THIS was an appeal from the Circuit Court of the United States for East Louisiana, sitting as a court of equity.
The heirs of Poultney filed a bill in chancery against the City of Lafayette and upwards of two hundred individuals.
It alleged that Poultney had purchased from the Widow Rousseau a tract of land about a mile and a half above the city of New Orleans in May, 1818; and that to secure the payment of part of the purchase money, he had mortgaged the same land to her for $80,000, payable in five annual instalments of $16,000 each; that Poultney died in October, 1819, leaving minor children, and that the defendants were in possession of the property, which the complainants claimed a right to redeem.
The proceedings which took place in court after this are exceedingly complicated. Some of the defendants answered, using this expression, 'the said answer to serve and be instead of a demurrer and pleas to the said bill of complaint.' Objections were made to the jurisdiction of the court on account of the residence of the complainants, and a rule granted to try the fact of residence, which rule was afterwards set aside.
The bill was taken pro confesso as to many of the defendants, who were afterwards allowed to answer; numerous persons were vouched in warranty by the defendants, and afterwards the proceedings stricken out; demurrers were filed and overruled; the case was put upon the rule docket and then brought back again; three more defendants were brought in.
The answers, amongst other matters, averred that Poultney, at the time of his death, was insolvent, and that the property in question had been subjected to the operation of the laws in Louisiana and sold to its present possessors.
In 1842, the following proceedings took place.
On this first Monday of January, 1842, appeared Isaac T. Preston and C. M. Conrad, Esquires, for defendants, and filed in evidence with the clerk and master the following exhibits marked A, B, C, D, E, F, G, I, M, N, O, P; and, on further motion of said counsel, this cause is set for trial for hearing on the merits, for Friday, the 14th January, 1842.
And afterwards, to wit, on the 9th day of February, one thousand eight hundred and forty-two, the following entry was made of record, to wit: 'Wednesday, February 9, 1842.
'The court met, pursuant to adjournment. Present, the Honorable Theodore H. McCaleb, district judge; the Honorable John McKinley, presiding judge, absent.
The city of Lafayette et als.
'On motion of Isaac T. Preston, Esq., this cause was called on the docket and fixed for trial for Wednesday, the 23d February, 1842.'
And afterwards, to wit, on the 23d of February, 1842, the following order of court was entered of record, to wit:
'Wednesday, February 23, 1842.
'The court met, pursuant to adjournment. Present, the Honorable Theodore H. McCaleb, district judge; the Honorable John ...