How Does One Lose 15,600 Cigars?

I found a court case involving my great-great-grandfather, George C Spiegel. This occurred in mid-1872, before the family left Savannah for Dallas. In that year, George was a cigar maker living in Savannah Georgia. The events described in these court documents from the Savannah, Chatham County, Georgia Court, took place a few months before my great-grandmother was born. I discovered these items in an database labeled “The Savannah Georgia US court records (1790-1934).” I will let the items speak for themselves. But I will ask upfront the question: How does one lose 15,600 cigars?!!?

The first item appears to be an affidavit of George C Spiegel to a notary public.

“Before me, Isaac Beckett a Notary Public in and for said County (Chatham) personally came and appeared George C Spiegel one of the firm of Blum & Spiegel composed of the deponent and Charles Blum who being duly sworn deposes and saith that the said firm is about to commence an action at law for the recovery of 156 boxes of cigars (96 boxes marked Blum, Spiegel & Kolb, and 60 boxes marked L. Heischom & Co.) Which are in the possession and control of Louis Furstenberg of the said city of Savannah, and that said deponent has reason to apprehend that said personal property will not be forthcoming to answer the judgment and execution that shall be made in the case. And deponent further states that the value of the said property is $1000 and that the said firm of Blum & Spiegel does verify and bona fide claim a valuable interest in said cigars. Signed George C Spiegel. Sworn to and subscribed before me this 31st day of July 1872 signed Isaac Beckett Notary Public”

The second item spans two pages. It is a complaint sworn in court against one Louis Furstenberg for the theft of 15,600 cigars and it contains enough “to wits” and “aforesaids” to fill an entire court term.

“To the city court of the city of Savannah: the petition of Charles Blum and George C Spiegel copartners under the firm name of Blum and Spiegel shewest that they complain of Louis Furstenberg of the said city of Savannah of a plea of trespass on the case. For that, whereas your petitioner heretofore to wit on the first day of April 1872 at Savannah to wit in the city and state aforesaid were lawfully possessed as of their own property of 156 boxes of cigars of which 96 boxes were marked Blum, Spiegel & Kolb and 60 boxes were marked L. Heischom & Co. Each of said boxes containing 100 cigars of the value of $1000. And being so possessed your petitioners afterwards [sic] to wit on the day and year aforesaid at Savannah aforesaid casually lost the said boxes of cigars out of their possession, and the same afterwards [sic] to wit on the day and year aforesaid at Savannah aforesaid came to the possession of said defendant by finding(?). Yet the said defendant well knowing the said boxes of cigars to be the property of your petitioner’s hath not as yet delivered the same to them although often requested so to do, and hath hitherto wholly refused so to do, and afterwards to wit in the day and year aforesaid at Savannah, aforesaid converted and disposed of the said boxes of cigars to his own use. To the damage of your petitioners $1000 and therefore they bring suit. Wherefore your petitioners pray that process may issue requiring the said Louis Furstenberg to be and appear at the next term of said court to answer your petitioner’s complaint. Signed Charles N. West, attorney”

The third item appears to be a bench warrant directing the sheriff to bring Louis Furstenberg to court.

“In the city court of Savannah, to the sheriff of said court: Greeting! You are hereby required to summon the defendant Louis Furstenberg personally or by an attorney to be and appear before the Hon. the court of Savannah, on the first Monday in November next to answer to the plaintiff on the merits of the foregoing petition. In default of such appearance, the said court will proceed as to justice shall pertain. Witness the Hon. Walter S Chisholm judge of said court this first day of August 1872. Signed Charles N. West, Attorney.”

Below that it says that the original was filed on August 1, 1872. It was received by the Sheriff’s office on August 2, 1872.

George C Spiegel Savannah Georgia circa 1870

The next page indicates that the defendant was brought to court on 3 August 1872 by Sheriff Robert R Havisham. And following that, the next item appears to be an affidavit from Louis Furstenberg and Martin Mueller.

“Know all men by these presents that we Louis Furstenberg and Martin Mueller surety are held and firmly bound unto the firm of Blum and Spiegel composed of Charles Blum and George C Spiegel in the sum of $2000 for the payment of which will and shrewdly be made we find ourselves, our heirs, executors and administrators firmly by these presents signed sealed and dated the second day of August 1872. The condition of this bond is such that whereas the said Blum and Spiegel as copartners as aforesaid have brought to the next November term of the city court of Savannah of said County this action of [????] against the said Louis Furstenberg for the recovery of 156 boxes of cigars and whereas the said George C Spiegel as one of the said firm has filed his affidavit to obtain bail in said actions and bail is demanded by the deputy Sheriff of the said court; now if the said Louis Furstenberg shall produce or cause to be produced said 156 boxes of cigars to answer such judgment execution or decree as may be issued or rendered in the said case, then this bond shall be void else to remain in full force and effect signed L. Furstenberg and M. Mueller.

This is followed by a statement from Mr. Furstenberg’s attorney William Harden stating that the defendant pleads not guilty and demands a jury trial. This plea was filed November 2, 1872.

The last line states that “We the jury find the defendant not guilty.” This is signed by the foreman of the jury and is dated November 14, 1872.

I don’t know if the result of this court case was the cause for my great-great-grandfather and family leaving Savannah and moving to Dallas Texas. I would expect that a move from Savannah, Georgia to the boomtown of Dallas, Texas was something that would have been planned well in advance. And although I do not know the exact date that the Spiegel family left Savannah for Dallas Texas, my great-grandmother was born on November 19, 1872, in Dallas, Texas.

For comparison, $1,000 in 1872 is worth $23,958.69 today.

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