Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A Summers Feud

It's been a relatively quiet year for my Summers research, but I did receive one notable contact from a researcher in Ontario, Canada who is a descendant of William Loder of Sussex, New Jersey, the same William Loder whose estate was associated with a major New Jersey court case against John Summers, Esq. and his sons. This researcher has located some letters in Canadian archives that were written from John Kinney Jr. in New Jersey, who was an executor of the William Loder estate there, to Loder descendants who had relocated to Canada but who still had an interest in the New Jersey case against the Summers. Kinney was writing to the Loder relations to explain the long delays in getting the case settled. In fact, it appears that even after the case was decided (against the Summers), payment to the Loder descendants for debts owed was not forthcoming by the stubborn Summers. William Loder died in 1817, and according to the Canadian researcher, the Canadian Loder descendants did not receive final settlement on the New Jersey property in question until 1855! That's a long time.

It's hard to imagine what might have caused this situation which almost seems to have escalated from a property dispute to a feud. Did it have to do with bad feelings between American and Loyalist allegiances? Or was it really a case of fraud and swindle on the part of the Summers? It's hard to understand given that John Summers Esq. had himself been serving in the New Jersey judicial system. What we do know is that the oldest son of John Esq. died in 1814, shortly after the War of 1812. Another son died in 1825 just before John Esq. himself died in 1827 in the middle of all the legal proceedings. Then a third son, William, died suddenly in 1832 from a lightning strike. The remaining two Summers sons, John and Jacob, packed up nearly all the remaining Summers families and migrated to Michigan by the mid-1830s leaving behind in New Jersey this unresolved Loder case and no good will.

But the good news is that the reasons that fuel conflict often melt away with time. While in SLC recently, I was able to locate the 1818 Sussex deed that started the Loder-Summers dispute, and we were amazed to find a map drawn at the end of the deed, which shows the house of Judge Summers and the Loder land surrounding it. How cool is that? In locating a few other Loder deeds, we were further able to establish the names of the previous Loder generation, which had previously been unknown to our Canadian researcher. Yeah! I love genealogy, working with other researchers, and making peace in time for Xmas.