University of Virginia Historical Collections at the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library

Hot Springs: Circuit Court of Albemarle, [1868?]

The two pages included here are the first of a 22 page document from the Circuit Court of Albemarle detailing a suit that was brought to court after the death of Dr. Thomas Goode, the owner of Hot Springs. The sale of the Hot Springs, which the defendants asked to be set aside, was complicated by debts, the war, and the valuation of Confederate money. Two of the names in this document, Tardy and Price, are listed as owners of the Hot Springs in a later book.

The document asks,

On what principle is the sale of the Hot Springs to be set aside? None recognized by the courts of Virginia. We’ve seen there was no fraud in the representatives of Goode, none therefore for the purchasers to participate in, and it could only be because of such fraud and such participation that the sale could be set aside.” {p. 13}

The document also states,

But the property was subject of the widow’s dower, or the substitute for it –her jointure–or both. So that the available value for payment of debts was not $64,000. Valued subject to her dower, it might have been set down at $10,000 or $15,000 less. Such was the property, as rated in peace. That it was of equal value in war, no man in his senses will contend. It was unproductive, deserted, far off from the world and the military centres, in a valley open to military raiders, deserters and stragglers–perishable. Of the assessed value (64,000) nearly one half, viz: $31,000, was set down for buildings, which, with all the furniture in them, might be destroyed in a few hours under the plea of military necessity, as the valley was laid waste by Sheridan under General Grant’s orders; or, in the licentiousness of the time, it might suit marauders and plunderers to fire it.” {p. 15}

Tardy, defendant. Cameron's ex'ix v. Goode's ex'r, &c. Note for Tardy and others, defendants. [N.p., 186-?] Special Collections, University of Virginia Library.

Tardy, defendant. Cameron’s ex’ix v. Goode’s ex’r, &c. Note for Tardy and others, defendants. [N.p., 186-?] Special Collections, University of Virginia Library.

Mr Price with Mr Jones’ compliments.
Note for TARDY AND OTHERS, defendants.

Dr. Thos. Goode, of the Hot Springs, died in 1858. He died heavily in debt, the owner of the Hot Springs property and about twenty slaves, all of which he devised to his ex’ix and ex’ors, for the payment of his debts and support of his wife and unmarried children, and ultimate distribution among his children. He constituted his wife his executrix and his sons executors, and directed them to sell the Hot Springs, with the furniture, &c. attached. He left it discretionary with his executrix and executors when to sell, and as to the terms, but prescribing that in their discretion they should sell: and he desired them to keep open the Springs as a watering place, until the sale.

They kept the Springs open as a watering place, (except so far as they were interrupted by the military occupation thereof for hospitals,) until August, 1863, when, not making expenses, they closed the hotel. At the same time that they closed the hotel they employed an agent to sell the property.…

… The executors, on the other hand, say there were urgent reasons to sell; that the property, kept up as a watering place, did not pay expenses; that shut up, it would get out of repair; that it was much exposed; that there was an immense debt to pay, rapidly increasing by interest, and that it was necessary to have an income to support Mrs. Goode and her single daughters.

With this the purchasers have nothing to do. The testator had clothed his representative with full discretion on the subject—leaving them to decide when to sell, for what consideration, and on what terms.

…How could the purchasers know anything about the indebtedness of Dr. Goode, or the interests of his family? If the law held purchasers responsible for the manner in which fiduciaries exercised their discretion, no one would buy of fiduciaries. But this need not be pursued.

The next ground on which the charge is made is that the price was inadequate; and the inadequacy so great as to “shock the consciences of all just men.” And this is sought to be made to appear by reducing to gold the confederate money paid for the property, and contrasting the amount with its value in gold before and since the war.…

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