Jacob Summerlin vs. S.S. Tyler and Wife
About This Case
In 1856, the Florida Supreme Court considered the case of Jacob Summerlin vs. Simeon S. Tyler and Wife.
In 1854, Simeon and Margaret Tyler rented a home on Forsythe Street in Jacksonville to Jacob Summerlin. According to the court documents, the rent was set at $120 per year to be paid in advance.
Summerlin, known as the “King of the Crackers” for his connection with Florida’s 19th century cattle industry, apparently failed to deliver the rent, or sought to break the agreement prior to the term outlined in the lease. As a result, the Tylers sued Summerlin in order to recover $30 he owed the couple. Unfortunately, the case documents do not specify why Summerlin rented the house or the nature of his conflict over payments with the Tylers.
The Duval County Justice of the Peace assigned to the case ruled against Summerlin. Court documents allude to a survey of property owned by Summerlin, possibly in order to sell to satisfy the debt. References are made to a horse, and in another instance a “sorrel mare” valued at $75, as among the property held by Summerlin.
Summerlin, who claimed to have a receipt of payment, pursued an appeal. His appeal was rejected because “more than three days had elapsed from the trial of the case and the signing and approval of the appeal bond.” Lawyers for Summerlin were able to show that the lower court had acted improperly, because, in fact, the three-day deadline referred to the adjournment of the Justices’ Court rather than the date of the judgment in trial. The lower court was then ordered to reinstate the appeal.
It is unclear what happened next. Presumably the lower court heard Summerlin’s appeal, but the outcome is unknown.
This case suggests a possibility for further research on Jacob Summerlin’s business and personal activities in and around the Jacksonville area before the Civil War. He was certainly active in the cattle business at the time of this trial, and remained prominent throughout the war as a blockade runner.