24 October 2014

Settling Up with A Rifle and A Pig

There are always interesting discoveries to be made in probate case files. Like any court record, the amount of detail they can provide varies greatly from one file to another and can provide interesting insights into our ancestors lives.

Like how they paid their doctor bill.

Many families have traditions about how a doctor was paid by a means other than cash. The probate file of William Smith in Mercer County, Illinois, provides direct evidence of how a 1860 era doctor bill was paid.

The Smiths gave the doctor a rifle and two pigs to complete payment on their $34 bill. 

The doctor signs an affidavit stating that the account had been paid in full.

There are no details about the type of rifle or the type of pigs. In all seriousness, the court really wasn't interested in the type of rifle or pigs used to pay the bill--just that the bill had been paid.

Common usage of the time would indicate that since the animals were referred to as "pigs" and not "hogs" that they were younger animals, perhaps recently weaned and not fully grown. But that's speculation.

And there's no record of the gun permit or the transfer of ownership--(smirk!).

Sometimes there's interesting details in those estate accountings.


Pig: Image courtesy of Tina Phillips at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
Pig: Image courtesy of Suat Eman at FreeDigitalPhotos.net