On August 30, 1850, Andrew Estes, a farmer who lived on the Osage River in Miller County, Missouri, filed a Writ of Replevin, against Willis A.J. Clinton, of Crawford County, Arkansas, to recover property he believed to be unlawfully taken.
Estes, an elderly man who suffered from epileptic seizures, relied on his slaves for his personal care and the management of his home and farm. Due to concern for his health and the future of his slaves, he arranged a conditional sale with his son, John G. Estes on July 18, 1849, to buy his slaves so long as he keep them together as a family. The slaves owned by Estes were: Milley, age 40; Bob, age 23; Angeline, age 18; Sam, age 19; Betty, age 16; Melissa, age 14; and Ned, age 18. They were to remain with the senior Estes for as long as he lived and then Milley was to be freed. A bill of sale was drawn up on June 16, 1850, in the amount of $1,800.
In July 1850, John Estes, without his father’s approval, sold the slaves to Willis A.J. Clinton of Arkansas. With a bill of sale from John Estes, Clinton went to Missouri and abducted the slaves from the home of Andrew Estes with the intent of reselling the family in the south.
After locating the whereabouts of the slaves, Andrew Estes traveled to Van Buren, Arkansas, and filed suit in the Crawford County courthouse to recover them. The case was later moved to Franklin County, Arkansas. Depositions of witnesses were taken by court appointed officials, for both the plaintiff and the defendant. In 1856, a judgment was rendered in favor of Andrew Estes by the Franklin County Circuit Court.
The main premise of the case was that Andrew Estes, recovering from the effects of a recent epileptic attack, was in no condition to execute a contract. His medical condition and unusual behavior at the time of contract was testified to by several witnesses. The ruling of the Franklin County Circuit Court was later upheld by the Arkansas Supreme Court, in 1859.
Writ of Replevin filed by Andrew Estes, Plaintiff v. Willis A.J. Clinton, defendant, wherein Andrew Estes complained that Willis A.J. Clinton had wrongfully taken the following decribed Negro Slaves: Milley, Bob, Angline, Sam, Betty, Malissa, and Ned. According the this writ, Mr. Estes recovered his property on August 30, 1850.
Depositions of witnesses, William M. Dodson, Deverin Pully, James Winfrey, David Vaught, Thomas Morgan, and Lewis Brown, all residents in Camden County, Missouri, of the black family being taken from Mr. Andrew Estes. Testimony was sworn by Samuel Lain, J.P. and recorded by Thompson J. Kelly, Camden County clerk.
Andrew Estes v. Willis A.J. Clinton, the said defendant has requested the court consider prepared instructions.