David Pearce to Abraham Lincoln, 24 May 18551St Louis May 24th 1855Mr Abraham LincolnSpringfield IllsDr [Dear] Sir
Enclosed I hand you note vs. Jackson & Miller2 at 6 Mos. [Months] my favor dated Oct [October] 20 1853 for Sixty five dollars which please collect, (and remit proceeds thereof,) Soon as the Law and Circumstances will permit–3
Mr David Miller one of the firm, is now living in or near you and, is the one I am told, holds assets of the firm and who settles or rather should settle all claims against the firm–
The other partner (Joel Jackson) now resides in Chicago, of him I learn (from Higgins Beckwith & S from whom I have your address) nothing can be made as he has nothing Come-at-able.4Yours Truly &c [etc.]David Pearce pr Clk [per Clerk]
[ endorsement ]
It is thought the David Miller, mentioned in this letter, now lives in Round Prairie, Sangamon County; and is connected, by marriage, with the family of the late Francis Taylor–5Clinton, Oct 15– 18556A. Lincoln–7
2No further information on the partnership of Jackson & Miller has been located, however David Miller and Joel Jackson, the partners described herein by Pearce, were apparently brothers-in-law, Miller having married Jackson’s sister Eliza.
William Neel Jackson, Jacksons of Kentucky: Their Ancestors and Descendants (Owensboro, KY: McDowell, 1982), 213; John Carroll Power and S. A. Power, History of the Early Settlers of Sangamon County, Illinois (Springfield, IL: Edwin A. Wilson, 1876), 520; Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, Sangamon County, 23 April 1838, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL.
3No further correspondence between Pearce and Abraham Lincoln on this subject has been located beyond Lincoln’s endorsement below, and it appears that Lincoln never collected this debt. Lincoln and William H. Herndon did successfully obtain repayment of overdue promissory notes from another firm for Pearce in Sangamon County Circuit Court in March 1856.
Lincoln conducted legal research for Pearce, Martha L. Benner and Cullom Davis et al., eds., The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln: Complete Documentary Edition, 2d edition (Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, 2009), http://www.lawpracticeofabrahamlincoln.org/Details.aspx?case=141356; Pearce v. Prescott & Workman, Martha L. Benner and Cullom Davis et al., eds., The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln: Complete Documentary Edition, http://www.lawpracticeofabrahamlincoln.org/Details.aspx?case=140057.
4“Come-at-able,” meaning “accessible” or “obtainable” is used in this context to mean funds or assets that could be pursued for repayment of the debt in question.
James A. H. Murray, ed., A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1893), 2:658.
5Francis Taylor had been married to Nancy W. Jackson, who seems to have been the sister of Miller’s wife Eliza Jackson Miller. Joel Jackson was apparently a brother of both women as well.
William Neel Jackson, Jacksons of Kentucky: Their Ancestors and Descendants, 213; John Carroll Power and S. A. Power, History of the Early Settlers of Sangamon County, Illinois, 702; Kentucky, U.S., County Marriage Records, 1783-1965, 19 November 1821, Shelby County (Lehi, UT: Ancestry.com Operations, 2016).
6Lincoln was in Clinton attending DeWitt County Circuit Court, which convened on this date. He stayed until at least October 20, then was in Urbana by October 22 to attend Champaign County Circuit Court.
The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, 15 October 1855, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1855-10-15; 20 October 1855, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1855-10-20; 22 October 1855, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1855-10-22.
Handwritten Letter, 2 page(s), Lincoln Collection, University of Delaware (Newark, DE).