Friday, May 17, 2013

The Extortion Trial of 1861, A Disappointing Verdict and The Wrap Up: Part 7


This is part 7 of a multi-part story.  For previous entries click on the links:

Apparently the trial has run its course, at least as far as the media was concerned.  For several days there were lengthy reports as you have seen in the previous posts but on August 14, 1861 the Memphis Daily Appeal had relegated it from a headline story to a small entry:

The Extortion Case.--The whole of yesterday was spent by the attorneys in this case in speaking.  The pleadings were opened by John Sale, Esq.; he was followed by Messrs. Payne, Farrington, King and Yerger.  Mr. Yerger did not conclude last evening but will resume this morning, to be followed by Attorney-General Etheridge who will close the case.  Judge Swayne will then deliver his charge to the jury who will retire to consider their verdict.

The following day, August 15 1861, is another brief entry regarding instructions to the jury and the fact that it might possibly be a hung jury:

The Extortion Case--Mr. Yerger finished his speech in this case yesterday morning, and Attorney-General Eldridge closed with one of his best efforts.  Judge Swayne, in a concise and lucid charge, committed the case to be the jury, who, about noon, retired to consider their verdict.  It was said last evening that very wide, differences of opinion existed among them, and fears existed of a "hung jury."

The jury deliberated for a few days without success and on August 18 1861 the Appeal reported:

The Extortion Case--In this case the jury have not yet agreed upon their verdict.  On Friday evening they sent a communication into court, stating that no change had taken place in their minds since the first evening the case was given into their hands, and that there was no hope or probability of change on the part of any one of them.

The great extortion trial which captivated many with its salaciousness ended in a mistrial as reported on August 28, 1861, "Chas. N. Martin--Indictment for extortion. Mistrial."

What happened to the players in the case?  As reported previously Dr. Samuel Martin continued to have a booming career as a doctor until his death on August 17, 1869.

As for Captain A.B. Shaw, the following notices appeared in the Memphis Daily Appeal on September 27, 1861, a mere month after the trial:

Capt. A.B. Shaw, one of the old citizens, who has for many months been suffering from disease, died yesterday morning.  He was well known and much respected for his kindly unselfish disposition; and his many acts of generosity and charity.  He was for many years the proprietor of the wharf boat at this place, being originally in Partnership with Capt. Hart.  By industrious attention to business, and by the advance of real estate in the city, he became possessed of considerable wealth.  He was fifty four years of age.  His remains will be interred this morning.  The funeral procession will be formed at his late residence on Union street.

DIED in this city, Capt. A.B. Shaw, aged 54 years.  The friends of Capt. A.B. Shaw are requested to attend his funeral, at his residence, on Union street this afternoon (Friday) at 3 o'clock.  Services by Rev. Dr. Grundy.

Marriage License for Ellen Shaw and
Calvin D. Hart
As for Charles N. Martin, I have found references to a Charles Martin, a Charley Martin and a Charles N. Martin in Newspapers but I can't confirm that any of them are the same Martin in this case.  There is a C.N. Martin in the 1870 Census who is the right age and from Massachusetts living in Memphis with the occupation of ice dealer.  In 1862 a short write up about a Charles Martin shows up in the Memphis Daily Appeal where he was charged with fighting and fined $25.  Another Charles N. Martin shows up in newspaper reports in 1867 and is said to be a "very efficient constable" and in the same year was the foreman on a jury.  

And what of Ellen Shaw? In 1863 she married a man named Calvin D. Hart.  I have not been able to
confirm if he was any relation to the Capt. Hart that Capt. Shaw had been in business with previously.  

Other than the marriage certificate the only other evidence of Calvin's existence appears in Memphis City Directories where he is listed for 1865-1867.

From this point until the time of Ellen's death in 1867 life seems to be smooth, that is to say that the name of Ellen Shaw Hart does not seem to appear in any local newspapers.

Then on Sunday, April 21, 1867 the following notice appears in the Memphis Daily Appeal:

HART--At her residence on Union street, at half past one yesterday, Mrs. Ellen J. Hart, formerly Mrs. Ellen J. Shaw, wife of the lamented Capt. A.B. Shaw, aged 39 years and 6 months.

Friends and acquaintances are invited to attend the funeral from her residence on Union street, Sunday, April 21, 1867, at 3 p.m.


It seems odd to me that her death notice makes note of her deceased first husband but does not mention her current husband Calvin Hart nor her two surviving daughters Samuella and Mary.  Ellen Jane McLean Shaw Hart was interred in the private vault of Captain A.B. Shaw along with her mother and the seven children who predeceased her.

The very next month a notice is published regarding the estate of A.B. Shaw and the case of C.D. Hart and Ellen vs. Samuella Shaw and others;


Having taken out letters of administration on the estate of A.B. Shaw, deceased, I hereby notify all persons having claims against said estate to file the same in the Chancery Court, in the case of C.D. Hart and wife Ellen J. versus Samuella Shaw and others; and all persons indebted to said estate to make payment to myself.  J.E. Merriman

336 Main street, corner of Union

Only history knows if there was a dispute between the two remaining Shaw children and Calvin D. Hart over the A.B. Shaw estate.   Over the course of the next eight months a Trustee's Sale notice appeared periodically regarding the sale of Shaw's property but as for who benefited from the sale we'll never know.

Calvin D. Hart disappears leaving no paper trail.  

Samuella and her sister Mary are next found at a boarding school in Pennsylvania.  Samuella finds a life in religion  and becomes a teaching nun. She dies sometime after 1930 in Massachusetts.  Her sister married a man by the last name of Farley.

And that ends the Extortion Trial of 1861.









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