We recently spent a too short 3 days and 2 nights in southern MO researching my husband's CALDWELL family in records we'd never accessed before, and I'm so very, very pleased to share with you what we found regarding Matilda CALLISON AMOS CALDWELL, dau. of Moses and Catherine.
In the Webster County [Missouri], Circuit Court Record, Book A, p.141, we learned that Matilda died sometime between April 15th and October 14th, 1858 -- "since the last term of this Court, the said MATILDA COLDWELL the party for whose interest this cause was brought, has departed this life, and at her death the cause of action aborted."
The full transcripts of the only 3 records we could find read --
A.D. 1858 Tuesday morning the 13th April.2d day April Term.JAMES COLDWELL & MATILDA COLDWELL vs William EDWARDS } Civil action Now at this day comes in to court the defendant by attorney and by leave of the Court files herein a motion to quash the writ in this cause.--Webster County, Missouri, Circuit Court Record, Book A, 1855-1865, p.83.
1858 April 15.JAMES COLDWELL & MATILDA COLDWELL vs William EDWARDS } Civil action By an agreement of the parties this cause is continued until the next term of this Court and leave given Defendant to plede [sic] sixty days before the next term of this Court.--Webster County, Circuit Court Record, Book A, p.101.
1858 Thursday October 14.4th day October Term.JAMES COLDWELL & MATILDA COLDWELL vs William EDWARDS } Petition for assignment of dower Now at this day comes in to court the attorney for the said MATILDA COLDWELL and to the Satisfaction of this Court makes it appear that since the last term of this Court, the said MATILDA COLDWELL the party for whose interest this cause was brought, has departed this life, and at her death the cause of action aborted.It is therefore considered and adjudged by this Court, that the defendant have and recover of and from the Surviveing [sic] plantiff [sic] all costs in this behalf lain out and Expense for which Execution may issue.--Webster County, Circuit Court Record, Book A, p.141.
We searched backwards in the book hoping to find an explanation for the cause of this action, but these 3 records were all we found.My guess here is that Wm. Edwards may have publicly said something inflammatory against Matilda, so she and James sued him.
I was moved to tears when I read the truth about Matilda and James because I had had so many negative thoughts about her for nearly 25 years, and I literally and physically felt a weight lift off my shoulders (and this isn't even my family, but my husband's).I'll never forget the moments when I read those words, absorbed what they were saying, then read them to my husband.Here was PROOF that Matilda did NOT run off with another man after James died, and she did NOT abandon her children!Instead, she DIED 2 years BEFORE James did (she was his 3rd wife).
We simply cannot understand how such a mean-spirited story came into being regarding Matilda, and trying to analyze it, we have torn this scenario apart every way we know how.It was shared with us, as he had apparently always heard it, by Matilda and James' gr-grandson who lived most of his life in that area of MO and appeared to be close to all his family (several generations are buried together, including Matilda and James' son, James Andrew CALDWELL).He was also an anthropologist, museum curator, published researcher and author, and had an apparently wide-ranging and impeccable reputation.
Since all family stories have grains of truth buried in them, I suspect the truth in this one is that James' children were found crying the day JAMES died in 1860 (we have no idea as to WHY he died), and all the children, except possibly the youngest one, were certainly old enough to understand death, especially since the older ones had already experienced it more than once, but this time they were truly orphans.