A Case Against David Phips, Ashe Co., NC, 1838

Jesse Long brought a suit against David Phips in the Ashe County, North Carolina court in 1838. Jesse Long was presumably the one by that name who married and divorced Levisa Stamper. After they divorced, she became known as “Widow” Long, since she was a grass widow. The term “grass widow,” as used in her day, referred to a divorced woman.

Edward Bonney, in his 1840s account of the Phips and Long outlaw gang, titled The Banditti of the Prairie, calls Widow Long “sister-in-law of old Owen Long, and mother of Aaron and Hiram.” Presumably that Hiram would be the “Hyram” of the record below. Hiram Long is pictured facing page 104 in one edition of Bonney’s book.

“Widow” Long’s daughter Mary Elizabeth Long married John Meshack Phips, called Shack Phips, son of Jesse Phips who, in turn, was a son of Samuel and Elizabeth (Reeves) Phips. Jesse Long appears to have been a son of John and Susannah (Vannoy) Long, and that John was apparently the father of the Owen Long who fathered Aaron and John Long. Aaron and John were in the outlaw gang with Shack Phips, and both Aaron and John were hung for murder in Rock Island, Illinois in 1845.

Here are loose unbound records from that case. Notice that in the 2nd document, the usual reference to the next regular court term is crossed out, and the word “Instanter” is inserted. This means at once, or immediately.

State of North Carolina
To the Sheriff of Ashe County Greeting
You are hereby Commanded to Summon
Hyram Long & Richd. Perry
personally to appear before the Judge of our Superior Court of Law at the next Court to be held for the County of Ashe at the Court House in Jefferson on the 6th monday after the 3rd monday of August [a word is inserted above “August,” perhaps “next”] then & there to give evidence in behalf of Jesse Long in a suit now pending in Said Court wherein Jesse Long is Plaintiff and [Roe?] & David Phips is Defendant Herein fail not under the [pennalty?] by Law enjoined Witness Richard Gentrey Clerk of our Said Court at Office the 1st monday of April A. D. 1838
[signed:]
R Gentry Clk

The following record was also included:

State of North-Carolina.
To the Sheriff of Ashe County – Greeting:
YOU are hereby commanded to summon Andrew Carson personallly to be and appear before the Judge of our Superior Court of Law Instanter at the next Court to be held for our said county, at the Court-House in Jefferson on the 1st Monday of Oct Inst [i.e. Instant] next, then and there to testify, and the truth to say, in behalf of the defendants in a certain matter of controversy before said Court depending, and then and there to be tried, wherein David Phipps is plaintiff, and Denison Baldwin is defendant. And this you shall in no wise omit, under the penalty prescribed by law
Witness, R Gentry Clerk of our said Court, at Office, the 1st Monday of October in the sixty third year of our Independence, A. D. 1838
[signed:]
R Gentrey Clk

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