Johnston v. Cirode

James C. Johnston vs. William Cirode, Jefferson County Chancery Court, KDLA, Case #4648 (March 1848)

Another case arising from the collapse of the Cirode Family in New Orleans.

Johnston’s petition to the Louisville Chancery Court, filed in March 1845, began by noting the judgment rendered in Bell v. Cirode in 1843, reporting that the sheriff was unable to secure the full judgment because “at the time of said Judgment, and at the date of said execution said Cirode was a resident of Louisiana and of the City of New Orleans, and had hid and secreted his property and ran off all of his negroes except the one levied upon, and none of his estate could be found to make the balance of said debt.” So Bell “sold and assigned the balance of said judgment and the benefit thereof” to Johnston, who “is entited to the same with interest, and the cost of making out a copy of said record” in the Bell case, which has climbed to over $2,000.

Johnston charges that Cirode “was guilty of fraud and deceit” in order to “hinder and delay, cheat and defraud, his creditors.” He claimed that Cirode had “combined and confederated” with William Weathered by conveying “by way of mortgage to said Wathered, all of his Cirode’s real estate in the city of Louisville, under the fraudulent and false pretense of securing the sum of $5,000 no part of which ever was due or owing to said Weathered by said Cirode.” The note that Weathered signed was thus “concocted made and executed in fraud, for the purpose of hindering and delaying cheating and defrauding the creditors of said Cirode.” The whole point was “to cover up and hide said estate, and to enable him to hold the same in secret trust for said Cirode or his family or children of some of them, and said Cirode caused said mortgage to be recorded in this county, a copy of which is herewith filed.” (The date of the deed was January 25, 1844; it was presented to the Jefferson County clerk on February 12, 1844.)

Consequently, Johnston demanded that Cirode and Weathered appear to prove that they actually had traded or conducted business that made Cirode a bona fide debtor of Weathered, and also to tell “what has become of the other property, estate and effects of said Cirode, what became of the negroes he ran off from New Orleans.” He also requests that the town lots named in the mortgage be attached in order to deal with the debt.1

A decree by the chancellor of the Louisville Chancery Court in January 1846 led to the sale (in March and April of 1846) of the land attached.

  1. A related complication is the fact that a William C. Williams filed suit against Cirode after Johnston’s suit began, claiming that he was owed two quarters rent on a house that was included in the fraudulent mortgage to Weathered and then attached as part of Johnston’s suit. Johnston also claimed that Aristides Vaible, an agent of Cirode’s in Louisville, had collected rents on other property owned by Cirode and had more than enough from the receipts of such rents to pay off whatever Williams was actually owed. Johnston also amends his bill to say that any money in Vaible’s hands held on Cirode’s behalf be paid to the court to settle Johnston’s claims.