Letitia vs. Greenberry Smith I

Letitia Carson formal complaint to Greenberry Smith_Page 1 of 2_Feb 27 1854.jpg

This document is a formal letter of complaint from Letitia Carson to Greenberry Smith. Letitia goes on to discuss David's agreement with her, saying that David intended to pay her for her labor in the years she lived with him and that Letitia would be the sole heir of his property at the time of his death. On the second page (not pictured) Letitia informs Greenberry that she is owed money as she has sustained great damages after David Carson's sudden death. The end of her letter provides Greenberry Smith with a summary of the payment Letitia is requesting: Damages on contract equaling $5000.00, 7 years 5 months labor at $500.00 per year equaling $3750.00, 29 head of Cattle at $50.00 per head equaling $1450.00, and the use of 10 cows 7 years equaling $1000.00. 

Soon after this auction, Letitia and her children relocated to Douglas County, Oregon. Although she had relocated, she continued her fight against Smith. Somehow she became acquainted with Corvallis attorney Andrew Thayer, and in February 1854, Thayer filed suit against Smith on Letitia’s behalf. Letitia sought compensation from David Carson's estate for her seven years of service to him. She argued that if she was not David’s wife, then she must have been his employee, and was, therefore, due back wages in the amount of $3,750. She also alleged damages of $5,000, which was later reduced to $1,000.

In the court case that followed, both David’s nephew Andrew J. Carson and his illegitimate son, David Carson Jr. were subpoenaed to testify, along with several neighbors. In May 1855, the jury deliberated and returned their verdict. They had sided with Letitia. But while she won her case, she only was awarded only $300 in damages plus $222.20 in court costs.


This is a drawing of Greenberry Smith, the administrator of David Carson's estate. It is from 1885 circa. At one time he was considered the “richest man in Benton County, Oregon."

Letitia's first success against Greenberry Smith in 1855

Judgment in favor of Letitia Carson_June 6 1855.jpg

June 6, 1855 Judgment in favor of Letitia Carson

This document was written by the United States to the sheriff of Benton County on June 6th, 1855, confirming the judgment in favor of Letitia Carson and requesting that funds be paid. The language of the document is as follows "These are therefore in the name of the United States to command you that you satisfy said judgment and costs and other costs that may accrue out of the personal property of said estate in the possession of Said Greenberry Smith administrator." It is later signed by Jas H. Slater, clerk of the District Court of the Oregon Territory.

Next Page: Letitia vs. Greenberry Smith II


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