R.K. Call vs. Parkhill
About This Case
In 1844, the Florida Territorial Court of Appeals considered the case of Richard Keith Call v. Martha Ann Parkhill, administrator of Samuel Parkhill, deceased.
Sometime prior to his death in 1841, Samuel Parkhill encumbered a debt to Richard Keith Call in an amount exceeding $40,000. Parkhill died intestate, without a will, and the responsibility for satisfying this and other debts reverted to his wife, Martha Ann Parkhill. This case is one of several contained in Series 73, Florida Territorial Court of Appeals, relating to the settlement of the estate of Samuel Parkhill.
Both Call and Parkhill were prominent Tallahassee citizens. Call, twice territorial governor, came to Tallahassee in the 1820s. With the assistance of Andrew Jackson, Call and other loyal officials secured important positions in the Florida territory. Before he was territorial governor, Call worked in the land office, as an attorney, and invested heavily in plantations, railroads, and banking.
Parkhill also came to Tallahassee in the mid-1820s. A wealthy planter, he amassed land, slaves, and cotton plantations. Parkhill had a history with Call, having served in the Florida Militia under then Governor Call during the Second Seminole War (1835-1842).
In this case, Call filed a “petition to foreclose mortgage” on properties, “good & chattels” included the estate of the deceased in order to recover the money owed to him by Parkhill. In the course of the trial, certain details emerged about property held by Parkhill at the time of his death including “the plantation called Orchard Pond, & the Lake Jackson plantations…& the personal property on the Springwood plantation” as well as slaves described as “Eleq Randal, aged 42 years, [and] May Jane aged 17 years.”
The case file does not contain exhaustive documentation on Parkhill’s estate, but does include items deemed relevant to the claims made by Richard Keith Call. It total, the property targeted by Call for foreclosure amounted to nearly 2,800 acres plus several city lots and at least two slaves.
Martha, by the time of the trial remarried to Hiram Manley, sought a writ of error in the case to prevent the “great damage” possible to her as a result of Call’s petition. The court affirmed the writ of error, at which point it was deemed appropriate for John S. Gamble, another prominent Tallahassee citizen and creditor of Samuel Parkhill, to assume control of the estate for the benefit of the “numerous creditors” involved.
The writ of error was granted because of the manner in which the petition for foreclosure was pursued by Call. Instead of seeking a claim “against the goods and chattels, slaves[,] lands, & tenements” of Samuel Parkhill, the nature of the petition appears to have directly implicated Martha Ann Parkhill in a “personal judgment.” The ultimate settlement in the case after it left Florida is unclear from the remaining documents.
This case illustrates the vast web of land, investment, and marriage that connected many of Tallahassee’s early white residents. Researchers interested in learning more about the settlement of the estate of Samuel Parkhill should refer to the several additional cases included in Series 73 at the State Archives of Florida.