint of plaintiffs,1850
  • S. Blookins, reworded compliant (typescript), 1850
  • Benedict & Lincoln, answer of defendants, 1851
  • S. Blookins, bill to set aside fraudulent conveyance, undated
  • Bill to set aside fraudulent conveyance till next term, undated
  • R.W. Townsend, opinion supporting plaintiffs, 1850
  • S. Jones, opinion supporting the plaintiff, 1850
  • Wright, Craft, & Lincoln, for the complainants, replication of petitions, denying the sufficiency of defense answers to complainant, in Lincoln’s hand with signature,1851
  • Petition to name widow and heirs-at-law as parties defendant, in Lincoln’s hand (holograph, Photostats: 1 positive, 1 negative, and typescript), 1850
  • Notarized bill for sale of property, 1850
  • Promissory note of James Jones et al., 1850
  • Writs of summons (5), 1850-51
  • Writs of summons not served, 1850
  • Surety’s, J.W. Blackburn, pledge for costs, in Lincoln’s hand, 1850
  • Certification of notice by publication, 1850
  • Court order recognizing the appearance of defendants, in Lincoln’s hand, undated Judgment for the plaintiff, undated
  • Note on Dibblee v. Chestnut, typescript, undated
  • Note on Dibblee v. Chestnut, holograph, undated
Box 1   Folder 9

Ditson vs. McMurry papers, A.D.S., 1840

  • Stuart & Lincoln, complaint of plaintiff, photostat positive, in Lincoln’s hand
  • Card, "Lincoln’s First Partnership"
Box 1   Folder 10

Droper vs. Grant papers, A.D.S., 1844

  • Logan & Lincoln, complaint of plaintiff, photostat positive, in Lincoln’s hand
  • Card, "Lincoln’s Second Partnership"
Box 1   Folder 11

Dudley vs. Hite papers, A.D.,1851

  • Motion for deferment of trial, holograph, in Lincoln’s hand
Box 1   Folder 12

Hunter vs. Nolan papers, 2 A.Ds., Photostat, positive, 1842

  • Answer of defendant, holograph in Lincoln’s hand, 2 photostats: 1 positive, 1 negative General denial by defendant, holograph in Lincoln’s hand, 2 photostats: 1 positive, 1 negative
  • Note on case, unsigned
Box 1   Folder 13

Ingle vs. Scott, D., [ca. 1850]

  • Complaint of plaintiff, unsigned
Box 1   Folder 14

Ingoldsby et al. vs. Alexander papers, 3 Ds., 1851

  • W.D. Griswold, attorney for plaintiff, complaint of plaintiffs
  • Surety’s pledge for costs
  • Summons of John W.S. Alexander
Box 1   Folder 15

Lilley vs. Lilley papers, 4 Ds, 1855

  • Harriet Lilley, bond executed by complainant to guarantee successful prosecution of her pending divorce action
  • Petition for divorce
  • Summons of defendant
  • Summons of witnesses
  • Property settlement in lieu of alimony
Box 1   Folder 16

McCutchen vs. Allen complaint, A.D.S., 1842

  • Logan & Lincoln, attorneys for plaintiff, complaint of plaintiff
Box 1   Folder 17

Matkin vs. Brown papers, A.D.S., 1850

  • Answer of respondent, original and photostats, positive
  • Copy of answer of respondent in typescript
Box 1   Folder 18

Mayo vs. Benson papers, D., 1851

  • Benedict & Constable, answer and denial of the defendant
Box 1   Folder 19

Merrow et al. vs. Ambo et al. papers, A.D.S., 1859

  • Lincoln, for respondent, answer of defendants, in Lincoln’s hand, original and 2 photostats:1 positive, 1 negative
Box 1   Folder 20

Neale vs. Britton papers, A.D.S., 1850

  • Lincoln & Hemdon, complaint of plaintiff, in Lincoln’s hand, photostat, positive
Box 1   Folder 21

Nolan vs. Hunter papers, 16 Ds., 1841

  • Surety’s pledge of costs; J. Halan, attorney of plaintiff, complaint of plaintiff
  • Summons (9)
  • Affidavits of witnesses on number of days in court (4)
  • Verdict in case
Box 1   Folder 22

Paddock vs. Snyder papers, 2 Ds., 1851-1853

  • W.R. McKean, affidavit of witness on number of days in court
  • Deposition of Rieley Mckean
Box 1   Folder 23

Reed vs. Henderson papers, 17 Ds., 1852

  • Promissory note of payment
  • Summons of witnesses (14)
  • Defendant’s answer
  • Agreement of continuance
Box 1   Folder 24

Rives vs. Martin and Booth papers, 31 Ds., 1852-1853

  • Kirby Benedict, attorney for plaintiff, compliant of plaintiff
  • Affidavit by defendant that plaintiff is unable to pay costs of suit
  • John A. Metcalf, surety’s pledge for costs
  • Defendant’s answer; H.W. Martin, motion for delay
  • Bill of particulars
  • Martin, Henry W., motion to delay, original and 2 photostats: 1 positive, 1 negative
  • Martin, H.W. et al., appeal bond
  • Harlan, J., bill of exceptions
  • Summons (17)
  • Affidavits of witnesses on number of days in court (5)
  • list of numerical figures
Box 1   Folder 25

Rucker vs. Early papers, D., 1840

  • Deposition of Peter Richard, with A.E.S. by Lincoln
Box 1   Folder 26

Shelby v. Shelby papers, A.D.S., [ca. 1840]

  • Lincoln, for complainant, complaint of plaintiff, photostat, positive, in Lincoln’s hand
Box 1   Folder 27

Snyder vs. Wolfe papers, A.D.S., 1851

  • Answer to complainant, in Lincoln’s hand, original, 2 photostats; 1 positive, 1 negative, and 1 typescript copy
Box 1   Folder 28

Sommerville vs. Bailey papers, 18 Ds., 1853

  • Kirby Benedict, attorney for plaintiff, complaint of plaintiff (2)
  • Order subpoena of witnesses
  • Summons (12)
  • David Bailey et al., agreement to submit to arbitration
  • James A. Miller et al., award of arbitrators
  • S. York, affidavit of witness on number of days in court
  • Notes on this case by William E. Barton
Box 1   Folder 29

Speed vs. Reeves papers, D. 3 p., 1853

  • E.B. Hendon, attorney of plaintiff, compliant of plaintiff
Box 1   Folder 30

Taylor v. Wright papers, A.D.S., 1843

  • Logan & Lincoln, for complainant, compliant of plaintiff, original, 2 photostats: 1 positive, 1 negative, 1 copy
Box 1   Folder 31

Ten Brook, Adm. vs. Guthrie papers, 8 Ds., 1851-1852

  • Guarantee of court costs
  • Writ of summons to defendant (2)
  • Dill, M.M., complaint of plaintiff, in Lincoln’s hand
  • Sutherland, J., affidavit of witness on number of days in court
  • Plaintiff’s answer to defense motion for delay of trial
  • Complaint of plaintiff; affidavit that defendant’s property was fraudulently concealed from sheriff seeking to serve a writ of execution, (typescript copy)
Box 1   Folder 32

Wolfe vs. Snyder papers, 9 Ds., 1851-1853

  • Pledge for costs, 2 photostats: 1 positive, 1 negative
  • Ephraim S. Wolfe vs. William M. Snyder, wrapper
  • Usher & Pattenson, letter of enclosure accompanying guarantee of costs
  • Usher & Pattenson, complaint
  • Usher, J.P., attorney of plaintiff, bill of particulars; summons of defendant
  • Receipt of payment from Snyder and order to withdraw the pending suit