Family Feud

I work for attorneys.  The job is interesting.  I meet a lot of people and I learn many things about people, most of which cannot be repeated, of course.  My husband is my boss's nephew.  No. I had the job first, THEN I met Glen.  I didn't get hired because I married into the family.  I was hired because I can type : )

One day a few years back while browsing through the old, old, really old Iowa Supreme Court case rulings, I happened across a lawsuit that involved one of Glen's ancestors.  His name was William W. Ordway, M.D., a brother to Glen's Great-Great Grandfather.  The case was titled "King v. Ordway"

My boss, Glen's uncle, told us a few stories about old Doc Ordway, the most interesting being the one about how he was almost murdered! 

Interesting, indeed - but not as interesting as learning that the "King" in "King v. Ordway" was my Great-Great-Great-Great Grandmother, Louisa C. King!

My goodness, I went directly to the old Supreme Court ruling and read it with eyes more sympathetic toward my poor family than Glen's poor, almost murdered relative.  Loosely quoting parts of the ruling, here's the story:

In 1880 my Great-Great-Great-Great Grandfather, Samuel C. King, died leaving all of his property to his wife and three daughters.  In 1881 Doc Ordway got my Grandma and her daughters to Deed the greatest portion of my Grandfather's land over to him by falsely stating he had a claim against my Grandfather that had to be paid; that other creditors were going to sue my Grandmother and her daughters; and that expensive litigation would entirely consume the estate.  He showed them a letter from an attorney which he explained meant the claims, amounting to $8,000 had to be paid in order to avoid suit.  Doc Ordway offered to pay Grandma $500 plus pay all the other debts against the estate if they would Deed all the land over to him.

 Samuel C. King

Well, the King family brought a lawsuit against Glen's Uncle claiming fraud after they figured out the amount my Grandfather owed him was $90 at best, and the other claims were greatly exaggerated.  The trial court agreed, ruled Doc Ordway had committed fraud and ordered him to Deed the land back to my Grandmother and her daughters.  Doc Ordway didn't like the trial court's finding, arguing that he owned the crop that was grown on the land he had held the Deed to and wanted the proceeds of that crop totaling $1,000, so he filed his appeal which brought the case to the Supreme Court of Iowa in 1888.

In the meantime there was a great deal of squabbling between the parties and my Grandmother had a Restraining Order placed against Glen's Uncle because he kept pestering them about owing him a great deal of money because he had paid all the other claims against the estate.  Ha!

In the end, the ruling states:  In view of the facts in this case, we do not think the relief suggested ought to be granted.  Defendant (Ordway) secured claims against the estate at a large discount, and could have enforced their payment in the usual manner, and with much profit to himself.  Not satisfied with reasonable returns for his investment, he has sought larger gains by methods to which no fair-minded man would resort.  To now reinstate him in the position which he abandoned with fraudulent intent, after he has exhausted every means to maintain the advantage he wrongfully obtained, would be to place a premium upon speculative attempts of that character.  We are disposed to leave defendant where he is placed by his own voluntary acts.  (I think that means, "You made your own bed, now sleep in it!")

The Supreme Court further ruled the temporary Restraining Order against him become permanent!

The Court noted that my Grandmother was illiterate and would have no way of knowing the total of sums owed by looking at Doc Ordway's claims.  As for Doc Ordway, the Court was not prepared to believe that a man of his manifest shrewdness and business experience would agree to pay claims against the estate without knowing the amounts due.

Now isn't it interesting to note that the "Reward" poster states Doc Ordway was shot in 1885, right in the middle of the dates my Grandfather died and the Supreme Court Ruling?  And what was stolen from him?  A trunk filled with Notes, Deeds and Mortgages!

Wow.   I met Glen in 1987, just about 100 years after all of the above transpired.  I have to wonder if our feuding ancestors are glad the hatchet was finally buried, or if they're rolling over in their graves!

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  1. Wow- What a story!

    It cracks me up that y'all got married and then found all this stuff out.


  2. What an incredible story! I am so glad you documented this!

  3. Let's hope history does not repeat itself!


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